online PrimerS

New to the issues and looking for an all-encompassing primer on Palestine, Israel, and the Arab-Israeli conflict? Look no further. The Middle East Research and Information Project (MERIP), a consortium of scholars and journalists committed to informed and objective analysis of the region, have produced a document that strikes the perfect balance between concise summary and historical rigor. Access it here.

Looking for a shorter introduction? JVP Rabbinical Council member Laurie Zimmerman has produced an extraordinary Israel-Palestine curriculum for Jewish middle and high schoolers called Reframing Israel, with an historical background document written by JVP Philly member Matt Berkman. Access the historical primer here, or visit Reframing Israel's website for the full curriculum.


History of Israel/Palestine

Memoirs and Accounts of Life Under Occupation

I Saw Ramallah
By Mourid Barghouti, Edward W. Said, Ahdaf Soueif

Political Analysis and BDS

The Question of Palestine
By Edward W. Said
The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy
By John J. Mearsheimer, Stephen M. Walt

Jewish American History and Politics

Knowing Too Much
By Norman Finkelstein

Selected Articles

Beyond Compare by Julie Peteet, MERIP

A comprehensive look at the comparison between Israel's system of control of Palestinians and the South African apartheid regime. Peteet highlights both similarities and differences in the two historical systems while assessing the usefulness and limits of the comparison.

The Failure of the American Jewish Establishment by Peter Beinart, New York Review of Books

A classic denunciation of the failure of American Jewish leaders and organizations to speak out against injustice in Palestine, and its ramifications for young Jews.

No Direction Home by Daniel Luban, Tablet Magazine

Written in the aftermath of the Gaza Flotilla incident and Operation Cast Lead--and before Tablet Magazine was purchased by neoconservatives--Daniel Luban examines the moral contradictions of liberal Zionism.

The 94 Percent Solution by Jeff Halper, MERIP

The director of the Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions describes the "matrix of control" imposed on Palestinian life by the Israeli occupation.

The Gaza Bombshell by David Rose, Vanity Fair

Wondering how the situation in Gaza got the way it is? Read this journalistic expose of how the Bush administration collaborated with elements of the Fatah party and the Israeli government to overthrow Palestine's fragile democracy.

Hamas's Chances by Nathan Thrall, London Review of Books

Expert analysis on the origins of the most recent Gaza conflict, Operation Protective Edge

Israel: The Alternative by Tony Judt, New York Review of Books

Classic essay by the late Tony Judt proposing an alternative to the increasingly unrealistic two-state solution

The Great Middle East Peace Process Scam by Henry Siegman, London Review of Books

Siegman, a former director of the American Jewish Congress and the Synagogue Council of America, discusses the basic deceptions and asymmetries at the heart of the American-led peace process.

Camp David: The Tragedy of Errors by Robert Malley and Hussein Agha, New York Review of Books

Wondering what really happened at the 2000 Camp David summit when Yasser Arafat allegedly rejected Ehud Barak's "generous offer"? Read this account by Robert Malley, special assistant to Bill Clinton on Middle East peace, who helped broker the Camp David talks.

Israel's One-State Reality and The Party Faithful by David Remnick, The New Yorker

New Yorker Editor in Chief David Remnick explores the increasingly mainstream right-wing extremism in Israel.

Is This Where the Third Intifada Will Start? by Ben Ehrenreich, New York Times Magazine

A look at the current state and future of non-violent civil resistance in Palestine.

The Past Didn't Go Anywhere (Zine) by April Rosenblum

The ultimate primer on the persistence of anti-Jewish sentiment in some corners of the left, and how to make combatting anti-Semitism part of all of our movements for progress and liberation.


While in general we advise against getting your information from YouTube videos, if you absolutely cannot resist we recommend this animation by Jewish Voice for Peace that offers a concise explanation of the Israel/Palestine conflict:



Roadmap to Apartheid (2012), dirs. Ana Nogueira and Eron Davidson

Narrated by Alice Walker, this film is as much a historical document of the rise and fall of apartheid in South Africa as it is a film about why many Palestinians feel they are living in an apartheid system today.

Five Broken Cameras (2012), dirs. Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi

An extraordinary work of both cinematic and political activism, Five Broken Cameras is a deeply personal, first-hand account of non-violent resistance in Bil’in, a West Bank village threatened by encroaching Israeli settlements.

Budrus (2009), dir. Julia Bacha

Budrus is an award-winning feature documentary film about Palestinian community organizer, Ayed Morrar, who unites Palestinian political factions and invites Israeli supporters to join an unarmed movement to save his village of Budrus from destruction by Israel’s Separation Barrier.

The Gatekeepers (2012), dir. Dror Moreh

A documentary featuring interviews with all surviving former heads of Shin Bet, the Israeli security agency whose activities and membership are closely held state secrets. They recount the experiences that led them to abandon their hardline views on the Israel-Palestine conflict.

The Law in These Parts (2011), dirs. Ra'anan Alexandrowicz

Explores the over four-decade old military system in the Occupied Territories through testimonies of military legal professionals who were its architects and who helped run it in its formative years. (Best for audiences who have background knowledge of the Occupation.)

Slingshot Hip Hop (2007), dir. Jackie Reem Salloum

The film together the stories of young Palestinians living in Gaza, the West Bank and inside Israel as they discover Hip Hop and employ it as a tool to surmount divisions imposed by occupation and poverty. From internal checkpoints and Separation Walls to gender norms and generational differences, this is the story of young people crossing the borders that separate them.

Fiction Films

The Time that Remains (2009), dir Elia Suleiman

An examination of the creation of the state of Israel in 1948 through to the present day from the point of view of Israel's Arab citizens.

Omar (2013), dir. Hany Abu-Assad

A young Palestinian freedom fighter agrees to work as an informant after he's tricked into an admission of guilt by association in the wake of an Israeli soldier's killing.

The Promise (2011 miniseries), dir. Peter Kosminsky

An amazing four-part miniseries from the BBC that moves back and forth in time between British Mandatory Palestine and current day Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank. Follows the story of a young British girl who travels to Israel/Palestine to retrace the steps of her grandfather - a British soldier stationed there in the 1940s.


This powerpoint was made by a JVP member to introduce the history of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement as well as chart the landscape of current opposition to BDS.