Course Summary

Concerns over security inform the politics and culture of Israel, but the politics and culture of Israel have likewise shaped the way that Israel perceives its security challenges.  The purpose of this Summer 2011 course was to familiarize students with these mutually reinforcing dynamics and help them understand the complexity of interacting with Israel and Israelis.

Through our discussions with Palestinians and Israelis, mayors and average citizens, members of Knesset and taxi drivers, we sought to better understand one of the most important conflicts of our time.   We analyzed Israeli politics, learning about the secular and religious parties, the multiple cleavages within society, Israel’s internal security politics and foreign relations, and above all, the core importance of territory and space.  More pictures here.

Course Details

Washington, DC class meetings

  • July 14, 2011 – Explaining Zionism and the idea of Jewish Nationalism
  • July 18, 2011 – A Geographic and Historical Survey of Israel, 1948- Today

Class in Israel

Sunday, July 24:

  • The Haas Promenade (Talpiyot) for a geographic overview of the city, including both Jewish and Arab portions of the city.
  • Students travel to the Hebrew University on Mt. Scopus, lunch at the cafeteria of the Hebrew University.
  • Dr. Shaul Shenhav – Israel’s Political System
  • The West Bank settlement of Efrat in the Etzion Corridor outside of Jerusalem. In Efrat we met with local leaders who will discuss the settler movement, its place Israeli society and its perspectives on the Peace Process.

Monday, July 25

  • Knesset – Home of Israel’s Parliament – We met with MK Yochanan Plesnner (Kadima) / and MK Dr Ahmad Tibi (Ta’al), an Arab parliamentarian.
  • The Israel Museum – Our guided visit to the Israel Museum focused on the Second Temple period (concurrent to the life of Jesus Christ), and included information about archeology, religion and society of ancient Israel.  Included in the visit was a guided tour of an outdoor scale model of Jerusalem at the time of Jesus.
  • Dr  Gadi Taub

Tuesday, July 26

  • Tour of Jerusalem by Ir Amim – This was an organized tour of Jerusalem that emphasizes the points of conflict between Israel and the Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem.  The tour include visits to Arab neighborhoods and the barrier wall erected by Israel a part of its counter-terrorism strategy.
  • A walking visit to the Old City of Jerusalem, including the Arab souk (marketplace), the Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, the Western Wall and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.  Archeologist Dr. Oren Gutfeld led the excursion.

Wednesday, July 27

  • Morning and afternoon in Tel Aviv, interviewing tent protestors, among other activities
  • Bus to Golan Heights
  • Kibbutz Kinaret and the Holocaust museum there
  • Arrive in Majdal Shams at the foot of Mt. Hermon, on the northern Golan Heights.  Druze dinner provided.

Thursday, July 28th

  • Mt Hermon – Observation point with deep views into Syria.  Lecture and Dicussion: Strategic Depth in the Missile Age: Does Israel need the Golan Heights?
  • Lunch and Golan Heights Winery
  • Arrive Haifa – Start at Stella Maris – Minority relations: Israeli Arabs: Life in the Second Class
  • Walk from the Carmel to the Lower City

Friday, July 29th

  • Leave Haifa
  • Arrive Jerusalem – Lecture and Discussion: Religion and State in State in Israel
  • Evening – OPTIONAL – Dr Roth led students interested to see Friday night Jewish services welcoming the Sabbath at the Western Wall.