Resources

“Lead such a life that, when you die, the people may mourn you, and while you are alive they long for your company.”
—Imam Ali

“Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Just walk beside me and be my friend.”
– Albert Camus

اتَّكَلْنا منه على خُصٍّ الاتحاد قوة
“Unity is power.”
-Arabic proverb

RESOURCES FOR U.S.-BASED FRIENDS

Learn more about El Salvador:

BOOKS IN ENGLISH

Captured Peace

The basic theme is that the peace accords failed from the beginning to address the root causes of the war and bring about meaningful change to Salvadoran society.

In Search of Refuge

A memoir by a North American about people’s fleeing El Salvador in the early 80’s and her accompaniment of them.

Like Grains of Wheat

A memoir on how U.S. solidarity workers travelling to Central America in the 80’s and 90’s were affected by the experience.

Oscar Romero

A favorite book about Archbishop Oscar Romero, recounting stories of people who knew him in life.

One Day of Life

A classic about peasant life in El Salvador.

What You Have Heard Is True

A remarkable book (published in 2019) that reads like a novel of personal witness in El Salvador in the time leading up to the beginning of the war.

Witness to War

A very close-up account of the war between its ending and the beginning of reconstruction.

BOOKS IN SPANISH

Browse at the online bookstore of the Jesuit university

VIDEOS IN ENGLISH

How Gang Violence Drives Migrants out of El Salvador

An 8-minute 2019 New York Times video that explores how rampant gang violence is pushing Salvadorans into perilous migrant caravans. For many in El Salvador, the options are few: Journey north to try to cross into America illegally, or live in fear at home.

Girls in El Salvador Are Choosing Suicide Over Life of Misery

In this 11-minute video, you will learn that El Salvador has one of the highest rates of gender-based violence in the region. Being a young woman often means enduring abuse, neglect, and the most severe anti-abortion law in Central America. The combination of all these issues, plus the high levels of poverty and inequality, have turned this into a deadly situation. CGTN correspondent Nitza Soledad Perez went to El Salvador to bring us the story.

El Salvador Impressive! El Salvador Travel Video

In this 12-minute video, you will visit El Salvador and enter a world of lakes, volcanoes, and stunning cities. From the historic church and nightlife of the capital San Salvador to the incredible Mayan ruins of Joya de Cerén, El Salvador is a beautiful, exotic country just waiting to be explored. Before you travel to El Salvador, watch this video and discover a number of tourist routes based around different themes like Salvadoran food, Mayan Ruins, eco tourism, and adventure.

Life in San Salvador

A 25-minute news piece on the gang violence that pervades El Salvador and is the primary factor pushing people to migrate to the United States.

El Salvador: Deportees Welcome: Between MS-13 & Call Centres

Watch this 25-minute video to find out what happens to the 13,000 people annually deported from the United States to El Salvador. Many are returning to a country they have not seen in years.

CRISPAZ Speaker Rich Jones Elaborates on Why Immigrants are Leaving El Salvador

Jones addresses the three primary reasons people are leaving El Salvador: (1) wage disparity, (2) violence and gangs, and (3) family reunification.

CRISPAZ

CRISPAZ Speaker Rich Jones Talks About Gangs in El Salvador

Jones explains that gangs are the most prominent source of crime in El Salvador, and they often have ties to the police.

CRISPAZ

CRISPAZ Speaker Rich Jones Explains How the U.S. Workforce Relies on Immigrant Workers

Jones illustrates how millions of workers are needed annually to fill roles U.S. workers don’t want, yet it is very difficult for immigrants to obtain legal visas. This means that human smuggling is a very lucrative business.

CRISPAZ

WEBSITES IN ENGLISH

Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador 

A U.S. nonprofit that organizes El Salvador solidarity activities and travel delegations

El Salvador Perspectives 

A blog by Tim Muth, a North American who lives part time in El Salvador working with the Lutheran Church. Muth provides relevant commentary and shares important news about El Salvador. He has a list of recommended books on his website.

Washington Office on Latin America 

A leading U.S.-based research and advocacy organization advancing human rights in Latin America. This page addresses many issues regarding both internal Salvadoran human rights issues, as well as concerns about U.S. border control and immigration policies affecting Salvadoran migrants.

WEBSITES IN SPANISH

ElFaro.net 

Moderate online newspaper

ElSalvador.com 

The main newspaper of conservatives

DiariocoLatino.com 

Left-leaning newspaper

Universidad Centroamericana José Simeón Cañas 

A Jesuit Catholic university website covering current events

Learn more about Iran:

BOOKS

Daughter of Persia

An eye-opening, balanced read about modern Iranian history and its rapid development from the eyes of one woman. Born in a harem, the author witnessed various human rights abuses against her family under Iran’s various shahs (kings). She fought to get her family’s approval to study abroad. She returned home to found Iran’s first School of Social Work, only to find herself hounded by revolutionaries into exile.

A History of Modern IRAN

In a radical reappraisal of Iran’s modern history, Ervand Abrahamian traces the country’s traumatic journey from the mid-19th century to the present day, through the discovery of oil, imperial interventions, the rule of the Pahlavis, and the birth of the Islamic Republic. The first edition was named the Choice Outstanding Academic Title in 2009. This 2018 edition brings the narrative up to date, with the Green uprisings of 2009, the second Ahmadinejad administration, the election of Rouhani, and the Iran nuclear deal. Ervand Abrahamian, who is one of the most distinguished historians writing on Iran today, is a compassionate expositor, and at the heart of the book is the people of Iran, who have endured and survived a century of war and revolution.

IRAN Stuck in Transition

Ruled, more or less continuously, by a range of monarchical dynasties for three millennia, Iran ended its monarchy in just two years. The question to be asked is whether the Islamic republic has lived up to its founding expectations, serving the Iranian people and helping them to realize their aspirations. This book looks at the roots of the 1979 revolution and the forces unleashed during the modernization process under the Pahlavi monarchy.

Anoushiravan Ehteshami reflects on how the country’s new elite emerged and how these new political forces have changed Iran, the stresses on its political system, the forces shaping the country’s political economy, and the Islamic republic’s international relations. As some of Iran’s leaders appear to crave permanent revolution as their means of staying in power, this book argues that the struggle for the soul of the Islamic Republic has mired the country in a cycle of change: constant reform and transition. The republic finds itself stuck in transition. This book provides an unparalleled analysis of the Islamic Republic of Iran as a major regional actor and gives fresh insights into the political workings of the world’s only Shia, and revolutionary, Islamic republic.

IRAN And The United States

This 2015 book presents an inside look at this complex relationship from within the Iranian culture, society, and most importantly, the Iranian policy-making system. Seyed Hossein Mousavian worked for over 30 years on diplomatic efforts between Iran and the West, serving in numerous official posts, and as a confidante, colleague, and peer to many former and current high-ranking Iranian officials, including now-President Hassan Rouhani and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif. Here the former diplomat gives an insider’s history of the troubled relationship between Iran and the United State. His unique firsthand perspective blends memoir, analysis, and never before seen details of the many near misses in the quest for rapprochement. With so much at stake, the book concludes with a roadmap for peace that both nations so desperately need.

Losing An Enemy

This book focuses on President Obama’s deeply considered strategy toward Iran’s nuclear program and reveals how the historic agreement of 2015 broke the persistent stalemate in negotiations that had blocked earlier efforts.

The deal accomplished two major feats in one stroke: it averted the threat of war with Iran and prevented the possibility of an Iranian nuclear bomb. Trita Parsi, a Middle East foreign policy expert who advised the Obama White House throughout the talks and had access to decision-makers and diplomats on the U.S. and Iranian sides alike, examines every facet of a triumph that could become as important and consequential as Nixon’s rapprochement with China. Drawing from more than 75 in-depth interviews with key decision-makers, including Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, this is the first authoritative account of President Obama’s signature foreign policy achievement.

VIDEOS

Don’t Go to Iran

A 4-minute video about travel in Iran

Iran: Don’t Trust the Mainstream Media!

A 12-minute video about travel and cuisine in Iran, including ancient towns

EXTREME Iran Street Food Tour in Tehran, Iran!

A 25-minute video about Iranian cuisine

Road Trip Middle East: Iran (Part 2—Shiraz)

A 31-minute video about Shiraz, Iran, showcasing interviews with its people, especially a businesswoman and tourists, including a family with children

Road Trip Middle East: Iran (Part 5—Tehran, Kandovan, Tabriz)

A 39-minute highly recommended video shows Iran’s capital, as well as some less-known cities where Persian carpets are made. The film covers modern Iranian society and socializing, explores women’s rights themes with an anonymous source, touches on political tensions, and conveys the message Iranians want to send to the West.

Iran and the West (Part 1)

In the first hour of this 2009 BBC documentary, key figures tell the inside story of Ayatollah Khomeini’s rise to power, the fall and exile of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, and the events surrounding the Iran hostage crisis.

Iran and the West (Part 2)

In this 59-minute segment, inside stories are told by two ex-presidents of Iran and leading westerners. Subjects covered in this edition include the Lebanon hostage crisis, the Iran–Iraq War, the death of Ayatollah Khomeini, and the changing political climate of the Middle East following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and the 1991 Gulf War.

Iran and the West—Nuclear Confrontation (Part 3)

In this last hour, you will get the inside story of the West’s continuing nuclear confrontation with Iran (through 2009). Subjects covered in this episode include the rise of the Taliban in Iran’s neighbor Afghanistan, the assassination of Ahmad Shah Massoud, the September 11 terrorist attacks, the Iraq War, and Iran’s emerging nuclear program.

WEBSITES

Al Monitor 

A Middle Eastern news and opinion site that is neither pro- nor anti-Iranian

Iran Travel Guide National Geographic 

View National Geographic’s stunning photographs of Iranian cultural heritage and natural beauty.

Learn more about Islam:

BOOKS

In The Heart of Islam

In The Heart of Islam, one of the great intellectual figures in Islamic history offers a timely presentation of the core spiritual and social values of Islam: peace, compassion, social justice, and respect for the other. Seizing this unique moment in history to reflect on the essence of his tradition, Seyyed Hossein Nasr seeks to “open a spiritual and intellectual space for mutual understanding.” Exploring Islamic values in scripture, traditional sources, and history, he also shows their clear counterparts in the Jewish and Christian traditions, revealing the common ground of the Abrahamic faiths.

Why Do They Hate Us?

After 9/11, the West became fearful of Muslims, and acts of terror were prominent in the news cycles. Politicians capitalized on and have effectively employed Islamophobia as a political tool. In the book Why Do They Hate Us?, author Steve Slocum takes the spotlight off the extremists, shares the fascinating history of the birth and spread of Islam, and exposes the heart of the everyday Muslim.

VIDEOS

Long Story Short: Islam

Sharia! Jihad! Hijab! These words might sound familiar to you, but don’t judge a Qur’an by its cover. In this 4-minute video, Wajahat Ali breaks down the misperceptions around Islam.

What Islam Really Says About Women

A 12-minute TED Talk by Alaa Murabit, whose family moved from Canada to Libya when she was 15. Before, she’d felt equal to her brothers, but in this new environment, she sensed big prohibitions on what she could accomplish. As a proud Muslim woman, she wondered: was this really religious doctrine? With humor, passion, and a refreshingly rebellious spirt, she shares how she discovered examples of female leaders from across the history of her faith—and how she launched a campaign to fight for women’s rights using verses directly from the Qur’an.

Learn more about Palestine:

BOOKS

The Biggest Prison On Earth

Shortlisted for the Palestine Book Awards 2017, this 2019 book is a powerful, groundbreaking history of the Occupied Territories from one of Israel’s most influential historians. From the author of the bestselling study of the 1948 War of Independence comes an incisive look at the Occupied Territories, picking up the story where The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine left off.

In this comprehensive exploration of one of the world’s most prolonged and tragic conflicts, Pappe uses recently declassified archival material to analyze the motivations and strategies of the generals and politicians—and the decision-making process itself—that laid the foundation of the occupation. From a survey of the legal and bureaucratic infrastructures that were put in place to control the population of over one million Palestinians, to the security mechanisms that vigorously enforced that control, Pappe paints a picture of what is to all intents and purposes the world’s largest ‘open prison.’

Blood Brothers

As a child, Elias Chacour lived in a small Palestinian village in the Galilee. When tens of thousands of Palestinians were killed and nearly one million forced into refugee camps in 1948, Elias began a long struggle with how to respond. In Blood Brothers, he blends his riveting life story with historical research to reveal a little-known side of the Arab-Israeli conflict, touching on questions such as these:

•What behind-the-scenes politics touched off the turmoil in the Middle East?
•What does Bible prophecy really have to say?
•Can bitter enemies ever be reconciled?

Updated in 2013 with commentary on the current state of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, this book offers hope and insight that can help each of us learn to live at peace in a world of tension and terror.

The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine

Renowned Israeli historian Ilan Pappe’s groundbreaking book revisits the formation of the State of Israel. Between 1947 and 1949, over 400 Palestinian villages were deliberately destroyed, civilians were massacred and around a million men, women, and children were expelled from their homes at gunpoint. Pappe offers impressive archival evidence to demonstrate that, from its very inception, a central plank in Israel’s founding ideology was the forcible removal of the indigenous population.

The Lemon Tree

In 1967, Bashir Khairi, a 25-year-old Palestinian, journeyed to Israel with the goal of seeing the beloved stone house with the lemon tree behind it that he and his family had fled 19 years earlier. To his surprise, when he found the house, he was greeted by Dalia Eshkenazi Landau, a 19-year-old Israeli college student, whose family left fled Europe for Israel following the Holocaust. On the stoop of their shared home, Dalia and Bashir began a rare friendship, forged in the aftermath of war and tested over the next half century in ways that neither could imagine on that summer day in 1967. Sandy Tolan brings the Israeli-Palestinian conflict down to its most human level, demonstrating that even amid the bleakest political realities there exist stories of hope and transformation.

Mornings In Jenin

A heart-wrenching, powerfully written novel that does for Palestine what The Kite Runner did for Afghanistan. Mornings in Jenin is a multi-generational story about a Palestinian family. Forcibly removed from the olive-farming village of Ein Hod by the newly formed state of Israel in 1948, the Abulhejos are displaced to live in canvas tents in the Jenin refugee camp. We follow the Abulhejo family as they live through a half century of violent history. Amidst the loss and fear, hatred and pain, as their tents are replaced by more forebodingly permanent cinderblock huts, there is always the waiting, waiting to return to a lost home. Set against one of the twentieth century’s most intractable political conflicts, Mornings in Jenin is a deeply human novel – a novel of history, identity, friendship, love, terrorism, surrender, courage, and hope. 

Palestine Peace Not Apartheid

President Carter’s courageous assessment of what must be done to bring permanent peace to Israel with justice and dignity for Palestine

The Question of Palestine

This original and deeply provocative book by an intellectual Palestinian giant was the first to make Palestine the subject of a serious debate–one that remains as critical as ever. With the rigorous scholarship he brought to his influential Orientalism and an exile’s passion, Edward W. Said traces the fatal collision between two peoples in the Middle East and its repercussions in the lives of both the occupier and the occupied–as well as in the conscience of the West. He has updated this landmark work to portray the changed status of Palestine and its people in light of such developments as the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, the intifada, the Gulf War, and the ongoing Middle East peace initiative. For anyone interested in this region and its future, The Question of Palestine remains the most useful and authoritative account available.

VIDEOS

Gaza Man: We Are Not Numbers

In this 2-minute rap, hear from young Palestinian artists in the Gaza Strip about their lives and aspirations to be heard and known, not spoken of as numbers by the news media.

Life in Gaza Explained

A 3-minute video that touches on the population, movement restrictions, water problems, and infrastructural challenges of the Gaza Strip, which has been described as the world’s largest open air prison. Israel’s 12-year blockade of the Gaza Strip has had catastrophic results for average Palestinians living there. Sky-high unemployment and indiscriminate armed attacks by Israel only add to the misery.

“We teach life, Sir.”

In this 4-minute video, Rafeef Ziadeh, a Palestinian-Canadian, shares her now-famous spoken word poem in response to a Western journalist’s offensive question during the Israeli attack on Gaza in 2011. Her debut CD Hadeel is dedicated to Palestinian youth, who still fly kites in the face of F16 bombers, who still remember the names if their villages in Palestine and still hear the sound of hadeel (cooing of doves) over Gaza.

The Israel-Palestine Conflict: A Brief, Simple History

Think the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is too complicated for you to understand or goes back 2000 years? Not really! This 10-minute even-handed video breaks down the key facts.

Living with a Palestinian Family in the West Bank

In this adorable 15-minute video, an American tells about his day staying with a Palestinian family he never met before in a village deep inside the West Bank. During his travels, he got a first impression look at Palestinian culture, food, and village life, getting an overall view of this mysterious country.

5 Broken Cameras

An extraordinary 86-minute documentary of both cinematic and political activism, 5 Broken Cameras is a deeply personal, first-hand account of non-violent resistance in Bil’in, a West Bank village threatened by encroaching Israeli settlements. Shot almost entirely by Palestinian farmer Emad Burnat, who bought his first camera in 2005 to record the birth of his youngest son, the footage was later given to Israeli co-director Guy Davidi to edit. Structured around the violent destruction of each one of Burnat’s cameras, the filmmakers’ collaboration follows one family’s evolution over five years of village turmoil. This film won awards at the Sundance Film Festival and Emmy Awards.

WEBSITES

The Electronic Intifada

http://electronicIntifada.net/new.html

The Electronic Intifada project is an online publication produced by a network of pro-Palestinian activists with a history of Internet and media activism, focused on one aspect of the struggle – the media struggle for a fair representation of the Palestinian point of view. Excellent articles, including historical background, myths, and media critiques.

Gush Shalom (Israeli peace movement)

www.gush-shalom.org/english

A fine site of the Israeli Peace movement founded in 1993 by journalist and peace activist Uri Avnery. Excellent articles, photos, documents, and links to other sites.

The Independent Media Center – Palestine

http://jerusalem.indymedia.org

Their mission is to help Palestinian activists organize, motivate, and inform.

Not In My Name

www.nimn.org

This group describes itself as “a Jewish Peace group that was formed in November 2000 to work for a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.” Includes maps, quotes, graphs, articles, and statistics.

Middle East Report

www.merip.org/palestineisrael_primer/toc-pal-isr-primer.html

“Palestine, Israel and the Arab-Israeli Conflict: A Primer.” published by The Middle East Research and Information Project. Also publishes monthly print magazine. Many background articles. MERIP is a venerable organization that has been offering astute analyses of events in the Middle East since 1971.

We Are Not Numbers

https://wearenotnumbers.org/

A newish solidarity nonprofit that amplifies the voices of established and aspiring “word artists” in the Gaza Strip and Palestinian refugee camps Lebanon.