Sandy Tolan’s The Lemon Tree: An Arab, A Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East:
If you’re just beginning to learn about this conflict The Lemon Tree is a good place to start. In a moving narrative, Tolan records the history of the conflict and helps us understand its very personal dimensions.
Elias Chacour’s Blood Brothers and/or We Belong to the Land: Father Chacour is a Melkite priest, now Archbishop, whose ministry in the Palestinian village of Ibillin is legendary. Chacour establishes the Christ-inspired foundations for resisting oppression, loving an enemy and achieving reconciliation. Blood Brothers is where many begin their reading.
Jean Zaru’s Occupied with Nonviolence: This is a newly published book by a Palestinian Christian (Quaker) living in Ramallah whose very personal story and profound theological grounding explores a practical path to peace in her troubled land.
Jimmy Carter has two books on the subject, Peace, Not Apartheid and We Can Have Peace in the Holy Land (Simon & Schuster). Both emphasize the leadership role he believes the US must take to bring the parties to the table and to negotiate.
Ian J. Bickerton and Carla L. Klausner, A History of the Arab-Israeli Conflict (Fifth edition) Pearson Prentice Hall, 2007) – provides a good overview of the Arab-Israel conflict. Recommended by a number of professors teaching this material.
Rashid Khalidi, Palestinian Identity, (Columbia University Press, 1998) – an overview of the Palestinian case, especially how their national identity is tied to the land.
Dr. Michael Oren, a noted historian and Israeli ambassador to the U.S., is the author of two books worth considering: Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East (Ballantine Books, 2003). He also wrote Power, Faith and Fantasy: America in the Middle East 1776 to the Present (2007). These highly factual and well documented accounts will appeal to historians in particular. Good overview of American policies in the region.
Gershom Gorenberg, The Accidental Empire, (Holt Paperback version, 2007) examines the birth of the settler movement in the ten years following the Six Day War and finds that it was a much the child of Labor Party socialism as of religious extremism.
Benny Morris, 1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War (Yale University Press), 2008, covers both the military and political dimensions of the 1948 war. In addition to detailing the actions of the participants, he looks at the role of Britain,the US and the Soviet Union.
Movies (from Blockbuster or Netflix)
Consider a Movie night for your parish, Youth Group, Outreach Committee, book group or local civic organization.
Steadfast Hope: The Palestinian Quest for a Just Peace. Paperback plus DVD intended for both individual and group discussion. Order from the Palestine Israel Network of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship www.epfnational.org/PIN $10.
The Lemon Tree is not the same story as the Sandy Tolan book. This film follows a Palestinian woman trying to save her orchard from destruction. Recently released in the US.
Peace, Justice and Advocacy
JewishVoiceforPeace.org: This organization, one among many Jewish America groups, reports on the conflict and advocates for an end to the occupation and the creation of a just peace. JStreet.org: J Street is a Washington political action committee with a moderate stance committed to positive initiatives toward the creation of a just peace in Israel/Palestine. It is distinctly different from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Churches for Middle East Peace is a coalition of 21 church related organizations including Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant denominations. They maintain close relations with Congress, the administration and the diplomatic community. They advocate for a two state solution and develop policy statements and publications. Their website, www.cmep.org, includes sign up for a quarterly newsletter. Sabeel is an international organization promoting a just peace. There are local chapters in the US and offer conferences, trips, and speakers. They can be reached at www.fosna.org in the US. Foundation for Middle East Peace promotes peace through a two state solution. They publish a monthly settlement report and maps plus a comprehensive list of peace and human rights organizations focused on the Middle East. They provide speakers and video and a newsletter which is free. www.fmep.org. 1761 N Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20036.
Human Rights Advocacy
B’tselem is the Israeli information center for human rights in the occupied territories. They chronicle human rights abuses perpetrated by anyone. As a result, they have an unusual range of statistics about the situation on the ground. In addition they publish reports and provide links which include a wide range of Israeli organizations. They can advocate for solutions based on facts they’ve gathered. They can be reached at www.btselem.org, 8 HaTa'asiya St. (4th Floor), P.O. Box 53132, Jerusalem 91531, Israel, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem (www.afedj.org): This organization maintains a humanitarian focus through financial support of hospitals, schools and institutes for the disabled of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem. The Diocese covers Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Gaza, Syria and Lebanon. They publish a monthly free e-newsletter which you can sign up for through the website www.afedj.org or by emailing the Director, Anne Lynn, at email@example.com or calling 203-655-3575. The website of the Diocese of Jerusalem (www.j-diocese.org) describes current mission and ministry initiatives in Jordan, Israel, Palestine, Syria and Lebanon. ANERA stands for American Near East Refugee Aid. They are headquartered in Washington DC and operate in Gaza, Palestine, Jordan and Lebanon. You can sign up for their free e-newsletter at www.anera.org. Focus is on education, economic development and emergency relief.