BA Ancient History and History

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Historical Controversies in the Study of Israel/Palestine

Course unit fact file
Unit code MEST30721
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This class critically surveys the following themes: “Israeli Inter-generational Conflict?”; “Historical Inquiry and Israel/Palestine’s Collective Memory”; “Israel/Palestine: Democracy, Ethnic Democracy or ‘Ethnocracy’?”; “Jewish and Democratic State: Built-in Structural Tension?”; “Arab Citizenship in a Jewish State”; “Sephardim/Mizrahim in Israel” and “The Politics of Land Ownership.” 


On completion of this unit, successful participants should have reached an advanced level of foundational knowledge in the study of post-1948 contemporary Israel/Palestine; be able to discuss and analyse competing schools of scholarly thought studying the Palestine/Israel question; be able to comment in an informed manner on a range of profound controversies surrounding the study of post-1948 Israel/Palestine. 

Knowledge and understanding

On successful completion of the course students should have developed skills for critical analysis of the debates surveyed and the scholarly and sociopolitical controversies surrounding them; understand of critical issues pertaining to the modern study – and predicaments – of contemporary Israel/Palestine; be able to develop a productive PPP to support their essays. 

Intellectual skills

Ability to comment in an informed manner on a range of controversies surrounding the study of contemporary Israel/Palestine.

Practical skills

The foundational knowledge acquired is essential for any position in the private or public sector that deals with Israel/Palestine; the creation of oral presentations to support one’s projects/case. 

Transferable skills and personal qualities

Time Management and punctuality; 

Ability to differentiate between scholarship and motivational speaking and/or advocacy; comprehension of the importance of being able to argue contrasting theses; oral presentations and PPP.  

Assessment methods

 Assessment task   

 Weighting within unit  

  Oral presentation (note: students whose attendance is less than 75% with no mitigating circumstances will not be allowed to present before their peers in class and may be permitted to present before the lecturer alone).  




Feedback methods

  • oral feedback  

  • written feedback on essay 

  • additional one-to-one feedback (during consultation/office hour) 

Recommended reading

Ram, Uri, The Changing Agenda of Israeli Sociology: Theory, Ideology and Identity (New York: State University of New York Press, 1995);

Lissak, Moshe, “‘Critical’ Sociology and ‘Establishment’ Sociology in the Israeli Academic Community: Ideological Struggles or Academic Discourse?” Israel Studies, 1.1 (1996), pp. 247-294;

Shapira, Anita, “Politics and Collective Memory: the Debate Over the ‘New Historians’ in Israel” History and Memory, 7 (1) (Spring 1995), pp. 9-40;

Pappe, Ilan, “Humanizing the Text: Israeli ‘New History’ and the Trajectory of the 1948 Historiography” Radical History Review (Spring 2003), pp. 102-22;

Smooha, Sammy, “The model of ethnic democracy: Israel as a Jewish and Democratic State” Nations and Nationalism, 8 (4) (2002), pp. 475-503; 

Ghanem, A., Rouhana, N. and Yiftachel, O., “Questioning ‘Ethnic Democracy’: A Response to Sammy Smooha” Israel Studies, 3(2) (1998), pp. 253-67;

Gavison, Ruth, “The Jews’ Right to Statehood: A Defense” Azure (Summer 5763/2003), No. 15;

Bligh, A., Karsh, E. and Karsh, I., “Special Issue ‘The Israeli Palestinians: An Arab Minority in the Jewish State’” Israel Affairs, 9(1-2) (2003).  

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 24
Seminars 12
Independent study hours
Independent study 164

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Moshe Behar Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Primary and selective secondary sources coupled with lecture notes will be made available in blackboard.

Return to course details