The Israeli–Palestinian conflict is a difficult, complex interface in which new postures, new possibilities, and new dangers are constantly emerging, so that reiterations of old formulae are at best unhelpful. A biblical interpreter can make only a very modest contribution to that ongoing urgent conversation. In what follows I will seek to sort out some of the extrapolations that are made from the Bible. It is clear that the Bible, as the rabbis have always understood, is filled with playful ambiguity and supple plural possibilities. Where that ambiguity and suppleness of the Bible is flattened into an ideological certitude that yields specific benefit, we likely have a misreading of the Bible.
Sasley, Brent E., and Harold M. Waller. Politics in Israel: Governing a Complex Society. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016.
This is the first textbook on Israel to utilize a historical-sociological approach, telling the story of Israeli politics rather than simply presenting a series of dry facts and figures. The book emphasizes six specific dimensions of the conduct of Israeli politics: the weight of historical processes, the struggle between different groups over how to define the country’s identity, changing understandings of Zionism, a changing political culture, the influence of the external threat environment, and the inclusive nature of the democratic process. These themes offer students a framework to use for understanding contemporary political events within the country. Politics in Israel also includes several chapters on topics not previously addressed in competing texts, including historical conditions that led to the emergence of Zionism in Israel, the politics of the Arab minority, and interest groups and political protest.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Israel in Historical and Comparative Perspective
Israel in a Comparative Framework
Major Themes of the Book
A Note on Terminology
PART I: HISTORICAL PROCESSES Chronology of Key Events Chapter 2: Zionism and the Origins of Israel
Jewish History before Zionism
The Jewish Predicament in the 19th Century
The Founding of the Zionist Movement
Implications of Zionism
Herzl’s Path to Zionism
Organizing the Zionist Movement
The Palestine Mandate
Chapter 3: Yishuv Politics during theMandate Period
Constructing a Jewish Society
Development of a Party System
Conflict between Arabs and Jews in Mandatory Palestine
Deteriorating Zionist-British Relations
The End of the Mandate
The Mandate Period in Perspective
Chapter 4: State Building After 1948 Mamlachtiut
The Political Arena
Personal Status Issues
Other State-Building Efforts
PART II: ISRAELI SOCIETY
Chapter 5: Political Culture and Demography
The Pre-State Period
Foundational Values of the State
Changes since 1967
From Collectivism to Individualism
Political Culture in the Arab Community
Chapter 6: Religion and Politics
Religion and the Idea of a Jewish State
Setting the Parameters of the Religion-State Relationship
Growing Involvement in Politics
Issues in Religion-State Relations after 2000
Religious Parties and Coalition Politics
Chapter 7: The Politics of the Arab Minority
What’s in a Name?
Changing Politics of the Community
Jewish Attitudes toward the Arab Minority
Arab Leaders and the Arab Public
Sayed Kashua as Barometer?
PART III: THE POLITICAL PROCESS
Chapter 8: The Electoral System
The Development of an Electoral System
Parties and Lists
Chapter 9: Political Parties and the Party System
Center or “Third” Parties
Ethnic or Special Issues Parties
Chapter 10: Voting Patterns
Four Main Issues
Chapter 11: Interest Groups and Political Protest
Changing Access in the Israeli Political System
Chapter 12: The Knesset
Structure of the Knesset
Functions and Powers of the Knesset
Relationship to the Government
Chapter 13: The Government
The Government at the Center of the System
Powers of the Government
Forming a Government
Maintaining and Running a Government
Relations with the Knesset
The President of the State
Chapter 14: The Judiciary and the Development of Constitutional Law
The Judicial System
Structure of the Court System
The Religious Court System
The Attorney General
Basic Laws: A Constitution in the Making?
Interpreting the Constitution
PART V: POLITICS AND POLICYMAKING
Chapter 15: Political Economy
Ideas about Economic Development in the Yishuv
A State(ist) Economy
Likud and the Free Market
Chapter 16: The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Three Levels of Threat Perception
Israel’s Threat Environment
Hawks and Doves in the Political System
The Defense Establishment
PART VI: THE TRANSFORMATiON OF ISRAELI POLITICS Chapter 17: The Changing Political Arena
A More Complex Society
An Economic Transformation
Transformation of the Security Situation
The Israeli-Palestinian Relationship
Dampening of Ideology
Political Culture and the Party System
The Passing of a Heroic Generation
A More Consequential Arab Sector
The Transformation of the Judiciary
Change versus Continuity
Chapter 18: Confronting the Meaning of a Jewish State
The Political Question: What is Jewish and Democratic?
The Social Question: Who Belongs?
The Academic Question: Whose Historiography?
BRENT E. SASLEY is Associate Professor of Political Science at The University of Texas at Arlington. HAROLD M. WALLER is Professor of Political Science at McGill University.
This is an ethnography of Jewish settlers in Israel/Palestine. Studies of religiously motivated settlers in the occupied territories indicate the intricate ties between settlement practices and a Jewish theology about the advent of redemption. This messianic theology binds future redemption with the maintenance of a physical union between Jews and the “Land of Israel.” However, among settlers themselves, the dominance of this messianic theology has been undermined by postmodernity and most notably by a series of Israeli territorial withdrawals that have contradicted the promise of redemption. These days, the religiously motivated settler population is divided among theological and ideological lines that pertain, among others issues, to the meaning of redemption and its relation to the state of Israel. This dissertation begins with an investigation of the impact of the 2005 Israeli unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip upon settlers and proceeds to compare three groups of religiously motivated settlers in the West Bank: an elite Religious Zionist settlement, settlers who engage in peacemaking activities with Palestinians, and settlers who act violently against Palestinians. Through a comparison of these different groups, this dissertation demonstrates that while messianism remains a central force in the realities of Jewish settlements and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it exists these days in more diversified forms than before. In addition, this ethnography illustrates how religion both underlies and undermines differences between Israelis and Palestinians and argues that local communities and religious leaders should be included in peace processes. Finally, by examining how messianic conceptions of time among different groups of Jewish settlers connect to their settlement practices, this study reveals the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to be as much about time as it is about space. Accordingly, this dissertation has broader implications for understanding the contemporary role of religion and time within the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the political struggles of the Middle East.
This article explores the role of sacred places and pilgrimage centers in the context of contemporary geopolitical strife and border disputes. Following and expanding on the growing body of literature engaged with the contested nature of the sacred, this article argues that sacred sites are becoming more influential in processes of determining physical borders. We scrutinize this phenomenon through the prism of a small parcel of land on the two sides of the Separation Wall that is being constructed between Israel and Palestine. Our analysis focuses on two holy shrines that are dedicated to devotional mothers: the traditional Tomb of Rachel the Matriarch on the way to Bethlehem and Our Lady of the Wall, an emergent Christian site constructed as a reaction to the Wall. We examine the architectural (and material) phenomenology, the experience, and the implications that characterize these two adjacent spatialities, showing how these sites are being used as political tools by various actors to challenge the political, social, and geographical order.
This article explores the connections between rituals, embodiment, and territorial claims by taking stock of Christian Orthodox rites at the Tomb of Mary in Jerusalem. As part of a comprehensive ethnography of this shrine, I have examined a wide array of body-based female practices that revolve around Mary’s tomb. By rejuvenating embodied practices that are associated with fertility, parturition and maternity, devotees enlist the grotto’s womb-like interior as a platform for kissing, touching, crawling, bending, and other physical acts of devotion that make for a powerful body-based experience. As demonstrated herein, the mimetic journey of a fetus/pilgrim through this womb-tomb expanse elicits a sense of rebirth, which is analogous to reclaiming the land and establishing a “motherly” alternative to the masculine and bellicose disposition in Israel/Palestine.
This article studies the influence of religion on political attitudes in Israel by testing two propositions: “religion-friendly” democratization and “greedy” socialization. The former implies that accommodation of religious demands stimulates democratization, the latter argues that domineering religious socialization does not motivate democratic attitudes. Analysis of data from representative surveys conducted in 2006–2013, supports “greedy” socialization over the “religion friendly” hypothesis. I show that in most instances, socialization in religion-friendly environments does not moderate the political attitudes of religiously conservative groups. The results suggest that unbounded accommodation of religious needs in non-religious institutions may strengthen undemocratic political attitudes.
This article expands on anthropological understandings of affect and emotion to include certain theological and religious concepts that structure and give meaning to the daily lives of religious nationalists in areas of ethnic and political conflict. In doing so, it will ethnographically explore the relationship between theological notions of sanctity and the way those notions manifest themselves in the context of contemporary Jewish religious Zionism in both Israel and the Occupied West Bank. I will argue that analyzing mystical conceptions of sanctity as a distinct affect opens new areas of human experience, which anthropologists may use to better grapple with the dilemmas posed by nationalism and religious extremism in an increasingly politically fraught world.
How do states decide to extend or withhold international recognition in cases of contested sovereignty? We focus on how religion shapes the incentives of states in making this decision, both at the domestic level through religious institutions and at the international level through religious affinities. States with transnational religious ties to the contested territory are more likely to extend recognition. At the domestic level, states that heavily regulate religion are less likely to extend international recognition. We test these conjectures, and examine others in the literature, with two new data sets on the international recognition of both Palestine and Israel and voting on the United Nations resolution to admit Palestine as a non-member state observer, combined with global data on religious regulation and religious affinities. In cases of contested sovereignty, the results provide support for these two mechanisms through which religion shapes foreign policy decisions about international recognition.
Pilgrimage routes from West Africa provided channels for cultural and spiritual exchange between West African and Middle Eastern Muslims, and facilitated religious exchanges. Some of these exchanges were orthodox in nature; others, such as Sufi beliefs and practices, were more popular in their appeal. This article examines the ways that Tijāniyya tāriqa leaders and disciples spread their beliefs and practices along the hajj routes during the colonial period. Since this period saw the transformation of boundaries and borders, the hajj could be perceived more as a “state affair,” as its routes moved within the boundaries of the new empires or fluctuated between the new colonial empires. The article focuses on the Tijāniyya tāriqa, mainly because this tāriqa was relatively new (established around the beginning of the nineteenth century) and as such serves as a good case study for the spread of tāriqa affiliations through the hajj routes from West Africa during the colonial period. This article also examines the role of the hajj for Tijāni West African Muslims who settled in Jerusalem in the same period.
Historians have debated whether or not the First World War in Palestine and the battle between the British-led Egyptian Expeditionary Force and the Ottoman army was considered by contemporaries as a modern, twentieth-century crusade. But did British soldiers who fought in the First World War in Palestine actually view the war as a religious crusade against the Muslim Ottoman Empire? Or did they consider it a war of liberation, conducted to free Palestine’s oppressed population from the clutches of Ottoman misrule? This article argues that British soldiers, at least retrospectively, believed that they had fought in Palestine to liberate its population and to bring forth the righteous rule of the British Empire. Wartime propaganda that painted the Turk as an enemy of civilization had a far greater effect on shaping the memory of the campaign than did any language of religious conflict. With British rule, argued ex-servicemen, came all the benefits of liberal imperialism: democracy, religious freedom, and a free-market economy.
The conference is free and open to the public, but registration is required. Please email ISCP@yu.eduwith your name, affiliation, and contact information.
Constitutional Conflicts and the Judicial Role in Comparative Perspective
This conference will explore the Israeli Supreme Court’s jurisprudence on complex and challenging questions facing open and multi-cultural societies everywhere. Because these issues are salient in, but by no means peculiar to, Israel, a comparative perspective will enrich our understanding of how such issues are, and might be, dealt with in other democratic societies.
Panels will address the general question of the value and challenges of comparative legal study, differing conceptions of the role of the judiciary and doctrines of justiciability, and substantive areas of current controversy, including the role of the courts in overseeing national security and intelligence gathering; immigration, asylum, and treatment and status of refugees; and religion in the modern nation-state.
The Israeli Supreme Court Project at Cardozo
This conference marks the launch of the Israeli Supreme Court Project at Cardozo Law (ISCP). Intended to both inform and engage constitutional scholars, lawyers, and judges in democracies around the world, the ISCP is a center of study and discussion of the decisions of the Israeli Supreme Court, one of the great judicial bodies of the world and a court at the forefront of dealing with issues at the core of what it means to be a democratic society.
The central undertaking of the ISCP is the translation into English and dissemination of key opinions of the Israeli Supreme Court. In this, the Project is continuing, and will expand on, two decades of work and over 200 translations by the Friends of the Library of the Supreme Court of Israel. Translated opinions, other relevant material about the Court, and more information about the ISCP can all be found on the Project’s website, VERSA, at versa.cardozo.yu.edu.
This conference, as well as the other work of the ISCP, are made possible by essential support from the David Berg Foundation, which is gratefully acknowledged.
2:30-3 p.m. Registration and Coffee3-3:15 p.m. Welcoming Remarks
This panel will consider the value and challenges of comparative legal study. Why should scholars and judges in one country care what their counterparts elsewhere are up to? Is it ever possible for outsiders to understand the details, cultural meanings, and historical underpinnings of a foreign legal system? What are the settings, issues, or circumstances that make for a successful comparative work?
8:30-9 a.m. Registration and Coffee 9-10:30 a.m. The Role of the Judiciary in Comparative Perspective
The Israeli Supreme Court hears over 10,000 cases a year, has a large mandatory docket, for many of its most important cases is the court of first instance rather than a court of appeal, and has only limited threshold “justiciability” doctrines (such as standing requirements or the bar on political questions). In these features it is utterly different from its U.S. counterpart. This panel will consider such structural characteristics, then turn to their broader implications regarding the role of the judiciary in governance and in society, including the question of whether a Supreme Court leads or follows civil society, whether it is an educational institution, and the sources of its legitimacy.
10:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m. Judicial Oversight of National Security and Intelligence Gathering
Effective national security and intelligence gathering are generally understood to depend on secrecy, dispatch, and subterfuge. These characteristics would seem to leave little room for judicial oversight, which assumes transparency, forthrightness, and deliberate pacing. On the other hand, there is a very real danger of abuse without some sort of oversight and legal restraint. This panel will consider how national security issues differ (if at all) from other issues that come before the courts and what exactly the judicial role should be in overseeing national security agencies.
12:30-1:30 p.m. Lunch (Lunch will be provided for all attendees.)
1:30-3 p.m. Immigration, Asylum, and the Treatment and Status of Refugees
Of the Israeli Supreme Court’s recent decisions, one of the most important, divided, and divisive have concerned the detention of asylum seekers. Issues surrounding immigration and citizenship are hugely important, and hugely contested, in Israel and elsewhere. This panel will examine the ISC’s decisions in this area and consider what lessons can be drawn, positive or negative, for Israel and for the rest of the world.
3:15-4:45 p.m. Religion in the Modern Nation-State
Israel’s Basic Laws designate it as “both Jewish and democratic.” The Supreme Court, and many commentators, have struggled to reconcile these two fundamental commitments. Is it possible to construct a constitutional identity that privileges Jewish culture, history, and religion while remaining essentially democratic? The answer to that question has ramifications for religious liberties in many settings as well as minority rights in general.
This article has argued that Main Street American liberals and conservatives differ substantially in their feelings and foreign policy preferences toward the Middle East. Conservatives feel warmer toward Israel but cooler toward Iran, the Palestinians, and Muslims than liberals do. Conservatives, furthermore, desire a friendlier foreign policy toward Israel than liberals do.
It has further argued that these differences have their origins in many of the same ideological fissures that cleave domestic American politics. The same culture wars that divide Americans on abortion and gay marriage also divide Americans on Israel and the Palestinians. For instance, our 2011 survey revealed that biblical literalism is a powerful predictor of both opposition to abortion (β= .62), and warmth toward Israel (β= .36). Similarly, the racial politics that has divided Americans from the civil rights movement of the 1960s to the voting rights battles of today also divides social liberals and conservatives in their feelings toward the Palestinian people. Conservatives tend to view Palestinians and other Muslims as threats to both Christianity and established authorities, while liberals have a greater tendency to view their plight in the West Bank and Gaza as analogous to segregation or even apartheid, triggering liberal moralities of compassion and social justice.
Many Republican politicians today appear to be representing the extreme pro-Israel views of their core constituents—very conservative primary voters. It is Democratic elites that may be more disconnected from their core constituents, adopting more pro-Israel and anti-Arab positions than their liberal primary voters, who our survey reveals are ambivalent toward Israel and sympathetic toward the Palestinians and Muslims.
By demonstrating that American opinion on the Middle East is divided along ideological lines, I hope that this article has shown that the dominance of the right wing of the Israel lobby today does not represent the subversion of the democratic process by a Jewish elite; it is instead the natural product of an American electoral system that increasingly represents and responds to the extreme ends of Main Street American opinion.
Sturm, Tristan and Seth Frantzman. “Religious Geopolitics of Palestinian Christianity: Palestinian Christian Zionists, Palestinian Liberation Theologists, and American Missions to Palestine.” Middle Eastern Studies 51.3 (2015): 433-51.
The introduction of Protestantism into the Middle East by American missionaries in the nineteenth century met with limited success while the responses and internalizations of local converts proved incredibly diverse. The two resultant theological descendants are Palestinian Christian Zionists and Palestinian Liberation Theologists. The article provides a short history of these two movements and highlights influential voices through interviews and media analysis. This article argues that hybrid religious identifications with nation and place has transcended, in some cases, political struggle for territory.
The functioning of the media as a public watchdog and as a neutral forum for society’s different perspectives is a model that is seen as vital in modern democracies. However, in societies with major social rifts these functions may conflict with one another and alter the media’s role. This work contributes to the theoretical discussion of the role of the media, through a study of the media in religious–secular conflict in Turkey and Israel. In recent years, religious parties’ electoral gains have challenged secular communities’ hold on the countries’ decision-making institutions. With the increase in religious–secular political tensions, the media on both sides have taken a central role, highlighting perceived dangers presented by the other side. As the media come to function as the vanguard of the opposing sides, the impact is twofold: loss of an important public watchdog and a deepening of societal rifts.
Gershom Scholem, the pioneering historian of Jewish mysticism, was fascinated throughout his career by the mystical sources of nihilism in the Jewish tradition, sources which ultimately produced the antinomian Sabbatian movement of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. But in his own political philosophy, he eschewed nihilism for a more moderate religious anarchism, identifying the right-wing Revisionists with the Sabbatians. The relationship between Scholem’s history of the Kabbalah, his anarchistic religious philosophy and his political activism can be traced in his published writings as well as his letters and other private writings.
Because religion has been a constant source of social divisions and political conflicts, the role of Judaism in Israel is very often studied through the prism of a rigid religious–secular cleavage.Without denying the contentious character of religion in the political and social arenas, I suggest in this study that a closer look at the usages of religion in Israeli politics offers a more nuanced picture of the role of Judaism in Israel. In order to uphold this thesis, I identify the main usages of Judaism in the Israeli Parliament (the Knesset) and scrutinise the extent to which these different mobilisations overlap or crosscut the secular–religious cleavage. This analysis leads to a typology of three usages of religion: religion as a source of authority, religion as a marker of identity and nation, and religion as a source of values. On this basis, I demonstrate that the role of religion in Israel and especially in the Israeli Parliament cannot be reduced to the divide between religious and secular groups. If in its first usage, the religious–secular cleavage indeed predominates, the use of religion as an identity marker does not necessarily lead to a conflict with secular members, while in its final form, religion is mobilised as a resource by members of both groups.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of the most prominent issues in world politics today. Few other issues have dominated the world’s headlines and have attracted such attention from policy makers, the academic community, political analysts, and the world’s media.
The Routledge Handbook on the Israeli- Palestinian Conflict offers a comprehensive and accessible overview of the most contentious and protracted political issue in the Middle East. Bringing together a range of top experts from Israel, Palestine, Europe and North America the Handbook tackles a range of topics including:
The historical background to the conflict
critical issues such as displacement, Jerusalem and settler movements
the role of outside players such as the Arab states, the US and the EU
This Handbook provides the reader with an understanding of the complexity of the issues that need to be addressed in order to resolve the conflict, and a detailed examination of the varied interests of the actors involved. In-depth analysis of the conflict is supplemented by a chronology of the conflict, key documents and a range of maps.
The contributors are all leading authorities in their field and have published extensively on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict/peace process. Many have played a leading role in various Track II initiatives accompanying the peace process.
Table of Contents
Part 1: Competing Nationalisms
1. The Origins of Zionism Colin Schindler
2. The Palestinian National Movement: from self-rule to statehood Ahmad Samih Khalidi
Part 2:Narratives and Key Moments
3. Competing Israeli and Palestinan Narratives Paul Scham
4. The 1948 War: The Battle over History Kirsten E. Schulze
5. The First and Second Palestinian Intifadas Rami Nasrallah
6. The Camp David Summit: a Tale of Two Narratives Joel Peters
Part 3: Seeking Peace
7.The Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process: 1967-1993 Laura Zittrain Eisenberg
8. Peace Plans: 1993-2012 Galia Golan
Part 4: Issues
9.Palestinian Refugees Rex Brynen
10. Jerusalem Michael Dumper
11. Territory and Borders David Newman
12. Water Julie Trottier
13. Terrorism Magnus Norell
14. Religion Yehezkel Landau
15. Economics Arie Arnon
16. Unilaterlaism and Separation Gerald M. Steinberg
LeVine, Mark and Mathias Mossberg, eds. One Land, Two States. Israel and Palestine as Parallel States. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2014.
One Land, Two States imagines a new vision for Israel and Palestine in a situation where the peace process has failed to deliver an end of conflict. “If the land cannot be shared by geographical division, and if a one-state solution remains unacceptable,” the book asks, “can the land be shared in some other way?”
Leading Palestinian and Israeli experts along with international diplomats and scholars answer this timely question by examining a scenario with two parallel state structures, both covering the whole territory between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River, allowing for shared rather than competing claims of sovereignty. Such a political architecture would radically transform the nature and stakes of the Israel-Palestine conflict, open up for Israelis to remain in the West Bank and maintain their security position, enable Palestinians to settle in all of historic Palestine, and transform Jerusalem into a capital for both of full equality and independence—all without disturbing the demographic balance of each state. Exploring themes of security, resistance, diaspora, globalism, and religion, as well as forms of political and economic power that are not dependent on claims of exclusive territorial sovereignty, this pioneering book offers new ideas for the resolution of conflicts worldwide.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations Foreword: Two States on One Land—Parallel States as an Option for Israel and Palestine Álvaro de Soto
Preface Mathias Mossberg and Mark LeVine
1. One Land—Two States? An Introduction to the Parallel States Concept Mathias Mossberg
2. Can Sovereignty Be Divided? Jens Bartelson
3. Parallel Sovereignty: Dividing and Sharing Core State Functions Peter Wallensteen
4. Security Strategy for the Parallel States Project: An Israeli Perspective Nimrod Hurvitz and Dror Zeevi
5. Palestinian National Security Hussein Agha and Ahmad Samih Khalidi
6. An Israel-Palestine Parallel States Economy by 235 Raja Khalidi
7. Economic Considerations in Implementing a Parallel States Structure Raphael Bar-El
8. Parallel Sovereignty in Practice: Judicial Dimensions of a Parallel States Structure Various authors, compiled by Mathias Mossberg
9. Religion in the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict: From Obstacle to Peace to Force for Reconciliation? Mark LeVine and Liam O’Mara IV
10. The Necessity for Thinking outside the Box Hiba Husseini
11. Parallel Lives, Parallel States: Imagining a Different Future Eyal Megged