956: Contested Land, Contested Memory by Jo Roberts

by Gerard


956.04: Roberts, Jo. Contested Land, Contested Memory: Israel’s Jews and Arabs and the Ghosts of Catastrophe. Toronto: Dundurn, 2013. 264 pp. ISBN 978-1-4597-1011-5.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 900: History and geography
  • 950: History of Asia
  • 956: History of the Middle East and the Near East
  • 956.04: 1945-1980

Palestinians call it the “Nakba,” the catastrophe; to Israelis, it is the Day of Independence—the day that three-quarters of a million Palestinians were uprooted from their homes to make way for a mandated state of Israel. The Jewish population, who had been repeatedly kicked out every safe place in history, were given a land, a government, and a voice. Jo Roberts’s Contested Land, Contested Memory is an intricate look over the perilous decades that followed the creation of Israel using both regular historical documents as well as personal interviews and local reporting.

Nearly every decade (and sometimes every year) since the founding of the Israeli nation, one side began warring with the other. Roberts’s account makes sure to balance the perspectives of both sides, but unfortunately, both sides have sad tales to tell. This is decidedly not a “happy fun times” book, but you will gain a lot of history insight surrounding the Arab-Israeli conflict. You can read this one in a day, but it will stay with you for a while. This book is further proof that history is not a collection of facts and figures, but rather a living continuum of experiences, actions, and people. Every day in the Middle East is a new opportunity to either strengthen or degrade relations between the parties. Let us hope the pains of the past inform their future. A tragic but informative read.