Contested Land, Contested Memory: Israel's Jews and Arabs and the Ghosts of Catastrophe Paperback – 17 Aug 2013
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[A] beautifully written book a?] Jo Roberts captures the voices of Jewish and Palestinian Israelis in all their diversity, pain, and eloquence.--Professor Michael Rothberg, director of the Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Stud
[Roberts's] writing has academic credibility and personal appeal. If that sounds unlikely, it is. Only a writer as good as Roberts could make it work--but work it does, as it proceeds to unravel Israel's paradoxical political identity.
Roberts's formal arguments have a lapidary quality that makes them appear nearly self-evident. I thought more than once, "I knew that. She's got that just right, and I couldn't say it better."
[A] beautifully written book ... Jo Roberts captures the voices of Jewish and Palestinian Israelis in all their diversity, pain, and eloquence.--Professor Michael Rothberg, director of the Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies Initiative at the University of Illinois
In this moving, lyrical, and very important book, with some of the bravest and most honest of Israelis and Palestinians as guides, Roberts offers readers an intimate, often searing tour of the country s psychological landscape. - Professor Ian Lustick, Bess W. Heyman Chair of Political Science, University of Pennsylvania"
This compelling and compassionate book offers fresh insight into how these divergent histories reverberate in Israel today, examining how selective memories of suffering that exclude the other impede reconciliation and a just peace. - Mubarak Awad, founder, Palestinian Center for the Study of Nonviolence"
[A] beautifully written book Jo Roberts captures the voices of Jewish and Palestinian Israelis in all their diversity, pain, and eloquence. - Professor Michael Rothberg, director of the Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies Initiative at the University of Illinois"
[T]his nuanced, empathic, and knowledgeable book is an important read for supporters of [both Israelis and Palestinians], and for people seeking a book through which to enter the charged field of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. - Hillel Cohen, Israeli historian and journalist
Roberts does a masterful job of presenting all perspectives in their proper context. - Publishers Weekly
[Roberts s] writing has academic credibility and personal appeal. If that sounds unlikely, it is. Only a writer as good as Roberts could make it work but work it does, as it proceeds to unravel Israel s paradoxical political identity. - Embassy"
The author significantly contributes to the historiography of 1948, particularly in her presentation of the lesser-known experiences of displaced Palestinians who remained in what became Israel after the war. - Electronic Intifada
A short review such as this cannot do justice to a book which narrates in rich detail the history of the Jews in Europe leading to the founding of the State of Israel and its impact on the local population of Palestine. The discussion of identity, statehood and the role of narrative give a context for the sources of the conflicts and their continuation. - Jewish Renaissance
. . . Roberts provides an engaging introduction to the significance of collective memory in Israeli and Palestinian education, geography, and law. What results is a diverse anthology of the ways these divergent memories affect the current culture and conflict. - Mondoweiss.net
Writers have used collective memory to explore the history of groups besides Israelis and Palestinians, but Contested Land, Contested Memory distinguishes itself on several counts. First, Roberts' fine writing makes the discourse of collective memory more accessible than many other books do. And because the catastrophes that concern her happened fairly recently, Roberts is able to use the memories of actual Palestinian and Jewish Israelis to frame her subject matter. - National Catholic Reporter
Roberts s formal arguments have a lapidary quality that makes them appear nearly self-evident. I thought more than once, I knew that. She s got that just right, and I couldn t say it better. - America: The National Catholic Review"
Contested Land, Contested Memory is a work that disinters Israel s buried history concealed in the collective psyche that ignores the past. It also shatters the assumed periodization of this conflict as originating in 1967 and highlights instead how the 1948 war and a Zionist ideology of ethnic nationalism contributed to this conflict. - Journal of Palestine Studies"
This remarkable book is, to my knowledge, the first detailed analysis of the oppression inflicted upon the Palestinians by the Israeli government that has been welcomed by Jewish organizations and prominent Jewish scholars. - THE ECUMENIST: A Journal of Theology, Culture, and Society"
About the Author
Trained in her native England as a lawyer and anthropologist, Jo Roberts is now a freelance writer. For five years she was managing editor of the New York "Catholic Worker" newspaper, to which she frequently contributed. Her reportage from Israel and from the West Bank has appeared in Embassy, Canada's foreign policy weekly. She lives in Toronto, Canada.
Top Customer Reviews
Said's ability to combine recognition of the terrible injustice committed against the Palestinians with understanding of the "long history of victimization and terror" in the collective memory of Israeli Jews tends to be forgotten nowadays in the Palestinian solidarity movement, where there is a growing and disturbing tendency to view Israeli Jews solely as settler-colonialists.
This is why Jo Roberts's book "Contested Land, Contested Memory" is so timely. Roberts picks up the largely neglected legacy of Edward Said by stressing the need for both Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs to make the imaginative leap to understand the collective memory and narrative of the Other.
All too often, the approach of "let's feel each other's pain" carries the implication of an equal-sided conflict, but, like Said, Roberts makes it completely clear that Israel Jews are the oppressor and Palestinian Arabs the oppressed nation.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The author looks at the experiences of both Jewish and Palestinian Israelis through the lens of traumatic collective memory. That may sound academic, but this is not an academic book - its analysis is intelligent and well-researched, but it's very readable, jargon-free, and chock full of fascinating interviews with both Jewish and Palestinian Israelis speaking from their own experience.
It's too nuanced a book to sum up easily, but basically the author is looking at the enormous ripple effect of the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians during the 1948 war. She examines the collective trauma that resulted, how Jewish Israelis' own collective trauma made it very hard for them to acknowledge the Palestinians' experience, and the challenges facing Israelis who seek to bring that experience into the public debate.
The book is deeply compassionate without being wishy-washy; it's very clear about the dramatic power imbalance that currently exists, but is also very aware of the history of suffering on both sides (including, for Jewish Israelis, not just the Holocaust but the centuries of European anti-Semitism that led up to it, which are less often recognized).
This book should be a very insightful, thought-provoking read for those already knowledgeable about Israel and Palestine. It's also accessible for readers seeking an "entry point" to learn about the region. Very highly recommended.
If you’ve ever wanted a gentle introduction to this complicated conflict, this one is nuanced, compassionate, and accessible.