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5 Essential Books to Read on the Nakba: The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine

Between 1947 and 1949, Zionists seized almost 80% of the land of Palestine, expelling up to a million people from their homes and land.

Between 1947 and 1949, Zionists seized almost 80% of the land of Palestine, expelling up to a million people from their homes and land.

On May 15th of every year, Palestinians and those who support a free Palestine mark Nakba Day – meaning “catastrophe”, this day remembers the almost complete destruction of Palestine by Zionist forces in 1948.

Between 1947 and 1949, Zionists seized almost 80% of the land of Palestine, expelling up to a million people from their homes and land. Massacres committed by the Zionists like the ones at Deir Yassin and Tantura remain engrained in the memory of Palestinians even today – the descendants of those expelled are still not allowed to return to their homes and lands.

In an attempt to better understand just how the Nakba continues to this day, here are some of the most essential reads on Palestine, the formation of Zionist state, and the Nakba itself:

The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine by Ilan Pappe

A renowned Israeli historian, Ilan Pappe’s groundbreaking book is essential in dismantling the long-held myth that Palestinians left their land of their own accord – Pappe offers incredible evidence that it was, in fact, the opposite, looking at least 400 Palestinian villages that were deliberately destroyed.

This book is for anyone who wants to understand how the current state of Israel was actually formed – with genocide and ethnic cleansing that has left its mark on the native peoples of Palestine to this day.

On Palestine by Noam Chomsky and Ilan Pappe

Co-authored by two of the leading writers on Palestine, Noam Chomsky and Ilan Pappe, this is another essential read to get a full picture of Palestine today – looking at some of the most pressing issues such as the BDS Movement and two-state versus one-state solutions.

An important way to understand the effects of the Nakba today, this book will help put into context just how catastrophic the ethnic cleansing of Palestine was, and how destructive Zionist forces remain today in denying human rights and illegally expanding into Palestinian territory.

The Hundred Years’ War on Palestine: A History of Settler Colonial Conquest and Resistance by Rashid Khalidi

An incredible and personal look into the history of Palestine, Khalidi draws on his own family archives to help draw a picture of the ancient nation of Palestine – long before it was invaded and colonized by Zionist forces. Leading up to the Nakba, Khalidi helps shine a light on how real the Nakba really was – Palestine was not an empty land but a nation-state with an ancient history.

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Exploring Palestinian nationalism, from the Ottoman Empire to the Six Day War to the 1982 siege, Khalidi effortlessly combines the voices of his own family, journalists, historians, poets, and resistance leaders to present an essential picture of what Palestine was when the Nakba happened.

Legacy of Empire: Britain, Zionism and the Creation of Israel by Gardner Thompson

Offering an essential look into Britain’s role in creating the Zionist state of Israel, Thompson explores the colonization of Palestine by not only Zionist forces but by British forces as well. Exploring how the Nakba continued for decades after 1947 with the help of the British Empire, this book is important for anyone wanting to understand the larger forces at play in the destruction of Palestine.

As the effects of the Nakba continue to this day, the attitudes of Britain and many other nations around the world influenced by the UK remain heavily pro-Israel – and this book helps to understand why and how this came to be.

Voices of the Nakba: A Living History of Palestine by Diana Allan and Rosemary Sayigh

Part of understanding the Nakba is listening to the voices of Palestinians themselves – and this book does just that. Collecting stories and testimonials from first-generation Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, along with commentary from leading scholars on Palestine and the Middle East, this book is an important read for anyone wanting to better understand the Nakba.

Bringing to life the land of Palestine – from the memories of culture, history, every-day life, and politics – this book is another great example of just how alive Palestine was before the catastrophe of the Nakba.