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Topics in Israel Studies: State Building - From Settlement to Regional Integration (1882 - Present)


Admission requirements

This class is intended for students of the BA 1 Midden-Oostenstudies, tracks Israëlstudies and Moderne Midden-Oostenstudies


This course will introduce students to the history of the Yishuv, Israel, and Palestine. It aims to give both a general overview of the history of Israeli state building, from the first settlements in Palestine to contemporary regional integration, as well as highlight the different conflicts that have – and continue to – underline these developments. In doing so, the course hopes to move beyond the general categories that usually dominate coverage of Israel/Palestine. Instead, it discusses the last century and a half through the prism of social, political and economic developments and attempt to make sense of a number of key conflicts that have shaped this period. These include the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians as well as those between Mizrahi and Ashkenazi populations, between labour and capital, as well as between conflicting branches of the Zionist movement. In addition, the course will connect these internal dynamics to regional and international processes of conflict and cooperation.

Course objectives

  • Familiarise oneself with the history of the Yishuv, Israel, and Palestine.

  • Understand the interaction between state formation, political conflict and economic development.

  • Identify the connections between settlement and state formation.

  • Understand the ways in which Israeli state formation and Palestinian dispossession interact.

  • Examine the relationships between different populations, as well as with capital, and the state.

  • Analyse the changes in the political and economic life, conflicts, and development in the Yishuv, Israel, and Palestine, throughout the last century and a half.

  • Articulate how these changes in Israel’s political and economic order, as well as its regional position, have and continue to impact the lives of different segments of the Jewish, Palestinian, and migrant populations.

  • Critically identify and assess questions relevant to state formation and economic development in the Yishuv, Israel, and Palestine.

  • Identify the changing role of Israel in the region over time, and its impact on the different populations over which it rules.

  • Understand competing perspectives on the issues under review.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

Attendance and active participation are obligatory for seminars. Students are required to prepare for and attend all sessions. The convenors need to be informed without delay of any classes missed for a good reason (i.e. due to unforeseen circumstances such as illness, family issues, problems with residence permits, the Dutch railways in winter, etc.). In these cases it is up to the discretion of the convener(s) of the course whether or not the missed class will have to be made up with an extra assignment. The maximum of such absences during a semester is two. Being absent without notification and/or more than two times can result in exclusion from the term end exams and a failing grade for the course.  

Assessment method


Academic Integrity

Students are expected to be familiar with Leiden University policies on plagiarism and academic integrity.
Plagiarism will not be tolerated. It is assumed that students' work is their own work with all sources used properly indicated and documented in the text (with quotations and/or citations). Students may not substantially reuse any work they have previously submitted in this or other courses. Minor overlap with previous work is allowed as long as it is duly noted in citation.
Assignment(s) must be submitted to Brightspace through Turnitin, so they can be checked for plagiarism. Submission via email is not accepted.

  • The midterm will be a take home examination/assignment. It will be posted on Brightspace and will need to be returned on Brightspace within 72 hours. It will be made up of five questions, covering the material studied in the course. Students will choose 2 questions, which they will answer in 800 words each. The course readings will suffice to complete the answers. No further research will be necessary. Students will need to reference their answers and present a complete bibliography. Late submissions will suffer a penalty each day, and will not be accepted more than 4 days after the due date, including weekends.

  • The final examination will be written examination with short open questions. Students will have 3 hours to complete the exam. It will be made up of 4 questions, each of which should be answered in 200 words. Students will not need to reference the course material but their answers should demonstrate familiarity with the material and a confident ability to explain key concepts and processes.


Assessment Weighing
Midterm 40%
Final 60%


If the end grade is insufficient (lower than a 6.0), or the weighted average of Midterm- and Final Exams is lower than 5.5, there is a possibility of retaking the full 70% of the exam material, replacing both the earlier Midterm- and Final Exam grades. A resit is possible as long as the student has handed in their original take home exam/final paper. No resit is possible if the original assessment was not submitted. Please note that if the Resit Exam grade is lower than 5.5, you will not pass the course, regardless of the tutorial grade.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

Required Readings:
Articles and book chapters can be found in the library, on the online library catalogue, or on the course Brightspace page. All students must arrive in class having thoughtfully read through the required readings. . If students wish to engage with relevant material in advance, the following books offer useful introductions to different approaches to the subject material:

  • Bichler, Shimshon & Nitzan, Jonathan (2002). The Global Political Economy of Israel. London: Pluto Press.

  • Khalidi, Rashid (2020), The Hundred Years' War on Palestine: A History of Settler Colonialism and Resistance, 1917–2017. London: Profile Books.

  • Rivlin, Paul (2011). The Israeli Economy from the Foundation of the State Through the 21st Century. New York: Cambridge University Press.


Enrolment through My Studymap is mandatory.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office Vrieshof