Israel and Palestine


Abuelaish, Izzeidn.  I Shall Not Hate (Random House, 2010).

"What can you do? You can do a lot. You can support justice for all by speaking out loudly to your family, friends, community, politicians and religious leaders. You can support foundations that do good work. You can volunteer for humanitarian organizations. You can vote regressive politicians out of office. You can do many things to move the world toward greater harmony…

"I know that what I have lost, what was taken from me, will never come back. But as a physician and a Muslim of deep faith, I need to move forward to the light, motivated by the spirits of those I lost. I need to bring them justice… I will keep moving but I need you to join me in this long journey."  -from I Shall Not Hate

Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish - now known simply as "the Gaza doctor" captured hearts and headlines around the world in the aftermath of horrific tragedy: on January 16, 2009, Israeli shells hit his home in the Gaza Strip, killing three of his daughters and a niece.

By turns inspiring and heartbreaking, hopeful and horrifying, this is Abuelaish's account of a Gazan life in all its struggle and pain. A Palestinian doctor who was born and raised in the Jabalia refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, Abuelaish is an infertility specialist who lived in Gaza but plied his specialty in Israeli hospitals. From the strip of land he calls home (a place where 1.5 million refugees are crammed into 360 square kilometres of land), the Gaza doctor has been crossing the lines that divide the region for most of his life, as a physician who treats patients on both sides of the border and as a humanitarian who sees the need for improved public health and education for women as the way forward in the Middle East.

But it was Abuelaish's response to the loss of his children that made news and won him humanitarian awards around the world. Instead of seeking revenge or sinking into hatred, in this personal account of his life, Izzeldin Abuelaish is calling for the people of the Middle East to start talking to each other. His deepest hope is that his daughters will be the last sacrifice on the road to peace between Palestinians and Israelis.


Ellis, Robert.  Courage to Love (Tate Publishing, 2010).

It is an unthinkable match -Josh, a 21-year-old American lieutenant and Haja, a teenage Palestinian freedom fighter. Both wounded in war and sent to Tel Aviv-Yafo's Rose of Sharon hospital, they are brought together during a hospital attack by the beauty of music and its ability to transcend each other's language. Despite different religious upbringings, and the stern commands of their families, Josh and Haja fall in love. Tensions rise to the breaking point as they fight two battles: against the wounds destroying their own bodies, and against the centuries old traditions concerning Muslim women, and the dictates of an Orthodox Jewish heritage. In a haunting reminder of Romeo and Juliet, author Robert Ellis takes us on a journey through the turbulent struggle of young love in today's wars. Facing the threat of a new terrorist attack, can Haja and Josh overcome the odds against them, and give themselves, their families and the world, the Courage to Love?



Grossman, David.  To the End of the Land (Knopf, 2010).

From one of Israel’s most acclaimed writers comes a novel of extraordinary power about family life—the greatest human drama—and the cost of war. 

Ora, a middle-aged Israeli mother, is on the verge of celebrating her son Ofer’s release from army service when he returns to the front for a major offensive. In a fit of preemptive grief and magical thinking, she sets out for a hike in the Galilee, leaving no forwarding information for the “notifiers” who might darken her door with the worst possible news. Recently estranged from her husband, Ilan, she drags along an unlikely companion: their former best friend and her former lover Avram, once a brilliant artistic spirit. Avram served in the army alongside Ilan when they were young, but their lives were forever changed one weekend when the two jokingly had Ora draw lots to see which of them would get the few days’ leave being offered by their commander—a chance act that sent Avram into Egpyt and the Yom Kippur War, where he was brutally tortured as POW. In the aftermath, a virtual hermit, he refused to keep in touch with the family and has never met the boy. Now, as Ora and Avram sleep out in the hills, ford rivers, and cross valleys, avoiding all news from the front, she gives him the gift of Ofer, word by word; she supplies the whole story of her motherhood, a retelling that keeps Ofer very much alive for Ora and for the reader, and opens Avram to human bonds undreamed of in his broken world. Their walk has a “war and peace” rhythm, as their conversation places the most hideous trials of war next to the joys and anguish of raising children. Never have we seen so clearly the reality and surreality of daily life in Israel, the currents of ambivalence about war within one household, and the burdens that fall on each generation anew. 

Highly Recommended by Voices' Member Barbara Kerr. 

Zale, Sarah.  The Art of Folding (Plain View Press, 2010).

In these two major suites of poems, Sarah Zale has composed an epic, an eye-opening, heartrending book that should be read and read again. Hers is a singular and gently courageous voice, one from which we may all draw sustenance and wisdom. ~Sam Hamill

Sarah Zale's first book, The Art of Folding, is worthy of significant notice: her poetic sequence examines our personal responsibilities in a time of war and our relationship to atrocity. She softens the hard line of inquiry with compassionate listening and attentive observation. ~H.K. Hummel

Sarah Zale's The Art of Folding is a masterful work of sustained and interwoven lyrics, at once political and intimate, in which the gestures of daily life are seen as if for the first time in the light of history: folding and unfolding ordinary laundry and something more-cranes, folded and real, wounds, visible and invisible. What we have here is sheer lyric utterance: history and memory, personal disclosure, in a language at once compelling and transparent. These poems are haunted by Nuremberg, Spencer Tracy and Marlene Dietrich, the Wizard of Oz, Camelot, Jerusalem, and there is also Palestine. This poet writes back to Jabès, Siamanto, Amichai and Darwish, and calls forth a most ancient and moral imperative: that poets write of their time, and of the call to the best of humanity. That she struggles toward the boundary between Israel and Palestine is a mark of her seriousness. That she achieves this is a mark of her power. ~Carolyn Forché