JHI1510: Cultural History of Modern Israel
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Course syllabus / YU only
►This course offers a history of the State of Israel. Not the history, but a history. Although a young country, Israel has been the focus of such intense scrutiny that it is an impossible task to cover all possible angles of investigation in one semester. As a country that has been the subject of an outsized amount of debate and argument, it is similarly impossible to give a “definitive” history of Israel. ►In this course we will approach understanding Israel by trying to understand the deep roots of the idea of the Jewish state through the acts, thoughts, and cultural production of the Zionists who first embraced the idea of a return to the historical homeland of the Jewish people as a modern national group. We then trace these ideas as they evolve, rapidly, into the foundational principles of Israel, and then into the basics of modern Israeli identity. Therefore, much of the focus in this class will be in the foundation of Zionism and the early state in depth, with a heavy focus on both the emergence and development of the Zionist movement. ►This course is unconventional in some ways. First of all, it is not a study of the Israeli-Arab conflict. Although, as an ever-present element of Israeli life since before the state, it is impossible to ignore, however in this course we will be focused primarily internally, on the history of Zionism and Israel as our focus. Likewise, this course is not a history of Israeli politics or military conflict, even though much historiography of the state is oriented around Israel’s political policies and the central wars of its short history: 1948, 1967, 1973, and so on. At the same time, towards the end of the semester, so much of the internal dynamics of Israeli life revolved around these international conflicts that they will provide useful signposts around which to organize our thinking.
Olson, Jess. (2020, Fall). JHI1510: Cultural History of Modern Israel, Yeshiva College.