Essential Israel

Essential Israel

Essays for the 21st Century
Edited by S Ilan Troen and Rachel Fish
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 02/27/2017
Format: Paperback 4 b&w illus., 5 maps, 2 tables
ISBN: 978-0-253-02711-5
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Most Americans are ill-prepared to engage thoughtfully in the increasingly serious debate about Israel, its place in the Middle East, and its relations with the United States. Essential Israel examines a wide variety of complex issues and current concerns in historical and contemporary contexts to provide readers with an intimate sense of the dynamic society and culture that is Israel today. The expert contributors to this volume address the Arab-Israeli conflict, the state of diplomatic efforts to bring about peace, Zionism and the impact of the Holocaust, the status of the Jewish state and Israeli democracy, foreign relations, immigration and Israeli identity, as well as literature, film, and the other arts. This unique and innovative volume provides solid grounding to understandings of Israel's history, politics, culture, and possibilities for the future.

Author Bio

Rachel Fish is Associate Director of the Schusterman Center.

S. Ilan Troen is the Karl, Harry, and Helen Stoll Chair in Israel Studies and founding Director of the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies at Brandeis University. He is founding editor of Israel Studies. His publications include Imagining Zion: Dreams, Designs and Realities in a Century of Jewish Settlement and (with Jacob Lassner) Jews and Muslims in the Arab World: Haunted by Pasts Real and Imagined.


“The editors of the book aim to increase literacy on Israel among the reading public and in academia, especially in the United States and all English-speaking countries. They have quite successfully accomplished this goal. This book, with its in-depth analysis and erudition, can be used as an excellent tool in Middle Eastern politics classes while also serving as an intellectual resource for experts who want to learn more about the complexities of Israel.”
 — Reading Religion

“This clearly is a needed read for any and all audiences interested in understanding today’s Israel.”
 — Association of Jewish Libraries Reviews

 — Choice

Essential Israel is an essential antidote to the underlying problem in how Americans, including Jewish Americans, understand Israel. Despite the confidence that many have in their views of Israel, they have limited knowledge. The essays in this volume educate and make possible reasoned discourse about Israel and its role in the world. This volume deserves to be widely read”
 — Professor Leonard Sax, Director of the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies and the Steinhardt Social Research Institute

“In an era when vitriol has replaced reasoned discourse in discussions of Israel, this volume – thoughtful, balanced and comprehensive – is cause for celebration. The wide array of essays by leading academics and scholars provides both an accessible introduction to newcomers to the field of Israel studies as well as a thought-provoking collection even for seasoned participants in the conversation.”
 — Daniel Gordis, Shalem College, author of Israel: A Concise History of a Nation Reborn

“Contemporary Israel commands considerable public attention, yet literacy about Israel is surprisingly limited. This collection of original essays probes “Israel literacy” without polemics or advocacy.  It raises public understanding by pressing key questions about Israel, its politics, demography, international relations, and culture. Short of travel to and study in Israel itself, this is the next best thing. An indispensable addition to make to your book shelf.”
 — Kenneth Waltzer, Professor Emeritus of History and Former Director of Jewish Studies, Michigan State University

“This invaluable collection of essays explores a number of Israel’s compelling challenges, including religion and state, national identity and minority rights, immigrant absorption, and the quest for peace. Essential Israel ought be required reading for everyone seeking to deepen their understanding of Israeli society in the 21st century.”
 — David Harris, American Jewish Committee, CEO

Essential Israel superbly fulfills its stated mission—to gather together a group of energetically written and accessible essays, based on sound scholarship, that provide reasonably comprehensive overviews of the main areas of Israeli culture and history. The result is a book that will speak to the full range of interests people are likely to have, something a historical account alone cannot do. People new to the subject will find this a perfect place to start, but many who feel they know Israel well will also find much here that is new.”
 — Cary Nelson, author of Dreams Deferred: A Concise Guide to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict and the Movement to Boycott Israel

Essential Israel addresses the intriguing complexities of Israeli history, politics, society, and culture. Written by leading experts and crafted for an American audience with simplicity and elegance they will enhance an understanding of the intricacies of Israeli society for students in the classroom and for a public anxious to understand that complicated country.”
 — Professor Elie Rekhess, Department of History, Associate Director, The Crown Family Center for Jewish and Israel Studies

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Table of Contents

1. An Invitation to Israel Literacy / Ilan Troen and Rachel Fish
2. Israel: Geography, Demography and Economy / Ilan Troen, Maoz Azaryahu, and Arnon Golan
3. From Zionism to Zion / Michael Brenner
4. Zionist Settlement in the Land of Israel/Palestine / Ilan Troen
5. The Arab-Israeli Conflict / Alan Dowty
6. History of the Peace Process / David Makovsky
7. Israel in World Opinion / Gil Troy
8. Israel: A Jewish Democracy / Yedidia Stern
9. Citizenship and Democracy in Israel / Donna Robinson Divine
10. Israel, American Jews and Jewish Peoplehood / Steven Bayme
11. "Jewishness" in Israel: Israel as a Jewish State / David Ellenson
12. Contemporary Christianity and Israel / Yaakov Ariel
13. Perceptions and Understandings of Israel within Islam / Norman Stillman
14. "Hebrewism" and Israeli Culture / Rachel Harris
15. Israeli and Hebrew Literature: from the Yishuv to the 21st Century / Ranen Omer-Sherman
Timeline: A Century of Wars and Conflict and Peace Negotiations and Agreements

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