The Arab-Israel Conflict
- LAST REVIEWED: 04 May 2015
- LAST MODIFIED: 28 July 2015
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756223-0124
- LAST REVIEWED: 04 May 2015
- LAST MODIFIED: 28 July 2015
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756223-0124
The sheer volume of literature on the Arab-Israel conflict is enormous. Most of these writings are, however, contentious, if not polemical; scholarly research occupies only one wing of the edifice. But even this scholarly literature is vast, and it tends to be identified, for the most part, with one side or the other. This does not mean that research conducted by “involved” parties can be reflexively set aside. Such research can be valuable, sometimes precisely because of this involvement—but the reader needs to be aware of the scholar’s relationship to the subject of his research. The ideal of a truly disinterested, unaffiliated, “objective” adjudicator of Arab-Israel issues is not irrelevant, but it is an ideal that is met, if at all, only by a small proportion of the prominent scholars who have contributed the most-important works in the field. Without the “involved” scholars, there would be little for a bibliographer to report. A second issue is an imbalance arising from the greater number of scholarly works on the conflict coming from Israeli and Jewish academic researchers compared to the number written by Palestinian or Arab scholars (at least regarding books in English). In part this imbalance has lessened in recent years with more Palestinian academic works, and from the appearance of “post-Zionist” or “revisionist” Israeli or Jewish scholars who have published studies highly—even devastatingly—critical of the standard Israeli narrative. (“Revisionism” in this context should be distinguished from Revisionist Zionism, which is in fact at the other end of the spectrum.) Post-Zionists tend to fall into two schools: positivists, who simply use primary sources and declassified documents to debunk founding myths that have seldom been challenged; and “post-modernists” or “deconstructionists,” who see academic research as a manifestation of a power relationship and identify the Palestinians as the oppressed party. The conclusions of the second group, in particular, are often quite supportive of the conclusions of Palestinian and Arab scholars who work from the same premise. Apart from these differing approaches, scholarship on the conflict also corresponds in large part to the historical stages of its evolution: the Ottoman period, both before and after the beginning of Zionist settlement in 1882; the British Mandate between the two world wars; the interstate conflict phase from Israel’s creation in 1948 to the 1967 war; the reemergence of the Palestinians in the 1970s and 1980s; and the rise and fall of the Oslo peace process since the early 1990s.
Scholarly overviews of the Arab-Israel conflict are often written as histories, since much of the debate concerns historical issues. Tessler 2009 and Morris 2001 are the leading comprehensive histories, with broad rather than partisan perspectives. Tessler 2009, written by a scholar at home both in Arab and Israeli sources, does this through a nuanced presentation of both narratives. Morris 2001, by an Israeli historian identified in the past with “post-Zionist” critics of standard Israeli historiography, takes a more empirical approach by mining the sources and letting the chips fall where they may. Shlaim 2000 represents a more clear-cut post-Zionism, interpreting Israel’s historical policies in a highly critical framework. Khouri 1985 presents the classic scholarly Palestinian reading of the conflict, while Barari 2009 provides as counterpoint a useful critique of Arab scholarship on Israel. Scham, et al. 2013 is a very useful comparison of Israeli and Palestinian narratives, with contributions from both perspectives. Boyle 2003 and O’Brien 1991 focus on the legal and moral dimensions of the conflict, presenting reasoned cases for the Palestinian perspective (Boyle 2003) and for Israeli arguments (O’Brien 1991).
Barari, Hassan A. Israelism: Arab Scholarship on Israel, a Critical Assessment. Reading, UK: Ithaca, 2009.
An Arab scholar’s critique of academic research on Israel in the Arab world, which he describes as “Israelism”—a label suggested by Edward Said’s description of Western scholarship on the Middle East as “orientalism.”
Boyle, Francis Anthony. Palestine, Palestinians, and International Law. Atlanta: Clarity, 2003.
Assessment of the legal dimensions of the conflict, highly sympathetic to Palestinian arguments.
Khouri, Fred J. The Arab-Israel Dilemma. 3d ed. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1985.
Though somewhat out of date, Khouri’s work still stands out as a serious academic study of the conflict from an Arab perspective. Unflattering portrayals of both sides, though harsher on Israel’s leaders.
Morris, Benny. Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict, 1881–2001. New York: Vintage, 2001.
This extensive account adheres closely to primary and secondary sources in an inductive approach to accuracy and objectivity. Also useful as a basic reference.
O’Brien, William V. Law and Morality in Israel’s War with the PLO. New York and London: Routledge, 1991.
Though written a decade earlier, this work deals with many of the same questions as Boyle 2003 but reaches conclusions much more favorable to Israel.
Scham, Paul, Benjamin Pogrund, and As’ad Ghanem, eds. Special Issue: Shared Narratives—a Palestinian-Israeli Dialogue. Israel Studies 18.2 (Summer 2013).
This is a special issue of an Israeli academic journal, with four of the ten substantive articles contributed by Palestinian scholars. Provides an illuminating overview of the basic issues of the conflict.
Shlaim, Avi. The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World. London: Penguin, 2000.
Shlaim’s Israeli origins lead this to be classified as “post-Zionist” history; in any event, it is a carefully researched critique of Israel’s approach over the entire course of the conflict.
Tessler, Mark. A History of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. 2d ed. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2009.
Comprehensive and detailed, this history gives a sympathetic hearing to the claims and counterclaims of both sides. Its voluminous and thorough coverage makes it useful as a basic reference on all stages of the conflict.
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.
How to Subscribe
Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions and individuals. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here.
Purchase an Ebook Version of This Article
Ebooks of the Oxford Bibliographies Online subject articles are available in North America via a number of retailers including Amazon, vitalsource, and more. Simply search on their sites for Oxford Bibliographies Online Research Guides and your desired subject article.
If you would like to purchase an eBook article and live outside North America please email firstname.lastname@example.org to express your interest.
- Advanced Democracies, Electoral System Reform in
- Advanced Democracies, Public Opinion and Public Policy in
- Advertising and Election Campaigns in the United States
- Africa, Comparative Politics of
- Arab-Israel Conflict, The
- Arendt, Hannah
- Aristotle's Political Thought
- Australia and New Zealand, Comparative Politics of
- Authoritarianism in Russia
- Bicameralism in Stable Democracies
- Biopolitics and State Regulation of Human Life
- Brazilian Political Development
- Canadian Foreign Policy
- Candidate Emergence and Recruitment
- Channels of Electoral Representation in Advanced Industria...
- China's One-Child Policy
- China-Taiwan Relations
- Chinese Nationalism
- Civil War in Sub-Saharan Africa
- Civil-Military Relations in Asia
- Civil-Military Relations in Latin America
- Class in American Politics
- Comparative Capitalism Theory
- Comparative Politics of Angola, Mozambique, and Guinea-Bis...
- Comparative Politics of Chile and Uruguay
- Comparative Politics of Federalism
- Comparative Politics of the Middle East and North Africa
- Congress, Defense, and Foreign Policy
- Congressional Reassertion of Authority
- Conservative Litigation Strategies and Groups in US Judici...
- Corruption in China
- Cosmopolitan Political Thought
- Crisis of European Integration in Historical Perspective, ...
- Critical Theory and the Frankfurt School
- Cuban Political Development
- Cycles of Protest
- Democracy and Authoritarianism in Sub-Saharan Africa
- Democracy and Dictatorship in Central Asia
- Democracy in Latin America
- Democratic Citizenship
- Democratic Peace Theory
- Democratic Theory
- Democratization in Africa
- Democratization in Central America
- Democratization in Mexico
- Development of Survey Research
- Direct Democracy in the United States
- East Africa, Politics of
- Economic Voting
- Election Forecasting
- Election Laws in Democracies
- Electoral and Party System Development in Sub-Saharan Afri...
- Electoral Change in Latin America
- Emotion and Racial Attitudes in Contemporary American Poli...
- Environmental Governance
- Environmental Politics among Advanced Industrial Democraci...
- Ethnic Diasporas and US Foreign Policy
- Eurasia, Comparative Politics of
- European Social Democracy
- European Union, Politics of the
- Failed and Weak States in Theory and Practice
- Far-Right Parties in Europe
- Federalism in the United States
- Field Experiments
- Filibuster, The
- Gender and Electoral Politics in the United States
- Gender, Behavior, and Representation
- Global Inequality
- Globalization and the Welfare State
- Globalization, Health Crises, and Health Care
- Governance in Africa
- Governmental Responses to Political Corruption
- Gridlock and Divided Government in the U.S.
- Historiography of Twentieth-Century American Conservatism,...
- Hobbes’s Political Thought
- Hume’s Political Thought
- Hybrid Regimes
- Identity and Political Behavior
- Immigrant Incorporation in Canada
- Immigrant Incorporation in Western Europe
- Impact of Campaign Contributions on Congressional Behavior...
- Income Dynamics and Politics in North America and Europe
- Income Inequality and Advanced Democracies
- Income Inequality in the United States, The Politics of
- Indian Democracy
- Indigenous Rights and Governance in Canada, Australia, and...
- Informal Practices of Accountability in Urban Africa
- Institutional Change in Advanced Democracies
- Intellectual Property in International Relations
- Interest Groups in American Politics
- International Conflict Management
- International Criminal Justice
- International Law
- International NGOs
- International Political Economy of Illegal Drugs
- Internet and Politics, The
- Iran, Political Development of
- Israeli Politics
- Judicial Supremacy and National Judicial Review
- Kant's Political Thought
- Labor Politics in East Asia
- Land Reform in Latin America
- Latin America, Democratic Transitions in
- Latin America, Environmental Policy and Politics in
- Latin America, Guerrilla Insurgencies in
- Latin America, Social Movements in
- Legal Mobilization
- LGBT Politics in the United States
- Liberal Pluralism
- Local Governments in the United States
- Machiavelli’s Political Thought
- Marx's Political Thought
- Mechanisms of Representation
- Media Effects in Politics
- Minority Political Engagement and Representation in the Un...
- Modern Dynastic Rule
- Modern Elections and Voting Behavior in Europe
- National Interbranch Politics in the United States
- NATO, Politics of
- Neoclassical Realism
- New Institutionalism Revisited, The
- North America, Comparative Politics of
- Oil, Politics of
- Origins and Impact of Proportional Representation, The
- Outcomes of Social Movements and Protest Activities
- Partisan and Nonpartisan Theories of Organization in the U...
- Partisan Polarization in the US Congress
- Partisan Polarization in the US Electorate
- Party Networks
- Peace Operations
- Personality and Politics
- Plato's Political Thought
- Policy Responsiveness to Public Opinion
- Political Economy of Financial Regulation in Advanced Ind...
- Political Economy of Taxation, The
- Political Geography in American Politics
- Political Obligation
- Political Parties and Electoral Politics of Japan
- Political Thought, Hegel's
- Political Thought of the American Founders, The
- Politics and Policy in Contemporary Argentina
- Politics of Anti-Americanism
- Politics of Disaster Prevention and Management
- Politics of Financial Crises
- Politics of Foreign Direct Investment in South Asia
- Politics of Higher Education in the U.S.
- Politics of Internal Conquest in the United States and Can...
- Politics of Japan
- Politics of Natural Disasters, The
- Politics of North Korea
- Politics of Science and Technology
- Politics of South Africa
- Politics of Southern Africa
- Post-Communist Democratization
- Preferential Trade Agreements, Politics of
- Presidential Persuasion and Public Opinion
- Presidential Primaries and Caucuses
- Public Opinion in Advanced Industrial Democracies
- Public Opinion in New Democracies and Developing Nations
- Qualitative Methods, The Renewal of
- Race in American Political Thought
- Regime Transitions and Variation in Post-Communist Europe
- Regional Integration in Latin America
- Regional Security
- Regulating Food Production
- Religion in American Political Thought
- Religion, Politics, and Civic Engagement in the United Sta...
- Rousseau's Political Thought
- Rule of Law
- Russia and the West
- Science and Democracy
- Social Policy and Immigrant Integration
- South Korea, Politics of
- Spectacle, The
- State Building in Sub-Saharan Africa
- State Formation
- State, The Nature of the
- Supreme Court of the United States, The
- Systemic Theories of International Politics
- Taiwan, Politics of
- Tea Party, The
- The New Right in American Political Thought
- Transitional Justice
- Turkey, Political Development of
- US Military Bases Abroad
- US Presidency, The
- Voter Turnout
- Welfare State Development
- Welfare State Development in Latin America
- Welfare State Development in Western Europe
- West Africa, Politics of
- Worker Politics in China
- Youth and Generational Differences in US Politics