British Writers In Support of Palestine

Biography

Alphabetical by author. Some overlap with History and Political Analysis.

Said K. Aburish
Arafat : From Defender to Dictator
(Bloomsbury, 1998)

Abdel Bari Atwan
A Country of Words : A Palestinian Journey from the Refugee Camp to the Front Page 
(Saqi Books, 2008)
More than just a particular Palestinian’s autobiographical achievements, Atwan’s voice is as important as his story. I’m partial to memoirs of toilers in the newspaper biz, but this book has great kicks. – AS

Ibtisam Barakat
Tasting the Sky : A Palestinian Childhood
Melanie Kroupa Books/Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2007

Gabi Baramki
Peaceful Resistance : Building a Palestinian University under Occupation
[Birzeit University] (Pluto Press, 2010)
A personal account of the establishment and maintenance of the first Palestinian university, most interesting for the post-1967 Occupation years but before Oslo.

Kai Bird
Crossing Mandelbaum Gate : Coming of Age between the Arabs and the Israelis, 1956-1978
(Simon & Schuster 2010)
Worthy memoir by the son of an American diplomat who grew up witnessing changes along the Palestinians’ time line. – AS

Andrew Gowers and Tony Walker
Behind the Myth : Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Revolution
(Interlink Books, 2001)
Based on hundreds of hours of exclusive interviews with senior PLO figures, including Arafat, as well as senior American, Arab, Israeli and European officials, it is a comprehensive portrait of the evolution of the Palestinian resistance from its earliest days as an unruly and little noticed collection of guerrilla factions, through its rise to international prominence, right up to the position following the Gulf War and the historic Madrid Peace Conference of 1991.
It is the story of internecine strife and external conflict; of weakness and over-confidence; of mistakes and miscalculations; and of many lost opportunities for peace. But it is above all the story of of the dream that Arafat has done more than anyone to sustain in the face of daunting odds: the idea that Palestinian people should have the right to determine their own future.

Laila El-Haddad
Gaza Mom : Palestine, Politics, Parenting and Everything in Between
(Just World Books, 2010 and edited ed., 2013)

Sarah Irving
Leila Khaled : Icon of Palestinian Liberation
(Pluto Press, 2012)
An improvement on Khaled’s own 1975 autobiography, long since out of print. Irving allows the subject’s voice to come through, and her own critical assessment as well. -AS

Palestine (Bradt Travel Guides, ca. 2010)
An insightful walking guide for intrepid ramblers, but an indispensable reference work too. Keep it handy. –AS

Jabra Ibrahim Jabra
The First Well, autobiography on growing up in Bethlehem and Jerusalem
translated by Issa J. Boullata (Hesperus Press, 217pp, 2012)

Princesses Street : Baghdad Memories
Translated by Issa J. Boullata (University of Arkansas Press, 185pp, 2005)

Ghada Karmi
Edward Said : A Legacy of Emancipation and Representation
(edited by Adel Iskandar and Hakem Rustom, University of California Press, 2010)
Chapter : ‘Said and the Palestinian Diaspora: A Personal Reflection’

In Search of Fatima : A Palestinian Story
(Verso, 2004)
This hugely successful account of how the author’s childhood in Jerusalem became, in 1948, a lifetime in exile is much more than a gripping personal narrative. All the major events of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict are covered here, by a Palestinian woman who grew up in Golders Green, and from wanting nothing more than to ‘fit in’ with her new surroundings, become one of the world’s leading commentators on Palestine. – NF.
Autobiography which superbly balances being neither overly self-centred nor polemical. A classic. –AS

Anbara Salam Khalidi
Memoirs of an Early Arab Feminist : The Life and Activism of Anbara Salam Khalidi
(translated by Tarif Khalidi; Pluto Press, 2014

Jean Said Makdisi (b. Jerusalem, raised in Cairo, Beirut)

Makdisi, as editor, Serene Husseini Shahid
Jerusalem Memories
(Beirut : Naufal Books, 1999, 2000)

Teta, Mother and Me 
(Saqi Books & WW Norton & Co, 2005 & 2007)

Beirut Fragments : A War Memoir
(NYC: Persea Books, 1990)

Makdisi, as co-editor with Martin Asser, Shafiq Al-Hout ; translated by Hader al-Hout and Laila Othman
My Life in the PLO – The Inside Story of the Palestinian Struggle
(Pluto, 2011)
Mike Marqusee
If I am not for Myself : Journey of an Anti-Zionist Jew 
(Verso, 2008)
Well-made points from the viewpoint of the author’s Leftist New York City family background and how they, and others, didn’t twig the disconnect between social justice and Zionism in the post-holocaust era.
Nur Masalha (Palestinian historian and professor linked to the University of Surrey and SOAS :
“The rupture of 1948 and the ethnic cleansing of Palestine are central to both the Palestinian society of today and Palestinian social history and collective identity. Resisting ethnic cleansing and politicide has been a key feature of the modern history of the Palestinians as a people.”

Ariel Sharon : A Political Profile
(Council for the Advancement of Arab-British Understanding, 2001)

King Faisal I of Iraq : A Study of His Political Leadership, 1921-1933
(PhD thesis, University of London, 1987)
Sari Nusseibeh
Once Upon a Country : A Palestinian Life
(Halban Books, 2007)
Extraordinary autobiography of President of Al-Quds University, who tried to use his cosmopolitan awareness to bypass Israeli officialdom in forming a viable Palestinian state. -AS
Karl Sabbagh
Britain in Palestine : The Story of British Rule in Palestine, 1917-1948
(Skyscraper Publications, 2012)
Accompaniment to the SOAS/Brunei Gallery exhibition. Many illustrations yet compact. -AS
Palestine : A Personal History
(Atlantic Books, 2006)
Sabbagh, whose father was the lead broadcaster for the BBC Arabic Service during WWII, here interweaves the literary and political history of Palestine, with his own family’s story, in particular his father’s experience during the partition of his country and creation of Israel. -NF
Bassam Abu Sharif
Arafat and the Dream of Palestine : An Insider’s Account
(Palgrave Macmillan, 2009)
Author gets a central role, not Abu Ammar, but a good read nonetheless.
Raja Shehadeh
A Rift in Time : Travels with My Ottoman Uncle
(Profile Books, 2010)

Occupation Diaries
(Profile Books, 2012)

Strangers in the House
(Steerforth Press, 2002 / Profile Books, 2003, 2009)

Palestinian Walks : Notes on a Vanishing Landscape
(Profile Books, 2007)
A moving and beautifully written account of the author’s walks in his native hills, spanning 27 years, and witnessing the devastating impact of illegal Israeli settlements on the people and the landscape of the West Bank. Winner of the Orwell Prize 2008. – NF

When the Bulbul Stopped Singing : A Diary of Ramallah under Siege
(Profile Books, 2002)

The Sealed Room : Selections from the Diary of a Palestinian Living under Israeli Occupation, September 1990 – August 1991 
(Quartet, 1992)

Occupier’s Law : Israel and the West Bank
(Washington, DC : Institute for Palestine Studies, 1985)

Samed : Journal of a West Bank Palestinian
(New York : Adama Books, 1984)
Faris al-Shidyaq
Leg over Leg
(Two Volumes, Translated by Humphrey Davies – travel, UK and France / NYUP, 2012)
Leg Over Leg is the semi-autobiographical account of Ahmad Faris al-Shidyaq, a pivotal figure in the intellectual and literary history of the modern Arab world. His adventures and misadventures provided him with opportunities for wide-ranging digressions on the intellectual and social issues of his time, including the ignorance and corruption of the Lebanese religious and secular establishments, women’s rights, the manners and customs of Europeans and Middle Easterners, and the differences between European and Arabic literature. It was initially widely condemned for its attacks on authority, its skepticism, and “obscenity,” and later editions were often abridged. This is the very first English translation of the work and reproduces the original edition.

Raedi Taha
A Single Metre
b. Jerusalem, Ramallah. Ali, a biog of her father Ali Taha (2002); short stories also.

Fawaz Turki
Soul in Exile : Lives of a Palestinian Revolutionary
(Monthly Review Press, 1988)

The Disinherited – Journal of a Palestinian Exile
(Monthly Review Press, 1972)

Farouq Wadi
Homes of the Heart : A Ramallah Chronicle
Translated by Dina Bosio and Christopher Tingley
5 1/4″ x 8″ • 120 pages
ISBN 9781566566629 • paperback • $12.95
Returning to his home town of Ramallah after long exile, the author is shocked to find the changes wrought, above all, by the Israeli occupation. An account—informative, lyrical and humorous by turn—of his own early life in the town is in…
Emma Williams
Foreword by Brian Urquhart
It’s Easier to Reach Heaven than the End of the Street : A Jerusalem Memoir
published 2010 • 6” x 9” • 412 pages • maps
ISBN 9781566567893 • paperback • $16.00
“Williams’s deeply moving memoir relates the three years her family spent in a Palestinian neighborhood in Jerusalem. Tragically, shortly after the family’s arrival in 2000, the second intifada (uprising) erupted, and life in Israel and the occupied territories was shaken by suicide bombings, vicious reprisals, and constant fear. The personal experiences of the author’s family are contrasted with the daily violence committed by both Palestinians and Israelis, both sides driven by a sense of victimhood and vulnerability. Williams laments that Israeli dominance and the devastation of the Palestinian economy and community can never provide security; she blames the U.S. media and government for not presenting an honest picture of or a responsible policy for the cruelty and futility of Israeli actions. She frames her memoir with a tourist’s perspective on her family’s explorations of the countryside, visits to historic sites, and friendships with interesting and compassionate Israelis, Palestinians, and expatriates. VERDICT A beautifully written report of the human costs of the ongoing struggle between two peoples unable to live in peace in the land they both love, focusing on the experiences of fear and suffering, violence and compassion. Highly recommended.” —Library Journal
A deeply affecting memoir and a unique contribution to our understanding of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict
In August 2000 Emma Williams arrived with her three small children in Jerusalem to join her husband and to work as a doctor. A month later, the second Palestinian intifada erupted. For the next three years, she was to witness an astonishing series of events in which hundreds of thousands of lives, including her own, were turned upside down.
Williams lived on the very border of East and West Jerusalem, working with Palestinians in Ramallah during the day and spending evenings with Israelis in Tel Aviv. Weaving personal stories and conversations with friends and colleagues into the long and fraught political background, Williams’ powerful memoir brings to life the realities of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. She vividly recalls giving birth to her fourth child during the siege of Bethlehem and her horror when a suicide bomber blew his own head into the schoolyard where her children played each day.
Understanding in her judgment, yet unsparing in her honesty, Williams exposes the humanity, as well as the hypocrisy at the heart of both sides’ experiences. Anyone wanting to understand this intractable and complex dispute will find this unique account a refreshing and an illuminating read.
Emma Williams studied history at Oxford and medicine at London University. She has worked as a doctor in Britain, Pakistan, Afghanistan, New York, South Africa and Jerusalem. She wrote for several newspapers and magazines about Palestinian-Israeli affairs and was a correspondent for the Spectator from 2000-2003. She now lives in New York.

 

Reviewers AS (Andy Simons); NF (Naomi Foyle)

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