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Israel Studies An Anthology : Preface

Israel Studies: An Anthology was first conceived during a 2007 conference for a group of visiting Israeli professors sponsored by the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise (AICE) to teach Israel-related courses at American universities. The participants in the conference voiced the great need for an authoritative book, since no comprehensive textbook on Israel studies was available, that could serve as a textbook for students, a survey of the subject for the general public and a reference book for teachers and professional researchers.

Country studies in general and the study of Israel in particular examine numerous and diverse subject matters from different and sometimes contradictory scholarly perspectives. To represent the numerous perspectives, the editors of the present Anthology chose a multi-disciplinary approach with a a wide range of topics that together would convey Israel’s ever evolving society and culture.

The Anthology contains six parts. The articles in Part One focus on the historical origins of modern Israel, in particular on the emergence of the Zionist movement and its impact, the organized Jewish community in the mandatory era, the 1947 UN Partition Plan and Israel’s War of Independence.

Part Two covers the population’s demographic trends, including the waves of immigration and immigrants’ absorption into the growing mainstream Israeli society; the socio-cultural characteristics of the population and its major groups and the attributes of the large Arab-Israeli minority group and its relations with Jewish-Israelis.

Part Three examines the evolution of and the challenges faced by Israel as a democracy. Lacking a formal constitution, democratic procedures and values are maintained through the Basic Laws, the delicate balance between Jewish traditions and democratic values and the institutional guarantees of human rights. Part Three also details the evolution and the major characteristics of the Knesset, the executive and the judicial branch.

Since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, national security has been the paramount concern. In Part Four, the causes and the consequences of the Yom Kippur War are examined, as well as the government’s settlement policies in the Golan Heights, West Bank and Gaza Strip, Israel’s war on terrorism and the intricate peace process with neighboring Arab countries.

Part Five contains articles on distinct aspects of Israeli society: The economy, the media and arts and literature.

In Part Six, the relationship of Israel with the Jewish Diaspora is critically examined and specifically, the special relationship between Israel and the United States are analyzed from a historical perspective.

In addition to the goal of publishing a comprehensive overview of the most important issues related to the history, politics and culture of Israel, we wished to make the material found in this publication easy to update and expand, as well as to make it free and accessible to all. This is why we have published the Anthology online. We encourage instructors to assign all or parts of this anthology to their classes. Students are free to download the material. We request only that users properly attribute any material they use and that no part of Israel Studies: An Anthology be reprinted on other web sites or for non-educational purposes without the written permission of AICE.