38 episodes

Israel Studies Seminar: Perspectives on Israel.
During this academic year, the Israel Studies Seminar will explore what it means to widen the horizons of conventional discourse about Israel by focusing on various perspectives of Israel.
The seminar’s objective is to situate Israel within broader contexts, including thematic, theoretical, methodological, epistemological, and geo-strategical. Our speakers this year are invited to offer views of Israel from the socio-political or historical vantage points of various traditions, groups, cultures and states, or from certain epistemological perspectives. We hope that by doing so we will be able to illuminate topics that may be otherwise neglected in the field of Israel studies, but are nevertheless crucial for understanding Israeli and Middle Eastern politics at large.

Israel Studies Seminar Oxford University

    • Courses

Israel Studies Seminar: Perspectives on Israel.
During this academic year, the Israel Studies Seminar will explore what it means to widen the horizons of conventional discourse about Israel by focusing on various perspectives of Israel.
The seminar’s objective is to situate Israel within broader contexts, including thematic, theoretical, methodological, epistemological, and geo-strategical. Our speakers this year are invited to offer views of Israel from the socio-political or historical vantage points of various traditions, groups, cultures and states, or from certain epistemological perspectives. We hope that by doing so we will be able to illuminate topics that may be otherwise neglected in the field of Israel studies, but are nevertheless crucial for understanding Israeli and Middle Eastern politics at large.

    Lotem Perry-Hazan: Ethnic segregation in the Haredi education in Israel: Policies and practices

    Lotem Perry-Hazan: Ethnic segregation in the Haredi education in Israel: Policies and practices

    Lotem Perry-Hazzan discusses ethnic discrimination in admissions to Haredi schools in Israel Haredi education has been dominated by the Ashkenazic Haredi Independent Education school network since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. During the 1980s the Sephardic Haredi community established its own school network so as to avoid the discriminatory practices of the Ashkenazi-dominated schools. However, many Sephardic Haredi parents have preferred not to send their children to the Sephardic Haredi schools, which are perceived by these parents as less prestigious. Over the last decade, the issue of discriminatory admission policies to Haredi schools has been extensively deliberated in secular courts. The presentation will discuss the legal efforts to eradicate the discrimination in Haredi schools and account to their social and political implications. It will present, inter alia, an empirical study that demonstrated how policy changes prompted Sephardic Haredi parents to claim their rights.

    Dr. Lotem Perry-Hazan is Head of the Centre for Jewish and Democratic Education and the Educational Management Program at the University of Haifa, Israel. Her research interests include the intersection of law, religion, and culture in education and children’s rights in education. Many of her studies have focused on Haredi education in Israel and in other countries. Dr. Perry-Hazan is a graduate of NYU School of Law (LL.M., 2006) and the University of Haifa’s Faculty of Law (LL.B., 2004; Ph.D., 2011). She was a visiting scholar at the European Association for Education Law and Policy at Antwerp University (2012), Harvard University Graduate School of Education (2014), and Melbourne University Faculty of Education (2018).

    • 1 hr
    Heather Munro: Ashkenazi Hegemony in Haredi Israeli Society and Implications for the Future

    Heather Munro: Ashkenazi Hegemony in Haredi Israeli Society and Implications for the Future

    Heather Monro discusses the implications of Ashkenazi Hegemony in the Israeli Haredi society. Discrimination against Sephardim has become a growing issue in the Haredi world in Israel, but one which has taken a backseat to the more pressing questions of gender inequality and the religious-secular divide. Heather Munro's research has revealed that new Haredi feminist movements are increasingly engaged with the intersectionality debates of mainstream equality movements, and Sephardi discrimination is often inextricably wound up with other community struggles. Ashkenazi women with whom she engages articulate an Orientalist-type perception of Sephardim, including a rhetoric of cultural superiority. Sephardi women describe the way in which they have experienced discrimination as overly sexualising; most discrimination has occurred around issues of access to Ashkenazi institutional services like schools, which are perceived by both Sephardim and Ashkenazim as higher quality. Women are beginning to engage with the question of Sephardi discrimination through new Haredi feminist movements, which are gaining support despite Ashkenazi rabbinical denouncements of women politicians. Women may, ultimately, be the drivers behind anti-discrimination movements within the Israeli Haredi world.

    • 36 min
    The Making of the Israeli Far Right Book Talk by Peter Bergamin

    The Making of the Israeli Far Right Book Talk by Peter Bergamin

    Peter Bergamin discusses his new book: The Making of the Israeli Far-Right: Abba Ahimeir and Zionist Ideology Abba Ahimeir (1897 –1962) writer, journalist and historian began his public life as a socialist, but subsequently moved toward the rightward extreme of Zionist ideology. One of the earliest opponents of the British Mandate, in 1930 he founded a radical organization called Brit Habiryonim (the Union of Zionist Rebels). This was a clandestine, self-declared fascist faction of the Revisionist Zionist Movement (ZRM) in Palestine whose official ideology was Maximalist Revisionism, an ideology for which Ahimeir is now most well-known. Ahimeir's career as a political activist came to an early end, when he was arrested in connection with the murder of the Labour Zionist leader, Chaim Arlosoroff. Although acquitted, Ahimeir nonetheless went to prison for his involvement as a political activist. Bergamin's book is the first intellectual biography of one of the most influential figures on the Zionist Right. Based on much unseen primary source material from the Ahimeir archive in Ramat Gan and the Jabotinsky Institute in Tel Aviv, as well as Ahimeir's newspaper articles, Bergamin provides a rigorous analysis of Ahimeir's ideological development. The book positions him more accurately within the contexts of the Israeli right and the Zionist movement in general, updates common misunderstanding about this period of history and revises Israeli collective memory.

    • 50 min
    Seyed Ali Alavi - Iran and Palestine: Past, Present and Future

    Seyed Ali Alavi - Iran and Palestine: Past, Present and Future

    Ali Alavi discusses the history of Iran's relations with Palestinian organisation and the Palestinian cause, and their implication to Iranian-Israeli relations. Examining the nature of relations between the Islamic Republic of Iran and Palestine, the talk investigates the relationship between state and authorities in the Middle East. Analysing the connections of the Iranian revolutionary movements, both the Left and the Islamic camps’ perspectives are scrutinised. To provide a historical background to the post-revolutionary period, the genealogy of pro-Palestinian sentiments before 1979 are also traced. The lecture contextualises the events from the beginning of the Palestinian predicament to the post-Arab spring era.
    In demonstrating the pro-Palestinian stance of post-revolutionary Iran, the study focuses on the roots of the ideological outlook and the interest of the state. The study also investigates the connections between the Islamic Republic and the Palestinian Islamic Movements of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in depth. Despite a growing body of literature on the Iranian Revolution and its impacts on the region, Iran’s connection with Palestine has been overlooked. This talk fills the gap in academia and enables the audience to unpack the history of the two states. Ultimately the talk aims to answer the questions: what the roots of Iranian pro-Palestinian tendencies are. The talk is based on the book (Iran and Palestine, Past Present, Future) published in August 2019. It transforms the notion of solidarity into a concept of desire for justice. In order to complete the book, the author conducted valuable interviews with Palestinian high representatives in Iran and some Iranian prominent academics active in the sociology of the Palestinian cause.

    Seyed Ali Alavi is a Teaching Fellow in the Department of Politics and International Studies at SOAS, University of London. He holds a PhD in Politics from SOAS. Ali’s book “Iran and Palestine, Past, Present, Future” was published by Routledge in 2019. Ali also writes and comments about contemporary politics of the Middle East and Europe and he has appeared in a number of interviews by Euronews, Al-Jazeera English, RT, LBC Radio, Radio Four and other outlets. Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales; http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/

    • 47 min
    Tamar Calahorra, Competition between Members of Parliament and Governmental ministries on Policy Outcomes through Legislation – Israel as a Test case

    Tamar Calahorra, Competition between Members of Parliament and Governmental ministries on Policy Outcomes through Legislation – Israel as a Test case

    Dr. Calahorra studies some dramatic changes in the ways legislation is conducted in Israel Politicians, whether they be ordinary MPs and or government ministers (GMs), compete on the ability to influence policy outcomes. After elections and the formation of government, they do that through legislation ("Competition through Legislation"), in parliamentary democracies that allow such competition. This is a two-stage competition: the initiation of a bill – drafting the bill and filing it with parliament’s administration – and the actual legislation of the bill. It is not always competition between two conflicting policy goals. Sometimes both MPs and the GMs propose very similar bills, which wish to advance the same policy goal in similar ways, and sometimes they propose bills with conflicting goals. It is an unfair and unequal competition, as usually the rules of the legislative procedure usually favor the government’s bills (GBs) over those of the MPs (PMBs).
    In most countries where competition through legislation is theoretically possible it does not take place in fact. In Israel, it does. What makes Israel interesting and possibly unique is not only the enormous number of bills initiated, according to the Knesset's National Legislation Data, (6642 bills during 4 years of the 20th Knesset, 2015-2019) but also the fact that 90% of the bills were Private Members' Bills (PMBs), and only 9% were Government Bills. Even more interesting is the fact that 88% of the PMBs (5317) did not even make it to the preliminary stage of legislation, and only 4% (246) actually passed the third reading and became law. The Government was more successful, with 57% of its bills becoming law (359 out of 595), but still, in total, only 9% of the bills proposed during the 20th Knesset actually became law.
    The Data further shows a consistent rise in the total number of bills that had been submitted to the Knesset over the years, with an exponential rise in the number of PMBs, from less than a dozen in the 1st Knesset in 1949 to more than 6000 the 20th Knesset. The number of GBs, has more than doubled to almost 600. Until the 80’s (10th Knesset), the majority of the submitted bills were GBs but since then, a decisive majority of the bills is PMBs. The government has grown less successful in legislating GBs over the years: from 92% in average until the 80’s to 55% in the 2000’s. The total success rate of legislation, of all origins, has dropped from 87% in average in the 50’s to 10% in average since the 90’s.
    There are many possible explanations for this phenomena: The transfer of government from Labor to Likud in 1977; The rise of judicial activism in the early 80’s; The changes in the electoral system; The rise and fall of democratic internal party candidate selection; The introduction of the human rights Basic Laws and the constitutional revolution; The weakness of other parliamentary tools; The gradual weakening of the government due to the reduction in size of the coalition; The gradual rise in the power of the Knesset's committees.
    By using Israel as a test-case, and theories on government’s agenda setting powers and the way that vote seeking and coalition considerations affect legislation, I will try to answer such questions as: What factors affect the competition between MPs and GMs through legislation (agenda setting powers, vote-seeking, coalition agreements)? What are the incentives of a GM to initiate a bill and to see it through the legislative process in comparison to those of an MP (from the opposition or from the coalition)?
    The Israeli test-case can also help answer questions such as what are the advantages and disadvantages of competition through legislations. On the one hand, it promotes pluralism, facilitates cooperation between different sides of the political map and promotes social consensus. It can also cir

    • 1 hr 3 min
    Nancy Hawker - Palestinian multilingualism: A perfectly normal adaptation to colonialism, conflict and late capitalism

    Nancy Hawker - Palestinian multilingualism: A perfectly normal adaptation to colonialism, conflict and late capitalism

    Nancy Hawker (The Aga Khan University) considers the developing place of Arabic in official nation-statist platforms in Israel In the governing institutions of Israel, Arabic is suppressed. This practice crystallised in the early years of the state: there were points in history where it might not have gone in the direction of suppression; some activists in the 1960s had campaigned for some kind of minority Arabic-speaking official state platform to be maintained. In relation to insider/outsider dynamics, Arabic-speakers who also speak Hebrew make linguistic choices that result in the avoidance of Arabic in situations where Jewish Israelis are also present. These two elements form the sociolinguistic habitus of the Palestinians and other Arabs in the area controlled by Israel.
    When speaking Arabic, to give their propositions authority, Palestinians and other Arabs mobilise multilingual repertoires, including codeswitching with and borrowing from Hebrew, for rhetoric effect and style. The analysis moves away from scholarship that has been concerned 'language endangerment' which has channeled concerns about political problems. The Palestinian multilinguals are performing the aspirations of an emergent middle class elite. On the political stage, this elite challenges the ethnorepublican political structures of Israel, as well as ethnonationalist campaigns, with different inhabitations of citizenship that envisage liberal equality, dignity and autonomy. Under conditions of late capitalism, multilingual language skills are re-packaged as marketable resource: this creates value, but in a contested way, with ambivalent opportunities.
    With evidence from fieldwork on the political campaigning trails, from street surveys, from cultural products, and from archive sources, the research presented at the seminar contributes to work in sociolinguistics linking language with politics via discursive practices that negotiate who is a legitimate speaker. In conclusion it considers that speakers with sufficient linguistic and material resources – an elite class – form (political, cultural) platforms on which they insist on the legitimacy of their speech. This is not a pattern confined to Palestinians: it is a perfectly normal adaptation of speakers of undervalued languages communicating in contexts of linguistic hegemonies.

    Dr Nancy Hawker (DPhil Oxon, MA SOAS) is the 2019 Research Fellow at the Aga Khan University – Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations (https://www.aku.edu/govprogramme/Pages/home.aspx). Her current research analyses audience receptivity to women's testimonies that have been translated between Arabic and English in human rights organisations. Her main research has been on the sociolinguistics of Palestinian Arabic and Modern Israeli Hebrew in zones of contact and conflict. After publishing Palestinian-Israeli Contact and Linguistic Practices (2013), her Leverhulme Fellowship at Oxford University (2014-2019) resulted in The Politics of Palestinian Multilingualism: Speaking for Citizenship (2019). She previously worked at Amnesty International’s Secretariat in London.
    Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales; http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/

    • 1 hr 11 min

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