New study reveals how Israel is taught in colleges





Supporters of Israel have worried of late that much of the campus discussion about the country has taken place in rallies and counter-rallies on the quad, and not in the classroom. But a study released Wednesday found significant growth in the past few years in the number of courses focused on Israel. Further, these courses are appearing in a wider range of disciplines than in the past and do not focus exclusively on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or the military history of Israel.

At 246 colleges for which data were collected in both 2005-6 and 2008-9, the number of courses focused on Israel increased by 69 percent, to 548. The colleges studied included a wide range of research universities and liberal arts colleges, and a mix of institutions with larger and smaller Jewish student populations. Of the top 20 national universities in U.S. News & World Report rankings in 2008-9, all but one offered Israel-focused courses and 12 offered four or more. Three years earlier, five offered no such courses and only three offered four or more....

The relationship between courses about Israel and Israel studies programs and Middle Eastern studies has been controversial at times. Many advocates for Israel accuse Middle Eastern studies scholars of being hostile to Israel or of ignoring Israel, while many of those scholars say that some pro-Israel groups get upset about any criticism of Israel and don't respect academic freedom....


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