In order to deepen our collective understanding of the situation in Palestine and of the Palestinian people, and to give Edmontonians the opportunity to discuss issues related to Palestine, PSN will once again be hosting the Palestine Reading Circle, which will explore books focused on Palestinian history, the Israeli occupation, Palestinian and international resistance, and Palestinian culture. We will read and discuss a variety of works, including fiction, non-fiction and poetry.

The Palestine Reading Circle will meet every other month, with the first book being discussed in the third week of November 2012, and subsequent discussions happening the third week of January, March, and May. Specific dates and locations will be decided by reading circle members closer to the meeting times.

People with all levels of experience and understanding are welcome.

If you are interested in being part of the Palestine Reading Circle, please email psnedmonton@gmail.com with “Reading Circle” in the subject line and we will add your name to the list to receive reminders about upcoming books and times/locations for the group meet-ups. If you are on Facebook, you can also join the Palestine Reading Circle Facebook Group.

Information on ordering books is below the listing of books.

The schedule of books we have selected for the Palestine Reading Circle are:

NOVEMBER
Leila Khaled: Icon of Palestinian Liberation
Sarah Irvine

Publisher: Pluto Press, 2012
ISBN: 9780745329512
Information: Paperback, 168 pages

Dubbed ‘the poster girl of Palestinian militancy’, Leila Khaled‘s image flashed across the world after she hijacked a passenger jet in 1969. The picture of a young, determined looking woman with a checkered scarf, clutching an AK-47, was as era-defining as that of Che Guevara.

In this intimate profile, based on interviews with Khaled and those who know her, Sarah Irving gives us the life-story behind the image. Key moments of Khaled’s turbulent life are explored, including the dramatic events of the hijackings, her involvement in the Marxist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (a radical element within the PLO), her opposition to the Oslo peace process and her activism today.

Leila Khaled‘s example gives unique insights into the Palestinian struggle through one remarkable life – from the tension between armed and political struggle, to the decline of the secular left and the rise of Hamas, and the role of women in a largely male movement.

JANUARY
The Case for Sanctions Against Israel
Edited by Audrea Lim

Publisher: Verso Books, 2012
ISBN: 9781844674503
Information:  Paperback, 244 pages

In July 2011, Israel passed legislation outlawing the public support of boycott activities against the state, corporations, and settlements, adding a crackdown on free speech to its continuing blockade of Gaza and the expansion of illegal settlements. Nonetheless, the campaign for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) continues to grow in strength within Israel and Palestine, as well as in Europe and the US.

This essential intervention considers all sides of the movement—including detailed comparisons with the South African experience—and contains contributions from both sides of the separation wall, along with a stellar list of international commentators.

With contributions by Ra’anan Alexandrowicz, Merav Amir, Hind Awwad, Mustafa Barghouthi, Omar Barghouti, Dalit Baum, Joel Beinin, John Berger, Angela Davis, Nada Elia, Marc Ellis, Noura Erakat, Neve Gordon, Ran Greenstein, Ronald Kasrils, Jamal Khader, Naomi Klein, Paul Laverty, Mark LeVine, David Lloyd, Ken Loach, Haneen Maikey, Rebecca O’Brien, Ilan Pappe, Jonathan Pollak, Laura Pulido, Lisa Taraki, Rebecca Vilkomerson, Michael Warschawski, and Slavoj Žižek.

MARCH
I Saw Ramallah
Mourid Barghouti (translated from the Arabic by Ahdaf Souief)

Publisher: Anchor, 2003
ISBN: 9781400032662
Information:  Paperback, 208 pages

Winner of the prestigious Naguib Mahfouz Medal, this fierce and moving work is an unparalleled rendering of the human aspects of the Palestinian predicament.

Barred from his homeland after 1967’s Six-Day War, the poet Mourid Barghouti spent thirty years in exile—shuttling among the world’s cities, yet secure in none of them; separated from his family for years at a time; never certain whether he was a visitor, a refugee, a citizen, or a guest. As he returns home for the first time since the Israeli occupation, Barghouti crosses a wooden bridge over the Jordan River into Ramallah and is unable to recognize the city of his youth. Sifting through memories of the old Palestine as they come up against what he now encounters in this mere “idea of Palestine,” he discovers what it means to be deprived not only of a homeland but of “the habitual place and status of a person.” A tour de force of memory and reflection, lamentation and resilience, I Saw Ramallahis a deeply humane book, essential to any balanced understanding of today’s Middle East.

MAY
Palestinians in Israel: Segregation, Discrimination and Democracy
Ben White

Publisher: Pluto Press, 2012
ISBN: 9780745332284
Information:  Paperback, 144 pages

Palestinians in Israel considers a key issue ignored by the official “peace process” and most mainstream commentators: that of the growing Palestinian minority within Israel itself. What the Israeli right-wing calls “the demographic problem,” Ben White identifies as “the democratic problem,” which goes to the heart of the conflict. Israel defines itself not as a state of its citizens, but as a Jewish state, despite the substantial and increasing Palestinian population. White demonstrates how the consistent emphasis on privileging one ethno-religious group over another cannot be seen as compatible with democratic values and that, unless addressed, will undermine any attempts to find a lasting peace. Individual case studies are used to complement this deeply informed study into the great, unspoken contradiction of Israeli democracy. It is a pioneering contribution which will spark debate among all those concerned with a resolution to the Israel/Palestine conflict.

***
Ordering the books

All the books we have selected can be ordered through amazon.ca (Leila Khaled, The Case for Sanctions Against Israel, I Saw Ramallah, Palestinians in Israel), but we encourage you to support Edmonton’s local independent bookstore, Audreys by asking them to special order the book if they don’t have it in stock (note that both Leila Khaled and Palestinians in Israel are published by Pluto Press, so it may be faster/cheaper to order them at the same time). The U of A Bookstore in the Students’ Union Building (SUB) currently has copies of both Leila Khaled ($21.95) and The Case for Sanctions Against Israel ($18.50). You can also order the books directly from the publisher (or North American distributor) by clicking on the publisher links above.

We strongly urge you to NOT purchase these (or any) books from Indigo-Chapters, World’s Biggest Bookstore, Smith Books, Coles, The Book Company or Indigo Spirit because of the support offered by controlling owners Heather Reisman and Gerry Shwartz for the HESEG – Foundation for Lone Soldiers. HESEG – which was founded by Ms. Reisman and Mr. Schwartz – provides scholarships and other support to former “lone soldiers” in the Israeli military – individuals from outside Israel with no family in the country who join the Israeli military and participate in all aspects of its repression of Palestinians. In January 2009 HESEG representatives handed out $160,000 worth of “thank you” gifts to Israeli soldiers participating in the attacks on Gaza.

If buying the books is cost-prohibitive, the Edmonton Public Library has copies of I Saw Ramallah and The Case for Sanctions Against Israel in its collection. Leila Khaled and Palestinians in Israel are not currently available at EPL, but you can suggest to EPL that they order the book for their collection.

In some cases, you may also be able to borrow copies of the books from other reading circle members.

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