Comment thread in the Wall post a few down from here got me thinking:
If you could reccomend ONE book to someone (me, or anybody else) on The Conflict ™–that is to say, the Israeli-Palestinian one–what would it be?
I’m curious about where people are coming from and who they think has done it “right.” Feel free to have opinions about other peoples’ selections, too.
I’d recommend ‘A Place Among the Nations’ by Benyamin Netanyahu. I read it several years ago, and it was very helpful to me in understanding the history of the Israeli/Arab conflict. He wrote it in the early 90s, before he became Prime Minister, and he has since published an updated version of the book, which I have not read.
Righteous Victims by Benny Morris. It is sympathetic to both sides and while it leaves you feeling the Palestinians’ pain it does not leave you feeling ashamed of being a Zionist.
I don’t think there is any one book that really gives anyone a good idea of hat’s really going on. It’s (as yousay) sucha messy and painful situation that it’s difficult to pin down, even if you’re trying not to be a raving -ism member.
Morris, Tom Segev and Deborah Madison have a good start at looking at the history, but reading Eward Said is also useful. But even they don’t give a good flavor for example, of how the (Israeli) government policy of massive subsidizing of settlements gave those Mizrachi jews who historically inIsrael have been massively discriminated against a sense that they could yank themselves up into the middle class in the places. SO we get settlers with no ideology of raving messianic looni-ness, but who do have complicated and often negative feelings about Muslim Arabs (as opposed to themselves – Jewish Arabs) from the experience of living among them also discriminated against, albeit in somewhat different ways than by either the secular Israeli Ashkenazis (who looked at them as backwards and ignorant) or by the religious Ashkenazim ( who looked at their minhagim (customs) as religiously incorrect and used the AShkenazi secular majority to pound AShkenaxi religious customs into them).
So now what are they supposed to think when told that they’re the cause of all these problems beause they won’t leave – when leaving means hurling thmselves back into plenty of ethnic discrimination by their own government and co-religionists, not to mention a reduction in living arrangements?
And all that’s not really getting into anything *directly* touching on the painful seething worms under the skin of the settlements (Having in mind the medieval effigies).
The Case For Israel by Alan Dershewitz
From Beirut to Jerusalem by Tom Friedman; though it’s dated, and imperfect, it opened me up to all of things, most importantly, the ability to try and look at the conflict from both sides, which I hadn’t done a great job at till then. his anecdotes humanize everyone involved, even the really crazy ones.