Verso Books Nakba Day Reading List

British-pro-Palestine-activists-are-to-hold-Nakba-Day-demonstration-in-London-on-May-15-2013.
Nakba Day, an annual day of commemoration of the displacement that preceded and followed the Israeli Declaration of Independence in 1948, falls on the 15th of May each year. In an attempt to understand the catastrophe, Verso Books brings you a reading list of key works on the Israel-Palestine conflict, from Ghada Karmi, Mahmoud Darwish, Naji al-Ali, Ilan Pappe, Edward Said, Shlomo Sand, and more:

Twilight of History
by Shlomo Sand
Translated by David Fernbach

On its publication in 2009, Shlomo Sand’s book The Invention of the Jewish People met with a storm of controversy. His demystifying approach to nationalist and Zionist historiography provoked much criticism from other professional historians, as well as praise. Drawing on four decades in the field, Sand takes a wider view and interrogates the study of history, whose origin lay in the need for a national ideology. Despite his trenchant criticism of academic history, Sand would still like to believe that the past can be understood without myth, and finds reasons for hope in the work of Max Weber and Georges Sorel.

Ten Myths About Israel
by Ilan Pappe

In this groundbreaking book, published on the fiftieth anniversary of the Occupation, the outspoken and radical Israeli historian Ilan Pappe examines the most contested ideas concerning the origins and identity of the contemporary state of Israel.

He explores the claim that Palestine was an empty land at the time of the Balfour Declaration, as well as the formation of Zionism and its role in the early decades of nation building. He asks whether the Palestinians voluntarily left their homeland in 1948, and whether June 1967 was a war of “no choice.” Turning to the myths surrounding the failures of the Camp David Accords and the official reasons for the attacks on Gaza, Pappe explains why the two-state solution is no longer viable.

Return: A Palestinian Memoir
by Ghada Karmi

Having grown up in Britain following her family’s exile from Palestine, doctor, author and academic Ghada Karmi leaves her adoptive home in a quest to return to her homeland.  In her journey, she takes the reader on a fascinating journey into the heart of one of the world’s most intractable conflict zones and one of the major issues of our time. Visiting places she has not seen since childhood, her unique insights reveal a militarised and barely recognisable homeland, and her home in Jerusalem, like much of the West Bank, occupied by strangers.

In Search of Fatima: A Palestinian Story
by Ghada Karmi

“One of the finest, most eloquent and painfully honest memoirs of the Palestinian exile and displacement, which western power and its creature, Israel, have normalised.” – New Statesman

Palestine Speaks: Narratives of Life Under Occupation (available in the UK only)
edited by Mateo Hoke and Cate Malek

Too often the everyday lives and voices of the people in Gaza and the West Bank are forgotten. In Palestine Speaks men and women living under the occupation describe in their own words how it has shaped their lives. This includes eyewitness accounts of the most recent attacks on Gaza in 2014.

Letters to Palestine: Writers Respond to War and Occupation
edited by Vijay Prashad

This book traces this swelling American recognition of Palestinian suffering, struggle, and hope, in writing that is personal, lyrical, anguished, and inspiring. Some of the leading writers of our time, such as Junot Díaz and Teju Cole, poets and essayists, novelists and scholars, Palestinian American activists like Huwaida Arraf, Noura Erakat, and Remi Kanazi, give voice to feelings of empathy and solidarity—as well as anger at US support for Israeli policy—in intimate letters, beautiful essays, and furious poems.

A Child in Palestine: The Cartoons of Naji al-Ali
by Naji al-Ali

“This is a ground-breaking book. For the first time, Western readers are beckoned into Palestinian lives by the graphic warmth, inspiration and horror of the cartoonist Naji al-Ali, whose iconic Hanthala is our witness and conscience, imploring, rightly, that we never forget.”– John Pilger

Mural (new edition coming in August)
by Mahmoud Darwish

A major translation of remarkable, late poems by the great Palestinian poet.

“Darwish’s poetry is an epic effort to transform the lyrics of loss into the indefinitely postponed drama of return.”– Edward Said

The Girl Who Stole My Holocaust
by Noam Chayut

“This humane journey into the inhumanity of oppression exposes the rawest nerves of the Israeli society and its attitude towards the occupied Palestinians. Very few in Israel would have dared to associate in any way the Holocaust with the occupation, but this bold and sensitive personal account makes it abundantly clear that for Israeli Jews the Holocaust and their policies in Palestine will always be interconnected and inseparable.” – Ilan Pappe

The Idea of Israel: A History of Power and Knowledge
by Ilan Pappe

“Pappé places Zionism under an uncompromising lens… The Idea of Israel is  a close study of the role of Zionist ideology in the making of modern Israel and of the continuing relevance of this ideology today in politics, the education system, the media, the cinema and Ashkenazi-Sephardi relations.” – Avi Shlaim, Guardian

How I Stopped Being a Jew
by Shlomo Sand

“A discursive yet polemical work that systematically undermines the claim that Jewishness is necessary – let alone sufficient – to justify the claims of the Israeli state to the territory formerly known as Palestine.” – Will Self, Guardian

Invention of the Jewish People
by Shlomo Sand

“Perhaps books combining passion and erudition don’t change political situations, but if they did, this one would count as a landmark.” – Eric Hobsbawm, Observer

Invention of the Land of Israel
by Shlomo Sand

“His achievement consists in debunking a nationalist mythology which holds sway in large sections of popular opinion. It also normalises Jews, since it challenges the belief in exceptionalism…Truth-telling may be painful but necessary.”– Donald Sassoon, Guardian

Blaming the Victims: Spurious Scholarship and the Palestinian Question
by Edward Said

“The wide-ranging scope and demythologising structure of Blaming the Victims makes it especially relevant at the present time when the actions of the state of Israel seem to contradict received opinion as to its nature. The book provides a great quantity of information, analyses it convincingly and, through an impressive body of notes on primary and secondary literature, points the reader in the direction of further information.” – Middle East International

The Punishment of Gaza
by Gideon Levy

“Gideon Levy’s passionate and revealing account is an eloquent, even desperate, call to bring this shocking tragedy to an end, as can easily be done.” – Noam Chomsky

Hollow Land: Israel’s Architecture of Occupation (available in UK only, new edition coming in June)
by Eyal Weizman

“The most astonishing book on architecture that I have read in years.” – Edwin Heathcote, Financial Times

“Weizman takes his readers on a tour of the visible and invisible ways in which Israel implements its control over Palestinians… Hollow Land is eloquent about the architectural chaos and confusion created by Israel in the Occupied Territories.” – London Review of Books

The Least of All Possible Evils (available in UK only, new edition coming in October)
by Eyal Weizman

“Eyal Weizman’s work has become an indispensable source of both insight and guidance in these difficult times. He understands the evolving dynamics of war and sovereignty better than anyone.” – Paul Gilroy, Professor of Social History, London School of Economics

The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering
by Norman G. Finkelstein

“The most controversial book of the year.” – The Guardian

“His basic argument that memories of the Holocaust are being debased is serious and should be given its due.”– The Economist

Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict
by Norman G. Finkelstein

“Anyone interested in seeing justice brought to the Middle East must read this book.” – Charles Glass

The Case for Sanctions Against Israel
edited by Audrea Lim

“Provides clear arguments for international sanctions against Israel because of its treatment of the Palestinians. This excellent collection of essays is an essential text for anyone interested in why they should support the movement to boycott Israel. The essays are not just good reading; they are also an eloquent call to the world to give a damn.” –  Ron Jacobs, Counterpunch

Shattered Hopes: Obama’s Failure to Broker Israeli-Palestinian Peace
by Josh Ruebner

“This marvelous book looks at one of the thorniest aspects of foreign policy today. It’s a book for those who are not content to sit on the sidelines and watch the continuous dispossession of the Palestinian people, committed if not in our name, then with our blessing. Josh Ruebner has offered a badly needed contribution to a discussion that is all too often suppressed in the mainstream media.” – Bill Fletcher, Jr., writer/activist, immediate past president of TransAfrica Forum.