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Fall 2017
Sep 25, 2017
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JCIV 245 - The Arab Spring and Israel
How does the Arab Spring affect Israel? How does Israel respond to a transforming regional order? What is Israel’s policy in light of the disintegrating Arab nation-states? What are the implications of the regional turmoil on Israel’s relations with Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, and the Palestinians? What are the ramifications of the Arab Spring on Israel-United States relations? Will Israel find itself in a direct war against the Islamic State (ISIS)? And, just as important, what are some of the opportunities for Israel amid a transforming Middle East? 

The purpose of this seminar is to analyze and understand the political, diplomatic, and strategic effects of Arab Spring on the State of Israel. The course is designed to go beyond, while not completely overlooking, the study of contemporary Middle East through the prisms of the Arab world. In this regard, this is the only course at Georgetown University to offer these analyses of Israel. 

Since the early 1970s, observers of the Middle East have considered the Arab regimes a bastion of stability, permanence, and longevity: from Libya to Iraq, Arab strongmen governed their states with an iron fist. The consolidation of state sovereignty; Cold War politics; and defeat in wars against Israel, produced state nationalism and security apparatus that crushed domestic opposition and maintained regional order. 

In late 2010, Mohamed Bouazizi, a young Tunisian street vendor, overwhelmed by the humiliation and harassment inflicted on him by the authorities, set himself afire; igniting a sequence of ruthless struggles between liberals, moderates, Islamists, and Middle Eastern governments. Several regimes that once symbolized stability collapsed at the hands of their own subjects. 

What began as romantic hopes for a democratic and liberal Middle East, has quickly deteriorated into a regional bloodbath. Yet, the upheavals in the Middle East have produced enormous challenges not only to Arab governments and people, but also to non-Arab regional actors such as Turkey, Iran, and Israel as well as to the United States, Russia, and Europe. The collapse of several Arab nation-states; sectarian wars; the rise of ISIS; humanitarian catastrophes; and Iran’s nuclear program are probably the main challenges to date. 
This seminar will gradually unfold the implications of the Arab Spring on Israel. To augment the students’ understanding of Israel in the New Middle East, academic readings and lectures will be supplemented with policy papers, grass-root level examples, media, comparative analyses, and guest speakers. 

At the start of the seminar, students will gain a basic understanding of Israel’s foreign policy, including a historical framework for the study of the subjects under scrutiny. The bulk of the semester, however, will be devoted to exploring specific key ramifications of the Arab Spring on Israel’s foreign policy; domestic politics; relations with other regional actors, the Palestinians, and the United States; and Israel’s strategy towards non-state actors such as Hamas, Hezbollah, and ISIS. The course will explore themes and tensions that repeatedly appear across the span of Israel in the New Middle East. Students should be ready to be interdisciplinary, use tools and insights from international affairs; politics; history of the Middle East; the media; and the policy world.

Please note: This course does not require any previous background in Jewish, Israel or Middle East studies.


3.000 Credit hours
3.000 Lecture hours

Levels: Undergraduate
Schedule Types: Lecture

Jewish Civilization Department

Course Attributes:
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