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M.Phill : The Dynamics of Arab-Israeli Conflict

No. of Seats: 1
Programme/Course Fee: Please refer Prospectus of the current Session

THIS SURVEY course is designed to provide a basic understanding of the causes, complexities, and consequences of the Arab-Israeli Conflict. Emphasis will be placed on the development of modern Jewish nationalism through Zionism in the late 19th century Europe, the consequences of the British Mandate for Palestine, the rise of Palestinian national consciousness, the impact of extra-regional powers on the conflict, and the prospects for a lasting resolution. This course will also introduce students to multifaceted dimensions of the conflict-security issues, conflicting national and religious claims, competing ideologies, international relations, peacemaking and conflict resolution. From a clash between Zionism and Arab nationalism inside Palestine, the Arab-Israeli Conflict shifted at mid-century to an inter-state rivalry between Israel and its immediate Arab neighbors (primarily Egypt, Syria, and Lebanon). Still, at its core, the conflict is a localized dispute between Israel and the Palestinians who live under its occupation. Thus this course is a survey of the continuous process of the development of the history, politics, and diplomacy of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Course Schedule

I. Introduction:

  • The Construction of Conflicting Nationalisms

    a) Palestinian and Arab nationalism
    b) Zionism and Israeli Nationalism
  • Comparing Divergent Narratives of the Conflict: Palestinians, the Arab States and Israeli

II. The Palestine Mandate, 1920-1948:

  • Jewish-Arab Relations in Palestine under the Ottoman Empire
  • World War I and its Aftermath
    a) Balfour Declaration
    b) British Mandate in Palestine: Conflicting Commitment over Political Representation, Land and People
  • Palestine Between the two Wars
    a) Yishuv: Ideology and politics
    b) Arab leadership and revolts against Jews
    c) World War II, the Holocaust and the World Jewry
  • Arab-Israeli Conflict (1948-49) and Armistice Negotiations
    a) The UN Partition Plan and the End of Mandate
    b) The Palestinian Naqba and the Jewish War of Independence – conflicting narratives
    c) The Birth of Israel and the Emergence of the Palestinian Refugee Question

III. Arab-Israeli Wars 1956-1982:

  • The Great Power Rivalry in the Middle East
  • The Suez Campaign, 1956
  • The Six Day War (1967) and its Consequences
    a) Israel’s Acquisition of Arab Territories
    b) Intensification of conflict with Syria and Egypt
    c) the Rise of the PLO
    d) the PLO’s Base in Jordan, Guerilla Warfare and Black September, 1970/71
  • Stirrings of Islamism in West Bank and the Gaza Strip
  • The Yom Kippur War and the Politics of Oil
  • PLO’s Relocation to Lebanon
  • Israel’s Lebanon Wars, 1978, 1982
  • Lebanon: American Expeditions of 1958, 1982

IV. Palestinians under Israeli Rule:

  • Israel’s settlement policy
    a) Expropriation of Land
    b) Discrimination in planning and building East Jerusalem
  • Human Right Violations under Military Rule
    a) Restriction on Movement
    b) Administrative Detention and
    c) Settler Violence
  • Rise of Indigenous Palestinian Leadership
  • The Intifada and the birth of radical Islam in the OTs: Hamas and Islamic Jihad

V. Diplomacy and Peacemaking in Arab-Israeli Conflict:

  • Early attempts at A-I settlement: The Za’im initiative, the Israeli-Jordanian dialogue,
  • Israeli-Egyptian secret negotiations
  • Arab, Israeli, and superpower diplomacy in the post-1967 era
  • The Kissinger step-by-step diplomacy
  • The Sadat initiative and the Camp David 1978 accords
  • The diplomacy of stalemate in the 1980s
  • The Madrid conference and the multilateral track
  • The making and unmaking of Oslo
  • The Syrian Track in the Peace Process

VI. Debates in Arab-Israeli Conflict:

  • Role of Religion in Arab-Israeli Conflict
  • Israel’s Security Concerns
  • Acceptance of Israel among the Arab countries
  • One-State Solution to the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict

Select Readings

  • Alexander, Yonah, Palestinian Religious Terrorism: Hamas and Islamic Jihad (Ardsley, N.Y.: Transnational Publishers, 2002). Rubin, Barry M., The Tragedy of the Middle East (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2002)
  • Bucaille, Laetitia. 2004. Growing Up Palestinian: Israeli Occupation and the Intifada Generation. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
  • Dershowitz, Alan 2003. The Case for Israel. New York: Wiley & Sons.
  • Gelvin, James L. 2007. The Israel-Palestine Conflict: One Hundred Years of War. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Khalidi, Rashid 1998. Palestinian Identity. New York, NY: Columbia University Press.
  • Laqueur, Walter and Barry Rubin, eds. 2008. The Israel-Arab Reader. New York: Penguin Books. (7th, updated edition).
  • Maoz, Zeev 2006. Defending the Holy Land: A Critical Analysis of Israel’s Security and Foreign Policy. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.
  • Morris, Benny 2001. Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict, 1881-2001.
  • Morris, Benny. 1991. Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict, 1881-1999. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
  • Pappe, Ilan 2006. A History of Modern Palestine: One Land, Two People. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (2nd Edition).
  • Ross, Dennis 2005. The Missing Peace: The Inside Story of the Fight for Middle East Peace. New York, NY: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.
  • Sachar, Howard M. 1996. A History of Israel: From the Rise of Zionism to Our Time. New York: A. Knopf (2nd Revised Edition).
  • Said, Edward W. 1992. The Question of Palestine. New York: Vintage Books (2nd Edition).
  • Said, Edward W., The End of the Peace Process: Oslo and Afterward (New York, N.Y.: Pantheon Books, 2000)
  • Schulze, Kirsten E., The Arab-Israeli Conflict (New York: Longman, 1999)
  • Segal, Jerome M., Creating the Palestinian state: A Strategy for Peace (Chicago, Ill.: Lawrence Hill Books, 1989)
  • Shipler, David K., Arab and Jew: Wounded Spirits in a Promised Land (New York: Times Books, 1986)
  • Shlaim, Avi 2001. The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World. New York: W. W. Norton.
  • Stein, Kenneth W., Heroic Diplomacy: Sadat, Kissinger, Carter, Begin and the Quest for Arab-Israeli Peace (New York: Routledge, 1999)
  • Tessler, Mark A. and Ann Mosely Lesch: Israel, Egypt, and the Palestinians: From Camp David to Intifada (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1988)
  • Tessler, Mark A., A History of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (Univ. of Indiana Press, 1994)
  • Tessler, Mark A., Israel at Peace with the Arab World (Abu Dhabi, U.A.E.: The Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research, 1996)
  • Tessler, Mark. A History of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1994.
  • Varble, Derek, The Suez Crisis, 1956 (Oxford, England: Osprey Publishing, 2003)
  • Wallach, John & Janet Wallach, Still Small Voices (New York: Citadel Press, 1989)
  • Wright, J. W. (ed.), Structural flaws in the Middle East peace process: historical contexts (Houndsmills, England: Palgrave, 2002)
  • Wright, J. W. and Laura Drake, Economic and Political Impediments to Middle East Peace: Critical Questions and Alternative Scenarios (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2000)

Method of Instruction: Lectures would be held thrice a week. Questions, discussion and debate during classes are strongly encouraged. Students are expected to read extensively on the conflict, utilizing the wealth of resources available on the Internet.

Method of Assessment: A mid-term exam would consist of essay questions based upon the topics covered up to that point. In addition, a term paper addressing an appropriate question and/or issue, submitted on the last day of the class, will form a part of the final assessment.


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