Can We Talk About Israel?: A Guide for the Curious, Confused, and Conflicted

Daniel Sokatch, illus. by Christopher Noxon. Bloomsbury, $27 (256p) ISBN 978-1-63557-387-9

New Israel Fund CEO Sokatch debuts with an accessible and balanced survey of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. After sketching the significance of the region in Jewish history, Sokatch details the birth of the Zionist movement in the late 19th century as a response to Jewish persecution in Europe. His slightly more abbreviated history of Palestinian Arabs begins in the seventh century and runs through the British takeover of Palestine in 1917. Documenting escalating tensions between Arabs and Jews during the 20th century, Sokatch recaps the 1936 Arab Revolt, the Six-Day War in 1967 that led to Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and the assassination of Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin by a right-wing Jewish extremist in 1995. The book ends on a hopeful note, with first-person accounts by Arab and Jewish activists who have made a “common commitment to work for a different, better, shared future for Israel.” Flashes of humor, including Noxon’s witty black-and-white illustrations, lighten the mood without sacrificing in-depth analysis. Readers will welcome this informative and fair-minded primer on one of the world’s most fiercely debated issues. Agent: Charlotte Sheedy, the Charlotte Sheedy Literary Agency. (Sept.)