What I’m Reading and Listening to About Palestine

A friend of mine asked what I’ve been reading about the war between Israel and Gaza to help him understand what was going on. So I’m writing this post to share with him and others to provide a sense of what I’m seeing and hearing as inputs to my perspective.

I found this piece by Kali Robinson very informative: https://www.pbs.org/newshour/world/what-is-hamas-what-to-know-about-its-origins-leaders-and-funding. It’s well worth reading in full, because you’ll learn not just about Hamas’ origins, but about how Egypt and Turkey factor into the conflict (against and for Hamas respectively), the civil war between Hamas and Fatah militias in 2006, and how Palestinians view Hamas, among other context.

Another valuable read is the book Palestine, by Joe Sacco. It’s a non-fiction graphic novel covering the journalist’s 2 months in the West Bank and Gaza Strip from December 1991-January 1992. In it you will find a perspective and complexity too often lacking from what is typically available in journalism covering the region even 3 decades later. As an aside, I bought my copy of Palestine from Big Planet Comics a number of years ago,

Fareed Zakaria’s interview of Dr. Mustafa Barghouti is also worth watching. Barghouti is a Palestinian physician and co-founder of a group supporting non-violent resistance to Israel’s occupation (of the West Bank and Gaza). The points where the interview would have been helped by Zakaria pushing back (such as Barghouti’s assertion that Hamas would release its prisoners if Israel released Palestinian prisoners who are currently jailed) will likely be obvious to viewers.

This morning, I just finished listening to the latest episode of a podcast called The Bulletin. Including a podcast aimed at Christians (like myself) may seem puzzling at first. But it’s necessary because trying to understand the region includes being aware of how American Christianity’s understanding (some might more bluntly say misunderstanding) of our own faith distorts our perspectives and our policy in that region. American evangelicals have been, and continue to be huge supporters of the state of Israel. This is where one of the distortions comes in: John Hagee’s group (Christians United for Israel) lobbies senators and congressmen regarding our country’s policies toward Israel. One of the key reasons for that support is a self-interested one however–a belief that a state of Israel is necessary for the second coming of Jesus Christ and that Jews will either convert to Christianity or die. John Hagee is just one of a number of evangelical preachers that have disturbing views about the reasons for the Holocaust as well as what will happen to Jews in the future as he interprets the Bible. A paper by Thomas Ice of Liberty University goes into more specific details regarding this belief.

The Daily podcast from the New York Times is the most consistently high-quality news product the organization produces. These three episodes about Hamas’ attack and Israel’s response have been very helpful for greater understanding:

The one link from social media regarding the latest iteration of war in Palestine that I will share is from a lawyer named Sheryl Weikal on Bluesky. She is a self-described “white Ashkenazi Jew” but pulls no punches in calling her co-religionists to task for their bloodlust and desire for revenge. In addition to calling out the immorality of bloodlust, she discusses some of the non-violent resistance to occupation Palestinians have engaged in (and the response of US states to it) as well as the deaths of Palestinians at the hands of Israeli settlers. If you aren’t already on Bluesky, it might be worth it to join if only to read this. Twitter is predictably flooded with disinformation regarding what is happening in Gaza so I don’t look there for useful context and details.

Contrary to what we are seeing and hearing in much of the media today, what is happening in Palestine will continue to defy easy explanations and narratives. I hope there will be more journalism and reporting that seeks to add light rather than heat, and believe the links I’ve shared largely succeed in that mission.

Ahsoka Fell Victim to the Marvelization of Star Wars


I hate to say this about my oldest fandom, but Ahsoka wasn’t good. I’m not here to set Dave Filoni’s entire filmography on fire. Contrary to some, I think The Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels were better than the prequel movies. Ahsoka is a key character in both The Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels, which is why so much of the fandom (myself included) was excited to see her in live action in The Mandalorian. Grand Admiral Thrawn wasn’t just a key antagonist in the last couple of seasons of Star Wars: Rebels, he’s one of the best villains in Star Wars–and notably one who George Lucas did not create. Timothy Zahn is the author behind Thrawn (and each of the 13 novels that feature him), including a trilogy set after the events of Return of the Jedi that would have made for a much better sequel trilogy than the one which ultimately made it to theaters.

In retrospect, this interview where Dave Filoni essentially agrees with the perspective that Ahsoka could be seen as season 5 of Rebels was a warning. This confirmed that viewers would basically have had to do the homework of watching most everything with Ahsoka in it to grasp everything going on in the show. Enough time has passed since I watched Rebels in full that there were multiple points in the show where I didn’t get what was going on. And that’s before you get to the now infamous “space cartwheel”.

Even viewers who did the homework must contend with the addition of a master-padawan relationship between Ahsoka Tano and Sabine Wren that wasn’t in any of the shows. This was far from the only opportunity missed to use flashbacks to add missing context and flesh out characters so they actually mattered to the audience (whether they’d “done the homework” or not). I’ve said on social media that Dave Filoni did better character development with The Bad Batch than he did in Ahsoka. The same is true of Jon Favreau and The Mandalorian. With this show, Filoni leaned far too hard on “unearned, MCU-level ‘remember this?’ tropes that rely more on good memories than actual character development.”

Beyond the “homework” problem and lack of character development in the show itself, Ahsoka was stuffed with too many competing storylines to do any of them justice. For me, there wasn’t enough in the show to explain the loyalty of the Night Sisters of Dathomir to Thrawn’s cause, or Hera Syndulla’s fear of his return. As I write this, I have yet to see any confirmation of Ahsoka being renewed for another season. Assuming it doesn’t get cancelled, I’m pessimistic that a second season would improve on the shortcomings of the first.