HIS 474: History of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Course Description

This course will focus on a detailed overview of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Emphasis will be placed on events leading to the creation and expansion of Israel, the history of the Israeli government and policy, and the evolution of the Palestinian national independence movement including the Palestinian Liberation Organization and Hamas.


  • ENG 101: English Composition 1
  • ENG 102: English Composition 2

Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs)

Students who successfully complete this course will be able to:

  1. Briefly explain the origins and nature of Zionism, including reasons for its initial unpopularity and the role of the Holocaust in making it a viable movement.
  2. Describe the British Mandate and its role in creating an on-going conflict in Palestine.
  3. Identify and explain the reasons for the United Nations partition of Palestine and the ways it reflected a continued anti-Semitism among nations.
  4. Briefly identify the ways in which both American and Soviet policies toward Israel and her neighbors shifted dramatically during, and because of, the Cold War (including how and why the Suez War was a turning point in this history).
  5. Define the meaning of rejectionism, unilateralism, and terrorism (conventional, state-sponsored, and state-perpetrated) and how each has posed problems in Israeli-Palestinian relations.
  6. Identify the reasons for the origins of key national liberation groups both Zionist (Irgun, LEHI) and anti-Zionist (PLO, Hamas).
  7. Briefly explain the pivotal events of 1967 (Six Day/June War) and 1970 (Black September) and their ongoing implications for current events.
  8. Describe the Yom Kippur/1973 War, the Camp David Accord, and their pivotal implications (in terms of alliances and available territory) regarding the level of viability for an Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement.
  9. Succinctly describe the most pressing internal tensions among Israelis: the “What is a Jew?” question and its implications for settlement and foreign policies; and the 1977 Israeli political realignment and its repercussions.
  10. Explain the reasons for the radicalization of, and internal fighting within, the Palestinian liberation movement evident in the emergence, growth, and election of Hamas, and evident in the two Intifadas.
  11. Briefly explain the reasons for Labor Party negotiation failures (including why Oslo failed and why Camp David II never got off the ground).
  12. Briefly describe the central events in the decline of the Labor Party and the creation of Kadima as an alternative to Likud (part of a continued rightward drift in Israeli politics).
  13. Describe the ways in which American-Iranian tensions (including respective worries over Iran’s nuclear ambitions and Israel’s nuclear arsenal) caused the 2006 Israeli invasion of Lebanon.
  14. Succinctly describe the quality of daily life for Palestinians under martial law and behind the “security fence,” and for Israelis increasingly worried about terrorist activity.

Course Activities and Grading


Discussions: Short Answer Conceptual Questions (Weeks 1-8)


Discussions: Long Answer (Short Essay) Analytical Questions (Weeks 1-8)


Research Paper (Week 8)




Required Textbooks

Available through Charter Oak State College's online bookstore

  • Hroub, Khaled. (2010). Hamas: A Beginner's Guide (2nd edition). Pluto Press. ISBN-13: 978-0-7453-2972-7
  • Smith, Charles D. (2021). Palentine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict (10th edition). Bedford/ St. Martin's Press. ISBN: 9781319115746

Optional Texts

Not available through bookstore

  • Dershowitz, Alan (2003). The Case for Israel. Wiley Publishing. ISBN: 047146502X
  • Gans, Chaim (2008). Just Zionism: On the Morality of the Jewish State. Oxford University Press. ISBN: 019534068X
  • Parry, William. (2011). Against the Wall: The Art of Resistance in Palenstine. Chicago: Lawrence Hill Books. ISBN-13: 978-1-56976-704-7
  • Said, Edward (1992). The Question of Palestine. Vintage Publishing. ISBN: 0679739882

Course Schedule



Readings and Exercises



1-3, 5, 9

  • Topics:

    1. The historical and cultural context: the Ottoman Empire and beyond.
    2. The origins of Zionism and anti-Zionism.
    3. World War I and Britain’s influence: Sykes-Picot Agreement and the Balfour Declaration.
  • Readings:
      • Smith - Prologue, Chapters 1 and 2
  • Read  assigned chapters
  • Participate in the Discussions
  • Review the Lecture material



  • Topics:

    1. Between the wars: Expansion and rebellion.
    2. World War II: Promises were made.
    3. Holocaust and its consequences.
    4. Not in my back yard: Israel’s creation (United Nations partition as jump ball geo-politics.)
  • Readings:
    • Smith - Chapters 3 and 4
  • Read assigned chapters
  • Participate in the Discussions
  • Review the Lecture material



  • Topics:

    1. Rejectionism: Fear and Expansion.
    2. Cold War politics: US, USSR, France, and Britain.
    3. The Lavon Affair.
    4. Water Wars.
    5. The Last Good Deed? The Suez War and America’s hand.
    6. PLO origins.
    7. The Six Day/June War and the legacy of Suez: the Liberty incident.
  • Readings:
    • Smith - Chapters 5 and 6
  • Read assigned chapters
  • Participate in the Discussions
  • Review the Lecture material


4, 5, 7-9

  • Topics:

    1. Black September and the Palestinian Diaspora.
    2. Yom Kippur/1973 War.
    3. The Lebanese Civil War.
    4. Israel’s political realignment: the rise of Likud.
    5. The Camp David Accords.
    6. The first Israeli invasion of Lebanon.
  • Readings:
    • Smith - Chapters 7 and 8
  • Read assigned chapters
  • Participate in the Discussions
  • Review the Lecture material


5, 6, 10, 14

  • Topics:

    1. The new kid on the block: the origins of Hamas.
    2. Spontaneous uprising: the Intifada.
    3. The Camp of Return
    4. Complication of international politics: Gulf War I and Arafat's PLO
  • Readings:
    • Smith - Chapter 9
    • Hroub – Preface, Introductions, & Chapters 1 – 3

      Tamimi, “An All Out War” (posted)

  • Read assigned chapters
  • Participate in the Discussions
  • Review the Lecture material


9-12, 14

  • Topics:

    1. The Oslo Accords.
    2. The Rabin assassination and the return of Likud.
    3. “He doesn’t look Jewish to me”: Israeli culture wars intensify.
    4. The Mish’al Affair.
  • Readings:
    • Smith - Chapter 10
    • Hroub – Chapters 4 - 9
  • Read assigned chapters
  • Participate in the Discussions
  • Review the Lecture material


5, 10, 12-14

  • Topics:

    1. Failed “negotiations” (again): the Camp David debacle.
    2. Begging for trouble: Sharon and the second Intifada.
    3. America becomes Israeli? 9/11 and its consequences.
    4. A new Berlin Wall? The “security fence.”
    5. Israeli unilateralism and withdrawal from Gaza.
  • Readings:
    • Smith - Chapter 11
    • Hroub - Chapters 10 & 11
  • Read assigned chapters
  • Participate in the Discussions
  • Review the Lecture material


5, 10, 12-14

  • Topics:
    1. Palestinian infighting.
    2. Further and further apart: 2006 Election of Hamas and Elections in 2009 and beyond, Likud-led coalitions.
      1. “Oslo is Dead”
      2. Israel-Gaza War of 2014
      3. Trump Embraces Jerusalem; Supports Israeli Annexation of Gaza and Settlement Expansions; Buys National Recognitions of Israeli Statehood; and Proposes a Two-State “Peace” “Plan.”
    3. Educated guesses about the future: more heartache for Palestinians, further growth for Islamic “fundamentalism”, nuclear proliferation worries, and the new terrorism?
    4. Conclusions.
  • Readings:
    • Hroub - Chapters 12 & 13
    • Smith - Chapter 12
  • Read assigned chapters
  • Participate in the Discussions
  • Review the Lecture material
  • Submit Research Paper

Research Paper
10-12 pages
Assess one or more key claims by Azzam Tamimi
(see Assignments Board for details about the paper requirements)


COSC Accessibility Statement

Charter Oak State College encourages students with disabilities, including non-visible disabilities such as chronic diseases, learning disabilities, head injury, attention deficit/hyperactive disorder, or psychiatric disabilities, to discuss appropriate accommodations with the Office of Accessibility Services at OAS@charteroak.edu.

COSC Policies, Course Policies, Academic Support Services and Resources

Students are responsible for knowing all Charter Oak State College (COSC) institutional policies, course-specific policies, procedures, and available academic support services and resources. Please see COSC Policies for COSC institutional policies, and see also specific policies related to this course. See COSC Resources for information regarding available academic support services and resources.