The Arab-Israeli Conflict
This class will explore the causes, development, and implications of the Arab-Israeli conflict from its inception in the late 19th century until the present day. The course will break down the history of the conflict into three distinct stages. The first (1880-1948) was primarily inter-communal conflict between Jewish immigrants and Palestinian Arabs. In our discussion of this phase that began as a consequence of early Zionist migration, we will study the international context that led to the founding of the Zionist movement, the role the movement played in creating a viable Jewish community in Palestine and the consequences this development had on the population that resided in Palestine at the time. We will identify the causes that contributed to the Zionist success that culminated in the creation of the state of Israel in 1948 and to the concurrent failure of the Palestinians to achieve a similar outcome. In this discussion we will engage in topics such as state and institution building, inter and intra community conflict, the role of colonial powers, military organization, and the impact of international politics on these processes. The second stage (1948-1985) will focus on inter-state conflict. We will discuss the various causes and outcomes of conflicts between Israel and its neighbors and the effect of these conflicts on these states and the Palestinian population. In particular we will explore the transfer of control of the Palestinian territories to Israel after the 1967 war and the roles that domestic and international politics played in the evolution of the conflict. The third and final stage (1987- Present) represents a return to the to the direct interaction and conflict between Israel and the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. We will explore the various Palestinian uprisings, peace negotiations, and the creation of the semi-autonomous Palestinian Authority. We will identify and assess the causes for the escalation of conflict between the sides and for the failure of the peace process to achieve viable peace in the region. Within this context we will also investigate the rise of extremist movements within both camps and their impact on Israeli-Palestinian relations. The course will conclude with and attempt to identify various possibilities for the future resolution of the conflict.
Main topics: The politics of conflicting ideologies: Zionism and Arab nationalism; formation of the state of Israel; development of Palestinian nationalism; Arab-Israeli wars. Re-emergence of Palestinian activism; domestic sources of foreign policy; the role of the superpowers.
Student learning goals
Developing a strong understudying of the historical and political developments in the conflict.
Applying social science theories to explain processes and outcomes.
General method of instruction
Lecture and discussion.
Completion of POLS 203 or 204 is helpful but not required.
Class assignments and grading
Student will be evaluated based on class participation, two exams and two short writing assignment.