Understanding Israel : Political, Societal and Security Challenges book cover
1st Edition

Understanding Israel
Political, Societal and Security Challenges

ISBN 9781138125650
Published October 12, 2018 by Routledge
302 Pages 8 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

The State of Israel is an unlikely powerhouse in a troubled region. Since 1948, Israel has retained its status as a democratic state without interruption. An investor-friendly environment and skilled workforce have led to a thriving economy, whilst the Israel Defense Forces are one of the most powerful armed forces in the world. Yet Israel is also blighted by a plethora of foreign, domestic and security challenges, some of which threaten the very fabric of the state. The cost of living continues to soar; political corruption appears endemic and the conflict with the Palestinians divides domestic opinion and sours Israeli foreign relations. Thus, contemporary Israel remains perplexing, resisting any straightforward categorizations or generalizations.

This book provides a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary analysis of the external and internal threats, opportunities and issues facing contemporary Israel. The book comprises sixteen chapters written by recognized authorities in the field of Israeli Studies. Together, the chapters offer a detailed overview of Israel while separately they provide stand-alone coverage of specific topics under discussion. Part I examines the Israeli Political System, such as the Knesset, political parties and extra-parliamentary politics; Part II addresses issues in Israeli society, including the Israeli economy, the divides between Jews and Arabs, religious and secular Israelis and the struggle for gender equality; and Part III focuses on security, geopolitical and foreign policy challenges, looking at relations between Israel and the Jewish Diaspora, Israeli foreign policy, borders and settlements and regional security threats.

By filling an important gap in the study of contemporary Israel, this book is of interest to multiple audiences, most notably students and scholars of Israeli politics, the Middle East and comparative politics.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Israel—A Nation of Contrasts and Cleavages – Rob Geist Pinfold

1.  Zionism in the 21st Century – Arieh Saposnik

Part I The Israeli Political System

2. Israeli Democracy Under Stress – Itzhak Galnoor

3. The Rise of The Israeli Right – Colin Shindler

4. Political Parties and Parliamentary Politics – Reuven Y. Hazan and Chen Freidberg

5. Extra-Parliamentary Politics - The Settlement Movement’s Success Story – Eitan Y. Alimi

Part II Issues in Israeli Society

6.   The Israeli Economy: Success as the New Normal – Pinchas Landau

7.   Multiculturalism and Identity Politics – Rebecca B. Kook

8.   Religion and State – Ofer Zalzberg

9.  Emerging Elites and New Political Ideas Amongst Palestinians in Israel – Amal Jamal

10. Political Representation of Women and Gender (in)Equality – Reut Itzkovitch-Malka

Part III Security, Geopolitical and Foreign Policy Challenges

11.  Security Challenges and Opportunities in the Twenty-First Century – Charles D. (Chuck) Freilich

12.  The Challenge of Peace – Galia Golan

13.   Borders and the Demarcation of National Territory – David Newman

14.   Settlements and the Creation of Political landscapes – David Newman

15.   Israel in the World: The Quest for Legitimacy – Joel Peters

16.   Israel and the Jewish People – Dov Waxman

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Joel Peters is Director of the School of Public and International Affairs and Professor in Government and International Affairs at Virginia Tech, USA.

Rob Geist Pinfold is a Neubauer Research Associate at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) at the University of Tel Aviv. He holds a PhD in War Studies at King’s College London, UK.


'This amazingly engaging edited book is unique, both in its scope and the critical yet constructive ways in which the various chapters, written by top scholars, provide in-depth analysis of Israel. This book will be useful for scholars, graduate and undergraduate students alike, and will also be essential reading for anyone interested in unpacking the puzzle of Israel.' —Gad Barzilai, Vice Provost, University of Haifa, Israel, and Former President, Association for Israel Studies

'In this fine collection of essays, Peters and Pinfold successfully interrogate the multiple meanings of Israel’s security dilemmas, highlighting the paradox that at the very apogee of its power and success as a nation-state, the internal struggle between piety, power and identity reveal tensions cannot be easily reconciled by Israel’s claim to be both Jewish and democratic. With its interdisciplinary approach very much to the fore, this volume will be essential reading for not just students of Israel, but for anyone concerned about its future trajectory.' Clive Jones, Professor of the Regional Security of the Middle East, Durham University, UK

'This sweeping and nuanced collection provides an excellent introduction to the complexities and contradictions of contemporary Israeli politics, society and external relations. It is the most updated primer on Israel today.' —Naomi Chazan, Professor Emerita of Political Science, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel 

"Israel studies scholars and instructors have long sought a single source that can be used to teach about Israel or recommended as a one-stop introduction to contemporary Israeli society and politics. This book might be the best current resource to satisfy that need." - Russell Stone, American University