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Syllabus – COSF 188

COSF 188 

Spring, 2010
Tuesdays / Thursdays 5:00 – 6:20
Peterson Hall Room 104

Gary Fields

Office Hours:  Wednesday 3:00 – 4:00 or by appt.

Course Description

The conflict between the state of Israel and the group of people inside and outside of Israel known as Palestinians is arguably the most intractable conflict in the world today.  At the core of this conflict lie contrasting visions about the nature and identity of territory in the region, and who rightfully belongs to the land.  Such differences about territorial belonging have created divergent narratives about the causes of the conflict, and vigorous debates regarding its perpetrators and victims.  At issue in these debates are different interpretations of both present and past, and different understandings of responsibility for the conflict.  This course is a critical engagement with these debates, and the divergent ways that these debates are represented.  In addition, this course seeks to provide students with a rigorous immersion into the nature of argument and issues of “objectivity” and “point of view.”   It is intended to give voice to a broad range of perspectives on this conflict, many of which are too often silenced, while challenging students to understand the structure of the arguments at the core of one of the most impassioned issues of modern times.

Course Format

This format for the course will be an interactive lecture.  What this means is that the instructor will be lecturing, but students should be prepared for questions from the lectern.  Sessions will begin with a 5-10 minute “news of the day” segment in which students will be invited to share topical events relating to the course material.  Questions about previous sessions will follow, to be followed, in turn, by the topic scheduled for that particular day.  Occasionally, the class will view a film or video collectively.  Due to the politically-charged nature of the material in the course, it is mandatory that participants in the class engage with the class material, with the instructor, and with each other in a non-aggressive and respectful manner.  Those who are unable to comply with this requirement, or those who have come to the class in order to promote a political agenda related to the conflict, should consider options other than this course.

Course Requirements

 Participants are expected to attend all sessions and to complete the readings prior to each scheduled session. There will be three written assignments, one a midterm of 5 pages, the second, a final paper of 9-10 pages, and the third a 1-page reflection on a reading or readings for a particular class session that students will be post for the class prior to the class meeting.  This third assignment will not be given a grade but is mandatory.  Evaluation will be based on a combination of the written assignments (80%), the reflection paper (10%), and class participation (10%).  The class participation element, however, can only help your grade. If for whatever reason, students are reluctant to participate in a large class format, their grade will be taken from the written assignments.
The sessions for the course will be organized as follows:

* Please note that this syllabus is subject to change.


Week 1                Introduction and Background

3/30       Course Overview
4/1         Prelude to Conflict
Tessler, Mark (2009).  A History of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.  Bloomington:  Indiana University Press [1-5].                                                                                                                                      
Smith, Charles (2007).   Palestine and the Arab Israeli Conflict. Boston:  Bedford/St. Martins [pp. 38-40].                                                                                                                                        
Shlaim, Avi (2002).  The Iron Wall:  Israel and the Arab World.   New York:  W.W. Norton [1-16]
Gush Shalom (2005).  Truth Against Truth:  A Completely Different Look at the Israel / Palestinian Conflict

Week 2                Zionists and Palestinians:  Representations and Encounters  

4/6         Assimilation or Coveting Zion:  Jewish Aspirations in the 19th Century
Guest Speaker:  Professor Deborah Hertz
Zerubavel, Yael (1995).  Recovered Roots:  Collective Memory and the Making of Israeli National Tradition.  Chicago:  University of Chicago Press [13-22].
Herzl Theodor (1896).  The Jewish State and The Basel Program (1897); [Read Excerpts from Charles Smith 54-57]
               4/8         Palestine and the Palestinians
Said, Edward (1978).  The Question of Palestine.  New York:  Random House [ix-xvii, 3-15].
Smith, Charles (2007).   Palestine and the Arab Israeli Conflict. Boston:  Bedford/St. Martins [pp. 40-47].
Khalidi, Rashid (1995).  Palestinian Identity:  The Construction of Modern National Consciousness.  New York:  Columbia University Press [9-21].


Week 3                Settlement to Statehood:  Escaping Anti-Semitism or Colonialism?              
               4/13       Jewish Settlement of Palestine:  A New Form of Colonialism?
                              Guest Speaker:  Professor Gershon Shafir           

Shlaim, Avi (2002).  The Iron Wall:  Israel and the Arab World.  New York:  W.W. Norton [16-27]

Shafir, Gershon (1996).  Zionism and Colonialism:  A Comparative Approach. Israel in Comparative Perspective.  Michael N. Barnett, ed.  New York:  State University of New York Press. [227-242].

4/15       Dissent and Resistance to Early Settlement:  The Prelude to Conflict

Ben-Ami, Shlomo (2005).  Scars of War, Wounds of Peace:  The Israeli-Arab Tragedy.  London:  Weidenfeld & Nicolson [1-21].

Khalidi, Rashid (1995).  Palestinian Identity:  The Construction of Modern National Consciousness.  New York:  Columbia University Press [98-117].   [e-reserves]
Balfour Declaration (1917).  Review drafts and final text of the Balfour Declaration (1917) from Smith, Charles (2007).  Palestine and the Arab Israeli Conflict.  [pp. 102-103].
Jabotinsky, Ze’ev (1923).  The Iron Wall:

Magnes, Judah and Buber, Martin (1947).  Arab-Jewish Unity.  Westport:  Hyperion Press, Inc. [12-16, 24-28]

Arendt, Hannah (1944).  Zionism Reconsidered.  The Jewish Writings.  Jerome Kohn and Ron H. Feldman, eds.  New York:  Schocken Books, 2007 [pp. 343-345]                                                                                                                               


Week 4                Independence or  Nakba?  1948 and The Palestinian Refugee Problem 

4/20       Reversing Myths:  The Revisionist Interpretation of 1948

Rogin, Eugene L. and Shlaim, Avi (2002).  The War for Palestine:  Rewriting the History of 1948.  Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press [1-11 and maps].

Morris, Benny (2002).  Revisiting the Palestinian Exodus of 1948.  The War for Palestine.  Eugene L. Rogan and Avi Shlaim, eds.  Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press [37-59]


               4/22     The Debate Over 1948 and the Palestinian Refugees
Film:  Kedma (Amos Gitai, Director)
Masalha, Nur (1991).  “A Critique of Benny Morris,” Journal of Palestine Studies Vol. 21 (1): 90-97.
Finkelstein, Norman (2001).  ‘Born of War, Not By Design.’ Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict. London: Verso [51-87].
First Assignment Distributed in Class
Week 5                The Only Democracy in the Middle East?  Citizenship and the Israeli State                                 
        4/29 –               Apartheid State?  The Nature of Citizenship in Israel / Palestine
Film:  To See if I’m Smiling (Tamar Yarom, Director; Miko Peled to Introduce Film in Class)

Forman, Geremy and Kedar, Alexandre (2004).  “From Arab Land to ‘Israeli Lands’:  The Legal Dispossession of Palestinians Displaced by Israel in the Wake of 1948.”  Environment and Planning D.  Volume 22 (6):  809-830.

Yiftachel, Oren (2009).  “Creeping Apartheid in Israel Palestine.”  Middle East Report.  No. 253. Vol. 39 (4): 7-15.

4/29       Citizenship (Cont’d)

Shafir, Gershon and Peled, Yoav (2002).  Being Israeli:  The Dynamics of Multiple Citizenship.  Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press. [110-136].

First Assignment Due


Week 6                Landscape:  Conflict over Occupation and Settlement                        

               5/4         The Six-day War and Jewish Settlement Beyond Israel
Gorenberg, Gershom (2007).  Occupied Territories:  The Untold Story of Israel’s Settlements.  London:  I.B Tauris.        [34-41, 48-53, 99-107]                                                                                                                               
Weizman, Eyal (2007).  Hollow Land:  Israel’s Architecture of Occupation.  London: Verso [87-108, 122-133].
B’tselem (2002).  Land Grab:  Israel’s Policy of Settlement in the West Bank.  [pp. 7-8, 11-19, 37-41, 47-51, 91-116].
               5/6         Settlements, Settlers, and Landscape
Film:  The Settlers (Ruth Walk, Director)
Fields, Gary (2010).  “Landscaping Palestine:  Reflection of Enclosure in an Historical Mirror.” International Journal of Middle East Studies.  Vol. 42 (1): 63-82.
Shehadeh, Raja (2008).  Palestinian Walks:  Forays into a Vanishing Landscape.  New York: Scribner [“Introduction” and  “Walk 2”].  See also the video:
Halper, Jeff (2006).  The 94 Percent Solution:  Israel’s Matrix of Control.  The Struggle for Sovereignty:  Palestine and Israel, 1993-2005.  Joel Beinin and Rebecca L. Stein, eds.  Stanford:  Stanford University Press. [pp. 62-71]
Goldberg, Jeffrey (2004).  “Among the Settlers:  Will They Destroy Israel.”  The New Yorker
Week 7                Terrorism, Conflict, and the Wall
               5/11       Is it Possible to Understand Terrorism?
Film:  Battle of Algiers [viewing to be announced]
Beinin, Joel (2003).  “Is Terrorism a Useful Term in Understanding the Middle East and the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict?”  Radical History Review no. 85 (winter 2003):12-23.
               5/13       The Wall:  Response to Terrorism?
Video:  “The Fence.”  60 Minutes (December 21, 2003).
Carter, Jimmy (2006).   The Wall as a Prison.  Palestine:  Peace Not Apartheid.  New York: Simon and Shuster. [189-216].Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2003).  Saving Lives:  Israel’s Security Fence [view the video and peruse the website]. United Nations (2008).  The Humanitarian Impact of the West Bank Barrier [pp. 4-8, 14-22].

Week  8               Gaza and Goldstone:  Defense Against Terror or War Crimes?

               5/18        Prelude to Conflict in Gaza and the Goldstone Report

Film:  Death in Gaza (James Miller, Director)

Shlaim, Avi (2009).  “How Israel Brought Gaza to the Brink of Humanitarian Catastrophe.”  The Guardian.

United Nations (2009).  Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict [Executive Summary]

5/20        The Differing Representations of the Goldstone Report

Goldstone, Richard (2009).  Interview on Bill Moyers Journal.

Inside Story – The Goldstone Report (October, 9, 2009)

Ros-Lehtinen, Ileana (2009).  Speech on House Floor Against Goldstone Report.

Week 9                One State or Two:  Can the Conflict End?  

               5/25       One Democratic State?

Video:  “Is Peace out of Reach?”  60 Minutes Broadcast January 25, 2009.

Judt, Tony (2003).  “Israel:  The Alternative.” New York Review of Books.  Vol. 50 (16).

Sussman, Gary (2004).  “The Challenge to the Two-State Solution.”  Middle East Report.  No. 231. [pp. 8-15]
Makdisi, Saree (July 8, 2009).  “Netanyahu’s Two-State Goal.”  Huffington Post.
        5/27              Two States for Two People
Ibish, Hussein (2009).  What’s Wrong with the One-State Agenda?  Why Ending the Occupation and Peace with Israel is Still the Palestinian National Goal.  Washington:  American Task Force on Palestine.  [pp. 16-51, 61-72, 76-103].
Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2007).  Guide to the Middle East Peace Process.
Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2007).  Two States for Two People

Week 10             From the Congress to the Campus:  The Conflict At Home      

               6/1         The Controversy over the Israel Lobby
                              Guest Speaker:  Robert Filner (D-CA), U.S. House of Representatives District 51
Mersheimer, John and Walt, Stephen (2006). “The Israel Lobby.”  London Review of Books.
Massing, Michael (2006). “The Storm over the Israel Lobby.”  New York Review of Books.
               6/3         The Conflict Comes to the Campus
Schrecker, Ellen (2005).  “McCarthyism in the Academy.”  Thought and Action.

Kramer, Jane (April 14, 2008).  “The Petititon.”  The New Yorker.
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