In This Article Israeli Politics

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews and Textbooks
  • Journals
  • Websites
  • State Building

Political Science Israeli Politics
by
Gideon Rahat, Avi Shilon
  • LAST REVIEWED: 04 November 2019
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 November 2019
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756223-0059

Introduction

Israel is a parliamentary democracy that was established in 1948. However, the foundations of its political system were laid before the state was established, in the framework of the Zionist movement and the Jewish community in Palestine, especially at the time of the British Mandate (1920–1948). Israel is a multi-cleavage society. The main rift is between Jews (about 75 percent of the population, as of 2019) and Arab/Palestinian citizens (about 20 percent). Prominent rifts also exist among the Jews: the religious–secular rift, the intra-Jewish communal rift (Ashkenazi-Mizrachi), the ideological rift (left-right), and the rift between new and veteran immigrants and the natives. Partly as a result of the highly proportional electoral system, these social rifts are translated into multiparty politics and coalition governments.

General Overviews and Textbooks

Galnoor and Blander 2018, Sasley and Waller 2016, and Mahler 2016 are introductory textbooks. Hazan, et al. 2018 is a new and comprehensive updated collection of chapters on various key aspects of Israeli politics and society. Peters and Geist Pinfold 2018 is also a collection that examines the external and internal threats, opportunities, and other issues facing contemporary Israel. Shapira 2014 and Shapira 2018 present the history of the Yishuv and Israel from the late 19th century to the present day. Shafir and Peled 2002 is a critical study that focuses on identity and citizenship and its development from the inception of the Zionist movement to the present. Eisenstadt 1992 presents a historical and comparative perspective on the survival and adaptations of the Jewish culture and discusses the Israeli polity within this perspective. Troen 2018 presents a survey of the development of “Israel Studies” as an academic field.

  • Eisenstadt, Shmuel N. Jewish Civilization: The Jewish Historical Experience in a Comparative Perspective. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1992.

    E-mail Citation »

    This work presents a historical and comparative perspective on the survival and adaptations of the Jewish culture in the modern age, and presents the Israeli polity against the background of this perspective.

  • Galnoor, Itzhak, and Dana Blander. The Handbook of Israel’s Political System. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2018.

    DOI: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780190675585.001.0001E-mail Citation »

    A comprehensive introductory textbook. The volume includes chapters on state formation, political institutions, civil society, and various aspects of political behavior. It also discusses topics of security, the status of Israel’s Arab/Palestinian citizens, economic inequality and social gaps, and religion and state, and it gives overviews of Israel’s political culture.

  • Hazan, Reuven Y., Alan Dowty, Menachem Hofnung, and Gideon Rahat, eds. The Oxford Handbook of Israeli Politics and Society. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018.

    DOI: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780190675585.001.0001E-mail Citation »

    An updated and comprehensive collection that covers a wide range of key aspects of Israeli politics and society. Leading scholars provide more than thirty-five chapters under five headings, including historical, demographic, and conceptual framework; the social fabric in Israel; the main political institutions; and Israel’s foreign relations.

  • Mahler, Gregory S. Politics and Government in Israel: The Maturation of a Modern State. 3d ed. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2016.

    E-mail Citation »

    A basic textbook that supplies an overview of the historical, political, and social setting, the main political institutions (government, parties, interest groups); and foreign policy, including the issue of the peace process.

  • Peters, Joel, and Rob Geist Pinfold, eds. Understanding Israel: Political, Societal and Security Challenges. London: Routledge, 2018.

    E-mail Citation »

    A collection that analyzes the external and internal threats, opportunities, and other issues that relate to contemporary Israel. It comprises sixteen chapters on the Israeli political system, Israeli society, and more. It emphasizes geopolitical, foreign policy, and security challenges.

  • Sasley, Brent E., and Harold M. Waller. Politics in Israel: Governing a Complex Society. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016.

    E-mail Citation »

    A basic introductory textbook that briefly examines Israeli political history, society, political institutions and issues such as voting patterns, political economy, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

  • Shafir, Gershon, and Yoav Peled. Being Israeli: The Dynamics of Multiple Citizenship. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9781139164641E-mail Citation »

    A critical study that focuses on identity and citizenship and its development from the beginning of the modern Zionist movement up to the present. The book deals with the various social rifts and their development, with changes in the economic arena and the implications of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

  • Shapira, Anita. Israel: A History. Waltham, MA: Brandeis University Press, 2014.

    E-mail Citation »

    The book presents the history of Israel from the origins of the Zionist movement in the late 19th century to the early 21st century.

  • Shapira, Anita. “Political History of Israel.” In The Oxford Handbook of Israeli Politics and Society. Edited by Reuven Y. Hazan, Alan Dowty, Menachem Hofnung, and Gideon Rahat. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018.

    DOI: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780190675585.013.5E-mail Citation »

    This chapter in this online book offers a profound overview of the political framework of the Jewish community in Palestine before the statehood era and of Israel since then. The two periods are tied together by the dominance of the Left from the 1930s until the “upheaval” of 1977, which fundamentally changed the context of Israeli politics. It also documents the growing polarization in Israeli politics along ideological, communal, religious, and ethnic lines.

  • Troen, Ilan. “Israel as a Field of Study: Historic Overview.” In: The Oxford Handbook of Israeli Politics and Society. Edited by Reuven Y. Hazan, Alan Dowty, Menachem Hofnung, and Gideon Rahat. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018.

    DOI: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780190675585.013.2E-mail Citation »

    This chapter in this online book follows the development of “Israel Studies” as an academic field.

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