The Arab-Israeli conflict attracts a disproportionate amount of attention in the news media, international politics and law, and the socio-cultural sphere, despite the fact that numerous other inter-ethnic tensions have generated far higher casualties and involve more significant players on the global scene. This course examines the origins of the Arab-Israeli conflict in an attempt to place it in its historical context, while tracing its developments from multiple angles in order to provide a comprehensive understanding of the complex dynamic that constitutes ‘the conflict’. We will conclude the class by looking at several contemporary dimensions of the conflict, including the potent forces of radical and political Islam, the involvement of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and the continued evolvement of Israeli and Palestinian identities.
This course represents a combination of a lecture and seminar approaches and individual participation in class dialogues is critical. Most classes include a discussion period for conversation about required reading. Each student will have the opportunity to present a brief review of a text, after which he/she will lead a discussion. At the end of this course, it is hoped that students will have not only a better understanding of the Arab-Israeli conflict, but have developed better research skills, practiced critical thinking and reading, and gained experience collecting and presenting information clearly.
Course grades will be assigned on the basis of several elements:
Each student has the opportunity to submit up to two extra credit response papers to contemporary news articles on the Arab-Israeli conflict. In order to receive credit, you must read and submit an article from a newspaper (not a web log!), along with your thoughts on the article (one page). Other extra credit opportunities will be announced periodically throughout the semester; students will be allowed a maximum of five total extra credit opportunities during the term. You are also strongly encouraged to follow Middle East news during (and after!) the semester. Some mainstream newspaper sources:
Morris, Benny. Righteous victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab conflict, 1881–2001. 1st Vintage Books ed. New York City: Vintage Books, 2001.
Said Aly, Abdel Monem, Shai Feldman, and Khalil Shikaki. Arabs and Israelis: Conflict and peacemaking in the Middle East. New York City: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.
Laqueur, Walter Z and Barry Rubin, eds. The Israel-Arab Reader: A Documentary history of the Middle East conflict. 7th revised and updated ed. New York City: Penguin Books, 2008.
Readings from course textbooks appear in small caps. All other readings include full bibliographical citations and are available electronically on the class Desire2Learn website. It is highly recommended that you prepare in advance by downloading and/or printing all online readings at the beginning of the course, so that you can concentrate on reading them over the semester. While ‘recommended reading’ are not obligatory, they may be useful when preparing research papers (those with an asterisk (*) are highly encouraged). Primary source readings are noted below.