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Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict



_Objective 1:_In-depth introduction to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in international politics on the basis of primary sources and contested theoretical notions.
_Objective 2:_Encouraging critical assessment of the conflict through interactive lectures and role playing.
Objective 3: Developing comparative methods of research.


Take a good look at the title of this course. Should we actually talk about Palestine and the Arab-Israeli conflict? Or is it better to speak of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, or perhaps the Arab-Jewish or Arab-Zionist conflict? And what order is therein to be preferred? Is it the Palestinian-Israeli or Israeli-Palestinian conflict? The Palestinian-Israeli conflict is without doubt one of the most contentious disputes in international politics. Asking these questions about the title of the course not only gives a first impression of the complexity of the conflict, but also the wide variety of attitudes and beliefs that underlie the origins, course and intractableness of the conflict. A familiar pattern is that one party claims the ‘truth’ and expresses its views against the light of the ‘lies’, ‘myths’ and ‘propaganda’ by the other party. But there are also scientists, journalists and analysts who acknowledge the controversial nature of the conflict and strive to discuss events and developments in terms of ‘competing’ stories or ‘parallel’ truths.
In the lectures the focus is not on ‘the history of’ as such, but on a limited series of diplomatic moments in the history of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict; the analysis of ‘key documents‘, which are central to the diplomatic moment under discussion – bargaining deals, secret agreements, speeches by key players, UN resolutions, the attitudes of the two parties directly involved, as well as those of other countries and regional and international organizations. Along the way we will learn to recognize some of the key arguments and paradoxes that contribute to the unfortunate fact that the conflict is still not resolved.

Methods of Instruction

Interactive lectures, discussions, student presentations and role play.

Study Material

Books: – Smith, Charles D. (2013), Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict. A History with Documents, 8th edition, Boston-New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s. – Khalidi, Rashid (2006, 2007), The Iron Cage. The Story of the Palestinian Struggle for statehood, Boston: Beacon Press,


Opening statement and position paper role play 10%
Issue paper 40%
Take home exam 50%




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