The Activist’s Reading List on Palestinian Liberation

The Activist Editorial Board has compiled a reading list to understand the current moment in Palestine, the history of conflict and colonialism in the region, and the role of socialists and the international left in Palestinian liberation. We hope these readings can help facilitate individual political thought and development as well as political education events hosted by YDSA chapters across the country.

On October 7th, Hamas launched an attack on Israel and its residents. In response, Israel cut off electricity and water to the Gaza strip, bombarded the region with missiles, and issued an evacuation order for a region of the Gaza strip with an estimated 1.1 million Palestinians. 

You can read DSA’s statement on the events of the past week here. YDSA and DSA stand unwaveringly with Palestinians and their right to resist the occupation. We dream of seeing an end to the apartheid and violence in our lifetimes.

DSA has launched a campaign to end US aid to the Israeli military: No Money for Massacres. YDSAs around the country have also elevated demands for university endowment divestment from Israel and military industrial companies in accordance to the BDS movement.

Below is an annotated reading list to help you—YDSA members and chapters—understand the Israeli apartheid regime and Palestinian resistance. You can use this reading list and this presentation from Red Hot Summer 2023 to host political education sessions in your chapter. 

The History of Zionism 

  1. The Hundred Years’ War on Palestine by Rashid Khalidi 

Khalidi provides an accurate historical account of the origins of the Zionist project, which began long before the Holocaust. By revisiting documents and statements from Zionism’s pioneers, Khalidi proves that Zionism was always a settler-colonial project that aimed to dispossess Palestinians of their land. He also examines why Palestinians’ resistance strategies fell short. 

If you don’t have time to read the book or can’t get a copy, you can read and share this summary article in the Guardian

  1. Palestine: A Socialist Introduction edited by Sumaya Awad and Brian Bean

The many contributors to this book lay out the history of Palestine and describe the socialist path to liberation. The book links international movements in the United States and beyond with clear lessons for student organizers at this moment. The book argues that justice can only be achieved through movements simultaneously taking up the fight for socialism. The e-book is currently available for free on Haymarket Books website.

Understanding Our Current Moment

  1. ‘It’s a genocide’: Palestinian Americans express frustration with Western leaders” by Neshmia Malik, WGN9

In the past week, Israel has launched missiles into the Gaza strip and targeted Palestinians who are attempting to evacuate the region. Malik reports the facts about Israel’s brutal response to Hamas’ October 7 invasion of Israel. 

  1. The End of Nonviolent Resistance” by Isaac Scher, Jewish Currents

Scher contextualizes the increasing violent resistance of Palestinians prior to October 7th, noting that Israel has over time delegitimized Palestinians’ use of nonviolent protest by shooting unarmed protestors, slandering the Boycott, Divest, and Sanction (BDS) movement as anti-Semitic, and continuing military operations and settler raids in the West Bank. 

  1. On Mourning and Statehood: A Response to Joshua Leifer” by Gabriel Winant, Dissent 

In response to Leifer’s Dissent essay “Toward a Human Left,” Winant argues that the Israeli state and its allies have politically weaponized Jewish grief to justify genocidal attacks on Palestinians. Because the apartheid regime weaponizes this grief, both the Jewish and non-Jewish Left should communicate its public grief over lives lost in Israel this week alongside a condemnation of the apartheid state. Doing less serves the ideological apparatus of the US and Israeli governments. Winant also clarifies some misconceptions about this article here

The History of Palestinian Resistance 

  1. Palestinian Workers Have a Long History of Resistance” by Joel Beinin, Jacobin 

Beinin situates the May 18, 2021, general strike of Palestinians within the long history of Palestinian worker and peasant resistance to the apartheid state. In 1936, Palestinians struck to resist the Zionist settler project and the British mandate. The general strike united urban workers and peasants and asserted the Palestinian national cause long before the formal creation of the state of Israel in 1948. Beinin also notes Land Day, 1976, when Palestinians struck to protest the theft and conversion of two thousand acres of Palestinian land into Jewish settlements. 

  1. Palestinian Nonviolent Resistance to the Occupation Since 1967” from the Middle East Task Force of the American Friends Service Committee

Much of the media has ignored the extensive history of nonviolent Palestinian resistance to the occupation. This document details nonviolent Palestinian protests, such as boycotts led by the First Intifada (1987–1993), and Israel’s brutal, violent response to these protests. 

  1. Six Months On: Gaza’s Great March of Return” from Amnesty International 

In 2018, thousands of Palestinians protested by the border wall erected around Gaza to demand the right to return to their land. Israel responded to the largely non-violent protest by opening fire on protestors, injuring thousands. Amnesty International described the protest’s aims and reported civilian injuries on this web page.

What Could Palestinian Liberation Look Like From the Socialist Perspective? 

  1. The One-State Solution” by Daphna Thier, Jacobin

Thier explains why the “two-state solution” often debated for the Israeli occupation of Palestine actually denies Palestinians their right to return to their land. Instead of hoping for a two-state solution, we should push for the right of self-determination for Palestinians and dream of one truly democratic nation within which all people have equal rights from the river to the sea. 

US Labor Solidarity with Palestine 

  1. US Labor Leaders Should Stand with Palestine” by Jeff Schuhrke, Jacobin

While labor leaders around the world have expressed support for Palestine over the past years, the AFL-CIO has recently supported the Israeli government. Schuhrke details the AFL-CIO and the Jewish Labor Committee’s (JLC) historic political and financial support for Israel. He then makes the case that rank-and-file union members should push national labor leaders to stand with Palestine. 

  1. When Arab-American Auto-Workers Struck for Palestinian Liberation” by Jeff Schuhrke, Jacobin

Schuhrke recounts a historic auto-worker strike in Dearborn, a Michigan city with a large Arab-American population, protesting the UAW’s relationship to the Israeli occupation. The strike shows us one model for how American workers can express solidarity with the Palestinian cause in the heart of empire. 
Chapter Presentation on the Palestinian Liberation Movement and US Labor: Link Here