People often ask me where to turn for information on Israel. Well, there is no shortage of great resources! My favorites cover the broad scope of Israeli culture and life, because guess what? Israel is more than just a story of conflict.
Here are some must-read books:
Saving Israel: How the Jewish People Can Win a War That May Never End, Daniel Gordis: A riveting explanation of why Israel is necessary, how it has changed the existential condition of Jews worldwide, and what it must do in order to survive. Here is my interview with Dr. Gordis and also my review of the book.
At the Entrance to the Garden of Eden: A Jew's Search for Hope With Christians and Muslims in the Holy Land, Yossi Klein Halevi: Can religion be a source of unity? This is the question Halevi seeks to answer in his transcendent spiritual journey into the devotional life of his Muslim and Christian neighbors.
The Israelis: Ordinary People in an Extraordinary Land, Donna Rosenthal: Brings to vivid life the astonishing cultural diversity of the people who call themselves Israelis- the religious and secular, Jews from Europe, Jews from the Middle East, immigrants from Russia and Ethiopia, Christians, Muslims, Beduins, and Druze.
Like Dreamers: The Story of the Israeli Paratroopers Who Reunited Jerusalem and Divided a Nation, Yossi Klein Halevi: A gripping portrait of seven paratroopers of the brigade that restored Jewish sovereignty to Jerusalem in the Six Day War and the diverse roles they played in shaping modern Israel after the war. Here is my interview with the author.
The Case for Israel, Alan Dershowitz: The renowned attorney presents his case in a meticulously researched and annotated volume.
A Tale of Love and Darkness, Amos Oz: Among Israel's most acclaimed authors, Oz recounts his childhood in pre-state Jerusalem, a riveting story filled with humor, pathos, and unforgettable characters.
Start-Up Nation, Dan Senor and Saul Singer: Explains the factors of culture that have enabled Israel to lead the world in innovation.
Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor, Yossi Klein Halevi: Halevi manages the most difficult juggle of all—he embodies an unshakable attachment to Israel, a commitment to Jewish peoplehood, and a deep empathy for his Palestinian neighbors. It's a must-read for everyone. My review is here.
Jerusalem Drawn and Quartered: One Woman’s Year in the Heart of the Christian, Muslim, Armenian, and Jewish Quarters of Old Jerusalem, Sarah Tuttle-Singer: No matter where you stand or what you think you know, this love story to Jerusalem will rattle your certitude. My review here.
The Zionist Ideas: Visions for the Jewish Homeland—Then, Now, Tomorrow, Gil Troy: A comprehensive collection of diverse thinkers on what the Jewish state means and why. Want to understand Zionism’s depth and breadth? Read this.
We Look Like the Enemy, Rachel Shabi: The majority of Israel’s Jews have their roots in the Arab Middle East, not Europe. When Mizrachi (Eastern) Jews began arriving to Israel en massein the early 1950’s, they were often subjected to prejudice, considered lower class than the Ashkenazi elite. Those challenges have lessened over time but have not disappeared. The Netflix series ‘Beauty and the Baker’ tackles the topic with humor. This book digs into the history.
A Shepherd’s Journey, Ishmael Khaldi: From his childhood in a Bedouin village in northern Israel to serving as Israel’s first Bedouin diplomat, Ishmael Khaldi’s story is both educational and stirring. You will learn about the Bedouin-Israel culture, part of Israel’s multi-ethnic society, and be inspired by the journey of this remarkable man in the service of his country.
Spies of No Country, Matti Friedman: This is a riveting account of Israeli espionage at the time of the state’s founding, and a counter to the familiar narrative of Ashkenazi pioneers. The ‘spies of no country’ are Jewish youth from Arab lands, who take on an extraordinarily dangerous role for a state that is yet to be.
Catch-67, Micha Goodman: If you want to understand the foundational ideas that have driven the political discussion in Israel since the Six Day War this is a must-read. Micah Goodman respectfully and empathetically explains the ‘catch’- the fears of the left and the right- that keep Israel stuck. He also offers a modest way forward in a seemingly intractable conflict.
More great books:
Israel, A Concise History of a Nation Reborn, Daniel Gordis
The Case for Peace by Alan Dershowitz
The Idiots Guide to the Arab-Israeli Conflict by Mitchell Bard
Prisoners: a Muslim and a Jew Across the Middle East Divide by Jeffrey Goldberg
Son of Hamas by Mosab Hassan Yousef
Catch The Jew by Tuvia Tenenboim
Myths and Facts: A Guide to the Arab-Israeli Conflict by Mitchell Bard
News Websites (in English):
HaAretz (Israeli newspaper that leans left)
Jerusalem Post (Israeli newspaper that leans right)
Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs Daily Alert
CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America):
MEMRI (Middle East Media Research Institute)
General Sources of Information:
CUFI (Christians United for Israel)
Ir Amim: an organization whose goal is to make Jerusalem equitable and livable for both Arabs and Israelis
Parents Circle-Families Forum : The Parents Circle – Families Forum (PCFF) is a joint Israeli-Palestinian organization of over 600 families, all of whom have lost an immediate family member to the ongoing conflict.
Shorashim-Judur-Roots: an organization fostering a grassroots movement of understanding, nonviolence, and transformation among Israelis and Palestinians.