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Zionist Settlement – Colonialism or Colonization? (2017)

Contributor(s): Ilan Troen, Stoll Family Chair in Israel Studies, Brandeis University
Topics(s): Zionism and Nationalisms
Date: May 8, 2017

This SIIS faculty syllabus provides a comprehensive list of essential readings related to Zionism and the settling of land in Palestine/Israel. The syllabus also includes material on important debates related to this topic, including: settlements, partition, kibbutzim, Indigeneity,  and one/two state solutions.

Essential Reading


S. Ilan Troen
Imagining Zion: Dreams, Designs, and Realities in  a Century of Zionist Settlement
(New Haven 2003), Chs.1, 3, 8    ISBN/ISSN: 0300094833
[Links to ebook for those with Brandeis account]


Gershon Shafir.
“Zionism and Colonialism: A Comparative Approach,”
in Ilan Pappe, ed., The Israel/Palestine Question: Rewriting Histories
(London, 1999), pp. 81-96
ISBN/ISSN: 0415169488


David Grossman, The Yellow Wind (New York: 1988). Selections.

Rachel Fish, “Bi-Nationalist Visions for the Construction and Dissolution of the State of Israel,” Israel Studies 19:2 (2014), pp. 15-34.

Seth J. Frantzman, Havatzelet Yahel, Ruth Kark, “Contested Indigeneity: The Development of an Indigenous Discourse on the Bedouin of the Negev, Israel,”Israel Studies, 17:1 (2012), 78-104.

Recommended Viewing

Part I  of the documentary Tel Aviv – Jaffa by Anat Zeltser and Modi Bar-On.

Recommended Reading


Boaz Neumann
Land and Desire in Early Zionism
(Waltham: Brandeis, 2011),
Chapter 1; Chapter 6; Chapter 4.



Uri Ram
The Colonization Perspective in Israeli Sociology,”
in Ilan Pappe, ed., The Israel/Palestine Question: Rewriting Histories
(London, 1999), pp. 55-80.


Berl Locker, The Jews and Palestine: Historical Connection and Historic Right
(London, Palestine Labour Studies Group, 1938).


Gideon Shimoni
The Zionist Ideology
(Hanover, NH, 1995)
Ch. 8: “The Right to the Land“.
ISBN/ISSN: 0874517036



Julius Stone
Israel and Palestine: Assault on the Law of Nations
(Baltimore, 1981)
pp. 1-97
ISBN/ISSN: 0801825350



Gershom Gorenberg
The Accidental Empire: Israel and the Birth of the Settlements 1967-1977
ISBN: 080507564X



Deborah Dash Moore and S. Ilan Troen, “Introduction,” in Divergent Jewish Cultures Israel and America, edited by Deborah Dash Moore and S. Ilan Troen (New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 2001), pp. 1-24

Henry Cattan, To Whom Does Palestine Belong? (Beirut, Institute for Palestine Studies)

George Antonius, The Arab Awakening, (Beirut, 1938).

Recommended Reading on Partition

Zionist Dialectics—Partition Debates

Note: The question of colonization or colonialism goes to the issue of legitimacy of a Jewish state and its success in fulfilling its own mandate of creating a democratic society. For this purpose I have made available portions of Israel Studies, Volume 14:2 (2009) that has a section on the ongoing question of “partition” of Israel/Palestine.


Contemporary Debates

A. Debates over Indigeneity
(also relevant to the session on Parallel Narratives)

  • Ateek, Naim. Justice and Only Justice: A Palestinian Theology of Liberation, Orbis Books. Maryknoll, NY 1989. (Selections).

B. The Contemporary One-State/Two-State Debate: Partition into Two States for Two Peoples? A Single (Arab or Jewish) State? Israel as a Jewish and Democratic State? Bi-national Alternatives?

Recommended Reading on the Kibbutz

S. Ilan Troen
(New Haven, 2003)
Imagining Zion
Chs. 4 and 10. [Links to ebook for those with Brandeis account]
ISBN/ISSN: 0300094833


Eliezer Ben-Rafael
Crisis and Transformation: The Kibbutz at Century’s End
(Albany, 1997)
pp. 1-23, 201-228
ISBN/ISSN: 0791432254


Melford E. Spiro
Kibbutz: Venture in Utopia
(New York, 1964)
pp. 3-59
ISBN/ISSN: 0674503317

Henry Near
“The Crisis in the Kibbutz Movement, 1949-1961,”
in S. Ilan Troen and Noah Lucas, eds.
Israel: The First Decade of Independence (Albany: SUNY Press, 1995)
pp. 243-264
ISBN/ISSN: 0791422593

Raymond Russell, Robert Hanneman, Shlomo Getz, The Renewal of the Kibbutz: From Reform to Transformation (Rutgers, 2013)

Raymond Russell, Robert Hanneman, Shlomo Getz, “The Transformation of the Kibbutzim,” Israel Studies 16:2 (Summer 2011) pp. 109-127.