Israel at War: Suggested Books
The iCenter has curated this reading list to help us dive deeper into major topics related to the current crisis. We hope these books provide insight and context about Israeli society, key actors, and Israel’s place in the world.
ISRAEL FROM THE INSIDE
When war breaks out in 1973, childhood friends Haim and Dov are called up together to serve in their tank battalion, but in the chaos of battle the friends are separated. A month later, Haim returns alone, on his first leave home. Struggling to come to terms with his experiences he wonders what happened to Dov during those fateful days.
Dan Senor and Saul Singer
Dan Senor and Saul Singer, the writers behind the international bestseller Start-Up Nation, have long been students of the global innovation race. But as they spent time with Israel’s entrepreneurs and political leaders, soldiers and students, scientists and activists, ultra-Orthodox Jews, Tel Aviv techies, and Israeli Arabs, they realized that they had missed what really sets Israel apart.
This book explores the emergence of Zionism in Europe against the backdrop of relations among Jews, Arabs, and Turks, and the earliest pioneer settlements in Palestine under Ottoman rule. Weaving together political, social, and cultural developments in Palestine under the British mandate, Shapira creates a tapestry through which to understand the challenges of Israeli nation-building, including mass immigration, shifting cultural norms, the politics of war and world diplomacy, and the creation of democratic institutions and a civil society.
From battlefields to bedrooms to boardrooms, discover the colliding worlds in which an astounding mix of people live. You’ll meet “Arab Jews” who fled Islamic countries, dreadlock-wearing Ethiopian immigrants who sing reggae in Hebrew, Christians in Nazareth who publish an Arabic-style Cosmo, young Israeli Muslims who know more about Judaism than most Jews of the Diaspora, ultra-Orthodox Jews on “Modesty Patrols,” and more. Interweaving hundreds of personal stories with intriguing new research, The Israelis is lively, irreverent, and always fascinating.
Shmuel Rosner and Camil Fuchs
Using stories, numbers, and insights, the authors sketch the outlines of a culture in which Israeliness and Jewishness are becoming one and the same. #IsraeliJudaism is a book about a fascinating phenomenon. It introduces Israeli culture to the non-Israeli reader in a fresh way, while shedding light on why Israel and the Diaspora face a great divide.
Ed. S. Ilan Troen and Rachel Fish
Essential Israel examines a wide variety of complex issues and current concerns in historical and contemporary contexts to provide readers with an intimate sense of the dynamic society and culture that is Israel today. The expert contributors to this volume address the Arab-Israeli conflict, the state of diplomatic efforts to bring about peace, Zionism and the impact of the Holocaust, the status of the Jewish state and Israeli democracy, foreign relations, immigration and Israeli identity, as well as literature, film, and the other arts.
Yossi Klein Halevi
In Like Dreamers, acclaimed journalist Yossi Klein Halevi interweaves the stories of a group of 1967 paratroopers who reunited Jerusalem, tracing the history of Israel and the divergent ideologies shaping it from the Six-Day War to the present.
HISTORY OF HAMAS
This important book provides the most fully researched assessment of Hamas ever written. Matthew Levitt, a counterterrorism expert with extensive field experience in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza, draws aside the veil of legitimacy behind which Hamas hides. He presents concrete, detailed evidence from an extensive array of international intelligence materials, including recently declassified CIA, FBI, and Department of Homeland Security reports.
Mosab Hassan Yousef
Since he was a small boy, Mosab Hassan Yousef has had an inside view of the deadly terrorist group Hamas. The oldest son of Sheikh Hassan Yousef, a founding member of Hamas and its most popular leader, young Mosab assisted his father for years in his political activities while being groomed to assume his legacy, politics, status…. and power. But everything changed when Mosab turned away from terror and violence and embraced instead the teachings of another famous Middle East leader. In Son of Hamas, Mosab reveals new information about the world’s most dangerous terrorist organization and unveils the truth about his own role, his agonizing separation from family and homeland, the dangerous decision to make his newfound faith public, and his belief that the Christian mandate to “love your enemies” is the only way to peace in the Middle East.
Why do some national movements use violent protest and others nonviolent protest? Wendy Pearlman shows that much of the answer lies inside movements themselves. Nonviolent protest requires coordination and restraint, which only a cohesive movement can provide. When, by contrast, a movement is fragmented, factional competition generates new incentives for violence and authority structures are too weak to constrain escalation. Pearlman reveals these patterns across one hundred years in the Palestinian national movement, with comparisons to South Africa and Northern Ireland.
ISRAEL AND/IN THE MIDDLE EAST
With vivid story-telling, extensive historical research, and on-the-ground reporting, Ghattas dispels accepted truths about a region she calls home. She explores how Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shia Iran, once allies and twin pillars of US strategy in the region, became mortal enemies after 1979. She shows how they used and distorted religion in a competition that went well beyond geopolitics. Feeding intolerance, suppressing cultural expression, and encouraging sectarian violence from Egypt to Pakistan, the war for cultural supremacy led to Iran’s fatwa against author Salman Rushdie, the assassination of countless intellectuals, the birth of groups like Hezbollah in Lebanon, the September 11th terrorist attacks, and the rise of ISIS.
Hezbollah: The Global Footprint of Lebanon’s Party of God is the first thorough examination of Hezbollah’s covert activities beyond Lebanon’s borders, including its financial and logistical support networks and its criminal and terrorist operations worldwide.
The Talmud says: “If someone comes to kill you, rise up and kill him first.” This instinct to take every measure, even the most aggressive, to defend the Jewish people is hardwired into Israel’s DNA. From the very beginning of its statehood in 1948, protecting the nation from harm has been the responsibility of its intelligence community and armed services, and there is one weapon in their vast arsenal that they have relied upon to thwart the most serious threats: Targeted assassinations have been used countless times, on enemies large and small, sometimes in response to attacks against the Israeli people and sometimes preemptively.
Yonah Jeremy Bob and Ilan Evyatar
Yonah Bob and Ilan Evyatar describe how Israel has used cyberwarfare, targeted assassinations, and sabotage of Iranian facilities to great effect, sometimes in cooperation with the United States. Even as it takes lethal action Israel has managed to alter the politics of the Middle East, culminating in the Abraham Accords of 2020. Arab states, such as Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, normalized relations with Israel while giving a faint nod to the Palestinian issue, and the holy grail of normalization with Saudi Arabia may be achieved in a way which will inject at least some new energy into improving Israeli-Palestinian relations. Now, they share Israel’s concern with Iran—even as they negotiate with Tehran—remaining silent while Israel undermines Iran’s nuclear program.
HISTORY OF THE ARAB-ISRAELI AND ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN CONFLICT
Abdel Monem Said Aly, Shai Feldman, Khalil Shikaki
A distinguished team of authors comprising an Israeli, a Palestinian, and an Egyptian present a broader Arab perspective in this innovative textbook that offers a balanced and nuanced introduction to a highly contentious subject. Providing an overview of key developments in the history of the conflict, it explores attempts at resolution, before going on to portray the perspectives of the important parties. It places the events of the conflict within a regional and international context, providing an invaluable insight into the opposing narratives behind the conflict.
Simon Sebag Montefiore
Jerusalem is the epic history of three thousand years of faith, fanaticism, bloodshed, and coexistence, from King David to the 21st century, from the birth of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam to the Israel-Palestine conflict.
The 1936–1939 revolt was the crucible in which Palestinian identity coalesced, uniting rival families, city and country, rich and poor in a single struggle for independence. Yet the rebellion would ultimately turn on itself, shredding the social fabric, sidelining pragmatists in favor of extremists, and propelling waves of refugees from their homes.
Tracing the roots of political Zionism back to the pogroms of Russia and the Dreyfus Affair, Morris describes the gradual influx of Jewish settlers into Palestine and the impact they had on the Arab population. Following the Holocaust, the first Arab-Israeli war of 1948 resulted in the establishment of the State of Israel, but it also shattered Palestinian Arab society and gave rise to a massive refugee problem. Morris offers distinctive accounts of each of the subsequent Israeli-Arab wars and details the sporadic peace efforts in between, culminating in the peace process initiated by the Rabin Government.
Writing with a novelist’s command of narrative and a historian’s grasp of fact and motive, Michael B. Oren reconstructs both the lightning-fast action on the battlefields and the political shocks that electrified the world.… A towering work of history and an enthralling human narrative, Six Days of War is the most important book on the Middle East conflict to appear in a generation.
A teacher, scholar, philosopher, and an eyewitness to history, Sari Nusseibeh is one of our most urgent and articulate authorities on the conflict in the Middle East. From his time teaching side by side with Israelis at the Hebrew University through his appointment by Yasir Arafat to administer the Arab Jerusalem, he has held fast to the principles of freedom and equality for all, and his story dramatizes the consequences of war, partition, and terrorism as few other books have done. Once Upon a Country brings rare depth and compassion to the story of his country.
Cate Malek and Mateo Hoke
The occupation of the West Bank and Gaza has been one of the world’s most widely reported yet least understood human rights crises for over four decades. In this oral history collection, men and women from Palestine—including a fisherman, a settlement administrator, and a marathon runner—describe in their own words how their lives have been shaped by the historic crisis.
Strangers in the House offers a moving description of the daily lives of those who have chosen to remain on their land. It is also the family drama of a difficult relationship between an idealistic son and his politically active father complicated by the arbitrary humiliation of the “occupier’s law.”
US POLICY, AMERICAN JEWS, AND ISRAEL
Israel has long occupied a prominent place in the lives and imaginations of American Jews, serving as both a symbolic touchstone and a source of intercommunal conflict. In My Second-Favorite Country, Sivan Zakai offers the first longitudinal study of how American Jewish children come to think and feel about Israel, tracking their evolving conceptions from kindergarten to fifth grade.
Dennis Ross has been a direct participant in shaping U.S. policy toward the Middle East, and Israel specifically, for nearly thirty years… In Doomed to Succeed, he takes us through every administration from Truman’s to Obama’s, throwing into dramatic relief each president’s attitude toward Israel and the region, the often tumultuous debates between key advisers, and the events that drove the policies and at times led to a shift in approach.
We Stand Divided examines the history of the troubled relationship, showing that from the outset, the founders of what are now the world’s two largest Jewish communities were responding to different threats and opportunities, and had very different ideas of how to guarantee a Jewish future.