Here are 10 books on Palestine to read while social distancing

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Many people throughout the world are presumably catching up on their reading during this time of social distancing and self-isolation. Last week The Guardian reported that online sales at United Kingdom book chain Waterstones have risen by 400% since it closed the doors of its physical stores. Below is a list of books Israel/Palestine that we recommend. In no way is this meant to be a comprehensive reading list on the topic, but we hope it might help if you’re looking for what to tackle next. If possible, we encourage you to purchase books directly from the publisher, or from the website of your local independent bookstore if they’re still open. Feel free to post your own recommendations in the comment.

The Hundred Years’ War on Palestine: A History of Settler Colonialism and Resistance, 1917–2017 by Rashid Khalidi (Metropolitan Books, 2020)

Khalidi’s new book is comprehensive and unique. The Columbia professor tracks a century of Palestine’s history through the story of his own family. You can read an excerpt of the book at The Intercept.

Palestinians: The Invisible Victims by James J Zogby (Mondoweiss & AAI, 2018)

Mondoweiss and Arab American Institute republished Zogby’s 1981 examination of political Zionism two years ago, on the 70th anniversary of the Nakba. The new version features an updated preface by Jim Zogby and a forward from Mondoweiss founder Phil Weiss. Reviewing the book in 2018, Mitchell Plitnick wrote, “It is a short book and makes no pretense to an exhaustive history or a complete review of then-contemporary conditions. It offers one idea, that the exclusivist vision of Political Zionism is incompatible with a lasting peace.”

The Battle for Justice in Palestine by Ali Abunimah (Haymarket, 2014)

This book does a fantastic job assessing the crisis, but goes so far beyond that. It does a masterful job of highlighting the growing resistance and provides the reader with a solid does of hope.


Justice for Some: Law and the Question of Palestine by Noura Erakat (Stanford University Press, 2019) 

The Palestinian struggle is often framed in the context of international law, but those rules have historically done very little to bring the region relief. In this brilliant book, human rights attorney Noura Erakat offers a compelling legal history and shows how the law can work for and against Palestine.

The Question of Palestine by Edward Said (Vintage, 1992)

If you’re using your social distancing time to catch up on classics you never got around to, this book by the late, great Edward Said is a good place to start. The Question of Palestine is nearly 30 years old now, but it’s as relevant as ever before.

Reading Maimonides In Gaza by Marilyn Garson (Mondoweiss, 2018)

Garson worked for Mercy Corps and The United Nations Relief and Works Agency in Gaza for four years and wrote a short, powerful memoir about her experience.

Shattered Hopes: Obama’s Failure to Broker Israeli-Palestinian Peace by Josh Ruebner (Verso, 2013)

It’s easy to forget that many people had high expectations regarding Obama and Palestine when he became President. Ruebner provides a frustrating (but necessary) postmortem examination of the era. Centrists paved the way for the horrors Trump in so many ways and Palestine is no different.

Uncivil Rites: Palestine and the Limits of Academic Freedom by Steven Salaita (Haymarket, 2015)

There’s a lot of talk about academic freedom and campus free speech these days, but these discussions very rarely touch on the subject of Palestine. You probably know Salaita’s story: he was a professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and his tenure was revoked by its board of trustees after he criticized Israel on Twitter. This book is so much more than just a retelling of that story. Salaita situates his saga in the context of deeper struggles and provides valuable commentary on the current state of higher education.

Israel-Palestine on Record How the New York Times Misreports Conflict in the Middle East by Richard Falk and Howard Friel (Verso, 2007)

There’s a lot of great books about how the media distorts the reality of the situation in Palestine, but I’d stick this one near the top of any list. Falk and Friel analyze how the New York Times covered the conflict from 2000 to 2006. Their blistering indictment shows how “The Paper of Record” consistently carries water for The Occupation.

Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions The Global Struggle for Palestinian Rights by Omar Barghouti (Haymarket, 2011)

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement made national headlines last year after two U.S. congresswomen were barred from entering the country and an anti-BDS resolution passed in the House. This is BDS co-founder Omar Barghouti’s renewed call to action over the issue. “No one has done more to build the intellectual, legal and moral case for BDS than Omar Barghouti,” wrote Naomi Klein at the time, “The global Palestinian solidarity movement has been transformed and is on the cusp of major new breakthroughs.”

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I just finished reading “Against Our Better Judgment” by Alison Weir. I would recommend this book most highly to help one both understand the conflict in the Middle East and how much Zionism influences/controls our political system.

Greetings Mondoweiss Thankyou for the excellent list of books!! I highly recommend another one for your readers, especially Americans: “The Passionate Attachment,” (published in 1992) – America’s involvement with Israel, 1947 to the present by George W. Ball and his son, Douglas B. Ball, W.W. Norton and Company, Inc. New York, N.Y George Ball served as undersecretary of state in the Johnson and Kennedy administrations as well as U.S. ambassador to the U.N. and fought… Read more »

If we want to be effective in changing people’s minds about Palestine, i think its important to read books we DONT agree with.
There are some very good Zionist authors who influence a lot of people.
I found Ari Shavit’ s book “My Promised Land” particularly helpful in understanding the liberal Zionist perspective. I learned quite a lot about the early secular left wing Zionists.

I recommend Gregory Aldrete’s History of the ancient world lectures from the great courses.

Khalidi’s Hundred Years War on Palestine is an excellent history of the criminal theft of the land and lives of Palestine, highly recommended. I would add to the list – Disappearing Palestine/Jonathan Cook (+ several other Cook books :-)) What is Modern Israel?/Yakov M. Rabkin (Zionism vs. Judaism) Canada and Israel : building apartheid/Yves Engler (exposé of Canada’s shameful long term complicity in Zionist criminality in Palestine) Also multiple works by Ilan Pappé and Norman… Read more »