Understanding the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict: A Primer by Phyllis Bennis

This deceivingly small book is entirely focused on the social, economic, and very political issues that surround the long-standing tensions between Palestinians and Israelis. It’s divided into six parts; each focusing on a different element of the conflict from history to globalization to election processes, etc. It’s incredibly detailed, very well researched, and would be a great resource for someone learning about this conflict in an academic environment.

Phyllis Bennis is an American national who has made a career of writing and activism for over four decades. Her relation to the topic derives from the early part of her career when she witnessed first-hand many of the most tumultuous events surrounding the conflict in the 1970s and covered United Nations activity in the 1980s. Her bias is very apparent — she makes no effort to hide this from the reader — and is certainly not unfounded. Since her early career, her version of activism has been pro-Palestinian and this makes for a relatively new take on American perspectives in the Middle East.

Despite her research and very straightforward writing style, I had a very difficult time getting through this book. Unless you have a strong passion for this topic, the subject matter is super dry and difficult to digest in large quantities. The book is less than 200 pages and still, it took me months to work my way to its end. I probably wouldn’t recommend it to anyone outright; however, if you need a concise resource or a foundation for understanding what’s been going on in the Middle East, it’s a good place to start.

Now that my spring classes are over, I probably won’t be reading too many politically charged books. (I need a break every once and a while.) I’ll indulge myself in fiction or poetry until the fall semester starts and I go abroad. Until then, expect more light-hearted and friendly works.





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