Israel: An Introduction

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Overview

This comprehensive book provides a well-rounded introduction to Israel—a definitive account of the nation's past, its often controversial present, and much more. Written by a leading historian of the Middle East, Israel is organized around six major themes: land and people, history, society, politics, economics, and culture. The only available volume to offer such a complete account, this book is written for general readers and students who may have little background knowledge of this nation or its rich culture.

Based on research by scholars with extensive firsthand knowledge of Israel, this book offers accessible, clearly explained material, enhanced with a generous selection of images, maps, charts, tables, graphs, and sidebars. This book provides readers with a solid foundation of knowledge about Israel and provides useful reference lists by topic for those inspired to read further.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Noted Middle East scholar Rubin (coauthor, Hating America: A History) divides this overview of Israel into seven categories, offering in-depth perspectives with encyclopedic breadth on the makeup of the Jewish state, focusing only briefly on Israel's struggle for self-preservation. The section "History" provides a masterful summary of Israel's past from its socialist beginnings before independence to the modern struggles with the Iranian regime. "Land and People" gives a thorough summary of the country's demographics, while "Society" and "Government and Politics" offer streamlined narratives of Israeli society's dialectic between religious and secular identity and the political struggles dealing with the nation's often crippling and "ever-active self-criticism." Of particular note is the "Culture" section, which reveals the rich and increasingly influential art, literature, film, and music that Israelis are producing, such as the Golden Globe-winning animated film Waltz with Bashir. The text shies away from some of Israel's more controversial actions, such as the bulldozing of Palestinian properties during the Second Intifada. The book's stated goals are to present a portrait of the complex strata of Israeli society without focusing on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, while also dispelling the often "artificially manufactured myths and rewritings of history" that have made the country controversial. Rubin has focused on the fabric of Israeli society instead of the controversy that surrounds it . Illus.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Commentary
[An] essential resource for readers interested in learning the truth about the Zionist project in the 20th and 21st centuries.—Sol Stern, Commentary

— Sol Stern

Booklist
A well-written portrait of a vibrant nation at the center of turmoil in the region.—Jay Freeman, Booklist

— Jay Freeman

Jewish Voice New York
It is indeed just a starting point, but Israel: An Introduction, if disseminated among our universities to the extent it deserves, will at least allow students of the Middle East and of Jewish history to start off on the right foot. A glimpse into the real Israel may do more for the future of U.S.-Israeli relations than any amount of rhetoric ever could.—Daniel Perez, Jewish Voice New York

— Daniel Perez

Walter Laqueur

“There have been many hundreds of books for and against Israel but no volume presenting the essential information about its domestic politics, its society, as well as its cultural life and its economy. This gap has now been filled.”—Walter Laqueur, author of A History of Zionism
Commentary - Sol Stern

"[An] essential resource for readers interested in learning the truth about the Zionist project in the 20th and 21st centuries."—Sol Stern, Commentary
Booklist - Jay Freeman

“A well-written portrait of a vibrant nation at the center of turmoil in the region.”—Jay Freeman, Booklist
Jewish Voice New York - Daniel Perez

"It is indeed just a starting point, but Israel: An Introduction, if disseminated among our universities to the extent it deserves, will at least allow students of the Middle East and of Jewish history to start off on the right foot. A glimpse into the real Israel may do more for the future of U.S.-Israeli relations than any amount of rhetoric ever could."—Daniel Perez, Jewish Voice New York
Kirkus Reviews
A thorough, occasionally defensive overview of the young nation from inception to the present by an accomplished Israeli lobbyist and scholar. The director of the Global Research in International Affairs Center at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya, Israel, which sponsors this project, Rubin (The Truth About Syria, 2008, etc.) has marshaled many contributors in this fairly evenhanded survey of the many rich and complex facets of Israeli history, society, government, economics and culture. He establishes immediately that "a great deal about Israel is controversial," and confronts the issues in a straightforward manner. Such issues include existential insecurity, ongoing Palestinian conflict, fluid borders, diverse immigrant population, living with daily terrorist violence and the sense of being "misunderstood by outside observers." He reminds readers that Jews even in exile acted as a "national people, arguably the first such in history," and thus the establishment of Israel was "the continuation of a long historical process," not merely the result of the Holocaust. The early socialist framework of the kibbutz and moshav, created around farming communities by immigrants with little capital or modern resources, continued well until the 1990s, forming a mostly secular, pluralist, democratic society; today Israel's economy is driven by technological innovation, while Rubin downplays the country's vast military strength, insisting that "Israel has never been a militarized country." The author writes that Israelis want peace and are willing to give up territory captured in the 1967 war and grant a Palestinian state, but are not convinced that the Palestinians are reliable partners. Rubin's delineation of the numerous political parties is elucidating, and he concludes with an overview of cultural tenets. A sound, basic survey without a rigid agenda, useful for students, tourists and those planning aliyah.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300162301
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 1/31/2012
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 359,944
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 9.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Barry Rubin is professor and director of the Global Research in International Affairs Center at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya, Israel. He is also editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs and author of numerous books on the Middle East.
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Table of Contents

Preface vii

1 Understanding Israel 1

2 History 17

3 Land and People 81

4 Society 121

5 Government and Politics 192

6 Economics 237

7 Culture 271

Chronology of Israel 325

Glossary 331

Index 337

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