Time and time again friends ask me for recommendations when they are planning a trip to the [un]Holy Land.I find that I have some sense of social and political obligation that their trips are memorable, dissonant, and transformative.
So, here is my compiled list of recommendations: what to read, watch, listen to, eat, see, and drink before, during and after visiting Israel and Palestine.
Comment below if there is something I missed!
If you have received this it is because you asked for somewhere to start when reading about Israel and Palestine and/or you are visiting!
I have one request: if you are visiting, leave on a question. If you are leaving and feel like you know the answer, then you missed something. Interrogate your conclusions, question your biases, and find a book to read that addresses that. If you are reading, read with an open mind. And most of all, find words by people who are living there. Let people speak for themselves.
Kingdom of Olives and Ash- edited by Ayelet Waldman and Michael
(^START HERE: a collection of essays. The best thing I’ve ever read. Award-winning authors came to I-P and visited with the sole intention of writing an essay afterwards trying to put into words what they saw.)
Sadness is a White Bird- Moriel Zecher-Rothman (novel)
Sharon and my Mother-in-law
Second Person Singular by Sayed Kashua
White City, Black City: Architecture and War in Tel Aviv and Jaffa
Militarization and Violence Against Women in Conflict Zones in the Middle East: A Palestinian Case-Study by Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian (2009)
The Iron Cage by Rashid Khalidi
Ethnocracy by Oren Yiftachel
Hollow Land by Eyal Weizmann (spatial theory! love this perspective. i find i think about it constantly when traveling through the land)
Gender and the Israeli Palestinian Conflict by Simona Sharoni (1995)
Anything by Arielle Azoulay: focuses on photography and collective witnessing
Shattered dreams: peace movements in Israel by Tamar Herrman (2009)
Classic Histories: very important revision of narratives
Year Zero of the Arab-Israeli Conflict: 1929 by Hillel Cohen
Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem 1947-1949 by Benny Morris
1948 by Benny Morris
Righteous Victims by Benny Morris
A History of Palestine: From the Ottoman Conquest to the Founding of the State of Israel by Gudrun Krämer
Khirbet Khizeh by S. Yizhar (a novel from the perspective of an Israeli soldier on the expulsions in 1948).
All that Remains: The Palestinian Villages Occupied and Depopulated in 1948 Edited by Walid Khalidi (An Encyclopedia of villages)
The One State Reality by David Remnick, November 17, 2014. The New Yorker [Profile on President Reuven Rivlin]
The Broken Silence by David Shulman, April 7, 2016. New York Review of Books [An analysis on the politics surrounding left-wing activism in Israel].
Is This Where the Third Intifada Will Start? By Ben Ehrenreich, March 15, 2013. The New York Times [The New York Times Magazine cover story on grassroots civil disobedience in Nabi Saleh].
“Tell me a story with a happy ending”: Correspondence between Etgar Keret and Sayed Kashua in The New Yorker during the Gaza war of 2014
Anything by Israeli journalists Anshel Pfeffer or Amira Haas
Occupied Pleasures- Tanya Habjouqa (photos from Gaza)
Nira Pereg: see her art work (mainly video) online. She captures sacred and profane of everyday life in Israel and the Occupied territories. (Watch Sabbath, Abraham, and the Right to Clean)
Palestine by Joe Sacco (graphic novel)
Visualizing Palestine: infographics https://visualizingpalestine.org/
Elia Suleiman's The Time That Remains: Chronicle of a Present Absentee (2009): Wes Anderson-esque film. Beautiful, set in 1948, 1967, and 2000 Nazareth
In between (2016) - film about young Palestinian women living in Jaffa/Tel Aviv
Naila and the Uprising (2017)- a Just Vision documentary about Palestinian women’s leadership in nonviolent activism during the 1st Intifada.
Five Broken Cameras (2012) - a documentary about Palestinian grassroots civil disobedience in Bil'in
The Law in These Parts (2011) – a documentary about the origin and function of legal systems in the West Bank since 1967
The Gatekeepers (2013) - a documentary interviewing the past 6 Heads of the Shin-Bet (Israeli equivalent of the CIA)
Budrus (2010)- a documentary about the village of Budrus and the nonviolent activism that was used to protest the building of the wall through the village.
Naila and the Uprising (2018) the story of Palestinian women’s role in organizing nonviolent resistance
The Wanted 18 (2015) - a story about nonviolent resistance in Beit Sahour when the entire town hid 18 cows from the Israeli army during curfew
Omar (2014) - nominated for an Oscar
Oriented (2016) - documentary about the Palestinian LGBTQ scene in Jaffa
Arab Labor: popular Israeli sitcom TV show that was written by Sayed Kashua, a Palestinian-Israeli. Makes you laugh AND cringe at the same time.
Organizations I love:
Many have tours, check their websites or facebook for updated events. All have detailed reports of the situation on the ground
Breaking the Silence: tours of Hebron and South Hebron Hills
Ir Amim: East Jerusalem tours
Machsom Watch: checkpoint watchdogs (all women). Offer occasional tours
Peace Now: occasional settlement tours
IPCRI: conferences, seminars and more
Zochrot: they have an app you can download called iNakba. It geolocates you and shows you what historic Palestinian villages you are near as you travel through Israel.
Military Court Watch
Combatants for Peace
Holy Land Trust
Youth Against Settlements
PLACES THAT RESTORE YOUR SOUL VIA GOOD FOOD AND GOOD CONVERSATIONS AND GOOD PEOPLE
***= must visit
Food and Cafés
HaMarakia (soup and activism)
Imbala (co-op cafe)
***HaMifal (squatter artist warehouse turned resto/cafe/gallery/meeting place)
Mouseline (ice cream: get the Basil! Or the grapefruit mint.)
***Aricha Sabich (across from Mahene Yehuda)
Cafe Bezalel (classic art student scene)
Cafe Nadya (Classic Israeli breakfast)
Kudos (also good for breakfast)
Sushiya- on Trumpledor street, not the franchise. (tiny hole in the wall. Get the fish bowl. Fresh, delicious, revitalizing. Cheap!)
Azura: in the market. AMAZING Iraqi style food. Stews/soups/stuffed eggplant/hummus.
Jaafar: Knafeh and pastries in the Old City
Al Sawra street food: near al-Hakawati theater in East Jerusalem. Nice cafe vibes
Austrian Hospice (old city): Apple Strudel, a classic. And an orientalist oasis from the hustle and bustle of the Muslim quarter.
Treat yo’ self: Mahene Yehuda restaurant, and it’s sister restos including Talbiyeh (near Jerusalem theater). A proper chef restaurant/experience that is shaped by the fresh and seasonal available foods.
***Cafelix (Sgula square: this is the cafe I worked at. Micro-roastery. German-Israeli owners. Know whats up. Order a cortado, you will not be disappointed.)
Shaffa: in the flea market. great night scene, good food. Get the Sinniyiah.
***Abu Hasan hummus (jaffa)
The Thai in Har Sinai (next to port said and the grand synagogue)
Street with Ethiopian food near the central bus station (Central Bus station is a must visit—the whole world is there).
Casbah: florentine classic. Beware stoner waiters, may take a long time to get food.
Saluf and Sons! YEMENI DELICIOUS
***Levinsky 41: the craziest sodas (soda water and herbs and concentrated fruits. GO!)
Dalida: little known secret, if they are full and can’t seat you, they will give you a free cocktail coupon for another time. Pop by on a busy night, grab a coupon, come back with a reservation.
Cafe Pua: flea market. BEST BREAKFAST
Vitrine Lili: burgers! great burgers!
America: also, actually the best burgers
Taqueria: killer nachos.
Masada Street. HaPina specifically
***** Jala Jungle (Previously Hosh Yasmin )(Beit Jala): a MUST. Block out several hours to be here. Aim for a time near sunset. Take the Bus #21 to Bethlehem and get off before you cross the wall in Beit Jala. Backtrack to Rico’s market, and walk down the hill on the street that has a flower shop on the corner. Ask if you need directions. You’ll find yourself on the hilltop of the al-Makhrour valley at a farm/resto.
**Singer Café- Beit Sahour
Tent- Beit Sahour
**HaTipa (v v v local scene)
***HaMazkeka (live music every. single. night.)
Tel Aviv (note: Tel Aviv’s scene changes quickly. This may be outdated. Anna Loulou recently closed, but it remains in my heart forever).
****Anna Loulou: collective owned bar between Palestinians and Israelis. LGBTQ scene. Dancing doesn’t start till late, plan to get there around 12. And be prepared for lots of cigarettes.) (https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/culture/.premium.MAGAZINE-a-bar-beyond-coexistence-1.5401348)
Shpagat (LGBT, emphasis on lesbian)
The Container- jaffa port
Anywhere on Masada St.
Also by the port, there are warehouses with great bars/good scene
****Sno-bar: outdoors. Ramallah. AMAZING experience.
Jisr- Beit Sahour