A Reader's Response to 11 Books We Love
In response to our post “11 Books We Love about Israelis and Palestinians,” a reader wrote to us letting us know that he read all the suggested books, and he offered his thoughts on them as well. We were very touched to know of his deep interest, and we appreciated his mini commentaries and observations. We thought you might be interested in his thoughts as well!
Ilan Pappé: The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine
Very easy to read—I am glad that this is the first of the eleven books on the blog because I understand clearly the sources he is receiving information from. The topic is not pleasant—this book gives me a solid foundation to understand Zionist thinking.
Benny Morris: Righteous Victims
I had a difficult time reading this book—I am not sure why. Is it too much detail for me to take in at once? Since I was reading a library copy, was I too pressured to get through the book as this was only the second book listed in the blog?
I felt overwhelmed at all the detail and trying to take it all in and absorb it in a short time was too much. This book gives more detail to a lot of what is in the Pappé book—however, it is a lot broader in scope.
I am glad I read it because it built on the foundation I have from Pappé’s book.
Martin Buber: A Land of Two Peoples
Because this is a collection of letters responding to specific people, I was able to relate to the writer—it is concrete and specific enough that my simple mind can grasp it. My favorite quote is:
““The ancient Hebrews did not succeed in becoming a normal nation.
“Today the Jews are succeeding at it to a terrifying degree.” (in 43/Zionism and “Zionism”, May 1948)
I shared some in this book with my Mom and she enjoyed his perspective because he believes that the two peoples can live in the land.
Elias Chacour: Blood Brothers
This is the only book I did not read since the blog as I had read it a few months ago.
This personal account is the type of book I can sink my teeth into—he lived in the land and saw what went on. Chacour’s account prepared me to be open to what is in Pappé’s book and Morris’ book because this on-the-ground account shows the receiving end of the Zionists’ treatment.
I wonder what happened to the Chacour’s father towards the end of the father’s life. Why did he _______?
Sandy Tolan: The Lemon Tree
This is the second time I read this book, the first time being several years ago (about ten, I am guessing).
I realized after finishing it this time I was very sympathetic to the Palestinians. Even when Bashir is accused of terrorist activities, my sympathy for him as well as the Palestinians did not wither and die—evidence that Elohim has been able to transform me. (The first time I read it, I did not pay much attention to them but focused and sympathized with the Jews.)
Raja Shehadeh: Palestinian Walks
The atmosphere of the walks brought a much needed respite from the previous books. There was so much to enjoy in what Raja saw on his walks in the now-vanished landscapes in Palestine.
How I enjoyed the walks with him—visiting the various ruins as well as Elohim’s glorious creation—untinged by sadness because they are no more—just as he did when he originally walked them.
Najla Said: Looking for Palestine
Since I know almost nothing about Edward Said, I was able to read this book as if Najla was an upper middle class minority in New York with no famous parents.
How difficult youth is for so many—a time of insecurity, trying to figure things out—compound this with being a minority and I am surprised that Najla survived, especially with the anorexia.
I have always enjoyed meeting people with different backgrounds, even as a child, but I realize many people do not—and children can be especially mean.
Susan Abulhawa: Mornings in Jenin
When I started reading this I was disappointed that it is a novel, but I got over this when I was taken in by the events in the story.
Lying does not do any good and the truth comes out: when the brother who was snatched, it destroyed the family of the man who snatched him.
All the suffering in the book—as well as in Palestine—can be so easily avoided if we would stop lying to ourselves and realize we are rotten to the core and need God to transform us. I know (from years of experience) that I am thoroughly rotten and only through God’s Son have I been redeemed and He has been able to transform me from bitterness and hate to joy and love.
Suad Amiry: Menopausal Palestine
I had a hard time getting into this because I felt it jumped around too much. However, when I came to Rana’s story and she described how she and the fox stared at each other and then each went their separate ways, it hooked me.
After that I was able to have greater understanding and interest and enjoyed learning the different stories of each of the women—all living so close yet so different.
Gerson Baskin: The Negotiator
This book was my first glimpse behind the scenes in a negotiation. Sad to say, I was so absorbed with the groups that would not speak to each other (as well as the roadblocks throughout the process) that I actually forgot about Gilad.
Forgetting about the soldier kidnapped makes me wince as I write this since he was the reason for the negotiation (for Gershon)—a big reminder to always keep my focus—not getting sidetracked by obstacles.
Donna Rosenthal: The Israelis
Much of the content of this book I already had heard before since one of the ladies at the synagogue I attend is a granddaughter of one of the founders of Tel Aviv and I had pestered her through the years about all kinds of details about Israel.
Like many Israelis, she does not like the orthodox so the orthodox groups I knew the least about and learned more about them from the book.
This book does a great job of presenting the diversity in Israel because of the Jews from all around the globe.
I am glad the author mentions the Palestinians, Druze and other minorities because they are a part of Israel even though the Zionists would not like to admit this.
Salaam, shalom and blessings.