SOAS University of London

Department of the Languages and Cultures of the Near and Middle East

The History of the Palestine-Israel Conflict (II): from 1948 to Oslo

Module Code:
Module Not Running 2022/2023
FHEQ Level:
Year of study:
Taught in:
Term 2

This module provides a historical overview of the Israel-Palestine conflict and examines its political, social and cultural reflections, from the creation of Israel in 1948 to the collapse of the Oslo agreements.

Alongside the political history, the module will emphasise social and cultural aspects of the conflict. It will bring a variety of voices and perspectives, often contrasting and contradictory, on the conflict, its underlying causes and dynamics; these perspectives include not only the two “official” narratives, the Zionist-Israeli and the Palestinian, but also voices “from below” of marginalised groups. Attention will be given to groups whose position does not fit easily with the official narratives.

The module aims to give students analyitical tools that would help them make sense of the contested histories of Palestine/Israel. The ability to disentangle competing claims and narratives would be useful for analysing other contested histories. The module makes use of material history, art and visual media as means to analyse and understand the conflict.

The module can be taken as an open option.


Completion of the module History of the Palestine-Israel Conflict (I) 1900 to 1948 (UG) - 155905009 is preferable

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

  • Develop awareness of the challenges involved in approaching, in a scholarly manner, a contested history such as the Israel/Palestine conflict.
  • Familiarise themselves with different perspectives in the historiography on the Israel-Palestine conflict between 1948 to the early 21st century
  • Analyse critically prevailing historiographical approaches, regarding the colonial, settler-colonial, and national dimensions of the conflict
  • Provide their own analysis of key issues in the history of the conflict, positioning themselves against the historiography while engaging with counter-arguments.
  • Become acquainted with different methodological approaches to the history of the conflict, including social, cultural and political history.
  • Position Israel/Palestine within larger frames of analysis, against regional and global trends.


The module is taught over 10 weeks in a two hour lecture each week

Scope and syllabus

  • 1948 and its legacy
  • Mizrahi Jews and the Conflict
  • PLO and Palestinian Armed Struggle
  • The 1967 Occupation
  • Palestinian uprisings
  • The rise of political religion
  • Oslo Agreements
  • Student Presentations
  • Palestinian Citizens and the Jewish State
  • Beyond the two state solution

Method of assessment

  • 1 x Essay (2500 words) to be submitted in term 3 (75%)
  • 1 x Oral presentation (10 mins) to be given at a time arranged by the Convenor (25%)
  • The exact assessment deadline dates are published on the relevant module Moodle/BLE page

Suggested reading

  • Pappé, Ilan. 2006. "The 1948 Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine.” Journal of Palestine Studies 36 (1): 6-20.
  • Tamari, S. & Hammami, R., 1998. Virtual Returns to Jaffa. Journal of Palestine Studies, 27(4), pp.65-79.
  • Behar, M., 2007. Palestine, Arabized Jews and the Elusive Consequences of Jewish and Arab National Formations. Nationalism and Ethnic Politics 13, 581–611.
  • Sayigh, Y.Y., 1997. Armed Struggle and the Search for State: The Palestinian National Movement, 1949-1993, Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 236-242
  • Gordon, N., 2008. Israel’s occupation, University of California Press, chapter 5, civilian occupation, pp. 116-146.
  • *Doumani, Beshara, 1990. Family and Politics in Salfit, in Lockman, Z. (ed.), 1990. Intifada : the., Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation, in ibid, pp. 143-153, London: I.B Tauris.
  • Khalidi, R., 2006. The Iron Cage. Beacon Press. Chapter 5.
  • As’ad Ghanem and Sarah Ozacky-Lazar, “The Status of the Palestinians in Israel in an Era of Peace: Part of the Problem but not Part of the Solution,” Israel Affairs 9, no. 1-2 (2002): 263-278.
  • Zreik, R. “Palestine, Apartheid, and the Rights Discourse.” Journal of Palestine Studies 34, no. 1 (2004): 68–80.

Additional Reading

  • Gelvin, J.L., 2007. The Israel-Palestine conflict: one hundred years of war, Cambridge University Press. 
  • Smith, C.D., 2009. Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict: A History with Documents, Bedford/St. Martin’s. 
  • Khalidi, R. , 2006. The Iron Cage: The Story of the Palestinian Struggle for Statehood, Boston: Beacon Press. 
  • Tamari, S., 2009. Mountain against the sea: essays on Palestinian society and culture, University of California Press. 
  • Kimmerling, B. & Migdal, J.S., 2003. The Palestinian People: A History, Cambridge: Harvard University Press 
  • Morris, B., 1999. Righteous victims : a history of the Zionist-Arab conflict, 1881-1999, New York: Knopf. 
  • Shindler, C., 2008. A history of modern Israel, Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules