Contemporary Israel

Teacher: Jamie Salter

Level: Open to All

Description: On the one hand, the State of Israel is the culmination of a dream, or more precisely, many different dreams. On the other hand, the reality of Jewish sovereignty in its own land has led to some difficult realities. This course will examine historical, sociological, economic, religious, and political changes and challenges that have created the present Israeli reality. We will look at different topics in-depth using a variety of sources and methodologies in a sensitive attempt to understand this complicated country a little better. Each class will also include a brief “Israel as Lab” segment, in which students will be encouraged to share aspects of their own contemporary Israel experiences – the good, the bad, the beautiful, and the ugly.

Included in the different topics that we will cover this semester are:
• The Declaration of Independence and its relevance today
• Nationalism, Religion, and Identification in a Jewish State
• ‘Church’ (or synagogue) and State
• The Political System in Israel
• The ‘People’s Army’ – those who serve and those who don’t
• A tribal society? Ashkenazim, Sephardim, and many more…
• Non-Jews in a Jewish State – the ‘minorities’ of Israel
• The Modern Peace Process (from ‘Oslo’) and its Impact on Israeli Society