17.565 | Spring 2019 | Undergraduate

Israel: History, Politics, Culture, Identity


Readings' Assignments

Assignment #1: Civil Religion of Statism (Mamlachtiyut)

The period of Statism in Israel roughly corresponds to the first three decades since the establishment of Israel in 1948. Some scholars limit this period to only the first two decades, between the 1948 war and the 1967 war. However, for reasons to be explained in class, we will consider this period as encompassing the years from the 1948 war to the 1973 war (the Yom Kippur War).

We will treat this period as the formative years of Israel, in which its core identity was established, accompanied by the establishment of corresponding political, social, and cultural institutions, as well as by the construction of the state’s main cultural and ideological tenets.

When you think of the questions below, please take these basic outlines into consideration.

  1. Please read Liebman and Don-Yehiya’s excerpts from their book Civil Religion in Israel.
  2. Please sum up in no more than half a page their main argument about Israel’s Civil Religion of Statism.
  3. Then, (a) Please explain the differences between traditional and civil religions; (b) Define the concept of “Statism” in its application to Israel’s formative years (You may also want to incorporate the essence of the above (a) + (b) observations into your half-page summary of Liebman and Don-Yehiya’s main thesis); amd (c) Give three examples of how Israel’s Civil Religion of Statism was disseminated to the general public.
  4. Then, please reflect freely on both Liebman & Don-Yehiya’s thesis and text, and on the excerpt from Moshe Shamir’s novel. Please appraise the two pieces’ relation to the notion of Israel’s Mamlachtiyut.
  5. Please limit your entire paper to no more than two and a half pages, double spaced, font 12.

This assignment is due during Module 2.

Assignment #2: “No More Sabras”

  1. Please read the two mandatory readings: (a) Rubinstein’s scholarly discussion about the decline of the Sabra ideal; and (b) the excerpts from Eli Amir’s autobiographical novel.
  2. Please reflect freely on these two readings. Feel free to comment on the readings themselves or on the issues they address, or on both. Please also try to reflect on the relationships of these two readings, and what they discuss, to Mamlachtiyut (Statism).
  3. If you have questions about the material itself or about the issues discussed in it, please write them down as well. We will try to address these questions and the observations in class.
  4. Please limit your entire paper to no more than one and a half pages, double spaced, font 12.

This assignment is due during Module 4.

Assignment #3: 1948

  1. Please read the mandatory readings (Morris, Rabin, Shapira, Kanafani).
  2. Please summarize Morris’s main argument(s), and support your summary with at least two examples from the article.
  3. Please reflect freely on the issue of 1948 and on the four mandatory readings. The reflections are open but still need to address the 1948 war, its consequences, and the four works we were asked to read about it.
  4. Please limit your entire paper (questions 2 and 3) to no more than four pages, double spaced, font 12.

This assignment is due during Module 6.

Assignment #4: The Role of Emotions

  1.  Please read the mandatory readings and watch the mandatory YouTube episodes for Module 7:
    • Chapter 6 from Bunton’s book
    • The two short (documentary) stories from David Grossman’s 1988 book
    • The two YouTube episodes (linked)
    • The assigned pages from Roger Petersen’s book
  2.  Please sum up Petersen’s main argument in about ¾ of a page (double spaced, font 12).
  3.  Please reflect on Petersen’s thesis (for example, is it convincing? Are there other factors that you believe he does not emphasize enough? etc.). Then, and based on our readings and discussions in class so far, please also appraise whether his approach on the centrality of emotions can be applied to our topic. This can be about the inner cultural and social encounters inside Israeli society, or also about the conflict with the Palestinians. Please try to limit your discussion of this part to about one and a half to two additional pages (on top of the above three quarters of a page).

This assignment is due during Module 7.

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2019