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Jews in the Arab World


Admission requirements

Students of the BA programme Midden-Oostenstudies.


Aiming to survey the history of Middle Eastern Jews in the modern period, this course will begin with a brief discussion of the formative Middle Ages, which in many ways defined and shaped Jewish practices and customs for centuries to come. We will move on to the Ottoman period and the transformation of the eastern Mediterranean Jewish world into a Sephardi dominated one, in language and practices. Then we will discuss the changes Jewish communities in Arab countries experienced with colonialism, the emergence of Zionism and the immigration to the State of Israel. We will devote the last sessions of the course to the experiences of Mizrahi Jews (those from Arab lands) in Israel. Topics covered will include the absorption of Middle Eastern Jews in Israel; the socioeconomic status of Jews from Arab lands in Israel and how it changed over the years; their involvement in Israeli politics and how it affected the immigrants as well as the Israeli political game; and the culture Jews from Arab lands brought with them, such as music and popular customs, and how the impact these have had upon Israeli society.

Course objectives

Concise description of the course objectives formulated in terms of knowledge, insight and skills students will have acquired at the end of the course. The relationship between these objectives and achievement levels for the programme should be evident.



Mode of instruction

  • Seminar with mandatory attendance.

Course Load

Total course load: 140 hrs
Seminar classes: 13 × 2 = 26 hrs
Preparation: 13 × 3 = 39 hrs
Book review: 30 hrs
Final exam: 45 hrs

Assessment method

Students will be evaluated based on

  • class participation

  • one book review

  • essay

Reading list

The booktitles and / or syllabi to be used in the course, where it can be purchased and how this literature should be studied beforehand.




Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


S.R. Sabbah-Goldstein


Previous knowledge about Jewish history, the Middle East, or Islam is helpful, but not required. Sufficient background will be given on the first week, and throughout the course, in the weekly readings and during lectures. Audio and visual media will be used to supplement course readings.