Essential Israel: Essays for the 21st Century

436 pp. 4 illustrations, 5 maps, 2 tables, 6x9"
ISBN, 978-0-253-02711-5

Essential Israel

essential israelEssays for the 21st Century

S. Ilan Troen and Rachel Fish, eds.

Essential Israel is an innovative and engaging volume of essays designed for American readers who want to be better-informed about Israel: its history and culture, its place in the Middle East, and its changing relations to the United Nations and the United States. In a highly readable style, expert contributors illuminate current issues and concerns in their historical and contemporary contexts. Each chapter can be read as an independent unit, but chapters also cluster naturally around such topics as the Arab-Israeli conflict and the peace process; Zionism and settlement; the Holocaust; immigration, religion, and issues of personal status in a Jewish and democratic state; American Jews and Israel; changing Christian and Muslim attitudes to Israel; and identity as expressed in the Hebrew language through Israeli literature, film, and music. The volume’s diverse essays provide a compelling and nuanced view of complexity essential for a grounded understanding of Israel and the public debate that surrounds it today.

"Essential Israel superbly fulfills its stated mission—to gather together a group of energetically written and accessible essays, based on sound scholarship, that provide reasonably comprehensive overviews of the main areas of Israeli culture and history. The result is a book that will speak to the full range of interests people are likely to have, something a historical account alone cannot do. People new to the subject will find this a perfect place to start, but many who feel they know Israel well will also find much here that is new." —Cary Nelson, Professor Emeritus of English, University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign

"Contemporary Israel commands considerable public attention, yet literacy about Israel is surprisingly limited. This collection of original essays probes “Israel literacy” without polemics or advocacy. It raises public understanding by pressing key questions about Israel, its politics, demography, international relations, and culture. Short of travel to and study in Israel itself, this is the next best thing. An indispensable addition to make to your book shelf." —Kenneth Waltzer, Professor Emeritus of History and Former Director of Jewish Studies, Michigan State University

"Essential Israel is an essential antidote to the underlying problem in how Americans, including Jewish Americans, understand Israel. Despite the confidence that many have in their views of Israel, they have limited knowledge. The essays in this volume educate and make possible reasoned discourse about Israel and its role in the world. This volume deserves to be widely read" —Professor Leonard Sax, Director of the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies and the Steinhardt Social Research Institute, Brandeis University

"Essential Israel addresses the intriguing complexities of Israeli history, politics, society, and culture. Written by leading experts and crafted for an American audience with simplicity and elegance they will enhance an understanding of the intricacies of Israeli society for students in the classroom and for a public anxious to understand that complicated country." —Professor Elie Rekhess, Department of History, Associate Director, The Crown Family Center for Jewish and Israel Studies, Northwestern University

S. ILAN TROEN '63 is Stoll Family Chair in Israel Studies at Brandeis University, founding director of the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies and president of the Association for Israel Studies.

RACHEL FISH PhD '13, is associate director of the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies and teaches Israeli history at Brandeis University.

This volume is published by Indiana University Press as part of their Perspectives on Israel Studies series. To purchase.