17.565 | Spring 2019 | Undergraduate

Israel: History, Politics, Culture, Identity


[A] = Amir, Eli. Scapegoat. Am Oved Publishers, 1987. ISBN: 9789651320545.

[B] = Bunton, Martin. The Palestinian-Israeli Conflict: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press, 2013. ISBN: 9780199603930. 

[D] = Dowty, Alan. Israel / Palestine. 4th ed. Polity Press, 2017. ISBN: 9781509520787. [Preview with Google Books]

[S] = Shapira, Anita. Israel: A History. Brandeis University Press, 2014. ISBN: 9781611686180. 

I. Theoretical and historical considerations

Opening remarks:

  • Israel today—the complexity of contemporary Israeli society
  • Theoretical underpinnings: individual and collective identity formation
  • The Zionist metanarrative: basic characteristics of the Zionist metanarrative—the New Jew and the return to the old-new homeland
  • Palestine and the Palestinians before Zionism
  • The Zionist movement
  • Zionist colonization
  • The British Mandate period (1917–1948)

[D] Chapter 1: Introduction: Two Worlds Collide. 

[D] Chapter 2: The Jewish Story.

[D] Chapter 3: The Arab Story.

Israel.” Wikipedia. 

State of Palestine.” Wikipedia.

2 and 3

  • World War Two—the Holocaust
  • 1948—the establishment of the State of Israel and the Palestinian “catastrophe” (al Nakba)
  • A brief survey of Israel’s wars, 1948–present
  • The Palestinians today: the Palestinian Authority and the West Bank, the Hamas and the Gaza Strip
  • Israel’s formative years, 1948–1967

Liebman, Charles S., and Eliezer Don-Yehiya. “Traditional Religion and Civil Religion: Defining Terms.” Chapter 1 in Civil Religion in Israel: Traditional Judaism and Political Culture in the Jewish State. University of California Press, 1983, pp. 4–10. ISBN: 9780520048171. [Preview with Google Books]

———. “The Civil Religion of Statism.” Chapter 4 in Civil Religion in Israel: Traditional Judaism and Political Culture in the Jewish State. University of California Press, 1983, pp. 84–122. ISBN: 9780520048171. [Preview with Google Books]

Shamir, Moshe. Excerpts from With His Own Hands. Translated from the Hebrew by Joseph Shachter. Israel Universities Press, 1970, pp. x–xi, 1–3, 216–53.


Lijphart, Arend. “Constitutional Design for Divided Societies.” (PDF) Journal of Democracy 15, no. 2 (2004), 96–109.

Oz, Amos. “The Trappist Monastery.” In Where the Jackals Howl and Other Stories. Translated from the Hebrew by Nicholas de Lange and Philip Simpson. Mariner Books, 2012. ISBN: 9780547747187. [Preview with Google Books]

Khalidi, Rashid. “Contrasting Narratives of Palestinian Identity.” Chapter 2 in Palestinian Identity: The Construction of Modern National Consciousness. Columbia University Press, 2009. ISBN: 9780231150750.  [Preview with Google Books]

II. The great divide

  • The watershed of 1973–1982 and the shattering of the old civil religion and the New Jew myth
  • Israel as a Jewish immigrant society: Jewish-ethnic relations—the Mizrahim [I]

[A] Chapter 1: The Boy Market in Ahuza.

[A] Chapter 3: Kiryat-Oranium.

[A] Chapter 21: Fowl of Atonement.  

Rubinstein, Amnon. “No More Sabras.” Chapter 8 in From Herzl to Rabin: the Changing Image of Zionism. Holmes & Meier Publishers, 2000. ISBN: 9780841914087. 


Shohat, Ella. “Sephardim in Israel: Zionism from the Standpoint of Its Jewish Victims.” (PDF - 3MB) Social Text, no. 19/20 (1988): 1–35.

Israel in Brief: System of Government.” Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

III. Israel’s history and identity revisited

  • The shattering of the old civil religion (cont.)
  • The Mizrahim [II]
  • Modest food feast: Israeli culinary tradition as an expression of the country’s identity

[B] Chapter 5: Occupation 1967–87. [Preview with Google Books]

Abu, Ofir. “Citizenship, Identity, and Ethnic Mobilization in Israel: the Mizrahi Democratic Rainbow — Between Universalism and Particularism.” Chapter 6 in The Contradictions of Israeli Citizenship: Land, Religion and State. Edited by Guy Ben-Porat and Bryan S. Turner. Routledge, 2014, pp. 111–17. ISBN: 9781138789364. [Preview with Google Books]

Margalit, Ruth. “Miri Regev’s Cultural War,New York Times Magazine, October 20, 2016.


Yiftachel, Oren, and Erez Tzfadia. “Between Periphery and ‘Third Space’: Identity of Mizrahim in Israel’s Development Towns.” Chapter 11 in Israelis in Conflict: Hegemonies, Identities and Challenges. Edited by Adriana Kemp, David Newman, Uri Ram, et al. Sussex Academic Press, 2004. ISBN: 9781903900659. 


  • 1948 revisited: the debate over the 1948 war, the Palestinian refugees
  • The presence of the Nakba in contemporary Israel

[S] Chapter 7: The War of Independence, 1947–1949. 

Morris, Benny, ed. “The New Historiography: Israel Confronts Its Past.” In Making Israel. University of Michigan Press, 2007. ISBN: 9780472032167. [Preview with Google Books]

Rabin,Yitzhak. “Appendix A: Passage Censored from the First Edition.” In The Rabin Memoirs. University of California Press, 1996. ISBN: 9780520207660. 

Kanafani, Ghassan. “Returning to Haifa.” In Palestine’s Children: Returning to Haifa and Other Stories. Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2000. ISBN: 9780894108907. 


Gelber, Yoav. “Introduction” and “Epilogue.” In Palestine 1948: War, Escape and the Emergence of the Palestinian Refugee Problem. 2nd ed. Sussex Academic Press, 2006. ISBN: 9781845190750. 

Silberstein, Laurence J. “Introduction.” In The Postzionism Debates: Knowledge and Power in Israeli Culture. Routledge, 1999. ISBN: 9780415913157. [Preview with Google Books]

———. “Postzionism: The Academic Debates.” Chapter 4 in The Postzionism Debate: Knowledge and Power in Israeli Culture. Routledge, 1999. ISBN: 9780415913157. 

Smith, Charles D. Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict: A History with Documents. 9th ed. Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2016, pp. 178–201. ISBN: 9781319028053. 

Rubin, Barry.  “History.” Chapter 2 in Israel: An Introduction. Yale University Press, 2012, pp. 17–25. ISBN: 9780300162301. [Preview with Google Books]

Khalidi, Rashid. “The Revolt, 1948, and Afterward.” Chapter 4 in The Iron Cage: The Story of the Palestinian Struggle for Statehood. Beacon Press, 2007. ISBN: 9780807003091. [Preview with Google Books]

Morris, Benny. The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited. Cambridge University Press, 2004, pp. xii–xxii (maps), 473–92, and 588–601. ISBN: 9780521009676. [Preview with Google Books]

7 Theoretical underpinnings:

  • The role of emotions
  • Israel’s occupation and settlements’ projects
  • The messianic component in Israeli identity and politics, Gush Emunim
  • The Palestinian national movement, the PLO, Palestinian Authority, Hamas


[B] Chapter 6: The Rise and Fall of the Peace Process 1987–2007. [Preview with Google Books

Grossman, David. “A Man Is Like a Stalk of Wheat.” Chapter 1 in The Yellow Wind. Translated by Haim Watzman. Picador, 2002. ISBN: 9780312420987. [Preview with Google Books]

 ———. “I Want to Shoot Jews.” Chapter 2 in The Yellow Wind. Translated by Haim Watzman. Picador, 2002. ISBN: 9780312420987. 

Petersen, Roger D. “Introduction.” Chapter 1 in Understanding Ethnic Violence: Fear, Hatred, and Resentment in Twentieth-Century Eastern Europe. Cambridge University Press, 2002, pp. 1–7. ISBN: 9780521007740. [Preview with Google Books]

 ———. “An Emotion-Based Approach to Ethnic Conflict.” Chapter 2 in Understanding Ethnic Violence: Fear, Hatred, and Resentment in Twentieth-Century Eastern Europe. Cambridge University Press, 2002. ISBN: 9780521007740. [Preview with Google Books]


PLO History of a Revolution -Episode 6- Death and Decline.” YouTube.

Tkuma - The Conflict - Episode 1.” YouTube. (*Watch from 32–50 mins.)


The Palestinian National Charter: Resolutions of the Palestine National Council July 1–17, 1968.” The Avalon Project.

Hamas Covenant 1988.” The Avalon Project.

Israeli settlement.” Wikipedia.

Galchinsky, Michael. “The Jewish Settlements in the West Bank: International Law and Israeli Jurisprudence.” (PDF) Israel Studies 9, no. 3 (2004): 115–36.

Ghanem, As’ad. “Palestinian Nationalism: An Overview.” (PDF) Israel Studies 18, no. 2 (2013): 11–29.


  • The Haredi (Jewish Ultra-Orthodox [fundamentalist]) communities in Israel
  • How Jewish is the Jewish state?
  • The role of the Holocaust in Israeli identity

Shafir, Gershon, and Yoav Peled. “The Wages of Legitimation: Zionist and Non-Zionist Orthodox Jews.” Chapter 5 in Being Israeli: The Dynamics of Multiple Citizenship. Cambridge University Press, 2002. ISBN: 9780521796729. [Preview with Google Books]

Inbari, Motti. “Fundamentalism in Crisis: Response of Messianic Religious Zionism to the Theological Dilemmas Raised by Israel’s Disengagement Plan.” Chapter 6 in Messianic Religious Zionism Confronts Israeli Territorial Compromises. Cambridge University Press, 2014, pp. 107–8, 113–27, and 131–32. ISBN: 9781107673359. [Preview with Google Books]

Starr, Kelsey Jo, and David Masci. “In Israel, Jews Are United by Homeland but Divided Into Very Different Groups.” March 8, 2016. Pew Research Center.

Lipka, Michael. “7 Key Findings about Religion and Politics in Israel.” March 8, 2016. Pew Research Center.


Israel’s Religiously Divided Society.” March 8, 2016. Pew Research Center.

Grossman, David. “Momik.” In See Under: Love. Translated by Betsy Rosenberg. Picador, 2002, pp. 51–86. ISBN: 9780312420697. [Preview with Google Books]

Arad, Gulie Ne’eman. “The Shoah as Israel’s Political Trope.” Chapter 8 in Divergent Jewish Cultures: Israel & America. Edited by Deborah Dash Moore and S. Ilan Troen. Yale University Press, 2001. ISBN: 9780300084269. 

 Stadler, Nurit, Edna Lomskey-Feder, and Eyal Ben-Ari. “Fundamentalist Citizenships: the Haredi Challenge.” Chapter 7 in The Contradictions of Israeli Citizenship: Land, Religion and State. Edited by Guy Ben-Porat and Bryan S. Turner. Routledge, 2014. ISBN: 9781138789364. [Preview with Google Books

Naor, Arye. “Hawks’ Beaks, Doves’ Feathers: Likud Prime Ministers Between Ideology and Reality.” Israel Studies 10, no. 3 (2005): 154–91


  • Israeli economy, globalization in Israel
  • Technology and environment in Israel today
  • Israeli cinema

Zilberfarb, Ben-Zion. “From Socialism to Free Market — The Israeli Economy, 1948–2003.” Israel Affairs 11, no. 1 (2005): 12–22. 


Rivlin, Paul. “Globalization and High Technology.” Chapter 5 in The Israeli Economy from the Foundation of the State through the 21st Century. Cambridge University Press, 2010. ISBN: 9780521150200. [Preview with Google Books]

Ram, Uri. “McDonaldization.” Chapter 5 in The Globalization of Israel: McWorld in Tel Aviv, Jihad in Jerusalem. Routledge, 2007. ISBN: 9780415953047. [Preview with Google Books]

“Miracles and Mirages: A Strong Economy Built on Weak Fundamentals.” The Economist, April 3, 2008.

10 The Palestinian-Arab minority in Israel—history, identity 

Rekhess, Elie. “The Arab Minority in Israel: Reconsidering the ‘1948 Paradigm.’” (PDF) Israel Studies 19, no. 2 (2014): 187–217.

Grossman, David. Chapter 5 in Sleeping on a Wire: Conversations with Palestinians in Israel. Translated by Haim Watzman. Picador, 2003. ISBN: 9780312420970. [Preview with Google Books]

“The Future Vision of the Palestinian Arabs in Israel.” (PDF) The National Committee for the Heads of the Arab Local Authorities in Israel. 2006.


Shammas, Anton. Chapter 11 in Arabesques: A Novel. Translated from the Hebrew by Vivian Eden. University of California Press, 2001. ISBN: 9780520228320. 

Srouji, Samir. “Nazareth: Intersecting Narratives of Modern Architectural Histories.” Third Text 20, no. 3–4 (2006): 355–71.

Bishara, Azmi. “Arab Citizens of Palestine: Little to Celebrate.” Tikkun (1998): 14–15.

Peleg, Ilan, and Dov Waxman. “Palestinians in Israel: Separate and Unequal.” Chapter 1 in Israel’s Palestinians: The Conflict Within. Cambridge University Press, 2011. ISBN: 9780521157025. [Preview with Google Books]


  • The Israeli Diaspora
  • Israeli popular music
  • Concluding remarks: Is there an Israeli identity?
  • Preparations for the peace conference

Rabinyan, Dorit. All the Rivers. Translated by Jessica Cohen. Random House, 2017, pp. 12–17, 42–68, and 246–54. ISBN: 9780375508295. [Preview with Google Books]


Fisher, Ian. “It’s Complicated: The Path of an Israeli-Palestinian Love Story,” New York Times, May 3, 2017.

Gold, Steven J. “Introduction: From Jewish Diaspora to Israeli Diaspora.” Chapter 1 in The Israeli Diaspora. University of Washington Press, 2002, pp. 1–20. ISBN: 978029598280. [Preview with Google Books —Section 5] 

Kimmerling, Baruch. “The Code of Security: The Israeli Military-Cultural Complex.” Chapter 7 in The Invention and Decline of Israeliness: State, Society, and the Military. University of California Press, 2005. ISBN: 9780520246720. [Preview with Google Books]

Regev, Motti, and Edwin Seroussi. “Introduction.” In Popular Music & National Culture in Israel. University of California Press, 2004. ISBN: 9780520236547. [Preview with Google Books]

 ———. “Conclusion.” In Popular Music & National Culture in Israel. University of California Press, 2004. ISBN: 9780520236547. 

Talmon, Miri, and Yaron Peleg, eds. “Introduction.” In Israeli Cinema: Identities in Motion. University of Texas Press, 2012. ISBN: 9780292743991. [Preview with Google Books]

12 A staged Israeli-Arab-Palestinian peace conference


Van Evera, Stephen. “Memory and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Time for New Narratives.” (Draft paper). August 2003.

Bard, Mitchell G.  “Myths & Facts: A Guide to the Arab-Israeli Conflict.” Jewish Virtual Library. (*A Zionist perspective.)

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2019