Fifty years on from Israel’s capture of East Jerusalem and the West Bank talk of a peace-settlement in the middle-east seems as remote as ever. This exceptional and far-reaching tour looks at views from both sides: from right wing settlers to Palestinian militant groups and mainstream political parties. We ask if there is any hope left of a peace deal or whether the two state solution is dead.
The tour is led by Gershon Baskin, one of Israel’s best known commentators on the peace-process with contributions from leading thinkers and analysts. This is possibly Political Tours’ most popular tour to date.
|DATES||Saturday, 14th – Sunday, 22nd September 2019|
|DESTINATION||Jerusalem, Ramallah, Bethlehem, Tel Aviv|
Led by Gershon Baskin
Single supplement: £500.00
Single supplement: £500.00
We examine the remaining obstacles to a two-state solution including Israeli settlements in the West Bank, the status of Jerusalem, Israeli concerns over security and the right of Palestinian refugees to return.
With little progress in decades groups on both sides now advocate a one-state solution for both nations, but just where would that lead?
We meet with leading political figures and analysts as well as ordinary people as we explore one of the most complex issues in the world.
The tour is led by Gershon Baskin, one of Israel’s best-known commentators on the peace process. The founder of a joint Israeli-Palestinian think tank, Gershon also helped to negotiate the release of the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit from captivity in Gaza. Dahlia Scheindlin, an Israeli political strategist is a keynote speaker on our Israel and Palestine tours
As with all of our expert-led tours, we ensure that our groups remain small and intimate, and will not exceed 14 people. Flights aren’t included in the tour price and should be arranged by customers themselves or with an agent.
As with all of our tours the itinerary focuses on current affairs, and owing to the dynamic nature of politics means that local conditions may lead us adjust the final schedule.
Saturday, 14th September: East Jerusalem
Sunday, 15th September: Jerusalem
Monday, 16th September: Introduction to Palestine
Tuesday, 17th September: The northern West Bank
Wednesday, 18th September: The southern West Bank
Thursday, 19th September: The Desert & the Settlements
Friday, 20th September: Nazareth & Zichron Yachov
Saturday, 21st September: Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv is home to some of Israel’s most important political think tanks, academics and human rights groups. We use this final day to both review the tour and examine the range of political forces within Israel. Is there any hope of renewed commitment to the peace-process? Farewell dinner and overnight Tel Aviv. At dinner we begin to review the weeks events. Overnight Tel Aviv.
Sunday, 22nd September: Tel Aviv
Overview of the tour at breakfast; departure for airports.
All of your accommodation and meals with water are included, as well as local transport (except during your free time). Flights are not included in the price and need to be arranged by customers themselves or with an agent. We can advise you on reservations if you need any help.
Following the News
Like all our tours the itinerary is focused on current affairs. Events on the ground may change and the final schedule may be adjusted accordingly.
This tour starts in Jerusalem and ends in Tel Aviv.
As on all our expert-led tours the groups are deliberately small and will not exceed 14 people. Limited spaces are available.
Do I need a Visa?
Most travellers to Israel with Political Tours do not require a visa (e.g. EU, US, UK, Canada, New Zealand and Australia).
UK, EU, USA, Australian and New Zealand passport holders don’t need a visa to enter Israel as a tourist. On entry, visitors are granted leave to enter for a period of up to 3 months. Visitors entering via Ben Gurion airport are given an entry card instead of an entry stamp in their passport. You should keep your entry card with your passport until you leave. This is evidence of your legal entry into Israel and may be required, particularly at any crossing points into the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
Evidence of a previous visit to another country in the region like an entry/exit stamp in your passport does not normally prevent entry into Israel, although it may lead to additional questioning at the border. It is for the Israeli authorities to determine the right of entry into Israel.
Does Israel stamp my passport?
Israel no longer stamps travellers passports. You will be given an entry ticket at immigration which you need to keep with your passport until you leave the country.
FCO Website – Travel Advice
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office publishes regularly updated travel information on its website www.fco.gov.uk/knowbeforeyougo which you are recommended to consult before booking and in good time before departure. Where it considers it appropriate to do so, the FCO may advise against all travel or all but essential travel to particular countries or parts of particular countries. Similarly, the FCO may withdraw any such previously given advice. Where the FCO issues such advice, we may as a result cancel your tour or make changes so as to avoid the area concerned (see clause 10 or our conditions). Alternatively, we may ask you to sign a form confirming you wish to proceed with the tour notwithstanding the FCO advice. It is in the nature of the itineraries we offer that the FCO may have issued such advice in relation to the country or parts of the country we are intending to visit prior to confirmation of your booking. In this case, you will be asked to sign the above form before we confirm your booking.
Advice on health requirements may be obtained from your GP, or alternatively from the Department of Health Leaflet Advice on Health for Travelers, or the Department of Health in the UK. For further information on vaccination requirements, health outbreaks and general disease protection and prevention you should visit http://www.fitfortravel.scot.nhs.uk/destinations.aspx
The Israeli shekel is used in both Israel and throughout the West Bank. ATM’s are readily accessible, and cards can be used for payments in a wide variety of places.
The weather is mild, with a Mediterranean climate. The rainy season is between November and April and winters can be cold and wet. Southern Areas may become very hot during summer months.
What to Wear
Generally dress requirements in Israel and Palestine are quite relaxed. However during our tour we visit places where groups may be more religious or conservative, so we recommend you have clothing that covers your arms and legs. T shirts and shorts should be avoided on these days. Women will also need to cover their heads to enter mosques or synagogues.
Secondly we also have a range of meeting with politicians or senior officials where we are expected to be more formally dressed. We will advise you on a day-by-day basis on which meetings are coming up.
Men: Will need a jacket for some of the meetings.
Women: The female equivalent; jacket or blouse.
Electricity and Plugs
Electricity works through a European 2 round pin plug socket and is a standard 230v.
Gershon Baskin Ph.D., is the founding Co-Chairman of IPCRI, the Israel Palestine Center for Research and Information (www.ipcri.org), a columnist for The Jerusalem Post and the initiator and negotiator of the secret back channel for the release of Gilad Schalit.
Baskin served as an outside adviser on the peace process to late prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and on a Jerusalem experts committee under former prime minister Ehud Barak. He was the first civil servant in Israel responsible for Jewish-Arab relations in Israel, working in the Ministry of Education under Zvulen Hammer, and as the founder and director of the Institute for Education for Jewish-Arab Coexistence. Baskin is a graduate of the Young Judaea movement. He made aliya from New York in 1978 and lives in Jerusalem.
Dr. Dahlia Scheindlin
Dr. Dahlia Scheindlin is a public opinion expert and an international political and strategic consultant; she is also an academic and a writer. Her doctoral research examined unrecognized states, which emerged from ethno-nationalist conflicts and declared independence unilaterally. In the past, she has worked as a Senior Analyst for the Washington-based global firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research; the director of international campaigns at GCS Issue Management, and a researcher at the Israel Democracy Institute. She has advised and conducted research on five national campaigns in Israel.
As an independent consultant, she conducts extensive public opinion research on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the peace process, along with issues of democracy, human rights, minority relations and foreign affairs for a wide range of NGOs. Ms. Scheindlin works internationally on electoral campaigns, social and civil society projects in Serbia, Ukraine, Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria and the US among other countries. Ms. Scheindlin holds a doctorate in political science at Tel Aviv University; she is an adjunct university lecturer, a regular media commentator, and she writes a regular column at +972 Magazine, where she is also Chairperson of the Board of Directors.
Israel and Palestine
“The tour gave me an insightful glimpse into the complex issues of the Israel/Palestine situation. Hearing first hand from people closely involved and well informed from both sides was, in my view, exceptional. I thought we had a good range of views across the spectrum” CF, 2017
“The tour revealed to me many things I would never ever have known if I hadn’t had access to people so involved in the situation. It offered intelligent (usually) comment on the situation – enhanced by the calibre of people within the group.” Sept, 2017
“Top marks all round.” Israel & Palestine, 2017
“The speakers we were introduced to were excellent” Israel & Palestine, 2017
“There were many highlights to the tour. Meeting Hanan Ashwari was a particular honour. But the people who I enjoyed most, were Bassam and Yahav. I may have been influenced by the time we had with both of these guys, but what I enjoyed most was their warm approach to explaining quite complex issues. Both men were exceptional additions to my insights into a deeply complex situation. Having said that Roi, Fayrouz and Sam Bahour were also exceptional – and all offered insights into the problems faced by people of this area. Fatima was also a standout for the organisation she has founded and her drive to make changes within her community.” Israel & Palestine, 2017
“I got a very sound basis for forming my own opinion about the Middle East conflict. I saw more than one place that I would not have seen without the tour.” CM, Israel & Palestine 2017
“Provided a balance view I did not have previously” Sept, 2017
“Your staff and the experts made all the difference. I cannot imagine the experience would have run as smoothly, been as informative or as enjoyable without them. There was no weak link in the chain — every expert was hugely knowledgable and effective at communicating large amounts of information.” Israel & Palestine, October 2015
“An incredible experience… close enough to the people, the reality …” Israel & Palestine, 2016
“Enjoyably demanding tour. To see so many places and meet with so many people in so short a time, and to absorb so much information in depth, was something we had not done before; it was very stimulating.” Israel & Palestine, October 2015
“The main reason to travel really is the “being there” factor – the experience of seeing the reality of the West Bank for ourselves is what made the difference and gave us a context for the valuable inputs from the experts and propagandists we met. The tour’s openness to some unscheduled encounters with “ordinary” people on both sides provided further insight.” Israel & Palestine, October 2015
“Thank you both for a very stimulating 10 days…. Our best holiday ever !” Israel & Palestine, October 2016
“You understand the reality on the ground by hearing directly from people with many different points of view. We listened nonstop. We talked to politicians, businessmen, heads of NGO’s and think tanks, human right lawyers, intellectuals on all sides of the issues, the Palestinian Authority (PA), The Quartet, the Israel Defense Force, journalists, etc. We were also hosted by ordinary people in their homes. We visited throughout Israel. We went to the West Bank and talked to Jewish settlers and orthodox Jews in illegal outposts. We talked to Palestinians, rich and poor and visited Palestinian villages and Palestinian refugee camps. We met with Israeli mayors and had lunch with Jewish citizens in a middle class suburb of Tel Aviv…” Israel & Palestine, February 2014
Israel and Palestine
Go to the bottom of the page for recommended reading from Gershon Baskin and others
While the territory belonged to the Ottoman Empire until its defeat by the British in the First World War, Zionist movements had been long gaining momentum due to the region’s immense religious significance to the global Jewish diaspora. In 1882, a wave of 35,000 Jews immigrated to what is today Israel, though they failed to fully assimilate or be accepted by Arab Muslims already living there, as well as some Christians and Druze.
During the First World War, in what is known as the Balfour Declaration, the British Government announced support for the creation of a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine, which at the time was part of the Ottoman Empire and home to a minority population of Jews.
The declaration galvanised Zionism and support for the creation of a Jewish state and led to the establishment of Mandatory Palestine in 1920, a geopolitical region under British administration, after the fall of the Ottoman Empire.
Britain’s influence in the region was shored up by the Sykes-Picot Agreement, a secret agreement made during the First World War, between France, Britain, and Russia, allocating regions in the Middle East to each of the respective world powers. That agreement was particularly divisive, as it saw Britain renege on its promise to establish a national Arab homeland.
With civil war ravaging Russia, and the dissolution of its empire, in the 1920s, many Jews fled persecution to Western Europe and the United States, expanding the Zionist movement worldwide.
However, in Mandatory Palestine tensions were brewing. Jewish immigrants that arrived en masse in 1882 continued to expand their settlements, resulting in civil, political and armed struggle against Palestinians. Riots broke out in 1921, starting in Jaffa (today a suburb of Tel Aviv) before spreading across the country. Thousands of Jewish residents moved to Tel Aviv.
The British attempted to quell Arab discontent by offering representation in an official council. The Arabs refused, believing it would damage their chances of self-determination by accepting parts of the Balfour Declaration.
Rioting again broke out in 1929, precipitated by a dispute over the Western Wall, one of the holiest sites in Judaism. The violence was widespread and marked by attacks carried out against Jew by Arabs.
In 1936, a nationwide Arab revolt broke out lasting three years and further damaging relations between Arabs and Jews, and their British administrators. Initially led by urban elites, the uprising spread among rural peasants and became violent and was met with brutal suppression by British forces. By the end of the revolt in 1939, over 5000 Arabs and 300 Jews were killed.
When 6 million Jews were systematically murdered by Nazi Germany in the Holocaust, the fight for a nation state of Israel gained further international traction.
At the end of the Second World War, with Nazi Germany defeated but religious violence in Palestine spiralling, Britain withdrew its mandate. In 1947, the newly formed United Nations proposed dividing the region into Arab and Jewish states, which was rejected by the Arabs. Despite the misgivings, the resolution passed and in 1948, the State of Israel declared independence.
The final Declaration of Independence made no reference to borders, though politicians at the time indicated they would honour the borders as laid out in the UN partition plan.
The move outraged Arabs in Palestine and the wider region, and led to the First Arab-Israeli War, a continuation of a civil war that broke out following the UN’s resolution one year prior. Israel fought against a coalition of Arab states, ultimately retaining all of its land provisioned in the partition plan as well as gaining 60% of the territory allocated for Palestinian Arabs. Egypt took control of the Gaza Strip and Jordan the West Bank.
Following the war, the Jewish population of Israel doubled, with 688,000 immigrants arriving between 1948 and 1951. Around 700,000 Palestinians were expelled or fled their homes in the newly formed nation, becoming refugees. A special UN agency for refugees was created to assist with the crisis caused by the war, differing from the much broader UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees).
Israel’s official borders remained the same as those in the UN partition plan, though in reality they kept changing, with Jordan annexing the West Bank in 1950, having previously captured it in the Arab-Israeli War.
Israel took the West Bank in 1967, as part of the Six-Day War, which broke out after Israel invaded the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt, looking to lift the blockade on shipping routes. Jordan, Iraq and Syria rallied behind Egypt, though were decisively beaten by Israeli forces. Israel gained the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, alongside East Jerusalem and the West Bank from Jordan and Goram Heights from Syria. A ceasefire was quickly signed, ending six days of brutal fighting that left 20,000 Arabs and around 1,000 Israelis dead.
The war, while celebrated in Israel, was widely decried in the Arab world and galvanised support for the fledgling Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), an armed organisation fighting for Palestinian statehood. A number of similar leftist movements grew in the wake of the war, regularly carrying out terrorist attacks.
In 1973, an Arab coalition led by Egypt and Syria launched a surprise attack on territories that had been occupied by Israel since the Six-Day War, opening the Yom Kippur War. Israel’s dominance was less assured than in previous conflicts, with Arab states forcing Israel out of its occupied territories. The war lasted several weeks. In 1979, a peace deal was signed between Israel and Egypt and Jordan, with Sinai officially handed back to Egypt.
In 1987, a Palestinian uprising – known as the First Intifada – broke out against the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, lasting four years until the Madrid Conference in 1991, a summit between Israeli and Palestinian leaders, brokered by Spain, the US, and the Soviet Union.
The conference paved the way for the Oslo Accords, signed between 1993 and 1999, a set of agreements that mandated the creation of a Palestinian Authority (PA) to govern parts of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Israel was to withdraw from these territories. Talks to determine the permanent status of the regions broke down following another uprising in 2000.
That uprising – the Second Intifada – broke out when Ariel Sharon, a prominent Israeli politician and later Prime Minister, visited the Temple Mount, a site of holy significance for Muslims, Christians, and Jews. The visit was seen was incendiary, and sparked another uprising – the Second Intifada – that escalated over four years. The violence was marked by suicide attacks carried out by Hamas, a fundamentalist Islamic Palestinian political party with a militant aspect. The PLO, led by Yasser Arafat, was also implicated in the violence.
The Second Intifada was ultimately crushed by the Israelis, leaving any chance of peace remote though Israel did fulfill its pledge to withdraw from Gaza.
Gaza then fell into civil war in 2006, a conflict that is ongoing today, when the two main political parties, Fatah and Hamas, fought over which parts of Gaza they would administer. Volleys of rockets were launched at Israel, signalling that peace could not be made with Palestine.
Meanwhile, in Israel, the hard right grew under the leadership of current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a charismatic populist-nationalist. An influx of ex-communists boosted the right wing vote, alongside a growing demographic of ultra-orthodox Judaism.
Today, among growing calls for the annexation of the West Bank, the possibility of peace looks remote in the near future, with Israel exacerbating tensions by continuing to aggressively build settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, numbering up to 600,000.
Another spanner was thrown into the works late in 2017 when US President Donald Trump announced that the US would recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, bucking 70 years of international policy. Tel Aviv was always regarded as the capital – despite Jerusalem holding the seat of government – in order to avoid inflaming tensions with Palestine who also claim Jerusalem as capital.
With peace looking as far away as ever, and with hardline voices on either end of the spectrum drowning out centrists, can Israel and Palestine ever emerge from each other’s shadows?
David Ben-Gurion: The primary national founder of Israel in 1948, who served as its first Prime Minister. He was previously leader of the World Zionist Organization.
Benjamin Netanyahu: The current Prime Minister of Israel. He is a charismatic hardliner, behind a recent push to expand settlements in the West Bank and to assert Israel’s clout internationally.
Yasser Arafat: The leader of the PLO and Fatah political organization from 1969 until his death in 2004. He was a co-recipient of the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize for his role in the Oslo accords. Though a hero to Palestinians, he is considered a terrorist in Israel.
Parliamentary democracy, with three independent branches of government. Executive power belongs to the government, legislative power to the Knesset, and judicial power to the Supreme Court. Israel does not have a written constitution.
Israel has mandatory military service for men and women, with three million people available for active service in 2016. The Israeli Defence Force, as the military is known, is a major component of Israeli society, with almost all top Israeli politicians in the past 40 years having a military background.
Israeli Population: 8,299,706
Highly developed and technological, leading exports include pharmaceuticals, cut diamonds, and high-tech equipment.
GDP per capita: $35,200
The Palestinian Authority (PA) is the government body founded following following the Oslo Accords, in specific regions of Palestine. In theory the PA only represents these areas, though the Israeli government has taken to talking to the PA directly about wider matters. The PLO historically represents Palestinian interests.
The Palestinian government is divided into two separate administrations. The first being the Fatah-dominated PA government which rules the West Bank areas A and B. The other is the Hamas government which controls the Gaza Strip. In 2014, Hamas allowed the PA take control over Gaza.
Key industries including cement, textiles and soap.
GDP per capita: Gaza – $867. West Bank – $1924.
Palestinian Population: 4,550,368
Gershon Baskin’s Reading List
Jerome M Segal – Creating the Palestinian State
The author offers a strategy proposal for resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict in the Middle East, arguing that the existance of a Palestinian state would guarantee a humane and safe Israel.
(Dec. 1989) Lawrence Hill & Co.; 1 edition, Paperback: 187 pages, ISBN-10: 1556520557,
Azzam Tamimi – Hamas: A History from Within
for any serious assessment of the Palestinian Israeli conflict.Publishers Weekly (starred review)/One must understand Hamas in order to understand the current state of the Israeli Palestinian conflict. Hamas: A History from Within provides an unrivaled account of Hamass history, structure, and objectives, largely in its own words. A grassroots organization that commands wide respect among Palestinians for its incorruptibility, Hamas is divided into two main sections: one is responsible for establishing schools, hospitals, and religious institutions; the other for military action and terror attacks carried out by its armed underground wing the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades. Tamimis longtime relationships and extensive interviews with Hamass leading members allow him to create a more intimate portrait of Hamas, in its own words and from its own members, than has yet been available in English.
(30 April 2011) Olive Branch Press; 2nd ed. Edition, Paperback: 372 pages, ISBN-10: 1566568242
Tamara Cofman Wittes – How Israelis And Palestinians Negotiate: A Cross- Cultural Analysis of the Oslo Peace Process (Cross-Cultural Negotiation Books)
Refreshing and revealing in equal measure, this innovative volume conducts a critical/self–critical exploration of the impact of culture on the ill-fated Oslo peace process. The authors negotiators and scholars alike demolish stereotypes as they construct an unusually subtle and sophisticated understanding of how culture influences negotiating styles. Culture, they argue, did not cause the Oslo breakdown but it did play an influential, intervening role at several levels: coloring the thinking of political leaders, shaping domestic politics on both sides, and affecting each side s evaluation of the other s beliefs and intentions.After an overview by William Quandt of the history of the Oslo process and the impact of international factors such as U.S. mediation, the volume presents a detailed analysis of first Palestinian, and then Israeli negotiating styles between 1993 and 2001. Omar Dajani, a former legal advisor to the Palestinian team, explains how elements of Palestinian identity and national development have hobbled the Palestinians ability to negotiate effectively. Aharon Klieman, a distinguished Israeli analyst, traces a long-standing clash between diplomatic and security subcultures within the Israeli political elite and reveals how Israeli identity has helped create a negotiating style that opts for short-term gains while undermining the prospects for a lasting agreement. Drawing on these insights, Tamara Wittes concludes the volume by offering not only a fresh appreciation of culture s influence on interethnic negotiations but also lessons for future negotiators in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.Read the review from Foreign Affairs.”
(3 Jan. 2005) United States Institute of Peace Press, Paperback: 172 pages, ISBN-10: 1929223641
Robert I. Rotberg – Israeli And Palestinian Narratives of Conflict: History’s Double Helix
(Indiana Series in Middle East Studies)
“An exciting and wide-ranging exploration of the myths and narratives that lie behind the unresolved Arab-Israeli and Israeli-Palestinian conflicts. . . . Anyone dedicated to the fullest possible understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will want to read this volume cover to cover.” -Neil Caplan, Vanier College, Montreal Why does Hamas refuse to recognize the legitimacy of the state of Israel? Why do Israeli settlers in the West Bank insist that Israel has a legitimate right to that territory? What makes the Israeli-Palestinian conflict so intractable? Reflecting both Israeli and Palestinian points of view, this provocative volume addresses the two powerful, bitterly contested, competing historical narratives that underpin the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Compelling contributions by Israeli and Palestinian authors show how the intertwined reckonings of the historical past-history’s double helix-provide powerful ammunition for current battles. Just when a resolution of the conflict might seem to be on the horizon, the gulf of history resurges to separate the contenders. Palestinians and Israelis remain locked in struggle, tightly entangled and enveloped by a historical cocoon of growing complexity, fundamental disagreement, and overriding miscalculation. This book creates a dialogue among Palestinian and Israeli authors, who examine opposing versions of the historical narratives in the context of contemporary Israeli-Palestinian relations. In hard-hitting essays the contributors debate the two justifying and rationalizing constructions, laying bare the conflict’s roots and the distorted prisms that fuel it. Israeli and Palestinian Narratives of Conflict is an invaluable resource for anyone seeking to make sense of today’s headlines. Contributors are Sami Adwan, Dan Bar-On, Mordechai Bar-On, Daniel Bar-Tal, Nathan J. Brown, Saleh Abdel Jawad, Eyal Naveh, Ilan Pappe, Dina Porat, Robert I. Rotberg, Nadim N. Rouhana, Gavriel Salomon, and Mark Tessler.
(1 Sept. 2006) Indiana University Press, Paperback: 296 pages, ISBN-10: 0253218578
Arie L Eliav – Land of the Hart: Israelis, Arabs, the territories,: And a vision of the
(1974) Jewish Publication Society of America, Hardcover, ISBN-10: 082760047X
Akiva Eldar & Idith Zerta – Lords of the Land: The War for Israel’s Settlements in the Occupied
The 1967 Arab-Israeli War was a devastating triumph for Israel, which immediately began to establish settlements in the newly conquered territories. Those settlements, and the movement that made them possible, have utterly transformed Israel, and yet until now the full history of the occupation has never been told. Lords of the Land tells that tragic story, and reveals what a catastrophe it has been for both Israel and the Palestinians.
(5 Feb. 2009) Nation Books; Reprint edition, Paperback: 576 pages, ISBN-10: 1568584148
Sari Nusseibeh – Once Upon a Country;
These extraordinary memoirs give us a rare view into what the Arab-Israeli conflict has meant for one Palestinian family over the generations. Nusseibeh also interweaves his own story with that of the Palestinians as a people, always speaking his mind, and apportioning blame where he feels it due. Hated by extremists on both sides, his is a rare voice.
“This autobiography¿ carries the passion that might embolden ordinary Israelis and Palestinians to bypass the politicians and establish the peace that all but the armoured men desperately want.” The Independent
“Nusseibeh’s formidable achievement¿ leaves a drop of despair, because of how exceptional it is.” New York Times
(3 Sept. 2009) Halban Publishers, Paperback: 560 pages, ISBN-10: 1905559143,
Carter, Jimmy; Simon & Schuster – Palestine Peace Not Apartheid,
President Carter, who was able to negotiate peace between Israel and Egypt, has remained deeply involved in Middle East affairs since leaving the White House. He has stayed in touch with the major players from all sides in the conflict and has made numerous trips to the Holy Land, most recently as an observer in the Palestinian elections of 2006. In this book President Carter shares his intimate knowledge of the history of the Middle East and his personal experiences of the principal actors, and he addresses sensitive political issues many British and American officials shy from. Palestine is a challenging and provocative book. Pulling no punches, Carter prescribes steps that must be taken for the two states to share the Holy Land without a system of apartheid or the constant fear of terrorism.
(30 Jan. 2017) Political Book Summaries, Paperback: 26 pages, ISBN-10: 2512005364
Ben Ami, Shlomo – Scars of War, Wounds of Peace: The Israeli-Arab Tragedy
This book is about the pendulous movement of Arabs and Israelis between war and peace, in one of the most protracted conflicts of modern times. It is written from the perspective of a professional historian who was also a major participant at key junctures of the peace process. The narrative and analysis begins with the War of Independence and the creation of the state of Israel; the Sinai campaign of 1956, and the relative calm that followed; the Six Day War of 1967, where the Arabs were defeated but the Israelis were also defeated by the euphoria and complacency produced by their overwhelming victory; the Yom Kippur War and the recovery of Arab pride; the ascendancy of America 1973-77; Camp David; the first Intifada, the Gulf War and the Madrid peace conference; Rabin and Oslo; the Netanyahu impasse; the Al-Aqsa Intifada. The final chapters deals with the crisis of 9/11, the Iraq War, and the reactivation of the peace process.
(1 Nov. 2006) Phoenix; New Ed edition, Paperback: 432 pages, ISBN-10: 0753821044
Michael B. Oren – Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East
In 1967 the future of the state of Israel was far from certain. But with its swift and stunning military victory against an Arab coalition led by Egypt in the Six Day War, Israel not only preserved its existence but redrew the map of the region, with fateful consequences. The Camp David Accords, the assassinations of Anwar Sadat and Yitzhak Rabin, the intifada, and the current troubled peace negotiations―all of these trace their origins to the Six Day War.
Michael Oren’s Six Days of War is a gripping account of one of the most dramatic and important episodes in the history of the Middle East. With exhaustive research in primary sources―including Soviet, Jordanian, and Syrian files not previously available―he has reconstructed the tension-filled background and the dramatic military events of the conflict, drawing the threads together in a riveting narrative, enlivened by crisp characters sketches of major characters (many of whom, from Ariel Sharon to Yasser Arafat, are still leading figures today). Most important, Oren has unearthed some dramatic new findings. He has discovered that a top-secret Egyptian plan to invade Israel and wipe out its army and nuclear reactor came within hours of implementation. He also reveals how the superpowers narrowly avoided a nuclear showdown over the Eastern Mediterranean and how a military coup in Israel almost occurred on the eve of the war.
(30 July 2003) Countrysport Press,U.S.; 1st Presidio Press Ed edition, Paperback: 460 pages,
ISBN-10: 0345461924, ISBN-13: 978-0345461926
Rashid Khalid – The Iron Cage: The Story of the Palestinian Struggle for Statehood
Rashid Khalidi brings perspective to Palestinian attempts to achieve independence and statehood. Bringing together the latest scholarship, he concentrates on the period of the British Mandate (1920-1948), describing the process by which a European Jewish minority overcame the claims and rights of the native Arab majority.
(7 May 2015) OneWorld Publications, Paperback: 328 pages, ISBN-10: 1780748086
Dennis Ross – The Missing Peace: The Inside Story of the Fight for Middle East Peace
“The Missing Peace”, published to great acclaim last year, is the most candid inside account of the Middle East peace process ever written. Dennis Ross, the chief Middle East peace negotiator in the presidential administrations of George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton, is that rare figure who is respected by all parties: Democrats and Republicans, Palestinians and Israelis, presidents and people on the street in Jerusalem, Ramallah, and Washington, D.C. Ross recounts the peace process in detail from 1988 to the breakdown of talks in early 2001 that prompted the so-called second Intifada – and takes account of recent developments in a new after word written for this edition. It’s all here: Camp David, Oslo, Geneva, Egypt, and other summits; the assassination of Yitzak Rabin; the rise and fall of Benjamin Netanyahu; the very different characters and strategies of Rabin, Yasir Arafat, and Bill Clinton; and the first steps of the Palestinian Authority. For the first time, the backroom negotiations, the dramatic and often secretive nature of the process, and the reasons for its faltering are on display for all to see. “The Missing Peace” explains, as no other book has, why Middle East peace remains so elusive.
(24 Jun. 2005) Farrar, Straus & Giroux Inc; New edition, Paperback: 800 pages, ISBN-10: 0374529809
Aaron David Miller – The Much Too Promised Land
For nearly twenty years, Aaron David Miller has played a central role in U.S. efforts to broker Arab-Israeli peace as an advisor to presidents, secretaries of state, and national security advisors. Without partisanship or finger-pointing, Miller records what went right, what went wrong, and how we got where we are today. Here is a look at the peace process from a place at the negotiation table, filled with behind-the-scenes strategy, colorful anecdotes and equally colorful characters, and new interviews with presidents, secretaries of state, and key Arab and Israeli leaders.
Honest, critical, and often controversial, Miller’s insider’s account offers a brilliant new analysis of the problem of Arab-Israeli peace and how it still might be solved.
(1 Jun. 2009) Bantam Dell Publishing Group, Div of Random House, Inc; Reprint edition, Paperback: 416 pages, ISBN-10: 0553384147, ISBN-13: 978-0553384147
Yossi Beilin – The Path to Geneva: The Quest for a Permanent Agreement, 1996-2004
From the early days of the secret Oslo talks through the recent crises and new developments in Israel and Palestine, Yossi Beilin has been at the center of it all. This book highlights his intensive and historic meetings with President Clinton, Ehud Barak, Shimon Peres, Hosni Mubarek, King Hussein of Jordan and Madeleine Albright, as well as Beilin’s crucial connections with such seminal Arab leaders as Yassir Arafat, Saeb Erikot, Faisal Husseini and the first prime minister of “Palestine,” Abu Mazen. The Beilin-Mazen agreements are the basis of the current “road map” to Middle East peace.
(1 Aug. 2004) RDV Books, Hardcover: 300 pages, ISBN-10: 097192063X, ISBN-13: 978-0971920637
Clayton E Swisher – The Truth About Camp David
The collapse of both sets of Arab-Israeli negotiations in 2000 led not only to recrimination and bloodshed, with the outbreak of the second intifada, but to the creation of a new myth. Syrian and Palestinian intransigence was blamed for the current disastrous state of affairs, as both parties rejected a “generous” peace offering from the Israelis that would have brought peace to the region. The Truth About Camp David shatters that myth. Based on the riveting, eyewitness accounts of more than forty direct participants involved in the latest rounds of Arab-Israeli negotiations, including the Camp David 2000 summit, former federal investigator-turned-investigative journalist Clayton E. Swisher provides a compelling counter-narrative to the commonly accepted history. The Truth About Camp David details the tragic inner workings of the Clinton Administration’s negotiating mayhem, their eleventh hour blunders and miscalculations, and their concluding decision to end the Oslo process with blame and disengagement. It is not only a fascinating historical look at Middle East politics on the brink of disaster, but a revelatory portrait of how all-too-human American political considerations helped facilitate the present crisis.
(21 Sept. 2004) Nation Books, Paperback: 208 pages, ISBN-10: 1560256230,
Reading list on personal views of the conflict
Walid Khalidi – All That Remains: The Palestinian Villages Occupied and Depopulated by Israel in 1948,
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.
(13 April 2006) Institute for Palestine Studies, Paperback: 636 pages,
ISBN-10: 0887283063, ISBN-13: 978-0887283062
Ari Shavit – My Promised Land
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.
(3 Feb. 2015) Spiegel & Grau; Reissue edition, Paperback: 480 pages,
ISBN-10: 0385521715, ISBN-13: 978-0385521710
Martin Sieff – The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Middle East
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, 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.
(1 April 2008) Regnery Publishing Inc, Paperback: 230 pages,
ISBN-10: 1596980516, ISBN-13: 978-1596980518
Tom Bissell – My Vacation in the Holy Land
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.
Sarah Glidden – How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less
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.
(30 Aug. 2016) Drawn & Quarterly; 01 edition, Paperback: 212 pages,
ISBN-10: 1770462538, ISBN-13: 978-1770462533
Abbie Rosner – Breaking Bread in Galilee: A Culinary Journey into the Promised Land,
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.
(18 April 2012) Hilayon Press, Paperback: 260 pages, ISBN-10: 9657594006