As Israeli air strikes on Gaza and rocket fire on Israel continue through 2014, this Reading List considers the academic writing and research being undertaken on the politics of the region. Covering the history of peace process, the effectiveness of aid, and the human relationship to land, these books are great starting points for students looking to gain a thorough understanding of the topic.
Interested in state armaments and their employment in conflict?
SIPRI Yearbook 2013: Armaments, Disarmament and International Security, from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute
The SIPRI Yearbook remains the authoritative source of data, analysis, and prognosis for researchers of peace and conflict, and this 44th edition analyses developments in 2012 in security and conflicts, military spending and armaments, and arms control and disarmament. Patrick Theiner finds that academics, policy makers, and journalists will undoubtedly find its information about arms and conflict to be both exceptionally well-researched and clearly presented. Read the full review.
Interested in the history of peace proposals in the region?
Conflicted Are The Peacemakers: Israeli and Palestinian Moderates and the Death of Oslo by Eric N Budd
The 1993 Oslo Accords were a key attempt to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, a failure largely attributed to extremists on both sides. This book challenges this conventional wisdom by examining the role of Israeli and Palestinian peacemakers themselves in derailing the peace process. Looking at the role of moderates before and after Oslo, the different agreements and peace proposals they negotiated, and their rhetoric, the book aims to show that these peacemakers retained an inherent ambivalence toward the peace process and one another. Reviewed by Jeff Roquen. Read the full review.
Interested in how the Israeli Supreme Court manages claims of selective conscientious objection?
When Soldiers Say No: Selective Conscientious Objection in the Modern Military edited by Andrea Ellner, Paul Robinson and David Whetham
When Soldiers Say No brings together arguments for and against selective conscientious objection, as well as case studies examining how different countries deal with those who claim the status of selective conscientious objectors. This collection adds considerably to the literature by bringing together a range of perspectives on the merits of selective conscientious objection, as well as consideration of its application (or lack thereof) in a number of states, writes Gary Wilson. Read the full review.
Interested US-Middle East relations?
Obama and the Middle East by Fawaz Gerges
During his presidential campaign, Barack Obama promised to distance the United States from the neoconservative foreign policy legacy of his predecessor, George W. Bush, and usher in a new era of a global, interconnected world. Years have passed since his inauguration, and the reality of President Obama’s approach is in stark contrast to the ebullient and optimistic image that he originally built up, argues Fawaz Gerges, in his recent book. Reviewed by Corinna Mullin. Read the full review.
Interested in aid effectiveness in the region?
The Political Economy of Aid in Palestine: Relief from Conflict or Development Delayed? Sahar Taghdisi-Rad
Despite for many years receiving one of the highest per capita aid worldwide, the economies of the West Bank and Gaza Strip have failed to achieve any lasting developmental outcomes and suffer from major weaknesses which undermine their very survival. This book argues that the dominant, mainstream approach to the study of aid and aid effectiveness is theoretically and empirically inadequate for a comprehensive understanding and analysis of the workings of aid in developing countries. Alaa Tartir finds that this book adds an important, distinctive and timely contribution to the scholarly work on Palestine. Read the full review.
Interested in complex human relationship with land?
Land by Derek Hall
Land is one of the world’s most emotionally resonant resources, and control over it is fundamental to almost all human activity. In Land, Derek Hall develops a framework for understanding the geopolitics of land today. Drawing on a wide range of cases and examples – from the Afghanistan–Pakistan border to the Canadian Arctic, China’s urban fringe to rural Honduras – Hall provides an enlightening glimpse into the many conceptual, empirical, financial, political and emotional struggles around land and geopolitics, finds Susannah Wilcox. Read the full review.
Interested in Palestinian political factions?
Political Parties in Palestine: Leadership and Thought by Michael Bröning
Political Parties in Palestine is an up-to-date elucidation of the Palestinian political landscape, aiming to offer vital background information on movements such as Hamas and Fatah, as well as smaller political factions that have defined the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for decades but, due to lack of available information, have not been subject to academic scrutiny. Michael Bröning’s book is an unquestionably important contribution to the study of Palestinian politics, and a must-read for anyone who hopes to better understand both intra-Palestinian political dynamics, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, writes Ilana Rothkopf. Read the full review.