Expanded description: Each class will involve discussion of the readings and there shouldn’t need to be much by way of lecturing. The media have tended to give undue space to extremists on both sides; our goal will be to listen to those who prefer discussion and argument to weapons. In a largely Christian setting the aim will be to understand.

The main text will be Avi Shlaim’s, The Iron Wall, available new on bookfinder.com for as little as $17, used for as little as $4. Since it is over 800 pages, we shan’t have a second main text, but we’ll have plenty of readings distributed electronically from other sources. We’ll end with reading Amos Oz’s How to Cure a Fanatic (available through bookfinder.com for as little as $7 new and $5 used) and see how recent events have borne out the wisdom of what Oz had to offer decades ago. Edward Said’s The Question of Palestine is more than forty years old, but chapters will be used to illustrate a Palestinian position (even if Said was not born in Palestine).

Class 1: Biblical and Quranic Claims to the Land. Readings from the Torah and the Koran (electronic).

Class 2: The Mediaeval Experiences of Islam and Judaism from Spain to the Holy Land.   Readings from Ashtor’s The Jews of Moslem Spain. (electronic)

Class 3: The Enlightenment and the Decay of the Ottoman Empire. Readings from Shlomo Avineri’s The Making of Modern Zionism. (electronic).

Class 4: Anti-Semitism in Europe and the Birth of Zionism. More from Avineri’s book. (electronic).

Class 5: From the First World War to the Holocaust—the Balfour Declaration, T.E. Lawrence, and Accusations of Betrayal. Shlaim, pp. 7-55; Tom Segev, One Palestine Complete, pp. 468-486 (electronic).

Class 6: The Foundation of the State of Israel and the Six-Day War. Shlaim, pp. 232-284; Said, The Question of Palestine, pp. 3-14 (electronic).

Class 7: The intifadas and the Failure of Peace Efforts. Shlaim, pp. 465-475, pp. 690-693;  Norman Finkelstein, Beyond Chutzpah, pp. 96-130 (electronic).

Class 8: Efforts to Create a Two-State Solution and the Political Possibilities in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. Shlaim, pp. 794-814; Timothy Brennan, Places of Mind (a life of Edward Said), pp. 316-344 (electronic); Amos Oz, How to Cure a Fanatic.