Middle East studies in the News
History 214: The Roots of the Palestine-Israel Conflict [Joshua Schreier course syllabus; Vasser College]
by Joshua Schreier
History 214, Fall 2008
The Roots of the Palestine-Israel Conflict
Mr. Joshua Schreier
This class traces the history of the Israel-Palestine conflict from its roots during the late Ottoman period through the current period. Students should keep in mind that this course is NOT designed to present "an objective" account of a "two-sided" conflict. The fact that there are supposedly two sides does not obligate us to portray each as equally right and/or equally wrong. The goal, rather, is to understand why the conflict arose, and what sorts of power inequalities have made it continue. In the past, this class has been more interesting and satisfying to serious students of history and politics, as opposed to those seeking confirmation of their current opinions. Those who think one national/religious/racial group is better than the other may end up frustrated.
Our main inquiries will include: Why and how did economic globalization, technological development, and European imperialism foster the creation of two different national identities in Palestine? Why and how and when did these two identities develop in such a way as to preclude members of certain religious or ethnic groups from belonging? Why does Palestine, an area of the Ottoman Empire where the vast majority of people were Arabic-speaking Muslims only 70 years ago, currently host a "Jewish" state whose leadership claims to represent, first and foremost, only one of the ethnic/national communities living there?
More than anything, this course requires students to engage in close reading, critical thinking and clear writing. Students will be expected to read each other's work.
A. To gain solid introductory knowledge why and how a conflict emerged between Jewish Israelis (largely of Eastern-European and Middle-Eastern backgrounds) on one side and local Palestinian Christians and Muslims on the other, in the early part of the twentieth century.
B. To replace common misperceptions with a deeper understanding of how laws, nationalism, and international politics have sustained this conflict for so long.
C. To better understand the origins and meaning of "terrorism" in the context of the Palestine question.
D. To gain a more specialized knowledge of one aspect of this conflict, by means of an individual research project.
E. To learn how to critically evaluate and make sense of the barrage of information and propaganda about Israel and the Palestinians we receive on a daily basis.
F. To develop your ability to express your thoughts clearly and convincingly in writing.
Requirements for the successful completion of this course:
Willingness to Spend Time at the Library
This course requires a research paper. In order to do research, you must go to the library. If you don't like the library, this may not be the course for you.
Furthermore, we all have quite a bit to learn from the highly trained librarians here at Vassar College. Not only are they nice, talented, and familiar with a vast variety of research tools, but they make sincere efforts to be generous with their time. Take advantage of this invaluable resource.
There is absolutely no way you will do well if you rely on the books in Vassar College's collection. It is a fine collection, but you must learn to use ILL and NYConnect.
Preparation and Physical and Mental Presence
You are also expected to do the readings carefully and attend every class. Students who miss class more than once without a legitimate excuse (illness, religious holiday, or a family emergency) will be graded down. These absences should be explained and, if not for reason of a religious holiday, followed up with documentation from Baldwin and/or the appropriate administrator.
You are expected to be attentive and participate. Your classroom performance and demeanor do not fall under the rubric of "extra credit," but are rather central elements of your gradable "work."
The following texts are available at the bookstore, as well as on reserve:
1. Gershon Shafir, Land, Labor, and the Origins of the Palestine-Israel Conflict
2. James Gelvin, The Israel-Palestine Conflict: One Hundred Years of War
3. Ghassan Kanafani, Palestine's Children: Returning to Haifa and other Stories
4. Jeff Halper, An Israeli in Palestine
5. Arthur Hertzberg, The Zionist Idea
6. Rashid Khalidi, The Iron Cage
7. Nur Masalha, The Expulsion of the Palestinians
Written Assignments (PLEASE SUBMIT ALL PAPERS ELECTRONICALLY):
1. Synthesis paper: due Monday, September 15th: Describe the economic, political and social developments of the 18th and 19th centuries that increased British interest in Palestine and the eastern Mediterranean region (3-5 pages).
2. Book review: due Monday, September 29th: Choose a recent scholarly book that is pertinent to your research topic. Write a book review in the style of the reviews found near the back of scholarly journals such as The International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies or The Journal of Palestine Studies. (5 pages)
3. Research proposal and bibliography, due Monday, October 6th. This should be a short paragraph describing the topic of your research paper, including a preliminary (but serious) bibliography. (1 page + bibliography)
4. Abstract of research paper and updated bibliography, due Monday, November 10th. This is NOT another proposal. This short (1-2 page) paper should state clearly what your research paper argues.
5. First draft of research paper, due Wednesday, November 26th. This should be as polished as possible. You will submit it to both me and two classmates. They will read it and offer their comments and corrections. This first draft should be about 7-10 pages.
6. Comments and corrections on your classmates paper, due Wednesday, December 3rd. Please submit at least several paragraphs of comments, plus margin notes. Please submit the paragraphs of comments to me, too.
7. Final draft of paper, due Wednesday, December 10th.
8. Final Exam (TBA)
Late assignments will be graded down. The only exceptions will be for illness or family emergencies. Please plan on completing assignments in advance if you have religious, family, sports, or other extra-curricular commitments this semester.
WE HAVE CLASS ON THE DAY BEFORE THANKSGIVING. PLEASE PLAN ACCORDINGLY
Wednesday, September 3rd
Monday, September 8th
Palestine, Britain, and the World Economy
1. Gelvin 1-13 (Book available for purchase or on reserve)
2. Alexander Scholch, "Economic Development of Palestine, 1856-1882" (Blackboard (BB))
3. Beshara Doumani, "The Meanings of Autonomy," from Rediscovering Palestine: Merchants and Peasants in Jabal Nablus, 1700-1900 (BB)
4. Beshara Doumani, "Rediscovering Ottoman Palestine: Writing Palestinians Into History," Journal of Palestine Studies (recommended) (BB)
5. Hatt-I-Serif Decree initiating the Tanzimat period in the Ottoman Empire (BB)
6. Islahat Fermani Decree (BB)
7. Treaty of Balta Liman between British and Ottoman Empire (BB)
8. The Ottoman Definition of a "Modern" Citizen (BB)
Wednesday, September 10th
Palestine, Britain, and The Christian Imagination
1. Alexander Scholch, "Britain in Palestine," in Journal of Palestine Studies (BB)
2. Tourist Posters for Palestine Cruises (BB)
Synthesis Paper, Due Monday, September 15th: Describe the economic, political and social developments of the 18th and 19th centuries that increased British interest in Palestine and the eastern Mediterranean region (3-5 pages).
Monday, September 15th
Knowledge and Ideology in the Nineteenth Century: Imperialism
1. Gelvin, 14-45
2. Alexis de Tocqueville, "Essay on Algeria" (BB)
3. Lord Evelyn (Earl of) Cromer, Modern Egypt (BB)
Wednesday, September 17h
Knowledge and Ideology in the Nineteenth Century: Nationalism
1. Gelvin, 46-63
2. Khalidi, The Iron Cage (introduction)
3. Theodor Herzl (in Hertzberg Reader)
4. Bialik, City of Slaughter (from Mendes-Flohr, Jew in the Modern World) (BB)
Book Review: Choose a recent scholarly book that is pertinent to your research topic. Write a book review in the style of the reviews found near the back of scholarly journals such as The International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies or The Journal of Palestine Studies . Due Monday, September 29th
Monday, September 22nd
1. Shafir, 1-21
2. Gelvin, 64-75
3. Leo Pinsker, "Auto-Emancipation" in Hertzberg reader, 181-198
Wednesday, September 24th
Labor Zionism II
1. David Gordon, "People and Labor" (from Herzberg, Zionist Reader) (CF)
2. Protestrabbiner, "Protest against Zionism" (from Mendes-Flohr, Jew in the Modern World) (CF)
3. Ber Borochev, "The National Question and the Class Struggle," in Hertzberg, 352-367
Monday, September 29th
The Second Aliyah and the Campaign for Ethnically Pure Settlements, 1904-1914
1. Shafir, 45-90, 135-186
2. David Ben Gurion, "Jewish Labor: the Origin of Settlement" (BB)
Wednesday, October 1st
Palestine: Resistance, World War I, and the Massacre of the Middle East
1. Rashid Khalidi, "Palestinian Peasant Resistance to Zionism Before World War I" (BB)
2. Elizabeth Thompson, Colonial Citizens, 19-38 (BB)
3. Gelvin, 76-83
Proposal and Bibliography, Due Monday, October 6th. This should be a clear, well thought-out statement of what you plan on researching for the final paper. It should be based on your preliminary research and should include a bibliography.
Monday, October 6th
1917-1918: Interwar Imperialism and the British Mandate (1922-1948)
1. Rashid Khalidi, The Iron Cage, 1-64
2. Gelvin, 83-91
3. Husayn-McMahon Correspondence (in Smith, Palestine) (BB)
4. Sykes-Picot Agreement (in Smith, Palestine) (BB)
5. Resolutions of the General Syrian Congress (in Smith, Palestine) (BB)
Wednesday, October 8th
The Mandate, Continued
1. Nur Masalha, The Expulsion of the Palestinians, 1-48
2. Gelvin, 92-102
1. Drawing Palestine's Frontiers (in Smith, Palestine) (BB)
2. The Mandate for Palestine (in Smith, Palestine) (BB)
Monday, October 13th
The Development of Palestinian Identity, 1918-1929
1. Gelvin, 102-115
2. Khalidi, The Iron Cage, 65-104 (on reserve)
1. King-Crane Commission Report on the Near East (in Smith, Palestine) (BB)
2. The 1922 Churchill White Paper (in Smith, Palestine) (BB)
3. Fruit Ads (on Blackboard)
Wednesday, October 15th
The Great Revolt Against British Rule in Palestine
1. Gelvin, 116-126
2. Khalidi, 105-124
3. Nur Masalha, The Expulsion of the Palestinians, 49-124
4. Peel Commission Report (in Smith, Palestine) (BB)
5. The 1939 White Paper (in Smith, Palestine) (BB)
Monday, October 27th
1939-1948: The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine
1. Gelvin, 126-143
2. Nur Masalha, The Expulsion, 125-174
3. Benny Morris, "Revisiting the Palestinian Exodus of 1948," in The War for Palestine: Rewriting the History of 1948, 37-59 (BB)
4. Ted Swedenburg, "The Role of the Palestinian Peasants in the Great Revolt,' in Albert Hourani, et. al, ed., The Modern Middle East (BB)
Wednesday, October 29th
Establishing a Jewish "Ethnocracy"
1. Gelvin, 144-164
2. Nur Masalha, The Expulsion, 175-210
3. Khalidi, The Iron Cage, 125-140
4. Declaration of the State of Israel (from Mendes-Flohr, Jew in Modern World) (BB)
5. The Law of the Right of Return (from Mendes-Flohr, Jew in Modern World) (BB)
6. Apartheid Laws of South Africa (BB)
Abstract of Research Paper, due November 10th. This short paper should state clearly what your research paper argues. Also, please provide a new, updated bibliography. One page + bibliography.
Monday, November 3rd
With Enemies Like These…Who Needs Friends? The Arab Israeli-Conflict and the Discourse of "Terror"
1. Gelvin, 165-173
1. The Israel Land Laws (BB)
2. Golda Meir, Speech to U.N. General Assembly (Smith, Palestine) (BB)
2. Gamal Abd al Nasser, speech on the nationalization of the Suez Canal (Smith, Palestine) (BB)
3. Abba Eban Speech to the U.N. Security Council (Smith, Palestine) (BB)
Wednesday, November 5th
The 1967 War: Redrawing the Map and Human Beings as "a Problem"
1. Gelvin, 173-182
2. Ghassen Kanafani, Returning to Haifa (short novel) (Book available for purchase or on reserve)
Monday, November 10th
The Palestinians in Israel and Abroad
1. Gelvin, 195-212
2. Khalidi, 140-164
3. Fateh Communiqué (Smith, Palestine) (BB)
4. Palestinian National Charter (Smith, Palestine) (BB)
5. U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 (Smith, Palestine) (BB)
6. Yassir Arafat's Address to the United Nations' General Assembly (Smith, Palestine) (BB)
Wednesday, November 12th
The Rise of the Israeli Far Right: Gush Emunim, Sharon, and Lebanon
1. Gelvin, 182-195
1. Robert Fisk, "This is a Place of Blood and Filth that Will Forever Be Associated with Ariel Sharon" (in Carey, The Other Israel) (BB)
2. Amos Oz, "An Argument on Life and Death (a)" (BB)
3. The Phallange and the IDF in Sabra and Shatilla (Refugee Camps in Lebanon) (Blackboard)
First draft of research paper is due Wednesday, November 26th. This should be as polished as possible. You will give copies of this paper to a small group of your classmates to read and offer comments and corrections.
Monday, November 17th
Intifada and Hamas
1. Gelvin, 212-227
2. Jeff Halper, An Israeli in Palestine, 36-96
3. Intifada Communiqué (Smith, Palestine) (BB)
4. Hamas leaflets (Smith, Palestine) (BB)
Wednesday, November 19th
The Oslo Accords
1. Gelvin, 229-238
2. Jeff Halper, An Israeli in Palestine, 97-125
3. The Israeli-PLO Declaration of Principles (Smith, Palestine) (BB)
4. The Interim Agreement (Smith, Palestine) (BB)
5. Maps from the Interim Agreement (Blackboard)
Monday, November 24th
Second Intifada and the Matrix of Control
1. Jeff Halper, 141-174
2. Maps (Jeff Halper book)
Wednesday, November 26th
Barak's "Generous Offer," and the meaning of "Terror"
2. Jeff Halper, 175-206
Comments on your colleagues' papers, due Wednesday, December 3rd. Please submit copies to them and to me.
Monday, December 1st
Walled Ghettos, Marriage Laws, and the Respectability of Ethnic Cleansing
1. Gelvin, 238-251
2. Ilan Pappé, "Ingathering," in London Review of Books (BB)
3. Israeli Marriage Laws (BB)
4. Moledet Party platform (BB)
5. National Unity Party publication (BB)
6. The Wall (BB)
Final research paper due, Wednesday, December 10th
Wednesday, December 3rd
Discussion: Stateless in Palestine
1. Gelvin, 251-255
2. Khalidi, 182-218
Monday, Decembr 8th
Discussion: Is Peace Possible?
1. Benny Morris, "Peace? No Chance" (BB)
2. Halper, 207-253Note: Articles listed under "Middle East studies in the News" provide information on current developments concerning Middle East studies on North American campuses. These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch and do not necessarily correspond to Campus Watch's critique.
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