Side by Side

Parallel Histories of Israel-Palestine

A groundbreaking “dual narrative” history of Israel and Palestine which offers a new paradigm for the teaching of history in conflict and post-conflict situations

“The battle lines of the Israel-Palestinian conflict extend to the classroom, where the two sides’ versions of their shared history diverge sharply. Now, two university professors aim to change the way the conflict is taught by exposing Palestinian students to Israeli history lessons and Israeli students to the Palestinian version of history.” —USA Today

“So much of the gulf in understanding that plagues the Middle East has to do with the willful disregard for the other’s point of view. Israelis refer to the 1948 conflict that gave birth to their nation as the War of Independence; Palestinians know it as the Nakba, or Catastrophe.” —from a 2007 Newsweek article on the project

More than twenty years ago, in the midst of widespread violence in Israel and Palestine, a group of Israeli and Palestinian teachers gathered to address what, to many people, seemed an unbridgeable gulf between the two societies. Struck by how different the standard Israeli and Palestinian textbook histories of the same events were from one another—whether of the Balfour Declaration or the 1967 War—they began to explore how a new understanding of history itself might open up different kinds of dialogue in an increasingly hostile climate. Their express goal was to “disarm” the teaching of Middle East history in Israeli and Palestinian classrooms.

The result is a riveting and unprecedented “dual narrative” of Israeli and Palestinian history. Side by Side comprises the history of two peoples, in separate narratives set literally side by side, so that readers can track each against the other, noting both where they differ as well as where they correspond. This unique and fascinating format, translated into English from Arabic and Hebrew, reveals surprising juxtapositions and allows readers to consider and process the very different viewpoints and logic of each side of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

An eye-opening—and inspiring—new approach to thinking about one of the world’s most deeply entrenched conflicts, Side by Side is a now classic book that offers to its readers a way to discuss and perhaps help find a bridge to peace in the Middle East.

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