SOAS University of London

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

Israel and the Palestinians: 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



Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On successful completion of the module a student will be able to:

  • Approach critically the contested histories of Palestine/Israel through the polarised literature
  • Grasp the development of Israeli and Palestinian societies, and analyse them beyond the national narratives
  • Understand the development of the conflict from the 1948 war to the collapse of the Oslo accords
  • Use social and cultural perspectives to discuss the conflict
  • Understand the development of the conflict through different and contrasting viewpoints
  • Apply wider frames of analysis (geographically and conceptually) to the Palestine/Israel conflict
  • Anaylse the colonial and settler-colonial, and national dimensions of the conflict


The module is taught over 10 weeks in a 2 hour seminar 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 term 3 (75%)
  • 1 x Presentation (10 minutes) to be given at a date 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