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Introduction to Israel Diaspora Relations: The Politics and History of a Complex Relationship


Admission requirements

This class is intended (in order of preference) for

  • (1) students of the BA Middle Eastern Studies/Israelstudies who have successfully completed the propedeutic exam of the BA Middle Eastern Studies and Semester Abroad in Israel or Shadowprogramme;

  • (2) premaster students for the MA Middle Eastern Studies and

  • (3) students from other relevant bachelors programmes (e.g. Religiewetenschappen, International Studies, Political Science, History). Please contact the coordinator of studies, Eli van Duijnen, to find out whether you can be admitted to this class.


This course examines the complex relationship between the state of Israel and the Jewish diasporas. By taking an area studies approach and employing some of the key questions in comparative diaspora studies, the course examines the changing relationship between Israel and the Jewish communities in three geographical areas: The Middle East, Europe, and North America. The course examines these relationship using the prism of the law which allows immigration to Israel, the tension between Ashkenazi Jews (North America and Western European) and Mizrahi Jews (The Middle East and North Africa), the 1967 occupied territories, Holocaust memory, the iron curtain and the Cold War, among others.

Course objectives

  • The aim of this course is to enable students to think critically about the complexity of understanding Jewish diasporas and their relationship with Israel in different periods since 1948.

  • The development of a critical analytical understanding of the important theoretical and empirical research questions in Israel studies, diaspora studies and Jewish studies.

  • The students will be introduced to the complex Israeli politics of identity, history, politics, society and foreign policy.

  • The students will gain an understanding of Israel’s role in the Middle East and how its cooperation and conflicts with its neighbours shaped the fate of local Jewish communities.

  • Additionally, students should be able to analyse and interpret relevant secondary literature pertinent to the topic in a seminar session from week to week and be able to think broadly about their position on key research questions in this course.

  • In addition, students on the Israel studies track will apply their knowledge of Modern Hebrew and learn how to analyse academic publications on selected topics in this course. Elective (non-Israel studies) students can actively participate in a professional discussion at the end of this course and will have acquired basic research skills: the collection, analysis and quality evaluation of scientific literature and the clear presentation of research results.


Visit MyTimetable.

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.

Course Load

5 EC x 28 hrs = 140 hrs
Participating in seminars (2 hrs/week x 12 weeks) 26
Preparing for seminars (4 hrs/week x 12 weeks) 48
Preparing and writing the Mid-term assignment (Book review 1000 words including notes and appendixes, excluding bibliography) 21
Writing Final Paper assignment (2,000 -word paper, including notes and appendixes, excluding bibliography) 45

Assessment method

Partial Assessment Weighing
Attendance and active participation in seminar discussions 25%
Mid-term assignment: Book review (1,000 words including notes and appendixes, excluding bibliography) 25%
Final assignment (2,000-word Final Paper, including notes and appendixes, excluding bibliography) 50%
  • The final mark for this course is determined by the weighted average. An additional requirement is that students must pass their final Paper assignment. In order to pass the course, students must obtain an overall mark of 5.50 (=6) or higher.

  • The course is an integrated whole. All assessment parts must be completed in the same academic year. No partial marks can be carried over into following years.

  • Late submissions will result in a deduction of marks for the written assignment as follows: 1-24 hs late = -0.5; 24-48 hs late = -1.0; 48-72 hs late = -1.5; 72-96 hs late = -2.0. Submissions more than 96 hs late, including weekends, will receive a failing grade of 1,0 for the written assignment.


Rewrites of the paper are to be submitted within 2 weeks after receiving a failing grade. A resit for the written examination is possible.

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

Robin Cohen and Carolin Fischer Eds,. Routledge Handbook of Diaspora Studies (New York: Routledge, 2019).
Selected readings will be made available through Brightspace.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on the website.


Dr. E. Ben Aharon