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Clarification of the StandWithUs book list that was printed in The Forward

Updated: Feb 3

February 2, 2020


This weeks edition of the Forward includes a reading list attributed to me and StandWithUs. We sent the list in response to a specific question: "What books should Jared Kushner read to help create a peace plan?" The list that was printed was meant to offer readers an opportunity to learn about history, the Jewish connection to our ancestral home, the conflict and peace process, Israel's peace offers and rejectionism by Arab leaders, and other related topics.

The list was also meant to offer those who are more knowledgeable (like senior officials focused on the Middle East) a list of books from Palestinian and anti-Zionist/anti-Israel/Islamist perspectives in the region. These books include false and misleading claims about Israel, as well as rhetoric that promotes hatred towards the Jewish state and Jewish people.

Fighting such misinformation and hate is at the core of our mission at StandWithUs. Nevertheless, this material is important to read for anyone seeking to fully understand and properly discuss the conflict in the region. Unfortunately, the explanation and context for the different kinds of books (historical, pro-Israel, anti-Israel, etc) was not given along with the list. 

What follows is an explanation of the reading list that was printed in the Forward, including one additional recommendation:  

StandWithUs Israel 101, which is available at no cost online and in a variety of languages, and can be found at https://www.standwithus.com/israel101

Roz Rothstein, CEO,

StandWithUs  

We appreciate the Forward for reaching out to StandWithUs for a list of recommended readings about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We are elaborating on the books we have suggested to ensure that our students, community activists, and supporters are given proper guidance regarding the books.

The Forward's request specifically focused on what books Jared Kushner (or any senior official) should read to help formulate an approach to making peace. As such, our list included a wide array of literature offering many different intellectual, ideological, and historical perspectives.

Our reading list is for those who already have fundamental background and knowledge of the conflict. It is meant to be read in its entirety - we do not believe any one or two books would suffice to gain a deep understanding of the issues. Reading from a wide variety of perspectives is necessary to fully make sense of what is happening in the region.

That said, there is a huge difference between understanding anti-Israel perspectives and agreeing with or supporting them. Such narratives are important to know because they guide the actions of people and groups inside and outside the Middle East. That is why virulent opponents of Israel are included in our list, despite our vehement disagreement with their views and false claims about the Jewish state and Jewish people.

Reading list about Israel and Jews in the Middle East:

The following books are essential for understanding the history of the conflict, Israel, Zionism, history of the connection of Jews to the State of Israel, and other related issues.

A History of Israel by Howard Sachar.

1948: A History of the First Arab-Israel War by Benny Morris

Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East by Michael Oren

Like Dreamers: The Story of the Israeli Paratroopers Who Reunited Jerusalem and Divided a Nation by Yossi Klein Halevi

Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor by Yossi Klein Halevi

Israel: A History by Martin Gilbert

Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict, 1881-2001 by Benny Morris

In Ishmael’s House: A History of Jews in Muslim Lands by Martin Gilbert

The Jews of Islam by Bernard Lewis

Israel 101 - Produced by StandWithUs

Telling Our Story: Recent Essays on Zionism, the Middle East, and the Path to Peace by Einat Wilf

The Missing Peace: The Inside Story of the Fight for Middle East Peace by Dennis Ross

Reading list of Palestinian and wider Middle Eastern perspectives, including anti-Israel, anti-Zionist, and Islamist narratives:

The following books are essential for understanding Palestinian and anti-Zionist/anti-Israel perspectives in the Middle East. Books on this list include many false and misleading claims about Israel, but are nevertheless important to read in order to understand the clash of narratives in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and be able to knowledgeably respond to falsehoods about the Jewish state.

Armed Struggle and the Search for State: The Palestinian National Movement, 1949-1993 by Yezid Sayigh

Islam and the Problem of Israel by Ismail Raji al-Faruqi

The Israeli Republic: An Iranian Revolutionary’s Journey to the Jewish State by Jalal Al-e Ahmad

The Contemporary Arab Reader on Political Islam by Ibrahim M. Abu-Rabi

Palestinian Identity: The Construction of Modern National Consciousness by Rashid Khalidi The Question of Palestine by Edward Said

The following two books are by non-Arab authors and offer an insight into Arab attitudes towards Israel.

Pan-Arabism Before Nasser, Egyptian Power Politics and the Palestine Question by Michael Doran

Arab Attitudes to Israel by Yehoshafat Harkabi

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StandWithUs (SWU) is an international and non-partisan Israel education organization that inspires and educates people of all ages and backgrounds, challenges misinformation and fights antisemitism.

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