I’ve been getting many questions about my favorite resources on the Israel/Hamas war. The simplest answer is to go to Instagram and carefully read your friends’ paragraph-long statements and memes.
Just kidding. Please don’t do that. Instead, consider the resources below.
I noted on Lost Debate that books on this subject are notoriously untrustworthy. But here are my favorites:
- Enemies and Neighbors by the late Ian Black is perhaps my most-recommended comprehensive read on this subject. Black was a journalist for The Guardian, which generally takes a pro-Palestine bend. I do think he leans ever so slightly in that direction as he interprets key events, but the book is so comprehensive that most pro-Israel folks will find it a helpful resource.
- Bibi by Anshel Pfeffer provides the best overview of the man who’s dominated Israel’s politics since I was in middle school. Pfeffer is a Haaretz journalist who’s been on the Bibi beat for a long time.
- A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East by David Fromkin. It’s a deep dive into how the British Empire and other Western powers played their cards during and after WWI. Fromkin lays out how a mix of bad intel, sneaky politics, and flip-flopping decisions led to a shaky setup in the Middle East, forever changing the region after the fall of the Ottoman Empire.
- Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict, 1881-2001 by Benny Morris is perhaps the most hotly debated book on this list. Morris is one of the so-called “New Historians” who took advantage of documents declassified in the 1970s to challenge conventional narratives about the origins of Israel. The strength and weakness of this book is its level of detail. I wouldn’t start here, but I appreciate how Morris provides reams of primary source documentation, allowing you to make up your own mind.
- Hamas: The Islamic Resistance Movement by Beverly Milton Edwards and Stephen Farrell is a comprehensive take on Hamas up until 2010.
- Hamas Contained by Tareq Baconi is also helpful. As I noted in my Hamas episode, this book is up front about its opinions, which are more sympathetic to Hamas than I am. But I generally take the view that we can and should read books by people we disagree with – and this one unquestionably helped me develop a fuller picture of Hamas.
- Salt Houses by Hala Alyan (who, in full disclosure, is sort of a relative of mine; her aunt married my uncle) unfolds a multigenerational story that captures life in Palestinian exile. She’s a great writer with a huge heart – and her account captures something the more didactic histories can’t.
- The BBC Global News podcast is my go-to morning listen for up to date information.
- Pod Save the World has done a few thorough episodes that capture the view of former Obama national security figures.
- Thomas Friedman did a fascinating interview for the New York Times opinion podcast a month ago. I usually roll my eyes at Friedman, but this interview is great.
- The folks at Triggernometry hosted a fascinating discussion between Sam Harris and Eric Weinstein. I don’t agree with everything said, but it was an enlightening listen.
- Of course, if you haven’t listened yet, here are some Lost Debate episodes I’ve done on the subject:
- Frontline’s Netanyahu at War is by far the best contemporary docuseries I’ve seen on the subject. It’s one thing to read about events, but seeing the footage and hearing the rationales of key players will have an affect on you.
- Frontline’s Shattered Dreams (from 2002) is also an excellent recap of the Oslo years.
- Ian Bremmer took to Big Think to offer an hour-long explainer that’s pretty solid.
- JFK Forum Debate. If you want a throwback, Noam Chomsky and Alan Dershowitz debated the conflict back in 2005.
That’s all for now.