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Contested Land, Contested Memory: Israel's Jews and Arabs and the Ghosts of Catastrophe Paperback – 17 Aug 2013

5.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 306 pages
  • Publisher: Dundurn (17 Aug. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1459710118
  • ISBN-13: 978-1459710115
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.7 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,049,446 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

[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.

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In "The Question of Palestine", Edward Said wrote that the Palestinians "have had the extraordinarily bad luck to have a good case in resisting colonial invasion of their homeland combined with, in terms of the international and moral scene, the most morally complex of all opponents, Jews, with a long history of victimization and terror behind them......I do not doubt that every thinking Palestinian, or those like myself whose trials have been cushioned by good fortune and privilege, knows somehow that all the real parallels between Israel and South Africa get badly shaken up in his consciousness when he reflects seriously on the difference between white settlers in Africa and Jews fleeing European anti-Semitism."

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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is such a lucid, well-written book showing a deep understanding of the people and problems. I felt for the first time I began to have some understanding of the history and current situation of the region.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a wonderful book which seeks to explain the on going conflict between Israelis and Palestinians through their own words. I recommend it to anyone who wants to know more about the conflict.
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Format: Paperback
An excellent survey and analysis of the roots of this conflict. Compassionate, unflinching and deserving to be read by anyone interested in the politics of the region.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x968af99c) out of 5 stars 19 reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x968e0534) out of 5 stars A book that seeks to deepen understanding, rather than attack and defend entrenched positions 29 Aug. 2013
By An-Liang - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
This book does something all too rarely done in the polarized debate on Israel and Palestine: it seeks to deepen understanding, rather than attack and defend entrenched positions.

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.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x968e0588) out of 5 stars Strongly recommended 26 Nov. 2013
By Jennifer Morrow - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I would like to strongly recommend this book. The headlines that come from Israel/Palestine don't capture the traumatic histories behind the conflict. Jo Roberts looks at the Israel-Palestine conflict through the compassionate lens of historic trauma. Dozens of interviews with Jewish and Arab Israelis carry much of the narrative. As Roberts writes: “Opening oneself to the Other’s story, and to the possibility that it may transform one’s own story, is an essential step toward reconciliation.”

If you’ve ever wanted a gentle introduction to this complicated conflict, this one is nuanced, compassionate, and accessible.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By Abraham Guenther - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Memories are what we make of our experiences. This illuminating book goes a long way in guiding me through the separate and shared traumas of this painful place and experience. All too frequently I can find myself getting charged and muddled through all the intensity of this difficult topic. It's wonderful to have a better lens. May we all come to a clearer understanding.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x968e09a8) out of 5 stars Contested Land, Contested Memory 20 Aug. 2013
By A Reader - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
This is a good read for anyone interested in the Middle East and in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in particular. The book discusses how the 1948 war in which Israel became a state has been remembered by Jewish Israelis, Palestinian Israelis and Palestinians living in exile. It's not a narrative that traces what occurred during the war, although the author does cover some of what happened. The book mainly focuses on the Palestinians' loss of lands and homes, and how that loss has been interpreted by the people affected. The author shows how these varying interpretations have affected how people on different sides of the conflict view each other, and how it affects political decisions down to the present day. While the author doesn't provide any easy answers, she does seem to be arguing that at the very least acknowledging the wrong done to Palestinian refugees would be a concrete step Israel can take towards peace. The book is very well written, and will likely make sense even to readers who don't have much of a background in Israeli/Palestinian history.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x968e0e70) out of 5 stars Strong discernment with a compassionate view 30 Aug. 2013
By Meg Salter - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
This beautifully written book has deepened my understanding of the deep sources of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and without offering trite answers, offers the possibility of reconciliation through truth telling and mutual acknowledgement. Jo Roberts brings the 'long view' including much that I didn't know about the founding of the state of Israel, the shifting people's and dynamics in 1930's Palestine and of course the millennial discriminations suffered by European Jewry. She weaves together beautifully on the ground interviews and contemporary understandings of collective memory and how it affects our understanding of who and what we are. She does not fall prey to a good guy- bad guy polemic, either from the political left or right. While acknowledging where the power currently lies, she points out the deep role of trauma and its continuing impact on everyone involved. A learned book that is an easy read, with something new to say that offers insight and a potential tool for healing. What's not to like?
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