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Topics in Israel Studies: State Building - From Settlement to Regional Integration (1882 - Present)


Admission requirements

This class is intended for students of the BA 1 Midden-Oostenstudies, tracks Hebreeuwse taal en cultuur and Moderne Midden-Oostenstudies, and premaster students Middle Eastern Studies


This course will introduce students to the history of the Yishuv, Israel, and Palestine. It aims to give both a general overview of the history of Israeli state building, from the first settlements in Palestine to contemporary regional integration, as well as highlight the different conflicts that have – and continue to – underline these developments. In doing so, the course hopes to move beyond the general categories that usually dominate coverage of Israel/Palestine. Instead, it discusses the last century and a half through the prism of social, political, and economic developments and attempt to make sense of a number of key conflicts that have shaped this period. These include the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians as well as those between Mizrahi and Ashkenazi populations, between labour and capital, as well as between conflicting branches of the Zionist movement. In addition, the course will connect these internal dynamics to regional and international processes of conflict and cooperation.

Course objectives

  • Familiarise oneself with the history of the Yishuv, Israel, and Palestine.

  • Understand the interaction between state formation, political conflict and economic development.

  • Identify the connections between settlement and state formation.

  • Understand the ways in which Israeli state formation and Palestinian dispossession interact.

  • Examine the relationships between different populations, as well as with capital, and the state.

  • Analyse the changes in the political and economic life, conflicts, and development in the Yishuv, Israel, and Palestine, throughout the last century and a half.

  • Articulate how these changes in Israel’s political and economic order, as well as its regional position, have and continue to impact the lives of different segments of the Jewish, Palestinian, and migrant populations.

  • Critically identify and assess questions relevant to state formation and economic development in the Yishuv, Israel, and Palestine.

  • Identify the changing role of Israel in the region over time, and its impact on the different populations over which it rules.

  • Understand competing perspectives on the issues under review.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction


Assessment method

Assessment and weighing

The course will be assessed through class participation, presentation, and a final essay.

Assessment Weighing
Engagement 10%
Presentation 30%
Final exam 60%

Engagement: Students are expected to attend and participate in in-class discussions. Since this is a seminar, thoughtful engagement is central to the course’s success. Students are therefore required to complete all readings in advance as well as attend all seminars. Marks are not awarded for filling a chair.

Students are also expected to submit a weekly question/reflection on the Discussion Board on Brightspace. This should be posted, at the latest, the night before the seminar.

Presentation: Starting in week 6, students will deliver group presentations during the seminar on the topic of the week. Signing up to these presentations will be discussed in week 1 of the course. Students will develop an argument based on the readings from the week, and present a case study/example as evidence for their argument. The presentation is not an opportunity to summarise the readings. Everyone is expected to have read these. Students will email an abstract of the presentation to the lecturer at least two full days prior to the class. Presentations should be no more than 15 minutes in length, to leave ample time for discussion afterward. Students will be graded on presentation delivery, content, originality, depth of analysis, clarity of argument, ability to hold attention and stimulate discussion.

Take Home Exam: Students will have a take home exam at the end of the term. The exam will be posted on Brightspace and will need to be returned on Brightspace, within 72 hours. It will be made up of a number of questions, covering the material studied in the course. Students will choose 2 questions, which they will answer in 800 words each. The course readings will suffice to complete the answers. No further research will be necessary. Students will need to reference their answers and present a complete bibliography. Late submissions will suffer a penalty each day, and will not be accepted more than 4 days after the due date, including weekends.

Students must complete the assignment on time. No exam will be accepted more than 4 days after the due date. In order to pass the course, students must obtain an overall mark of 6) or higher. Late submissions will be penalised by a deduction of the grade assigned to the paper, as follows: 1-24 hours late = – 0.5; 24-48 hours late = - 1.0; 48-72 hours late = - 1.5; 72-96 hours late = -2.0.
The course is an integrated whole. The final examination and the assignments must be completed.


A resit exam may only be taken if the overall mark for the course is “5.49” or lower, and if the final exam was submitted on time.

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.

Reading list

Required Readings:
Articles and book chapters can be found in the library, on the online library catalogue, or on the course Brightspace page. All students must arrive in class having thoughtfully read through the required readings. . If students wish to engage with relevant material in advance, the following books offer useful introductions to different approaches to the subject material:

  • Bichler, Shimshon & Nitzan, Jonathan (2002). The Global Political Economy of Israel. London: Pluto Press.

  • Khalidi, Rashid (2020), The Hundred Years' War on Palestine: A History of Settler Colonialism and Resistance, 1917–2017. London: Profile Books.

  • Rivlin, Paul (2011). The Israeli Economy from the Foundation of the State Through the 21st Century. New York: Cambridge University Press.


Enrolment through MyStudyMap is mandatory.
General information about course and exam enrolment is available on the website.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the information bar on the right.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office Vrieshof


Please note that the additional course information is an integral part of this course description.