Both sides of the map: A starter reading list for Israel and Palestine

March 8, 2017

Any discussion of Israel and Palestine is bound to get heated. The land holds as many opinions as it holds years of history — and depending on who you ask, the number of the latter is up for debate. A tangle of religion, geography, archaeology, and political division shapes the region and its ongoing conflicts. The sooner you embrace the polarizing nature of this inscrutable land, the easier it will be to open yourself up to ideas from every conceivable perspective. Here’s a selection of reads that will help you explore the area from different perspectives.

The dome of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Israel.

The dome of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Israel.

All That Remains: The Palestinian Villages Occupied and Depopulated by Israel in 1948, Walid Khalidi

Israel was founded in 1948, but there was settlement there prior to its establishment. All That Remains catalogues the places that Palestinians called home before Israel’s 1948 borders were drawn.

My Promised Land, Ari Shavit

Shavit is a left-leaning Israeli newspaper columnist who doesn’t shy away from criticism of his nation and its policies. This is a deeply personal look at Israel’s history that reflects the evolution of the author’s politics over time.

The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Middle East, Martin Sieff

Sieff is a right-leaning correspondent who’s covered the Middle East extensively. The title is a good indicator of his book’s tone. Sieff has few kind words for the Arab world [note to AM: What do you think of this wording? Can’t change this to Middle East b/c that might be inaccurate, but I’m not so sure I like “Arab world” I think Arab world is OK here. She means the 22 official Arab states Though, I wonder if she means to include Iran, where they speak Persian. ], or the G.W. Bush administration’s policy in the Middle East — he has few kind words for anyone, really. The book is a deep dive into the Western conservative narrative of the region.

A view of Jerusalem.

A view of Jerusalem.

My Vacation in the Holy Land, Tom Bissell

It’s no surprise that Christians flock here to visit the holy sites. Bissell joins a tour group of Zionist Christians (it’s a thing) and — well, it’s complicated. On Harper’s Magazine.

How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less, Sarah Glidden

Many Jewish youth take a trip to Israel with the organization Birthright, which offers an opportunity to see what’s been given to them in the Torah. Sometimes they stay. Often, like in Glidden’s graphic novel, their biases colour their experience and they come away with more questions than answers. This is a good starting point for those trying to understand the conflict in the Middle East.

Breaking Bread in Galilee: A Culinary Journey into the Promised Land, Abbie Rosner

The idea that food will bring us together is the premise for this book. If only it were so simple. Rosner’s 2012 release is good read nonetheless, and it includes stories about the Druze, a minority population who live primarily in Northern Israel.

Getting There

G Adventures runs a number of departures to Israel encompassing a wide range of departure dates and activities to cater to different tastes. We’re thrilled at the prospect of showing you this country as you’ve never seen it — check out our small group trips to Israel here.

Previous Article
Beyond the brochure: Taking the back road in Colombia
Beyond the brochure: Taking the back road in Colombia

Getting off the tourist trail for some of the most unique and memorable experiences the South American coun...

Next Article
Meet 5 women whose lives have been changed by tourism
Meet 5 women whose lives have been changed by tourism

Today is International Women's Day! Learn how sustainable travel is making a difference in the lives of wom...

Sign Up for our Newsletter

Sign Up Here