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History > Middle Eastern History

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Contentious Politics in the Middle East Cover

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Contentious Politics in the Middle East

Political Opposition under Authoritarianism

Holger Albrecht

Scholarship examining the governments in the Middle East and North Africa rarely focuses on opposition movements, since those countries tend to be ruled by a centralized, often authoritarian government. However, even in an oppressive state, there are civil society and oppositional forces at work. The contributors to Contentious Politics in the Middle East reveal how such forces emerge and are manifested in nondemocratic states across the region.

In most cases, the essays offer a comparative perspective, highlighting similarities across political borders. Providing historical context for current events, they examine the sociopolitical situations in Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Kuwait, Bahrain, Iraq, Morocco, Tunisia, Lebanon, and Algeria and analyze the role of Islam in Arab states' governments and in the opposition movements to them. They also demonstrate that not all opposition forces propose the overthrow of authority and point out the various forms opposition takes in societies that leave little room for political activism.

The contributors to the volume are drawn from countries across three continents and bring backgrounds in political science, conflict resolution, and history. Challenging the assertion that state-society relations are limited to coercive top-down arrangements in authoritarian regimes, the book will inspire debate on the topic of contentious political participation within the region as well as in similar settings throughout the world.

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Contesting Realities

The Public Sphere and Morality in Southern Yemen

Susanne Dahlgren

As a resident of Aden for more than three years spanning the late years of Marxist South Yemen, Dahlgren presents the reader with an intimate portrait of Yemeni men and women in the home, in the factory, in the office, and in the street, demonstrating that Islamic societies must be understood through a multiplicity of social spheres and morality orders. Within each space, she examines the range of legal, political, religious, and social regulations that frame gender relations and social dynamics. Highlighting the diversity of women’s and men’s positions as a continuum rather than as distinct areas, Dahlgren presents a vivid picture of this dynamic society, providing an in-depth background to today’s political upheavals in Yemen.

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The Convergence of Judaism and Islam

Religious, Scientific, and Cultural Dimensions

Edited by Michael M. Laskier and Yaacov Lev

The Convergence of Judaism and Islam offers fifteen interdisciplinary studies that investigate the complex relationships between the cultures of Jews and Muslims during the medieval and early modern periods. They reveal that, for the most part, Jewish-Muslim relations were peaceful and involved intellectual and professional cooperation.

Eschewing a chronological approach and featuring contributions from European, Israeli, and North American scholars, including veterans and recent PhDs, the volume makes many fascinating and stimulating juxtapositions. To give one example, chapters on early Islam and the shaping of Jewish-Muslim relations in the Middle Ages shed light on the legal battles over the status of synagogues in twentieth-century Yemen or the execution of a fourteen-year-old girl in nineteenth-century Morocco.

Sure to provoke controversy and discussion, this volume focuses on a period of free exchange between these two cultures that resulted in some of the most seminal breakthroughs in math, science, and medicine the world has known.

Countdown to Statehood Cover

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Countdown to Statehood

Palestinian State Formation in the West Bank and Gaza

A study of Palestinian state formation in comparison to Zionist experiences. Countdown to Statehood, based on Arabic, English, and Hebrew language sources, analyzes the form that the Palestinian state is likely to take. The book looks at past institution-building patterns in the West Bank and Gaza, the relationship between the PLO and the local Palestinians, and the nature of the conflict with Israel from 1967 through the first year of the Palestinian Authority under Arafat’s leadership. A major reference point in this analysis is the Zionist experience of state-building in Israel’s own pre-independence era. Not only did the Zionist experience serve as a model of a successful protagonist that Palestinians wished to emulate, but both also began as diaspora-based. These similarities and, even more so, the dissimilarities between these two struggles for national determination allow the reader to assess the potential likenesses and disparities of the future Palestinian state compared to its Israeli counterpart. The concluding chapter analyzes the findings in the broader context of third-world state-building by arguing, contrary to the common wisdom that “war makes the state,” that more peaceful routes to statehood lead to better states in the post-independence era.

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Courting Conflict

The Israeli Military Court System in the West Bank and Gaza

Lisa Hajjar

Israel's military court system, a centerpiece of Israel's apparatus of control in the West Bank and Gaza since 1967, has prosecuted hundreds of thousands of Palestinians. This authoritative book provides a rare look at an institution that lies both figuratively and literally at the center of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Lisa Hajjar has conducted in-depth interviews with dozens of Israelis and Palestinians—including judges, prosecutors, defense lawyers, defendants, and translators—about their experiences and practices to explain how this system functions, and how its functioning has affected the conflict. Her lucid, richly detailed, and theoretically sophisticated study highlights the array of problems and debates that characterize Israel's military courts as it asks how the law is deployed to protect and further the interests of the Israeli state and how it has been used to articulate and defend the rights of Palestinians living under occupation.

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Crime and Criminal Justice in Israel

Assessing the Knowledge Base toward the Twenty-First Century

Offers insights into the criminal justice system and the field of criminology in Israel. Assessing the Israeli criminal justice knowledge base with implications for Israel and international scholarship, this book explores crime, legislation, law enforcement, courts, corrections, and the victim. The book discusses the development of criminal justice and criminology in a new society, adding to the understanding of crime and societal reaction. The authors examine the historical development of Israeli criminal justice, describe the state of current knowledge, and point to possible future directions.

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Critical Essays on Israeli Social Issues and Scholarship

Books on Israel, Volume III

Critical Essays on Israeli Social Issues and Scholarship is part of a series of review volumes sponsored by the Association for Israel Studies and published by SUNY Press that provides a framework for discussion of research and scholarship on all aspects of Israeli society. This book brings together review essays commenting on issues in Israeli culture, literature, politics, scholarship, and society. The authors identify a series of recently published books and provide critical commentary. In their examination, they go beyond the works themselves to comment on the state of scholarship and social conditions. Topics covered include Israeli writers’ reactions to the Holocaust, critical analyses of the popular Israeli poet and novelist Amnon Shamosh, the linguistic relations between Yiddish and Modern Hebrew, ethnic relations, the emerging “mainstream” of Israeli culture, politics, Israeli historical revisionism, and social, psychological, and political aspects of the continuing Israel-Palestine conflict.

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Critical Essays on Israeli Society, Religion, and Government

Books on Israel, Volume IV

Original review essays that provide critical commentary on recently published books and films on Israeli society, culture, politics, and religion. This book is part of a series of review volumes sponsored by the Association for Israel Studies that provides a framework for discussion of research and scholarship on all aspects of Israeli society. It brings together original review essays commenting on issues in Israeli society, culture, politics, religion, literature, and film. The authors’ evaluations of recently published books go beyond critical commentary on the works themselves to include the state of scholarship and social conditions. Among the issues addressed are the conflict over water resources, the human dimensions of the Israeli-Palestinian dialogue, local governance, and the court system. The book provides reviews and commentary, not only on scholarly works but also on memoirs of military leaders at the time of the Yom Kippur war, Sephardi novels on the shock of immigration and on Israeli orthodox Judaism, and politically oriented cinema and literature of the 1980s and 1990s.

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Cross on the Star of David

The Christian World in Israel's Foreign Policy, 1948-1967

Uri Bialer

The official establishment of the State of Israel in May 1948 constituted the realization of the Zionist vision, but military victory left in its wake internal and external survival issues that would threaten this historic achievement for decades to come. The refusal of the international community to recognize the political, geographic, and demographic results of the War of Independence presented Israel with a permanent regional security threat, while isolating and alienating it in the international arena. One of the most formidable problems Israeli foreign policy faced was the stance of the Christian world toward the new state. Attitudes ranged from hostility and categorical non-recognition by the Catholic Church, through Protestant ambivalence, to Evangelical support. Cross on the Star of David presents the first scholarly analysis, based on newly declassified documents, of Israeli policymaking on this issue. Uri Bialer focuses on the impact that modes of thinking rooted in the historical tradition of Jewish-Christian interactions had on Israeli policymakers and concludes that they were not innocent of the perceptions and biases that influenced the Christian world's behavior toward Israel. The result is a fine-grained, original interpretation of an important dimension of Israeli foreign policy from the founding of the State to the 1967 War.

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Defending the Holy Land

A Critical Analysis of Israel's Security and Foreign Policy

Zeev Maoz

Defending the Holy Land is the most comprehensive analysis to date of Israel's national security and foreign policy, from the inception of the State of Israel to the present. Author Zeev Maoz's unique double perspective, as both an expert on the Israeli security establishment and esteemed scholar of Mideast politics, enables him to describe in harrowing detail the tragic recklessness and self-made traps that pervade the history of Israeli security operations and foreign policy. Most of the wars in which Israel was involved, Maoz shows, were entirely avoidable, the result of deliberate Israeli aggression, flawed decision-making, and misguided conflict management strategies. None, with the possible exception of the 1948 War of Independence, were what Israelis call "wars of necessity." They were all wars of choice-or, worse, folly. Demonstrating that Israel's national security policy rested on the shaky pairing of a trigger-happy approach to the use of force with a hesitant and reactive peace diplomacy, Defending the Holy Land recounts in minute-by-minute detail how the ascendancy of Israel's security establishment over its foreign policy apparatus led to unnecessary wars and missed opportunites for peace. A scathing and brilliant revisionist history, Defending the Holy Land calls for sweeping reform of Israel's foreign policy and national security establishments. This book will fundamentally transform the way readers think about Israel's troubled history. Zeev Maoz is Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Davis. He is the former head of the Graduate School of Government and Policy and of the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University, as well as the former academic director of the M.A. Program at the Israeli Defense Forces' National Defense College. Cover photograph: Israel, Jerusalem, Western Wall and The Dome of The Rock. Courtesy of Corbis.

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