Selected topics in Jewish modern and contemporary history: History of Israel

Naida-Michal Brandl, Assistant Professor
Boris Havel, Assistant Professor


Week 1-3: Introduction and short historical overview (Naida-Michal Brandl, Assistant Professor)

Week 1: Introduction to the course. Course description, overview of bibliography and introduction to methodology

Week 2: Overview of the History of Israel
– The question of land: Late Ottoman Period and the Mandate Palestine
– The New Jew and the return to the old-new homeland
– Old and New Yishuv

Week 3: Overview of the History of Israel
– Formative years of the State of Israel
– The Sabra
– Kibbutz movement
– Political, social and geographical outline of Israel
– From socialism to capitalism

Week 4-9: Religion and politics (Boris Havel, Assistant Professor)

Week 4: Early Islamic texts and their relevance for contemporary Middle Eastern events: life and career of the prophet and warrior of Medina
– Sources for the study of Islam
– Ibn Ishak’s Sirat Rasul Allah: putting the Quran in its historical context
– Importance of early Islamic texts for modern political processes in the Islamic Middle East
– Conquest of territory as evidence of Allah’s favor

Week 5: Early Islamic texts and their relevance for contemporary Middle Eastern events: Political, social and legal message of the Quran, Hadith and Sira
– Relation of religion and politics according to the canonical Islamic texts
– Revelation as law
– Theology as political program
– Canonical Islamic view of Jews and Christians

Week 6: Islam: Fitnah and Sunni-Shia division
– Concept of Caliphate; Rashidun Caliphs; People of the House (Ahl al-Bayt)
– Life and death of Ali ibn Abu Talib, Hassan and Hussayn
– Umayyad Caliphate

Week 7: Political relevance of Theology and History in Judaism, Christianity and Islam
– History and historicity; History as source of political theory; Historical events as patterns in political behavior
– Political Islam: attitudes to democracy, parliamentarianism, minorities
– War and peace in Judaism, Christianity and Islam

Week 8: State of Israel as viewed by religious Jews, Christians and Muslims: soteriology and eschatology
– Six-Day War and its influence on Jewish secular and religious community
– Six-Day War and its influence on Middle Eastern Muslims
– New paradigms of Zionism

Week 9: Religious aspects of the Arab-Israeli conflict: Jewish settlements and Muslim jihad
– Compromise and concession in secular and religious political thought
– Oslo Accords as Peace of Hudaybiyyah
– Jewish settlement of Judea and Samaria
– Intifada as Jihad

Week 10-15: Contemporary Israeli Society (Naida-Michal Brandl, Assistant Professor)

Week 10: Israel as Jewish immigrant society
– Ashkenazim, Sephardim, Mizrahim and others

Week 11: European Jews in the Middle East
– European Israel: music, architecture, literature
– Bauhaus as a bridge between west and east
– Central European city dwellers becoming agricultural workers
– Zionism(s) and socialism

Week 12: The place of Religion in Israeli Society
– Jews, Muslims, and Christians
– Who is a religious Jew?
– Religion and law in Israel

Week 13: Israeli education and culture
– State education (Secular, Modern Orthodox, Haredi and Arab) and private education
– Is there an Israeli culture and what is it?
– What do we read?

Week 14: Turn Left at the End of the World / Alternative: guest lecturer (and rescheduling the film)
– Integration of families from different ethnic diasporic backgrounds and their struggles
– Discussion

Week 15: Conclusion remarks


  • The Bible (selected books/chapters)
  • The Quran (selected pages)
  • Ibn-Ishak (1955, 2004). The Life of Muhammad: A Translation of Ibn Ishaq’s “Sirat Rasul Allah” by A. Guillaume. Karachi: Oxford University Press (selected chapters)
  • Al-Tabari (1987-1997). The History of al-Tabari (Ta’rikh al-rusul wa’l-muluk). New York: State University of New York Press
  • Ajami, Fouad (2014). In This Arab Time: The Pursuit of Deliverance. Stanford: Hoover Institution Press (pp. 93-114).
  • Ajami, Fouad (1984). The Arab Predicament: Arab Political Thought and Practice since 1967. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (selected chapters)
  • Eisenstadt , Shmuel N., Jewish Civilization. The Jewish Historical Experience in a Comparative Perspective, SUNY series in Israeli Studies, 1992 (selected chapters)
  • Encyclopaedia of Islam, New Edition. (1986-2004). Leiden: E. J. Brill (selected entries)
  • Goldwater, Raymond (2009). Pioneers of Religious Zionism: Rabbis Alkalai, Kalischer, Mohliver, Reines, Kook and Maimon Jerusalem: Urim Publications (Chapters on Rabbi Alkalai, Rabbi Kook, Rabbi Maimon)
  • Gorenberg, Gershom (2006). The Accidental Empire: Israel and the Birth of the Settlements, 1967-1977. New York: Henry Holt and Company (Chapter 4, Settling In, pp. 99-128, Chapter 9, Mere Anarchy is Loosed, pp. 250-279).
  • Havel, Boris, Arapsko-izraelski sukob. Religija, politika i povijest Svete zemlje, Naklada Ljevak, 2013.
  • Helman, Anat, “East or West: Tel Aviv in the 1920s and 1930s” Studies in Contemporary Jewry 15 (1999).
  • Helman, Anat, “European Jews in the Levant Heat: Climate and Culture in 1920s and 1930s Tel-Aviv,” Journal of Israeli History 22 (2003), 71-90.
  • Jewish Topographies: Visions of Space, Traditions of Place, eds. Brauch, Julia, Lipphardt, Anna and Nocke, Alexandra (Aldershot, Hampshire, England ; Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2008) – selected chapters.
  • Khadduri, Majid (1962). War and Peace in the Law of Islam. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press (Pages 55-75, 133-137, 203-222).
  • Laqueur, Walter & Barry Rubin eds., The Israel-Arab Reader, Penguin Books, 2001.
  • Lewis, Bernard (1988). The Political Language of Islam. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press (selected chapters).
  • Mann, Barbara E., A Place in History: Modernism, Tel Aviv, and the Creation of Jewish Urban Space (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 2005), selected chapters.
  • Mendes Flohr, Paul and Jehuda Reinharz, The Jews in the Modern World.
  • Nathan Birnbaum and Jewish Modernity: Architect of Zionism, Yiddishism, and Orthodoxy, Stanford Studies in Jewish History and Culture, 2013 (selected chapters).
  • al-Qaradawi, Yusuf (2004). State in Islam. Cairo: al-Falah Foundation (chapter Political Islam, pp. 121-140).
  • Rozin, Orit, “Food, Identity, and Nation-Building in Israel’s Formative Years,” Israel Studies 21 (2006), 52-80.
  • Shavit, Jacob, and Naor, Chaya, Staging and Stagers in Modern Jewish Palestine:
    The Creation of Festive Lore in a New Culture, 1882-1948 (Detroit: Wayne State
    University Press, 2004), selected chapters.
  • Spero, Shubert and Yitzchak Pessin, ed. (1989). Religious Zionism: After 40 Years of Statehood. Jerusalem: Mesilot & The World Zionist Organization (pp. 13-15; 40-58; 82-99).
  • Stav, Arieh ed. (2001). Israel and a Palestinian State: Zero Sum Game? Shaarei Tikva: Ariel Center for Policy Research.
  • Stein, Kenneth W. The Land Question in Palestine, 1917-1939, The University of North Carolina Press, 1987 (selected chapters).
  • Stillman, Norman, Jews of Arab Lands: A History and Source Book, The Jewish Publication Society, 1998.
  • Wallach , Yair, Rethinking the yishuv: late-Ottoman Palestine’s Jewish communities revisited, JOURNAL OF MODERN JEWISH STUDIES, 2017 VOL. 16, NO. 2, 275–294.