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The Zionist Political Divide: Exploring the Left-Right Debate

In this course, we will examine the conflict in Zionism between the political left and right through five major events in the history of the British Mandate and the Israeli state: the Arlossorov Affair in 1933, the Partition Debate of 1937-39, the sinking of the Altalena in 1948, the victory of Menachem Begin in the elections of 1977, and the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin in 1995. We’ll explore Zionist history as a clash over principles and not just a set of tactical moves by one or another political party. The course will further show how the political right was marginalized in the first three decades of Israeli democracy but has won the day in recent decades through its appeal to Vladimir Jabotinsky’s vision of individual economic responsibility, a strong military defense, and an expanded geography to accommodate as many Jews as possible who want to come to Israel.

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