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November 18, 2012


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If this is the manageable list, I can scarcely imagine how long the unabridged version would be...


A litany of anti-Israel writings; congrats on putting that together over the years. In all the years I've been reading the Faculty Lounge, this is the first such post about armed conflict in the world. With all the oppression of minorities, religious groups, and women the only democracy in the Middle East in targeted. Any reason to single out the Jewish state's right to defend itself?


You may have a philosophy as to how this or other lists are compiled, but billing it as a "reading list" seems misconceived. Perhaps it evidences erudition; perhaps it avoids the anxiety of having excluded some work that you read at one point or that someone active in the field (e.g., its author) might have put on the list; perhaps someone will literally read the list, and perhaps others will randomly choose something. But I seriously doubt that anyone will march through these, or that anyone who's read many or most will find an overlooked gem that they then proceed to read. That is, I can't see the value of what you admit is a fatally incomplete stab at comprehensiveness.

Please consider whether you'd serve a greater purpose by culling this kind of list a bit, so as to recommend to those not expert in a field either representative works or the ones you found to be highest quality. I'd think you'd want to use your expertise to help others enhance theirs, and don't think this is a very effective way of doing it.

David J. Garrow

This is, rather obviously, *way* too long to be helpful to anyone other than a specialist who'd already be familiar with such a copious literature. Ergo, that does raise the question, as noted by someone above, as to whether there's some oblique purpose underlying this that's not immediately obvious to those of us who aren't very knowledgeable about the topic. If so, that's very disappointing....

Patrick S. O'Donnell


If one does not find the compilation useful it can safely be ignored. I thought it might prove helpful, based on favorable comments from earlier drafts (perhaps the comments were not a sufficient sample for drawing such a conclusion) for individuals to get a sense of what is available on the topic (since I did update it a bit since first posting several years ago at Ratio Juris). In part, because people come from so many different backgrounds and are possessed of varying degrees of ignorance, I was not going to select some “top 10” list or some such thing of my favorites. One might look through the list for titles that are possibly intriguing or interesting based on one’s own lights, much like when browsing through a certain subject section in a bookstore. For instance, if your cup of tea is international law, when can certainly find a fair amount of titles bearing on international law and the conflict. Similarly, perhaps one is historically minded, or interested in self-determination and nationalism, or colonialism, or Zionism (for which I do happen to have a separate list), or nonviolence, what have you. I claim no special expertise on any of these subjects and am simply an ardent amateur student of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict who’s endeavored to read as broadly and deeply possible as I can in the area. Of course not all titles may be sufficiently informative, but I’ll leave it to potential readers to explore that on their own. Other lists I’ve composed that were much longer than this one and for which I do possess some formal training I’ve broken up into subject areas: see my compilations for Buddhism and Islam, for example, listed here:

I hope, however, to soon post a quite short list (no snickering) on nonviolence in the Middle East and in particular as it relates to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. In any case, sorry to disappoint, although I was not aware I had created any particular expectation one way or another.

Patrick S. O'Donnell

From this point forward, I'm happy to delete obnoxious, mean-spirited or meaningless comments.

Blog editors and writers should endorse the following from S. Abbas Raza at 3 Quarks Daily: "If you make ad hominem attacks, use nasty language, are disrespectful, call the motives of the authors or editors into question, or stray outside the topic under discussion, your comment will be deleted and you may also be blocked from commenting permanently. And this will be done without any explanation to you."

Cf. Marc DeGirolami at Mirror of Justice: "I have decided to take a more involved role in moderating comments in this and my future posts. I will delete comments which make no effort at all to respond to and engage in an intelligent way with the substance of my post. I will also delete comments which are snide, snarky, or not respectful either of me or of the other people who have commented thoughtfully on my posts. [....] If this is upsetting, I commend you to the plenitude of the Internet, where your thought and its manner of expression will surely find a home."

Paul Horwitz

I have no beef with that policy, but I wonder how you see the comments above by that standard. They all seem OK to me. I suppose it depends on how you read "call the motives of the authors or editors into question," but although I think those kinds of comments generally leap to conclusion I would personally be inclined to give a rule in this area a fairly narrow interpretation. Just curious.

Patrick S. O'Donnell

Paul, I should have been clearer. I wrote from "this point forward," after deleting a comment I thought was simply mean-spirited (an abusive ad hominem), with nothing to add of relevance to the post. It was not made in reference to any of the existing comments.

Paul Horwitz

Good deal. Again, I think these kinds of things are the call of individual bloggers. My own approach these days is to allow all but the most personal and/or repetitively nasty comments, although even those may sometimes make accurate criticisms; it's how they do it that I find an issue. But I don't, for instance, necessarily agree with all the calls made by all my co-bloggers on when to delete messages. And I'm fine as a policy matter with anonymity, although I'm increasingly struck by those who somehow combine anonymity with rudeness; if you're going to take advantage of anonymity, doesn't it almost behoove you to be less rude? But everyone has a different approach and it's a big internet.


Here's one that I wonder whether you'll find relevant. Your post purports to be informational, but it is actually propagandistic. I only want to focus on the photos in this post.

The pictorial representation of our message makes clear your antagonism toward Israel. Israeli soldiers are depicted with weapons under the barrier b/w the West Bank. Now there are a couple of propagandistic points you're clearly making here. For one, you've chosen one of the few places where the wall is made of concrete. The barrier is primarily made of fence, only 3 percent is made of concrete, but you choose the exception as the place for your theme photo. Further, you have the soldiers under Gandhi. Another clear message, the Israelis are aggressors and no peace makers. There is nothing to give context to the fact that the barrier was put up after devastating suicide bombings targeting civilians, the enormous offers Barak and Olmert only to be thwarted by Palestinian leaders, nor the fact that Israel left Gaza and received terrorist attacks in response. Furthermore, there is nothing indicating what the IDF is aiming at, why they are there, what the threat is, whether there are any civilians around, just plain nothing to give this photo context.

The photo in your earlier post (Posted by Patrick S. O'Donnell at 10:19 AM in Current Affairs) makes it just as clear that this is not an informational, intellectual post but one put up for the sake of propaganda, which seems completely out of place on this blog. The depiction of targets getting attacked. First do we know that the hits are from the Israel Defense Forces? Lets assume they are. You have nothing indicating what those targets are. Moreover, you've got nothing depicting Hamas and Islamic Jihad rockets hitting Israeli cities, making the nature of your post further one sided. You've also failed to give the background context of Israel's response, which only took place after terrorists fired about 800 rockets into Israel this year, prior to the assassination of Jabari

Finally, what is the relevance of these posts to this particular blog? It has for years been devoted to messages about law school faculties, which is where it gets its name, not politics.

Paul Horwitz

Hold on a minute. I thought this blog was about Civil War monuments.

John Kang

Civil War monuments; funny....

....I partly understand Prof. Garrow's remark but I'm also partly confused by it. He asked "whether there's some oblique purpose underlying this that's not immediately obvious to those of us who aren't very knowledgeable about the topic. If so, that's very disappointing...." I guess I sort of understand it; Prof. Garrow seems to be saying that Patrick is trying, maybe, to hoodwink those of us who "aren't very knowledgeable." But my first question is, who are these blank, dumb, Forrest Gumps among us? I mean, who reads Faculty Lounge and doesn't know that there is a pro-Israeli side and a pro-Palestinian side?

And second, even if the list is one-sided (I can see why prof. Garrow would think that), why would a one-sided list be "disappointing"? It's partisan, it's tendentious, it's already decided that something is wrong (and something is right). But why is such a list "disappointing"? Fox News would have reading suggestions, as would MSNBC, as would Mother Jones, as would the Cato Institute, as would, ummm, know...on and on. I don't find these one-sided suggestions to be disappointing, though; they are what they are--people trying to advance their diverse views in the marketplace of ideas, trying to get votaries,....

Patrick S. O'Donnell

I picked the photo because I've long been a student of Gandhi's moral and political philosophy and I liked the juxtaposition of the soldiers, graffiti, and "the Wall." See, for example: and:

I have more "propaganda" pictures here:

For a discussion of the metaphorical and political significance of this "separation barrier," please see Sylvain Cypel's book above. [Should you choose to read only one book from the list, this might suffice by way of a fairly comprehensive introduction by someone intimately (i.e., personally and professionally) acquainted with its particulars (a Jew who lived over a decade in Israel and at the time of publication was a senior editor at Le Monde).]

Other discusssions include:

Catherine Cook and Adam Hanieh, "The Separation Barrier: Walling in People, Walling Out Sovereignty," in Joel Benin and revecca L. Stein, eds., The Struggle for Sovereignty: Palestine and Israel, 1993-2005 (Stanford University Press, 2006): 338-347.

The Saree Makdisi title in the list above.

Neve Gordon's Israel's Occupation (2008) also above.

The "separation barrier" is examined in a larger context and original analysis by several authores in Adi Ophir, Micha Givoni, and Sari Hanafi, eds., The Power of Inclusive Exclusion: Anatomy of Israeli Rule in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (Zone Books, 2009).

Harvard University's Program on Humanitarian Policy and Conflict Research, Policy Brief (2004): "The Separation Barrier and International Humanitarian Law," available: (it's supposed to be archived at the above Program but the link is broken)

B'Tselem - The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories:

See too the film, Lemon Tree:

Should one really be interested in the nature of propaganda with regard to this conflict as covered by the mass media in the States, please see the Dunsky volume, Pens and Swords (2008) in the above list.

I was not motivated by "propaganda" in assembling this list or in posting the picture, that is, if the term is defined, as it should be, as "The organized attempt through communication to affect belief or action or inculcate attitudes in a large audience in ways that CIRCUMVENT OR SUPPRESS AN INDIVIDUAL'S ADEQUATELY INFORMED, RATIONAL, REFLECTIVE JUDGMENT." Indeed, I've made these sources available so as to engage such rationally informed judgment, to help (however modestly) individuals come to more adequately informed, reflective, and rational judgments.

I can only marvel at how the provision of sources is deemed so threatening....


They were not "threatening" but substantively misinformative.


If the point of this discussion is to build toward a simulation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with the reading list as the metaphoric wall, color me impressed.

Otherwise, I stick with the idea that a data dump -- not even distinguishing the best books by a particular author, a number of whom have multiple entries -- isn't likely to help the already-aware or the unaware, and thus won't engender rationally informed judgment as much as would a more select list. A more select list does, of course, require making and possibly defending choices, but isn't that what we want the well informed to be able to do?

Patrick S. O'Donnell

Yes, works by recognized experts in their respective fields (history, political science, sociology, law, what have you), as well as by public intellectuals, continues to be viewed as "substantively misinformative" by some individuals (in particular, I suspect, by those Sylvain Cypel and Stanley Cohen would argue are prone to or afflicted by 'states of denial' as defined and discussed in the latter's excellent book on the subject). I hope individuals will be motivated to explore at least some of the titles and make up their own minds as to the quality of the reasearch, the soundness and persuasiveness of the arguments, and perhaps even the degree of accuracy or veracity of the accounts in toto. Other individuals can compose alternative lists as they see fit to counter their perception of misinformation.

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