Books by the Forward

What books should Jared Kushner have read about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

White House senior advisor Jared Kushner was widely mocked after telling Sky News Arabia that he was qualified to propose a new Israeli-Palestinian peace plan because he had “read 25 books” about the conflict.

While the White House refused to tell the Forward what those books were, our reporting uncovered four of them. But it got us thinking: Which books should Kushner and his team have read while crafting their plan?

We asked dozens of experts for recommendations of books that Kushner — and our readers — could learn from. The one rule was that they couldn’t nominate their own works.

There were a few that were popular among many people we asked. The most common was “Like Dreamers,” a book by Israeli writer Yossi Klein Halevi profiling the lives of seven Israeli soldiers who helped capture the Old City of Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War, and then went on to shape Israeli society.

Also frequently featured was “The Wall and the Gate” by Israeli attorney Michael Sfard. Rabbi Jill Jacobs, the executive director of T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, described the book as “a comprehensive guide, by Israel’s preeminent human rights lawyer, to the ways in which the law and the courts have been used to entrench occupation.”

And books by Palestinians were also frequently featured. One popular one was “The Iron Cage: The Story of the Palestinian Struggle for Statehood” by Columbia University professor Rashid Khalidi. “Most Americans have some sense of the Jewish struggle for statehood, though it is often a romanticized version,” explained Professor Brent E. Sasley of the University of Texas at Arlington. “But few know anything about the Palestinain struggle; this book is a useful corrective toward that end.”

And for expertise on the peace process itself, a few nominators selected “Missing Peace,” a memoir by longtime White House peace negotiator Dennis Ross. “This book is not only chock full of interesting anecdotes, but it also offers insight into the mindset of the leaders and the obstacles they face in overcoming key disagreements,” wrote Professor Guy Ziv of American University.

Interestingly, of the five books known to have been read by Kushner’s team, only two of them show up on our list: “The Last Palestinian,” a biography of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, and “The Fight for Jerusalem” by former Israeli diplomat Dore Gold that argues against ceding land in the holy city to the Palestinians.

You can read all of the book recommendations below, and submit your own suggestions in the comments at the bottom of the page. The books are sorted in the order their recommenders submitted them.:

Issa Amro, human rights activist:

Understanding the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict by Phyllis Bennis; The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine by Ilan Pappe; Palestine: A Four Thousand Year History by Nur Masalha; Israel’s Occupation by Neve Gordon; Hollow Land: Israel’s Architecture of Occupation by Eyal Weizman; Palestinian Identity: The Construction of Modern National Consciousness by Rashid Khalidi; Preventing Palestine: A Political History from Camp David to Oslo by Seth Anziska; Israel: A History by Anita Shapira; The Israel-Palestine Conflict: 100 Years of War by James Gelvin; Lives in Common: Arabs and Jews in Jerusalem, Jaffa and Hebron by Menachem Klein; Year Zero of the Arab-Israeli Conflict 1929 by Hillel Cohen; The General’s Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine by Miko Peled; The Way to the Spring: Life and Death in Palestine by Ben Ehrenreich

Zack Bodner, founder, Z3 Project:

Israel: A Concise History of a Nation Reborn by Daniel Gordis; The Missing Peace: The Inside Story of the Fight for Middle East Peace by Dennis Ross; Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor by Yossi Klein Halevi; Right to Exist: A Moral Defense of Israel’s Wars by Yaacov Lozowick; No Room for Small Dreams: Courage, Imagination, and the Making of Modern Israel by Shimon Peres; My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel by Ari Shavit; Like Dreamers: The Story of the Israeli Paratroopers Who Reunited Jerusalem and Divided a Nation by Yossi Klein Halevi; One State, Two State: Resolving the Israel/Palestine Conflict by Benny Morris; From Time Immemorial: The Origins of the Arab-Jewish Conflict over Palestine by Joan Peters; Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East by Michael Oren; Catch-67: The Left, the Right, and the Legacy of the Six-Day War by Micah Goodman; The Jewish State by Theodor Herzl; The Revolt: Story of the Irgun by Menachem Begin; The Prime Ministers: An Intimate Narrative of Israeli Leadership by Yehuda Avner; The Israel-Arab Reader: A Documentary History of the Middle East Conflict, edited by Walter Laqueuer and Barry Rubin; The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Middle East Conflict by Mitchell G. Bard

Ethan Bronner, senior editor, Bloomberg News:

Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict, 1881-2001 by Benny Morris; My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel by Ari Shavit; Enemies and Neighbors: Arabs and Jews in Palestine and Israel, 1917-2017 by Ian Black; Once Upon a Country: A Palestinian Life by Sari Nusseibeh

Rabbi Elliot Cosgrove, Park Avenue Synagogue:

A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East by David Fromkin

Miriam Elman, associate professor of political science, Syracuse University:

Like Dreamers: The Story of the Israeli Paratroopers Who Reunited Jerusalem and Divided a Nation by Yossi Klein Halevi; The Fight for Jerusalem: Radical Islam, the West, and the Future of the Holy City by Dore Gold; Scars of War, Wounds of Peace: The Israeli-Arab Tragedy by Shlomo Ben-Ami; The Oslo Syndrome: Delusions of a People Under Siege by Kenneth Levin; The Israeli-Palestinian Peace Negotiations, 1999-2001: Within Reach by Gilead Sher

Lara Friedman, president, Foundation for Middle East Peace:

Justice for Some: Law and the Question of Palestine by Noura Erekat; Lords of the Land: The War Over Israel’s Settlements in the Occupied Territories by Idith Zertal and Akiva Eldar; Preventing Palestine: A Political History from Camp David to Oslo by Seth Anziska; Blind Spot: America and the Palestinians, from Balfour to Trump by Khaled Elgindy; The Accidental Empire by Gershom Gorenberg; Zealots for Zion: Inside Israel’s West Bank Settlement Movement by Robert I. Friedman; Dear Brothers: The West Bank Jewish Underground by Haggai Segal; The Yellow Wind by David Grossman

Elisheva Goldberg, media director, New Israel Fund:

Living Emergency: Israel’s Permit Regime in the Occupied West Bank by Yael Berda; Justice for Some: Law and the Question of Palestine by Noura Erekat; Lords of the Land: The War Over Israel’s Settlements in the Occupied Territories by Idith Zertal and Akiva Eldar; Unsettled States, Disputed Lands: Britain and Ireland, France and Algeria, Israel and the West Bank-Gaza by Ian Lustick; Emptied Lands: A Legal Geography of Bedouin Rights in the Negev, edited by Alexandre Kedar, Ahmad Amara, and Oren Yiftachel; Second Person Singular by Sayed Kashua; The Wall and the Gate: Israel, Palestine, and the Legal Battle for Human Rights by Michael Sfard; The Yellow Wind by David Grossman

Gidi Grinstein, founder and president, the Reut Institute:

A Savage War of Peace: Algeria 1954-1962 by Alistair Horne

Yoram Hazony, president, Herzl Institute:

A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East by David Fromkin; The Closed Circle: An Interpretation of the Arabs by David Pryce-Jones; Ben-Gurion: The Burning Ground, 1886-1948 by Shabtai Teveth; The Revolt: Story of the Irgun by Menachem Begin; A Place Among the Nations by Benjamin Netanyahu

Ari Hoffman, contributing columnist, the Forward:

Like Dreamers: The Story of the Israeli Paratroopers Who Reunited Jerusalem and Divided a Nation by Yossi Klein Halevi; Pumpkinflowers: A Soldier’s Story of a Forgotten War by Matti Friedman; Rise and Kill First: The Secret History of Israel’s Targeted Assassinations by Ronen Bergman; Jews and Power by Ruth Wisse; The Jewish War by Tova Reich

Rabbi Jill Jacobs, executive director, T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights:

Preventing Palestine: A Political History from Camp David to Oslo by Seth Anziska; Palestinian Identity: The Construction of Modern National Consciousness by Rashid Khalidi; The Wall and the Gate: Israel, Palestine, and the Legal Battle for Human Rights by Michael Sfard; Living Emergency: Israel’s Permit Regime in the Occupied West Bank by Yael Berda

Brian Katulis, senior fellow, Center for American Progress:

Negotiating for Dummies by Michael C. Donaldson; Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don’t Know by Malcolm Gladwell; How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Shaul Kelner, associate professor of sociology and Jewish studies, Vanderbilt University:

Negotiating Arab-Israeli Peace: American Leadership in the Middle East by Daniel C. Kurtzer & Scott B. Lasensky; The Peace Puzzle: America’s Quest for Arab-Israeli Peace, 1989–2011 by Daniel C. Kurtzer, Scott B. Lasensky, William Quandt, Steven L. Spiegel, and Shibley Z. Telhami

Morton Klein, national president, Zionist Organization of America:

Battleground: Fact and Fantasy in Palestine by Shmuel Katz; A Place Among the Nations by Benjamin Netanyahu; Lone Wolf: A Biography of Vladimir (Ze’ev) Jabotinsky by Shmuel Katz

Michael Koplow, policy director, Israel Policy Forum:

Killing a King: The Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and the Remaking of Israel by Dan Ephron; The Last Palestinian: The Rise and Reign of Mahmoud Abbas by Grant Rumley and Amir Tibon

Emily Mayer, national coordinator, IfNotNow:

The Only Language They Understand: Forcing Compromise in Israel and Palestine by Nathan Thrall; Justice for Some: Law and the Question of Palestine by Noura Erekat; The Iron Cage: The Story of the Palestinian Struggle for Statehood by Rashid Khalidi; The Wall and the Gate: Israel, Palestine, and the Legal Battle for Human Rights by Michael Sfard; How Judaism Became a Religion: An Introduction to Modern Jewish Thought by Leora Batnitzky; Blind Spot: America and the Palestinians, from Balfour to Trump by Khaled Elgindy

Aaron David Miller, senior fellow, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace:

Arabs and Israelis: Conflict and Peacemaking in the Middle East by Abdel Monem Said Aly, Shai Feldman and Khalil Shikaki

Jodi Rudoren, editor-in-chief, the Forward:

Like Dreamers: The Story of the Israeli Paratroopers Who Reunited Jerusalem and Divided a Nation by Yossi Klein Halevi; Palestinian Walks: Forays Into A Vanishing Landscape by Raja Shehadeh

Jonathan D. Sarna, director, Schusterman Center for Israel Studies, Brandeis University:

Israel in the Middle East: Documents and Readings on Society, Politics and Foreign Relations – Pre-1948 to the Present by Itamar Rabinovich and Jehuda Reinharz; Israel: A History by Anita Shapira; Israeli Society in the 21st Century: Immigration, Inequality and Religious Conflict by Calvin Goldscheider; The Zionist Ideas: Visions for the Jewish Homeland-—Then, Now, Tomorrow by Gil Troy; Let There Be Water: Israel’s Solution for a Water-Starved World by Seth M. Siegel; Arabs and Israelis: Conflict and Peacemaking in the Middle East by Abdel Monem Said Aly, Shai Feldman and Khalil Shikaki; Teaching the Arab-Israeli Conflict, edited by Rachel Harris; Imagining Zion: Dreams, Designs and Realities in a Century of Jewish Settlement by Ilan Troen; Zionism: A Very Short Introduction by Michael Stanislawski; Essential Israel: Essays for the 21st Century, edited by Ilan Troen and Rachel Fish

Brent E. Sasley, associate professor of political science, University of Texas at Arlington:

The Arab-Israeli Conflict by Kirtsen Shulze; A History of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict by Mark Tessler; Israel/Palestine by Alan Dowty; The Iron Cage: The Story of the Palestinian Struggle for Statehood by Rashid Khalidi; Women, Reconciliation and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: The Road Not Yet Taken by Giulia Daniele

Muhammad Shehada, contributing columnist, the Forward:

The Politics of International Intervention: The Tyranny of Peace by Mandy Turner and Florian P. Kühn; The Palestinian Authority in the West Bank: The Theatrics of Woeful Statecraft by Michelle Pace and Somdeep Sen; Moment of Truth: Tackling Israel–Palestine’s Toughest Questions by Jamie Stern-Weiner; Going Home: A Walk Through Fifty Years of Occupation by Raja Shehadeh

Debra Shushan, director of government affairs, J Street:

Living Emergency: Israel’s Permit Regime in the Occupied West Bank by Yael Berda; Blind Spot: America and the Palestinians, from Balfour to Trump by Khaled Elgindy; The Wall and the Gate: Israel, Palestine, and the Legal Battle for Human Rights by Michael Sfard; Palestinian Walks: Forays Into A Vanishing Landscape by Raja Shehadeh

Batya Ungar-Sargon, opinion editor, the Forward:

The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947-1949 by Benny Morris; Bibi: The Turbulent Life and Times of Benjamin Netanyahu by Anshel Pfeffer; In The Presence of Absence by Mahmoud Darwish

Dov Waxman, Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation chair in Israel Studies, UCLA:

Once Upon a Country: A Palestinian Life by Sari Nusseibeh; Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict, 1881-2001 by Benny Morris; The Iron Cage: The Story of the Palestinian Struggle for Statehood by Rashid Khalidi; The Palestinian People: A History by Baruch Kimmerling and Joel Migdal; How Israelis and Palestinians Negotiate: A Cross-Cultural Analysis of the Oslo Peace Process by Tamara Cofman Wittes; Touching Peace: From the Oslo Accord to a Final Agreement by Yossi Beilin; The Palestinian Hamas: Vision, Violence, and Coexistence by Shaul Mishal and Avraham Sela; Peace Process: American Diplomacy and the Arab-Israeli Conflict since 1967 by William B. Quandt; The Question of Palestine by Edward Said; Land and Power: The Zionist Recourse to Force, 1881-1948 by Anita Shapira; The Iron Wall : Israel and the Arab World by Avi Shlaim; Divided Jerusalem: The Struggle for the Holy City by Bernard Wasserstein

Rabbi Alissa Wise, acting co-executive director, Jewish Voice for Peace:

Justice for Some: Law and the Question of Palestine by Noura Erekat; Our American Israel: The Story of an Entangled Alliance by Amy Kaplan; From Oslo to Iraq and the Road Map by Edward Said; All That Remains: The Palestinian Villages Occupied and Depopulated by Israel in 1948 by Walid Khalidi; Strangers in the House: Coming of Age in Occupied Palestine by Raja Shehadeh

Guy Ziv, assistant professor, School of International Service, American University:

Touching Peace: From the Oslo Accord to a Final Agreement by Yossi Beilin; The Accidental Empire by Gershom Gorenberg; The Missing Peace: The Inside Story of the Fight for Middle East Peace by Dennis Ross; A History of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict by Mark Tessler; Peace Process: American Diplomacy and the Arab-Israeli Conflict since 1967 by William B. Quandt

Editor’s Note: The original version of this article included book recommendations from Roz Rothstein, the co-founder and CEO of the group StandWithUs. The group asked that they be removed because this list does not include explanations, only titles.

Aiden Pink is the deputy news editor of the Forward. Contact him at pink@forward.com or follow him on Twitter @aidenpink

What books should Jared Kushner have read about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

Author

Aiden Pink

Aiden Pink

Aiden Pink is the Deputy News Editor for the Forward. Contact him at pink@forward.com or on Twitter, @aidenpink .

Your Comments

The Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. All readers can browse the comments, and all Forward subscribers can add to the conversation. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Forward requires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not and will be deleted. Egregious commenters or repeat offenders will be banned from commenting. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and the Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Recommend this article

What books should Jared Kushner have read about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

Thank you!

This article has been sent!

Close