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NEAR E 315 A: Israel: Dynamic Society And Global Flashpoint

Meeting Time: 
MW 12:30pm - 2:20pm
THO 202
Joint Sections: 
JSIS A 314 A, POL S 314 A
Joel S Migdal

Syllabus Description:


Course Description:

In addressing contemporary Israel, this course will have two focal points. First, and most centrally, the course will involve an in-depth examination of a limited number of issues. Second, the course will assess recent scholarship on Israel—what is commonly called Israel Studies—concentrating on scholarly articles written in the last decade.

The first focal point—the examination of a limited number of critical issues—will look carefully at four topics. The first, “Israel as international linchpin,” will analyze multiple cross-currents in contemporary global politics and Mideast regional dynamics and how Israel is either at the center of these or reflects larger trends. There will be discussion of Israel within the context of the current disintegration of neighboring states and the country’s relationship to the United States. Second, “Israel and the new economics of development” inquires into the complex economics of Israel, including its move towards high-tech industries, growing economic inequality (and the social protests that erupted in 2011), and historical changes in the economy. Third, the course will delve into the social composition of Israeli society in “Creating a nation,” analyzing questions of division and unity, within the Jewish majority, as well as relations between Jewish and Arab citizens in Israel, and relations between Palestinians in the occupied territories and Israel. Finally, “Politics and paralysis” will survey the contemporary situation, with special regard to state-society relations and the internal functioning of the state.


The Four Issues on Which the Course Will Focus:

  1. Israel as international linchpin: Israel is at the center of many key currents and crises in international affairs, including the Palestinian-Israeli crisis, the rise of non-state actors (through its conflicts with Hamas and Hezbollah), the Syrian civil war, the campaign against a nuclear Iran, human rights abuses, the U.S. changing role in the Middle East, and more.
  2. Israel and the new economics of development: Israel has been called start-up nation because of its large number of new businesses involving software development, bio-genetics, bio-engineering, and more. How did the transformation in its economy occur, and what lessons does it hold for other middle- and low-income countries seeking to develop their economies?
  3. Creating a nation: Like many new countries, the Israeli population is divided by multiple fault lines, including Arab-Jew, Mizrahi-Ashkenazi, religious-secular, Tel-Aviv area-peripheral areas. How does a relatively new state deal with deeply embedded divisions in its population?
  4. Politics and paralysis: Israel’s political institutions were relatively autonomous and active in the first decades of the state. But since then they have been weighed down by the sort of stand-offs that we have seen in Congress and the Supreme Court in the United States in recent years. Important veto groups have emerged, the population has become increasingly cynical about politics, and the divide between left and right has become increasingly wide. How and why did this transition take place? Is there a way out of the deadlock?

 Assignment List

  1. Every student must come to class prepared to speak on the readings for that week. The readings will mostly be in the form of scholarly journal articles, and students will read them and prepare personal notes to be drawn upon in class discussions. The notes should cover two dimensions: a) what does the article tell us about Israel, and b) how can we assess the article as a scholarly piece of work? Additionally, students will read sections of Anita Shapira’s Israel: A History each week. The book is available in the University Bookstore.
  2. Students will select a daily English language online newspaper or magazine devoted to Israel and follow that source daily throughout the course. Students will use their sources for the Israel Today discussions in class. Particular attention should be paid to the election campaign and stories that touch on one of the four dimensions on which the class focuses.
  3. Every student will write two response papers during the course of the quarter. These papers will be based on a single article or several articles comparatively drawn from the reading list below. Students choose which articles they wish to write on. The assignment is NOT intended for extended summaries of the articles or an in-depth analysis of the topic of the articles. Rather, students will develop an argument about the articles: how they are constructed, how they use evidence, the strengths or weaknesses of the authors’ arguments, the approach the authors take, differences between authors, or any other topic that is textually based and largely uses excerpts from the text as evidence. These papers will be about 2 pages, double-spaced. Papers should be uploaded to the course website anytime during the quarter through March 2 (no response papers will be accepted after that date). The only limitation is that papers must be submitted before the articles that are the subject of the paper are discussed in class.
  4. The final paper will be a 10-page bibliographic essay (double-spaced, 12 pt. Times New Roman), plus bibliography.  The bibliographic essay is due March 9.


1) article response paper



2) article response paper



3) class participation



4) bibliographic paper                                                      



5) final exam                     



Lateness penalty: 0.2 first day and 0.1 every day thereafter.



Topics and Readings:


Week 1 January 5, 7 Introduction to Israel and Israel Studies



            Anita Shapira, Israel: A History, chapter 1, pp. 3-24.


Moshe Elad (2014). The birth of the core issues: the West Bank and East Jerusalem under Israeli administration, 1967–76 (Part 2) Israel Affairs, 20(1), 577-595.



Week 2 January 12, 14 Creating a State: Wonders and Warts



            Anita Shapira, Israel: A History, chapters 2-4, pp. 27-117.


Menachem Klein (2014). Arab Jew in Palestine.  Israel Studies, 19(3), 134-153.


Menachem Klein (2008). Jerusalem as an Israeli Problem-- A Review of Forty Years of Israeli Rule Over Arab Jerusalem Israel Studies 13(2), 54-72.


Salim Tamari (2013).

Normalcy and Violence. The Yearning for the Ordinary in Discourse of the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict

 Journal of Palestine Studies, 42(4), 48-60.



Week 3 January 21 Israel and the Palestinians



            Shapira, Israel: A History, chapters 5-8, pp. 119-205.


J. Pressman (2010).

Negotiating the promised land: the end of innocence?

 Israel Studies Forum, 25(1), 88-98.


Raphael Cohen-Almagor (2012). The failed Palestinian–Israeli peace process 1993–2011: an Israeli perspective.

Israel Affairs, 18(4), 563-576.


E. Eiran (2010).

Explaining the settlement project: we know more, but what more should we know?('The Accidental Empire: Israel and the Birth of the Settlements, 1967-1977', 'Lords of the Land: The War over Israel's Settlements in the Occupied Territories' and 'Against All Odds: Forty Years of Settlement in Judea and Samaria, 1967-2007' )(Book review)

Israel Studies Forum, 25(2), 102-115.


Rashid Khalidi (2013). The United States and the Palestinians, 1977–2012. Three Key Moments Journal of Palestine Studies 42(4) 61-72.




Week 4 January 26, 28 Israel in the Middle East and Israel-U.S. Relations



            Shapira, Israel: A History, chapters 9-12, pp. 208-290.


Uri Bialer (2007).

Fuel Bridge across the Middle East—Israel, Iran, and the Eilat-Ashkelon Oil Pipeline

Israel Studies, 12(3), 29-67.


Yigal Levy (2009).

The second Lebanon war: coping with the 'gap of legitimacies' syndrome.(Event overview)

Israel Studies Forum, 24, (1),  3-24.



Week 5 February 2, 4 From Kibbutz to Start-up Nation



Eliezer Ben-Rafael (2011).

Kibbutz: Survival At Risk

 Israel Studies 16(2), 81-108.


Raymond Russell, Robert Hanneman, and Shlomo Getz (2011).

The Transformation of the Kibbutzim

 Israel studies 16(2), 109-126.


Ayal  Kimchi (2010). Jewish Households, Arab households, and Income Inequality in Rural Israel: Ramifications for the Israeli-Arab Conflict

Defence and Peace Economics, 21(4), 381-394.



Anastasia Gorodzeisky and Moshe Semyonov (2011). Two dimensions to economic incorporation: Soviet immigrants in the Israeli labour market

Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 37(7), 1059-1077.


Dan Sensor and Paul Singer (2009), Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle, pp. Introduction, chapters 1, 9, 10, and Conclusion, pp. 1-40, 145-173, 225-236.



Week 6 February 9, 11 Globalization & Glocalization: Prosperity & Inequality



            Shapira, Israel: A History, chapters 13-16, pp. 295-353.


Moshe Semyonov and Noah Lewin-Epstein (2011).

Wealth inequality: Ethnic disparities in Israeli society

 Social Forces, 89(3), 935-959.


Yitchak Haberfeld and Yinon Cohen (2007). Gender, ethnic, and national earnings gaps in Israel: The role of rising inequalitySocial Science Research, 36(2), 654-672.


Ze'ev Shavit (2013). The Bourgeois Construction of the Rural: An Israeli Case. Israel Studies Review, 28 (1), 98-119. 



Week 7 February 18 The Many Faces of Israel



            Shapira, Israel: A History, chapter 17-18, pp. 357-418.


Eliezer Ben-Rafael (2008). The Faces of Religiosity in Israel: Cleavages or Continuum?

 Israel Studies 13(3), 89-113.


An academic debate:

  1. 1.    Ian S. Lustick (2011). Israel's Migration Balance Demography, Politics, and Ideology.  Israel Studies Review, 26(1), 33-65.


  1. 2.    S. DellaPergola (2011). When Scholarship Disturbs Narrative: Lan Lustick on Israel's Migration BalanceIsrael Studies Review, 26(2), 1-20.


  1. Ian S. Lustick (2011). Leaving the Villa and touching a Raw Nerve.

      Israel Studies Review, 26(2), 21-27.





Week 8 February 23, 25 Cohesion and Conflict: Intra-group Relations



Uri Cohen and Nissim Leon (2014). The Mahapach and Yitzhak Shamir's Quiet Revolution: Mizrahim and the Herut Movement.  Israel Studies Review, 29(1), 18-40.


Pnina O. Plaut and Steven E. Plaut (2002). Income Inequality in Israel. Israel Affairs, 8(3), 47-66.


Orna Sasson-Levy (2011). Research on Gender and the Military in Israel: From a Gendered Organization to Inequality Regimes. Israel Studies Review, 26(2), 73-98.


Dana Kachtan (2012). The Construction of Ethnic Identity in the Military--From the Bottom Up.  Israel Studies 17(3), 150-175.


Amal Jamal (2008).

The political ethos of Palestinian citizens of Israel: critical reading in the future vision documents.(Critical essay)

 Israel Studies Forum, 23(2), 3-28.


Eliezer Ben-Rafael (2007)

Mizrahi and Russian Challenges to Israel's Dominant Culture: Divergences and Convergences

Israel Studies 12(3), 68-91.


Week 9 March 2, 4 (guest lecturer, Professor Noam Pianko)

Jewish Nation, Israeli Nation, Jewish State, Democratic State



Mordechai Nisan (2013).

In defence of the idea of a Jewish state

Israel Affairs, 19(2), 259-272.


Yitzhak Conforti (2011), Between ethnic and civic: the realistic Utopia of Zionism.  Israel Affairs, 17(4) 563-582.


As'ad  Ghanem (2011).The Expanding Ethnocracy Judaization of the Public Sphere. Israel Studies Review, 26(1), 21-27.


Yoav Peled and Daron Navot, (2005). Ethnic Democracy Revisited: On the State of Democracy in the Jewish State

Israel Studies Forum, 20(1), 3-27.


Adia Mendelson-Maoz and Liat Steir-Livny (2011). The Jewish Works of Sayed Kashua: Subversive or Subordinate?  Israel Studies Review, 26(1), 107-129.


As’ad Ghanem and Mohanad Mustafa (2009). Coping with the Nakba: The Palestinians in Israel and the "Future Vision" as a Collective Agenda

Israel Studies Forum, 24, 2, 52-66.


Dov Waxman (2013), Israel's other Palestinian problem: the Future Vision Documents and the demands of the Palestinian minority in Israel, Israel Affairs, 19(1), 214-229.


Harel-Shalev, Ayelet. (2006).

The Status of Minority Languages in Deeply Divided Societies: Urdu in India and Arabic in Israel: A Comparative Perspective

 Israel Studies Forum, 21(2), 28-57.



Week 10 March 9, March 11 Politics, Paralysis, Elections



            Shapira, Israel: A History, chapters 19 and Summary, pp. 422-475.

Ofer Kenig, Michael Philippov, and Gideon Rahat (2013).

 Party Membership in Israel: An Overview  Israel Studies Review, 28 (1), 8-32.


Avraham Doron (2007). Multiculturalism and the Erosion of Support for the Universalistic Welfare State: The Israeli Experience Israel Studies, 12(3), 92-108.


Asaf Meydani (2012). The Supreme Court as a Political Entrepreneur: The Case of Israela. Israel Studies Review, 27(2), 65-85.


Mordechai Kremnitzer and Shiri Krebs (2011). From Illiberal Legislation to Intolerant Democracy. Israel Studies Review, 26(1), 4-11.


Yaron Ezrahi (2011). A Plethora of Challenges.  Israel Studies Review, 26(1), 28-32. 


Abraham Mansbach (2011). Drifting Away from Democracy A Micropolitical Critique of the Relation between the 'I' and the 'We' in Israel.  Israel Studies Review, 26(1), 130-145.










If you would like to request academic accommodations due to a disability, please contact Disabled Student Services, 448 Schmitz, (206) 543-8924 (V/TTY). If you have a letter from Disabled Student Services indicating you have a disability that requires academic accommodations, please present the letter to Professor Migdal so the accommodations you might need for this class can be discussed.




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An incomplete is given only when the student has been in attendance and has done satisfactory work until within two weeks of the end of the quarter and has furnished proof satisfactory to the instructor that the work cannot be completed because of illness or other circumstances beyond the student’s control. (Source: UW General Catalog 2002-2004, p. 26.)


Grade Appeal Procedure

A student who believes he or she has been improperly graded must first discuss the matter with the instructor.  If the student is not satisfied with the instructor’s explanation, the student may submit a written appeal to the director of the Jackson School with a copy of the appeal also sent to the instructor.  The director consults with the instructor to ensure that the evaluation of the student’s performance has not been arbitrary or capricious.  Should the director believe the instructor’s conduct to be arbitrary or capricious and the instructor declines to revise the grade, the director, with the approval of the voting members of his or her faculty, shall appoint an appropriate member, or members, of the faculty of the Jackson School to evaluate the performance of the student and assign a grade.  The Dean and Provost should be informed of this action.  Once a student submits a written appeal, this document and all subsequent actions on this appeal are recorded in written form for deposit in a School file. (Source: UW General Catalog 2002-2004, p. 27.)



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Office of Scholarly Integrity

The Office of Scholarly Integrity is housed in the Graduate School under the Vice-Provost and Dean of the Graduate School.  The Office of Scholarly Integrity assumes responsibility for investigating and resolving allegations of scientific and scholarly misconduct by faculty, students, and staff of the University of Washington.  The Office of Scholarly Integrity coordinates, in consultation and cooperation with the Schools and Colleges, inquiries and investigations into allegations of scientific and scholarly misconduct.  The Office of Scholarly Integrity is responsible for compliance with reporting requirements established by various Federal and other funding agencies in matters of scientific or scholarly misconduct.  The Office of Scholarly Integrity maintains all records resulting from inquiries and investigations of such allegations.  University rules (Handbook, Vol. II, Section 25-51, Executive Order #61) define scientific and scholarly misconduct to include the following forms of inappropriate activities: intentional misrepresentation of credentials; falsification of data; plagiarism; abuse of confidentiality; deliberate violation of regulations applicable to research.  Students can report cases of scientific or scholarly misconduct either to the Office of Scholarly Integrity, to their faculty adviser, or the department chair.  The student should report such problems to whomever he or she feels most comfortable.  (Sources: UW web page (; minutes of Grad School Executive Staff and Division Heads meeting, 7/23/98)

* Adapted from material prepared by the UW Department of History and used with permission.

Catalog Description: 
Introduces the people, institutions, and culture of Israel is the context of larger global forces. Examines domestic, regional, and international elements, both historically and in the contemporary period, that have shaped Israel's culture, politics, and special role in world affairs. Topics include nationalism, ethnicity, politics, religion, film, literature, and culture. Offered: jointly with JSIS A 314/POL S 314.
GE Requirements: 
Social Sciences (SSc)
Last updated: 
November 14, 2017 - 9:33pm