Books

Books recommended by Olive Tree supporters.

Velvet    Huzama Habayeb    Hoopoe fiction 2016   a novel translated from Arabic.

Hawa has had to survive the grinding hardship of life in a refugee camp.  Now she has fallen in love.  As she makes plans for a new beginning that may take her out of the camp, she sifts back through her memories of the past. Rich in detail Velvet tells of the women of the camp, and the joy and relief that can be captured amid repression and sorrow.

The Wall     William Sutcliffe       Bloomsbury 2014

“Suitable for late teenagers and young adults and an easy fast-moving read.  This is a very exciting story about a young settler boy who discovers a tunnel leading from his hilltop home and going under THE WALL which separates his community from the OTHERS.  Despite the danger and all that he has been told he investigates and finds another world that surprises him and us. I was truly hooked and very moved by this astonishing story about justice and humanity.  A must read”!

Beyond Tribal Loyalties: personal stories of Jewish peace activists    Avigail Abarbanel     Cambridge Scholars Publishing    2011.

Abarbanel is based near Nairn. In this collection of stories of Jewish peace activists of all ages from around the world she describes the complex and personal journeys they have gone through to free themselves from the hold of Zionist ideology and its requirement to support all Israeli policies. For many this process involved a reassessment of personal values, belief systems and identity.

The Hundred Years’ War on Palestine: A History of Settler Colonial Conquest and Resistance    Rashid Khalidi    Profile Books   2020

Khalidi is a member of a very ancient Palestinian Family who possess records from long ago. Drawing on these records Khalidi reclaims the fundamental right of any people to narrate their history on their own terms. “Riveting and original … a work enriched by solid scholarship, vivid personal experience, and acute appreciation of the concerns and aspirations of the contending parties in this deeply unequal conflict.” (Noam Chomsky)

Justice and Only Justice: a Palestinian Theology of Liberation    Naim Ateek    Orbis Books  1989

Ateek is a priest in the Anglican Communion and founder of the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Centre in Jerusalem. He explores the biblical and theological issues as well as the historical ones facing the Christian community and all the victims of war and oppression. He seeks to promote reconciliation. “This was particularly helpful on the subject of Land according to his view of the Old Testament”.

Jerusalem: The Biography   Simon Sebag Montefiore    Phoenix    2012

“Bought in Dubai airport I thought this book could not be too Israeli-oriented or the Arabs wouldn’t be selling it, and it isn’t.  Like Josephus, it is easy reading and probably about as reliable.  What it does show is the incredible complication of the entwined cultures – entwined but also struggling against each other all the time in what we call Israel/Palestine.  Money and power shifted often but talk loudest over the 2000 years plus, but the need and near-silent cry for freedom/justice is always whispering underneath”.

I Shall not Hate    Izzeldin Abuelaish    Bloomsbury Publishing Plc    2012

“I picked this book because of its title.  The author, born and living in Gaza, was the first Palestinian doctor to work in an Israeli hospital. During the 2009 Gaza War, his 3 daughters and niece were killed by an Israeli tank fire directed at his house. He established the Daughters for Life Foundation which provides scholarships and awards for young female students in the Middle East.  Ellie Wiesel called the book “ a necessary lesson against hatred and revenge.  You can feel Izzeldin’s love for all, even when he is describing all that he has been through”.

Let it be Morning    Sayed Kashua    Black Cat    2004

“This novel shows a flawed hero whose life is overturned when he returns to his home village after living and working in Jerusalem.  His character is an Arab who works as a journalist and sees himself as an Israeli.  The novel shows how he is adrift in both worlds through his observation of his colleagues and the villagers where he now lives.  The inequalities are thrown into direct contrast when his village is shut off from the outside world.  What would you do with the water, phone and electricity cut off and the shops running out of food”?  

Faith in the Face of Empire: The Bible through Palestinian Eyes    Mitri Raheb    Orbis Books    2014

“Raheb is a co-author of Kairos Palestine, a document for all faiths to work towards a just solution to Israeli occupation.  For more than 60 years the Palestinians, Christians and Muslims, have suffered displacement, expulsion, wars, occupation and oppression.  Mitri (re) reads Jesus’ mission of love for all in light of the current conflict, which he describes as another empire taking over a people. I found it interesting to ‘see’ the Bible this way and it helps to make sense of the Old and New Testaments.  What I found uplifting is that there is so much hope in the future in terms of the call for people to live out their faith and to live their lives creatively – a new way of non-violent resistance to the daily cruelties inflicted on Palestinians through art and music”.

Anguished Hope: Holocaust Scholars confront the Palestinian Conflict    ed. Leonard Grob and John Roth

Wm B Erdmans Publishing Co.    2008

Thirteen Holocaust scholars — both Jewish and Christian — candidly address the challenges, risks, and possibilities embedded in the discouraging, long-lasting Palestinian-Israeli conflict. They also sharply critique the use of Holocaust terminology or imagery by the modern-day combatants.

A Palestinian Cry for Reconciliation    Naim Stefan Ateek    Orbis Books    2008

Part 1 focuses on events since the Intifada of 1987.  Part 2 of the book draws on scripture, looking at  biblical figures such as Samson, Jonah, Daniel and Jesus as it examines issues of ownership of the land.  In Part 3, Ateek presents a strategy to achieve peace and justice non-violently that will promote justice for the Palestinians and security for both Israel and Palestine.  Naim is a Palestinian priest; a former canon of the Anglican St George’s Cathedral in Jerusalem and founder of the Sabeel Center and a co-writer of Kairos Palestine. 

Blood Brothers….Elias Chacour    Chosen Books    1984 and 2008

First-hand account of the destruction of his village, Biram, in the Nakba of 1948.  Ever since then Chacour has been a Christian leader and a peace activist.

Faith Beyond Despair, Building Hope in the Holy Land    Elias Chacour    Canterbury Press    2008

This book tells the stories of many individuals working for peace and of Chacour’s own work, especially with children and students from the school and college he has founded.  Fr Elias Chacour is the Melkite (Greek Catholic) Archbishop of Galilee.  The Mar Elias Educational Institution now caters for 4,500 students, representing all major religions and ethnicities in Israel.

The Arab-Israeli Conflict: A Guide for the Perplexed    Ian Bickerton    Continuum Books    2012

“For me, this did what it says it does on the tin.  Ian examines many viewpoints and I felt that I had more understanding of the reasons for the seeming intractability of the conflict; the media tendency to polarise the arguments and the victim viewpoint on both sides.  Interesting and stuffed with facts and quotes but still readable.”

Occupied Territories    Garth Hewitt    InterVarsity Press (US)    2014

The full title includes, “The Revolution of Love from Bethlehem to the Ends of the Earth.”

After years of looking at the conflict in Israel-Palestine, Garth Hewitt, legendary singer-songwriter and founder of The Amos Trust, provides a personal, passionate and honest examination of the way forward that he believes Christians need to understand. 

Palestinian Walks: Notes on a Vanishing Landscape    Raja Shehadeh    Profile Books    2008

Raja loves his country and the freedom he experiences on his walks.  He writes about the people he meets and the changes he sees in the landscape.  The hills, which would have been familiar to Christ, are becoming less and less accessible.  His walks span 27 years and he records the history and the current conflicts.  It is beautifully written and a unique perspective on Palestine.

Gaza Writes Back: Short Stories from Young Writers in Gaza    ed. Refaat Alareer    Just World Books    2014

A compelling anthology of short stories from fifteen young writers in Gaza, members of a generation that has suffered immensely under Israel’s siege and blockade.  Their experiences, especially during and following Israel’s 2008-2009 offensive known as “Operation Cast Lead” have fundamentally impacted their lives and their writing.  Struggles large and small but hope and courage too.

Decolonizing Israel, Liberating Palestine: Zionism, Settler Colonialism and the Case for One Democratic State

Jeff Halper    Pluto Press    January 2021

Jeff Halper, a Jewish Israeli, founded The Israeli Committee against House Demolitions (ICAHD). 

He favours and works towards a one-state solution.  The book is more than just an ambition; it draws a roadmap towards decolonisation after explaining how colonisation happened.  Halper sees Zionism as a settler-colonial project and looks at South Africa’s struggle to end apartheid.  He also writes about the strategies of Palestinian resistance.

The General’s Son    Miko Peled    Just World Books    2012

The writer’s father was a general in the IDF (Israeli Defence Force) who became a peace activist.  Miko Peled advocates for a unitary binational state anchored in common humanity.

Exile in Israel    Dr Runa Mackay    Wild Goose Publications    1995 (available at Hadeel.)

In 1954 Dr Mackay’s six-month locum post at Nazareth Hospital became 30 years.  After retiring, she did a degree in Arabic and Islamic Studies in Edinburgh and then returned to serve with MAP (Medical Aid to Palestinians) in refugee camps in Lebanon.  A first-hand perceptive account of the events in Israel from the fifties till the nineties.

You Can’t Hide the Sun    John McCarthy    Transworld books    2012

“Yes, the man who was held hostage in Lebanon for five years.  He travelled all over Israel, mainly to meet its Arab citizens.  Vibrant descriptions of moving encounters with many individuals and families.”

The Lemon Tree    Sandy Tolan    Transworld Books     2008

True story of an unusual and difficult friendship between a young Palestinian man and a young Jewish woman, now living in the house from which the Arab family had been expelled.

I saw Ramallah    Mourid Barghouti    Bloomsbury    2004

Translated into lyrical English by Ahdaf Soueif.  Barghouti, the Palestinian poet, went to study in Cairo in 1966.  This book describes his eventual home-coming 30 years later.

I Was Born There, I Was Born Here   Mourid Bargouti   Bloomsbury   2009

A sequel to the classic memoir, I Saw Ramallah, this takes up the story as Bargouti introduces his Cairo-born son to his Palestinian family. It evokes poignant memories of Palestinian history and daily life from his time in exile and stresses the importance of his being able to say, standing in a small village in Palestine, “I was born here”, rather than saying from exile, “I was born there”.

Men in the Sun and Other Palestinian Stories   Ghassan Kanafani   Lynne Rienner Publishers Inc   1998

Originally published in 1962 Men in the Sun follows three Palestinian refugees from a camp in Iraq on their journey to Kuwait to seek work as labourers in the oilfields. They arrange to be smuggled into Kuwait but they are treated appallingly and humiliated all along the way as are the many who make similar journeys.