Departures Podcast featuring Oren Kessler, author of ‘Palestine 1936’

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There is a strong argument to be made that the root of Palestinian identity can be traced back to the 1936-1939 Great Revolt, which united rival families and communities, melded urban with rural, and joined rich and poor together in a struggle against Zionism and the British Empire. This is the starting point in Oren Kessler’s exquisitely detailed new book, “Palestine 1936: The Great Revolt and the Roots of the Middle East Conflict,” which takes the reader inside the earliest days of Jewish migration from Europe during the interwar period, and raises numerous questions about the key events which continue to shape the modern Middle East conflict today.

In this conversation with Robert Amsterdam, Kessler approaches the protagonists in this history with great care and empathy, and sheds light on the numerous complexities behind critical “what if” moments, from the Balfour Declaration and the White Paper of 1939.

In light of the horrific October 7 attacks and the continuing conflict in Gaza, an interrogation of the historical roots of statehood in the region such as Kessler’s book are a revelation and education.