This course is designed as a seminar which will examine the Arab-Israel conflict from
the beginning of Zionist settlement in 1882 until the establishment of Israel
and the concurrent Palestinian
in 1948. However, the
main focus of the course will be on the Middle East in the 1920s and ‘30s
and, within that, on a 4 week simulation of a set of Jewish-Arab negotiations
The course is intended for students with no academic background
in the conflict, as well as those who have taken ISRL289i on “Fundamental
Problems of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, or a similar course.
much of what you may have learned elsewhere will be applicable here, the
focus of this course is different.
No prior knowledge of the conflict is
This is a history course, not one on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as such. However, the
larger purpose is to shed light on some of the dynamics that have prevented
settlement in the past and are still doing so.
Thus, questions, analogies,
discussions, etc,. that bring in current issues are very welcome.
It is certainly
my hope and intention that you will understand the conflict as a whole much
better once you have taken this seminar.
The course will briefly cover the history of Palestine before 1882, Ottoman rule up to
1918, the growth of Zionist settlement, the development and nature of
Zionism and of Palestinian and Arab nationalism, and the establishment of
the British Mandate. We will then spend a week looking at the neighboring
countries, in order to understand how the conflict in Palestine was influenced
Then we will examine the growth of Arab-Jewish-British suspicion
and hostility, which broke into violence several times before the Palestinian
Revolt of 1936-39.
We will also study briefly some events in Europe that had
great influence on Palestine in the 1930s, such as the growth of fascism and
antisemitism in Europe and the rise of Hitler and Nazism in Germany.
last few weeks of the course will carry the story up to 1948.
However, the highlight of the semester will be a 4-week “simulation” of Arab-Jewish
negotiations based on the Peel Partition Plan of 1936-37.
Each student will
be assigned the role of a real character from the time and will be expected to
become an expert on him (sorry, I’m afraid there were no women who were
part of this in 1936).
“Jews”, “Arabs,” and “British officials” will meet among
themselves and with each other, based on the actual events (with some
slight adjustments) that took place.
During the simulation, students will be
faced with the situation as it appeared to the leaders in the 1930’s, and will
have to make decisions on that basis. They will be able and encouraged to