Contemporary Israel

Domestic Politics, Foreign Policy, and Security Challenges

Edited by Robert O. Freedman

First Edition • September 1, 2008 • 352 pages

Print ISBN: 9780813343853 • $49.00 USD$58.99 CAN

Ebook ISBN: 9780786726103 • $29.99 USD$34.99 CAN

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Since its formation in 1948, and particularly since the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin in 1995, Israel has experienced turbulent political change and numerous ongoing security challenges, including major party splits, collapsed peace talks with the Palestinians and Syria, nuclear threats from Iran, and even the specter of civil war as Israel withdrew from Gaza. This essential survey brings together Israeli and American scholars to provide a much-needed balanced introduction to Israel’s domestic politics and foreign policy.

Experts tackle this difficult subject in three parts: domestic politics, foreign policy challenges, and strategic challenges. Domestic topics include the Israeli Right and Left; religious, Russian, and Arab parties; the Supreme Court; and the economy. Part two discusses Israel’s complicated and often fractious relationships with the Palestinians and the Arab world, as well as its improved relations with Turkey and India and continuing close relationship with the United States. The Israel-Hizbollah War of 2006 and existential threats to Israel, including the threat from Iran, are detailed in part three. This compelling and authoritative coverage provides students with the necessary framework to understand Israel’s political past and present, as well as the direction Israel is likely to take in the future.

Robert O. Freedman is Peggy Meyerhoff Pearlstone Professor of Political Science Emeritus at Baltimore Hebrew University and visiting professor of political science at Johns Hopkins University where he teaches courses on Middle Eastern politics and Russian foreign policy. He is a past president of the Association for Israel Studies and is a consultant to the US government. He is the author or editor of twenty books, among them Israel in the Begin Era, Israel Under Rabin, and Israel’s First Fifty Years.


Chapter 1—Introduction, Robert O. Freedman

Part 1—Israeli Domestic Politics

Chapter 2—The Israeli Right, Ilan Peleg
Chapter 3—The Israeli Zionist Left, Mark Rosenblum
Chapter 4—Israel’s Religious Parties, Shmuel Sander and Aaron Kampinsky
Chapter 5—Israel’s Russian Parties, Vladimir (Ze’ev) Khanin
Chapter 6—Israel’s Arab Parties, Hillel Frisch
Chapter 7—Israel’s Supreme Court, Pnina Lahav
Chapter 8—Israel’s Economy, Ofira Seliktar

Part 2—Israel’s Foreign-Policy Challenges

Chapter 9—Israel and the Palestinians, Barry Rubin
Chapter 10—Israel and the Arab World, David Lesch
Chapter 11—Israel’s Strategic Relations with Turkey and India, Efraim Inbar
Chapter 12—Israel and the United States, Robert O. Freedman

Part 3—Israel’s Strategic Challenges

Chapter 13—Existential Threats to Israel, Steven David
Chapter 14—Israel’s Second Lebanon War, Elli Lieberman

About the Authors

“Robert O. Freedman has commissioned and assembled the work of 14 leading scholars of Israeli politics, foreign policy and security to create an authoritative study. Each chapter is a gem—concise, well-researched and clearly written, with very useful and complete notes. Together, the chapters form an ideal Israeli Politics textbook. The book will be equally useful as a research resource, and a nuanced analysis of the diversity and complexities of Israeli political life.”
—Russell A. Stone, Professor of Sociology and Director, Center for Israel Studies, American University

“With the rapid growth of Israel studies in universities, the need for comprehensive textbooks on Israel has become pressing. Contemporary Israel is just what the doctor ordered. It provides a comprehensive overview of domestic and foreign policy issues that the country faces in a series of articles written by some of the most noted authors in the field. The editor, Robert O. Freedman, has done yeoman’s service in providing students with a broad set of diverse, penetrating views of Israeli politics.”
—Joel S. Migdal, Robert F. Philip Professor of International Studies, University of Washington

“An exhaustive account that blends usually compartmentalized issues and views. … This book serves as a captivating read for those who want to visit the different angles of Israeli politics in one stop. Its broad scope, rich details, competing perspectives, and lucidity make it a great resource for those who teach Israeli politics. Highly recommended.”

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