As the violence continues to escalate between Israelis and Palestinians, with the death toll — disproportionately comprising Palestinian people — mounting, there is no discernible end in sight. While there is no foreseeable conclusion either for this new wave of destruction or for the untenable existence of occupied Palestinian land, state-sanctioned Israeli settlements, and systematic discrimination against Palestinians, there is an urgent need for people who don't understand what's going on in the region to educate themselves on the topic, so they can take meaningful action.
Many activists are hesitant to use the word "complicated" to describe the decades-long conflict; others still are even wary of the word "conflict," lest it be construed as implying that Israelis and Palestinians are on equal footing. But, the fact is that while there is nothing complicated about an occupation — it is immoral and inhumane — there is much about the history of the region that is not just misunderstood, but also unknown to countless people.
The following books are an illuminating beginning to understanding what is happening right now, and will hopefully be helpful for anyone who knows that challenging Israel's actions does not mean stoking antisemitic sentiments, nor does it mean conflating the actions of the Israeli government and right-wing extremists with the opinions and actions of Jewish people everywhere. Rather, it is a reading list for anyone who wants to fight for a future that means an end to occupation and state-sanctioned oppression, and liberation for Palestinians.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on Refinery29 US in May 2021.