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Israel and the World: Selected Themes in Israel's Foreign Policy


Admission requirements

Limited places for premaster students Middle Eastern Studies, BA Middle Eastern Studies (other tracks) and other students as an elective.


This course offers an introduction to Israel’s foreign policy and relations with the world from 1948 to present. The course samples selected themes in the historiography of Israel’s foreign policy to offer the students initial scoping of the field. The course questions why and how Zionism, Judaism, the Arab Israeli conflict, arms trading, Holocaust trauma and the Cold War shaped Israeli foreign policy. We will examine the degree to which Israeli leaders influenced Israeli foreign policy in various periods. In addition, we will discuss Israel's relations with the Jewish Diaspora.

Course objectives

  • To familiarize students with select themes, events, actors, and processes that characterize Israel’s foreign policy since 1948 to date.

  • To develop awareness and critical thinking of key questions in the historiographical debates of Israel’s foreign policy and develop understanding of basic trends in these debates.

  • Exploring Israel’s complex relations with the diaspora Jewish communities.

  • The students will explore why and how the geopolitics of the Middle East has shaped Israel’s foreign relations, orientation, and decision making.

  • To familiarize students with how the Arab-Israeli conflict influenced Israel’s foreign policy.



Mode of instruction

Attendance and active participation are obligatory for seminars. Students are required to prepare for and attend all sessions. The convenors need to be informed without delay of any classes missed for a good reason (i.e. due to unforeseen circumstances such as illness, family issues, problems with residence permits, the Dutch railways in winter, etc.). In these cases it is up to the discretion of the convener(s) of the course whether or not the missed class will have to be made up with an extra assignment. The maximum of such absences during a semester is two. Being absent without notification and/or more than two times can result in exclusion from the term end exams and a failing grade for the course.

Course Load

5 EC x 28 hrs = 140 hrs
Participating in seminars (2 hrs/week x 13 weeks) 26
Preparing for seminars (4 hrs/week x 13 weeks) 52
Preparing presentation of Final Paper proposal 15
Writing Final Paper assignment (2,000-word paper, including notes and appendixes, excluding bibliography) 47

Assessment method and weighing

Partial Assessment Weighing
Attendance and active participation in seminar discussions 25%
Mid-term assignment (class presentation of Final Paper proposal) 25%
Final assignment (2,000 word Final Paper, including notes and appendixes, excluding bibliography) 50%
  • The final mark for this course is determined by the weighted average. An additional requirement is that students must pass their final Paper assignment. In order to pass the course, students must obtain an overall mark of 5.50 (=6) or higher.

  • The course is an integrated whole. All assessment parts must be completed in the same academic year. No partial marks can be carried over into following years.

  • Late submissions will result in a deduction of marks for the written assignment as follows: 1-24 hs late = -0.5; 24-48 hs late = -1.0; 48-72 hs late = -1.5; 72-96 hs late = -2.0. Submissions more than 96 hs late, including weekends, will receive a failing grade of 1,0 for the written assignment.


Rewrites of the paper are to be submitted within 2 weeks after receiving a failing grade. A resit for the written examination is possible.

inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.


Blackboard will be used for:

  • Sharing of reading material

  • Announcements and communication

Reading list

  • Colin Shindler, ed,. Israel and the World Powers: Diplomatic Alliances and International Relations Beyond the Middle East (London: I.B.Tauris, 2014).

  • Other selected readings will be made available on Blackboard.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis is available on the website

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable


E. Ben Aharon


Students with disabilities

The university is committed to supporting and accommodating students with disabilities as stated in the university protocol (especially pages 3-5). Students should contact Fenestra Disability Centre at least four weeks before the start of their courses to ensure that all necessary academic accommodations can be made in time conform the above-mentioned protocol.

Academic Integrity

Students are expected to be familiar with Leiden University policies on plagiarism and academic intregity. Plagiarism will not be tolerated. If you submit any work with your name affixed to it, it is assumed to be your own work with all sources used properly indicated and documented in the text (with quotations and/or citations).

It is also unacceptable for students to reuse portions of texts they had previously authored and have already received academic credit for, on this or other courses. In such cases, students are welcome to self-cite so as to minimize overlap between prior and new work.