Books available to borrow from the Hillel Milwaukee library
The following books offer a variety of perspectives on the long and complicated history of Israel. They are available to borrow from the Hillel Milwaukee library. Please contact Anna Goldstein at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange to borrow any of these books. Click on any of the images to learn more about the book.
Israel. The small strip of arid land is 5,700 miles away but remains a hot button issue and a thorny topic of debate. But while everyone seems to have a strong opinion about Israel, how many people actually know the facts?
Here to fill in the information gap is Israeli American Noa Tishby. Offering a fresh, 360-degree view, Tishby brings her straight-shooting, engaging, and slightly irreverent voice to the subject, creating an accessible and dynamic portrait of a tiny country of outsized relevance. Through bite-sized chunks of history and deeply personal stories, Tishby chronicles her homeland’s evolution, beginning in Biblical times and moving forward to cover everything from WWI to Israel’s creation to the real disputes dividing the country today. Tackling popular misconceptions with an abundance facts, Tishby provides critical context around headline-generating controversies and offers a clear, intimate account of the richly cultured country of Israel.
It was just one small hilltop in a small, unnamed war in the late 1990s, but it would send out ripples that are still felt worldwide today. The hill, in Lebanon, was called the Pumpkin; flowers was the military code word for “casualties.” Award-winning writer Matti Friedman re-creates the harrowing experience of a band of young Israeli soldiers charged with holding this remote outpost, a task that would change them forever, wound the country in ways large and small, and foreshadow the unwinnable conflicts the United States would soon confront in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere.
Pumpkinflowers is a reckoning by one of those young soldiers now grown into a remarkable writer. Part memoir, part reportage, part history, Friedman’s powerful narrative captures the birth of today’s chaotic Middle East and the rise of a twenty-first-century type of war in which there is never a clear victor and media images can be as important as the battle itself.
Raw and beautifully rendered, Pumpkinflowers will take its place among classic war narratives by George Orwell, Philip Caputo, and Tim O’Brien. It is an unflinching look at the way we conduct war today.
For more than a half-century, Israel has been forced to defend its existence against international political disapproval, racist calumny, and violence visited upon its citizens by terrorists of many stripes. While nations have always been made to defend their moral, political, economic, or social actions, Israel has the unique plight of having to defend its very right to exist.
Covering Israel's struggle for existence from the British occupation and the UN’s partition of Palestine, to the dashed hopes of the Oslo Accords and the second intifada, Yaacov Lozowick trains an enlightening, forthright eye on Israel’s strengths and failures. A lifelong liberal and peace activist, he explores Israel’s national and regional political, social, and moral obligations as well as its right to secure its borders and repel attacks both philosophical and military. Combining rich historical perspective and passionate conviction, Right to Exist sets forth the agenda of a people and a nation, and elegantly articulates Israel’s entitlement to a peaceful coexistence with its surrounding Arab neighbors and a future of security and pride.
A controversial examination of the internal Israeli debate over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from a best-selling Israeli author.
Since the Six-Day War, Israelis have been entrenched in a national debate over whether to keep the land they conquered or to return some, if not all, of the territories to Palestinians. In 2017, best-selling Israeli author Micah Goodman published a balanced and insightful analysis of the situation that quickly became one of Israel’s most debated books of the year. Now available in English translation with a new preface by the author, Catch-67 deftly sheds light on the ideas that have shaped Israelis’ thinking on both sides of the debate, and among secular and religious Jews about the Israeli‑Palestinian conflict.
Contrary to opinions that dominate the discussion, he shows that the paradox of Israeli political discourse is that both sides are right in what they affirm—and wrong in what they deny. Although he concludes that the conflict cannot be solved, Goodman is far from a pessimist and explores how instead it can be reduced in scope and danger through limited, practical steps. Through philosophical critique and political analysis, Goodman builds a creative, compelling case for pragmatism in a dispute where a comprehensive solution seems impossible.
From leading political figure and bestselling Hebrew author Yair Lapid comes a mesmerizing portrait of the author's father, one of modern Israel's leading figures.
Memories After My Death is the astonishing true story of Tommy Lapid, a well-loved and controversial Israeli figure who saw the development of the country from all angles over its first sixty years. From seeing his father taken away to a concentration camp to arriving in Tel Aviv at the birth of Israel, Tommy Lapid lived every major incident of Jewish life since the 1930s first-hand.
This sweeping narrative will captivate anyone with an interest in how Israel became what it is today. Tommy Lapid's uniquely unorthodox opinions - he belonged to neither left nor right, was Jewish, but vehemently secular - expose the many contradictions inherent in Israeli life today.
Two prominent Israeli liberals argue that for the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians to end with peace, Palestinians must come to terms with the fact that there will be no "right of return."
In 1948, seven hundred thousand Palestinians were forced out of their homes by the first Arab-Israeli War. More than seventy years later, most of their houses are long gone, but millions of their descendants are still registered as refugees, with many living in refugee camps. This group―unlike countless others that were displaced in the aftermath of World War II and other conflicts―has remained unsettled, demanding to settle in the state of Israel. Their belief in a "right of return" is one of the largest obstacles to successful diplomacy and lasting peace in the region.
In The War of Return, Adi Schwartz and Einat Wilf―both liberal Israelis supportive of a two-state solution―reveal the origins of the idea of a right of return, and explain how UNRWA - the very agency charged with finding a solution for the refugees - gave in to Palestinian, Arab and international political pressure to create a permanent “refugee” problem. They argue that this Palestinian demand for a “right of return” has no legal or moral basis and make an impassioned plea for the US, the UN, and the EU to recognize this fact, for the good of Israelis and Palestinians alike.
A runaway bestseller in Israel, the first English translation of The War of Return is certain to spark lively debate throughout America and abroad.
Is Judaism a religion, a culture, a nationality--or a mixture of all of these? In How Judaism Became a Religion, Leora Batnitzky boldly argues that this question more than any other has driven modern Jewish thought since the eighteenth century. This wide-ranging and lucid introduction tells the story of how Judaism came to be defined as a religion in the modern period--and why Jewish thinkers have fought as well as championed this idea.
Ever since the Enlightenment, Jewish thinkers have debated whether and how Judaism--largely a religion of practice and public adherence to law--can fit into a modern, Protestant conception of religion as an individual and private matter of belief or faith. Batnitzky makes the novel argument that it is this clash between the modern category of religion and Judaism that is responsible for much of the creative tension in modern Jewish thought. Tracing how the idea of Jewish religion has been defended and resisted from the eighteenth century to today, the book discusses many of the major Jewish thinkers of the past three centuries, including Moses Mendelssohn, Abraham Geiger, Hermann Cohen, Martin Buber, Zvi Yehuda Kook, Theodor Herzl, and Mordecai Kaplan. At the same time, it tells the story of modern orthodoxy, the German-Jewish renaissance, Jewish religion after the Holocaust, the emergence of the Jewish individual, the birth of Jewish nationalism, and Jewish religion in America.
More than an introduction, How Judaism Became a Religion presents a compelling new perspective on the history of modern Jewish thought.
Jerusalem is the epic history of three thousand years of faith, fanaticism, bloodshed, and coexistence, from King David to the 21st century, from the birth of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam to the Israel-Palestine conflict.
How did this small, remote town become the Holy City, the “center of the world” and now the key to peace in the Middle East? In a gripping narrative, Simon Sebag Montefiore reveals this ever-changing city in its many incarnations, bringing every epoch and character blazingly to life. Jerusalem’s biography is told through the wars, love affairs, and revelations of the men and women who created, destroyed, chronicled and believed in Jerusalem. As well as the many ordinary Jerusalemites who have left their mark on the city, its cast varies from Solomon, Saladin and Suleiman the Magnificent to Cleopatra, Caligula and Churchill; from Abraham to Jesus and Muhammad; from the ancient world of Jezebel, Nebuchadnezzar, Herod and Nero to the modern times of the Kaiser, Disraeli, Mark Twain, Lincoln, Rasputin, Lawrence of Arabia and Moshe Dayan.
In this masterful narrative, Simon Sebag Montefiore brings the holy city to life and draws on the latest scholarship, his own family history, and a lifetime of study to show that the story of Jerusalem is truly the story of the world.
Though it lasted for only six tense days in June, the 1967 Arab-Israeli war never really ended. Every crisis that has ripped through this region in the ensuing decades, from the Yom Kippur War of 1973 to the ongoing intifada, is a direct consequence of those six days of fighting.
Writing with a novelist’s command of narrative and a historian’s grasp of fact and motive, Michael B. Oren reconstructs both the lightning-fast action on the battlefields and the political shocks that electrified the world. Extraordinary personalities—Moshe Dayan and Gamal Abdul Nasser, Lyndon Johnson and Alexei Kosygin—rose and toppled from power as a result of this war; borders were redrawn; daring strategies brilliantly succeeded or disastrously failed in a matter of hours. And the balance of power changed—in the Middle East and in the world. A towering work of history and an enthralling human narrative, Six Days of War is the most important book on the Middle East conflict to appear in a generation.
When Daniel Gordis, his wife, Elisheva, and their three young children abandoned a safe and comfortable home in Los Angeles to move halfway around the world and find a new life in Israel, the future looked bright. It was 1998, Ehud Barak had just been elected prime minister, and peace appeared to be only a few tough negotiations away.Two years later, hope had turned to terror, as the rattle of machine-gun fire perforated the night and the frightened, exhausted children clung desperately to their stuffed animals in fitful sleep, dreaming perhaps of the quiet, peaceful world they had left behind.In Coming Together, Coming Apart, Gordis tells a timely, relevant, and deeply personal tale that lays bare the complex problems of the seemingly intractable and often incomprehensible Israeli-Palestinian conflict, revealing how much is at stake and underscoring the toll the struggle takes on every human being it touches.
The Prime Ministers is the first and only insider account of Israeli politics from the founding of the Jewish State to the near-present day. It reveals stunning details of life-and-death decision-making, top-secret military operations and high level peace negotiations. The Prime Ministers brings readers into the orbits of world figures, including Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Rabin, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, Henry Kissinger, Yasser Arafat, Margaret Thatcher, Princess Diana and the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Written in a captivating literary style by a political adviser, speechwriter and diplomat, The Prime Ministers is an enthralling political memoir, and a precisely crafted prism through which to view current Middle East affairs. The Prime Ministers is the basis of a major documentary produced by Moriah Films, the Academy Award-winning film division of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
Israel is smaller than New Jersey, with 0.11% of the world's population, yet captures a lion's share of headlines. It looks like one country on CNN, a very different one on al-Jazeera. The BBC has their version, The New York Times theirs. But how does Israel look to Israelis?
Israel is smaller than New Jersey, with 0.11% of the world's population, yet captures a lion's share of headlines. It looks like one country on CNN, a very different one on al-Jazeera. The BBC has their version, The New York Times theirs. But how does Israel look to Israelis? The answers are varied, and they have been brought together here in one of the most original books about Israel in decades. From battlefields to bedrooms to boardrooms, discover the colliding worlds in which an astounding mix of 7.2 million devoutly traditional and radically modern people live. You'll meet “Arab Jews” who fled Islamic countries, dreadlock-wearing Ethiopian immigrants who sing reggae in Hebrew, Christians in Nazareth who publish an Arabic-style Cosmo, young Israeli Muslims who know more about Judaism than most Jews of the Diaspora, ultra-Orthodox Jews on “Modesty Patrols,” and more. Interweaving hundreds of personal stories with intriguing new research, The Israelis is lively, irreverent, and always fascinating.
On 4th July, 1976, an Air France flight was hijacked, and 103 passengers, many of them Israeli citizens, were taken hostage in Entebbe, Uganda. The story of their rescue has become legend, and Lt.-Col. Jonathan Netanyahu, who led the operation and was killed during its execution, has become a modern-day hero. As the world struggles with the barbarity of terrorism, the story of Entebbe, and Jonathan Netanyahu's role in it, are an inspiring and moving testimony to the ideals of democracy and freedom.
The Letters of Jonathan Netanyahu (Gefen Publishing, 2001) is a collection of personal letters penned by Netanyahu over a period of thirteen years, from high school in Philadelphia to the raid at Entebbe. Yoni, as he was known to family, friends, and the Israeli nation, is revealed as a devoted and serious man, deeply dedicated to his country and the soldiers under his command.
According to General Shlomo Gazit, a former Chief of Israel Military Intelligence, Yoni had a complex personality; on the one hand, he was a superb warrior and commander, brave and devoted, yet on the other hand, he was a man blessed with many other talents, with a rich and fertile imagination and an exceptionally analytical mind. It is this breadth of character that emanates from his letters.
In his stunning introduction to The Letters of Jonathan Netanyahu, Herman Wouk describes the book as "fortuitous, not a deliberately created work of art," that succeeds in exposing an intimate dimension of a remarkable young man. And of the Entebbe operation itself, Wouk comments "its fame does not dim in the continuing struggle of civilized men against the mounting global crime of terrorism, Entebbe shines, a beacon in dense gloom."
Against this sobering backdrop, Jonathan Netanyahu emerges as the very essence of heroism, morality and idealism. Since the founding of modern Israel, its officers have instructed their men to "follow me", leading by example and taking the greatest risk in order to inspire those in their charge to higher ideals.
Although more than twenty-five years have passed since the Entebbe raid, Yoni Netanyahu remains more than ever the embodiment of all that Israel, and the civilised, democratic world, is striving for.
Attempting to break the agonizing impasse between Israelis and Palestinians, the israeli commentator and award-winning author of Like Dreamers directly addresses his Palestinian neighbors in this taut and provocative book, empathizing with Palestinian suffering and longing for reconciliation as he explores how the conflict looks through Israeli eyes.
Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor is one Israeli’s powerful attempt to reach beyond the wall that separates Israelis and Palestinians and into the hearts of "the enemy." In a series of letters, Yossi Klein Halevi explains what motivated him to leave his native New York in his twenties and move to Israel to participate in the drama of the renewal of a Jewish homeland, which he is committed to see succeed as a morally responsible, democratic state in the Middle East.
This is the first attempt by an Israeli author to directly address his Palestinian neighbors and describe how the conflict appears through Israeli eyes. Halevi untangles the ideological and emotional knot that has defined the conflict for nearly a century. In lyrical, evocative language, he unravels the complex strands of faith, pride, anger and anguish he feels as a Jew living in Israel, using history and personal experience as his guide.
Halevi’s letters speak not only to his Palestinian neighbor, but to all concerned global citizens, helping us understand the painful choices confronting Israelis and Palestinians that will ultimately help determine the fate of the region.
Journalist and award-winning author Matti Friedman’s tale of Israel’s first spies reads like an espionage novel--but it’s all true. The four agents at the center of this story were part of a ragtag unit known as the Arab Section, conceived during World War II by British spies and Jewish militia leaders in Palestine. Intended to gather intelligence and carry out sabotage operations, the unit consisted of Jews who were native to the Arab world and could thus easily assume Arab identities.
In 1948, with Israel’s existence hanging in the balance, these men went undercover in Beirut, where they spent the next two years operating out of a newsstand, collecting intelligence and sending messages back to Israel via a radio whose antenna was disguised as a clothesline. Of the dozen spies in the Arab Section at the war’s outbreak, five were caught and executed. But in the end, the Arab Section would emerge as the nucleus of the Mossad, Israel’s vaunted intelligence agency.
Spies of No Country is about the slippery identities of these young spies, but it’s also about the complicated identity of Israel, a country that presents itself as Western but in fact has more citizens with Middle Eastern roots and traditions, like the spies of this narrative. Meticulously researched and masterfully told, Spies of No Country is an eye-opening look at the paradoxes of the Middle East.
A profoundly human take on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, seen through the eyes of six families, three Arab and three Jewish.
The millennia-old port of Jaffa, now part of Tel Aviv, was once known as the "Bride of Palestine," one of the truly cosmopolitan cities of the Mediterranean. There Muslims, Jews, and Christians lived, worked, and celebrated together―and it was commonplace for the Arabs of Jaffa to attend a wedding at the house of the Jewish Chelouche family or for Jews and Arabs to both gather at the Jewish spice shop Tiv and the Arab Khamis Abulafia's twenty-four-hour bakery. Through intimate personal interviews and generations-old memoirs, letters, and diaries, Adam LeBor gives us a crucial look at the human lives behind the headlines―and a vivid narrative of cataclysmic change.
From the United Nations to the media, and from academia to international NGOs, the attacks on Israel’s legitimacy as the nation-state of the Jewish people are growing. To win this war of words, Israel’s defenders must be able to clearly explain the ideas and circumstances that led to the creation of modern Israel and underpin its existence today. In this single-volume collection, Dr. Einat Wilf does just that, presenting her most important essays on the Middle East, Israel, Zionism, and public diplomacy.
The untold story, based on groundbreaking original research, of the actions and inactions that created the Israeli settlements in the occupied territories.
After Israeli troops defeated the armies of Egypt, Syria, and Jordan in June 1967, the Jewish state seemed to have reached the pinnacle of success. But far from being a happy ending, the Six-Day War proved to be the opening act of a complex political drama, in which the central issue became: Should Jews build settlements in the territories taken in that war?
The Accidental Empire is Gershom Gorenberg's masterful and gripping account of the strange birth of the settler movement, which was the child of both Labor Party socialism and religious extremism. It is a dramatic story featuring the giants of Israeli history--Moshe Dayan, Golda Meir, Levi Eshkol, Yigal Allon--as well as more contemporary figures like Ariel Sharon, Yitzhak Rabin, and Shimon Peres. Gorenberg also shows how the Johnson, Nixon, and Ford administrations turned a blind eye to what was happening in the territories, and reveals their strategic reasons for doing so.
Drawing on newly opened archives and extensive interviews, Gorenberg reconstructs what the top officials knew and when they knew it, while weaving in the dramatic first-person accounts of the settlers themselves. Fast-moving and penetrating, The Accidental Empire casts the entire enterprise in a new and controversial light, calling into question much of what we think we know about this issue that continues to haunt the Middle East.
The Arab-Israeli conflict has unsettled the Middle East for over half a century. This conflict is primarily political, a clash between states and peoples over territory and history. But it is also a conflict that has affected and been affected by prejudice. For a long time this was simply the "normal" prejudice between neighboring people of different religions and ethnic origins. In the present age, however, hostility toward Israel and its people has taken the form of anti-Semitism-a pernicious world view that goes beyond prejudice and ascribes to Jews a quality of cosmic evil. First published in the 1980s to universal acclaim, Semites and Anti-Semites traces the development of anti-Semitism from its beginnings as a poison in the bloodstream of Christianity to its modern entrance into mainstream Islam. Bernard Lewis, one of the world's foremost scholars of the Middle East, takes us through the history of the Semitic peoples to the emergence of the Jews and their virulent enemies, and dissects the region's recent tragic developments in a moving new afterword.