Israeli Prime MinisterIsrael’s Election: Netanyahu’s Attempt To Evade Justice

An analysis co-authored by Moran Stern, a PhD candidate in Government and Politics at the University of Maryland, featured in The New York Jewish Week.

The single most important factor that has shaped the Israeli political landscape over the past year is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s attempt to evade prosecution. As Israelis enter the final days of their unprecedented second election of 2019, it is worth remembering that Netanyahu’s battle for survival is not only for his political career but potentially for his personal freedoms as well.

If Netanyahu fails to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat on Tuesday, he faces the very real possibility of a trial and potentially prison time. Cornered, Netanyahu is deploying all means at his disposal, with profound implications for Israeli democracy, rule of law and governance. Read more

israeli electionSound and fury- signifying little

By Paul Scham, MEI Scholar and Executive Director of GIIS

Israeli elections are generally lively affairs, with a plethora of parties combining, splitting, and making up — very much like a daytime soap opera. This election, set for Sept. 17, dragged on through the summer and looked set to be a repeat of its predecessor on April 9, when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed by a single Knesset vote to put together a majority coalition. It has indeed been a largely sleepy affair, with the centrist (moving toward center-right) Blue-White party dueling with the Likud for the crucial top spot (providing the first chance to form a coalition) and most other parties barely budging in the polls. This somnolence ended explosively the week before the election with a series of events whose impact is still unclear. Read more

israeli electionThe Good News About Israeli Democracy

By Scott Lasensky, UMD Visiting Professor of Israel Studies and Jewish Studies

The tempest over Israel’s travel ban on two congresswomen and the year-long roller coaster of back-to-back elections has unleashed an avalanche of misplaced condemnations and hand-wringing about the health of the country’s democracy.  Democratic life in Israel remains remarkably strong and resilient.

For starters, democratic and liberal norms continue to predominate. Voter turnout, contestation, a free press, and other indicators of democratic life and the rule of law are high. Israel’s electoral committee, a key institution, enjoys wide public legitimacy. Moreover, the committee was recently chaired by Salim Joubran, a judge from the Arab sector, reflecting further progress the country has made in overcoming some of its deep-rooted internal cleavages. Read more

New Issue: Israel Studies Review (Vol. 34, Issue 2)

ISR Cover PicEditors’ Note: The Split That Did Not Happen

As all who attended the Association for Israel Studies conference this past June at Kinnert College now know, the only thing that resulted in unbearable heat was the temperature outdoors, not tempers around the tables.  The discussion of “Word Crimes,” the title of the summer issue of Israel Studies, our sister publication, did not cause an irreparable split- or any split at all- in the AIS.  Read more


Applications for the Fall 2019 Internship at the Embassy of Israel is OPEN!!

Opportunities in the following departments: Public Diplomacy, Congressional, and Trade/Economic Mission

About the internship
The Embassy of Israel to the United States offers intensive and engaging Summer, Fall, and Spring semester internship opportunities at Israel’s political, diplomatic, cultural, and economic home in Washington, DC.
The Embassy of Israel internship program is an excellent opportunity for college and graduate school students to receive valuable insight into U.S.-Israel relations and the nature of diplomacy. Interns also gain access to the greater DC diplomatic community by attending events and functions at the Embassy and around Washington, DC..

Applicant Requirements
Applicants should possess strong interpersonal, communication, and analytical skills as well as administrative abilities. The Embassy also looks for applicants who are detail oriented, write well and are motivated individuals. Applicants with strong computer skills, including experience with graphic design and multimedia editing, are particularly encouraged to apply. Travel experience in Israel and knowledge of Israeli politics, society and culture are preferred.

General Information
Fall and spring semester internships at the Embassy are part-time (minimum 12 hours per week); Summer internships are typically full-time. All internships are unpaid, though arrangements can be made for academic credit and a travel stipend.

Will the promise of democracy prevail in the Promised Land?

By Gabriel Weimann, UMD Visiting Professor

WeimannWinston Churchill once argued that democracy “is the worst form of government, except for all the others.” The legendary British statesman’s words come to mind as the Israeli people face a seemingly unthinkable political scenario: two national elections in one year.

April’s election resulted in a frustrating dead-end following Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s failed attempts to form a government, necessitating new elections in September. This has left both Israeli citizens and observers across the globe dumbfounded.

ISR Cover PicNew Issue: Israel Studies Review (Vol. 34, Issue 1)

Featuring GIIS first Grad student, Dr. Noa Balf, who recently graduated in May with her PhD with an emphasis on Political representation; Gender and Politics; Political Parties; Electoral Systems; Democratic Legislatures; Gender and Security. Also featured, UMD Professor Scott Lasensky, who served as a Senior Policy Advisor on Israel, the Middle East and Jewish affairs in the Obama Administration from 2011- 2017, serving in Washington and in Israel.

Will Israelis be heading back to the polls in September?

By Paul Scham, MEI Scholar and Executive Director of GIIS

paul-schamThrough a combination of long-standing personal and ideological feuds and an unlikely concatenation of electoral numbers, Prime Minister Benjamin (“Bibi”) Netanyahu’s electoral victory of April 9 seems to have slipped through his fingers, and new elections will apparently be held in September.  Unless something changes by midnight tomorrow (May 29), Netanyahu will lose his mandate to form a government, and no one else appears capable of doing so. There are a number of people or events that could theoretically derail this outcome, but all seem unlikely.

Poisoning the Political Discourse:The Role of Online Fake Proxies

By Gabriel Weimann

In January 2019, Amy Spiro, an Israeli journalist, received a direct message on her Twitter account linking to a sensational news story. The sender, using the Jewish-sounding name “Bina Melamed”, directed her to a fake story falsely alleging former Israeli defense minister Avigdor Lieberman was a Russian spy.

Gabriel Weimann is a Full Professor of Communications at the Department of Communication at Haifa University, Israel and Visiting Professor at the Gildenhorn Institute for Israel Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park.

Jewish Word | Israeli Elections Slogans Get Personal

Jewish Word_electionsDirector, and Abraham S. and Jack Kay Chair of Israel Studies, Yoram Peri featured in moment magazine.

Social media has changed political language around the world, and Israel is no exception. Peri cites the number of slogans today that use the words koachotzma and milchama—“power,” “strength” and “war”—as evidence that Israeli political discourse has become more aggressive.

Why Israeli research is such a hot ticket worldwide

Clocks_handshakePrivate and public institutions around the world are jostling to create new collaboration agreements with Israeli research bodies in an effort to mine the country’s scientific excellence and innovation.

Gantz-Lapid Alliance Important Game-Changer in Israel Snap Election- Scholars

Gantz_Lapid Alliance picMoran Stern, a PhD candidate in Government and Politics at the University of Maryland and adjunct lecturer at the Program for Jewish Civilization in Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, told Sputnik that the emergence of the anti-Netanyahu alliance offered a good alternative to the right-wing bloc being built by Netanyahu.

Circle of books


Head on over to Testudo to register for an Israel Studies course!!

The Israel University Consortium: 16th Israel University Study Tour for Study Abroad Professionals, March 10th – March 19th, 2019

The Israel University Consortium’s Israel University Study Tour (IUST) provides study abroad professionals with the knowledge and insight necessary to effectively study abroad in Israel,while acquainting or reacquainting them with the beauty and vitality of Israel.

The IUST includes full-day visits to each one of the IUC campuses: Ben-Gurion University of the NegevRothberg International School – The Hebrew University of JerusalemTel Aviv University InternationalTechnion International, and the University of Haifa International School.

Rabi Avi ShafranA Tale of Two Speeches

By Rabbi Avi Shafran

It was the best of times

I had the honor of making two public presentations in recent days, one to second-grade students at the impressive Yeshiva Beth Yehudah in Southfield, Michigan; and the other, to students and members of the public at the University of Maryland.

The real story behind Gaza’s marches: The Gazans who chose to stay home

An analysis written by Moran Stern, a PhD candidate in Government and Politics at the University of Maryland and a graduate fellow in Advanced Israel Studies, featured in Ynetnews.
Gaza pic

Analysis: The ordinary Palestinian is not only politically weary, he is also increasingly alienated from his leadership and political institutions as venues to propel a meaningful change in his life. Under such circumstances, responding to Hama’s calls to protest and risk one’s lives by marching towards the border makes little sense.

Weapons of mass destruction bookWeapons of Mass Media

Director, and Abraham S. and Jack Kay Chair of Israel Studies, Yoram Peri’s new book, “Mediatizing Wars: Power, Paradox and Israel’s Strategic Dilemma” featured in The Jerusalem Post.  Peri’s new book, currently available only in Hebrew, examines the strategic challenges that Israel and other liberal democracies face as a result of what he calls the “mediatization” of war zones.  Peri’s book is a wake-up call to Israel and other liberal democracies fighting wars.

BalfourDeconstructing Balfour: The Declaration at 100, by Paul Scham

First appeared in Israel Horizons, no. 2, Nov. 2017

If you follow news concerning Israel, it’s been pretty hard to miss the spate of anniversaries that are being celebrated this year and next. The next one, coming up on Nov. 2, is ‘Balfour Day,’ the date in 1917 on which British foreign Minister Arthur James Balfour sent his famous letter to Lord Rothschild, known forever after as the Balfour Declaration.

Paul Scham is the Executive Director and Research Associate Professor of the Gildenhorn Institute for Israel Studies.

Photos credit: Wikipedia

Ozge and Hamza YavuzVisiting Scholars from Turkey: Hamza Yavuz and Ozge Yavuz

Hamza Yavuz is a Ph.D. candidate in international relations at Gazi University in Turkey.

Ozge Yavuz is a Ph.D. candidate in the field of international relations and also a research assistant at Gazi University in Turkey.

What is a one state solution What is a ‘one-state’ solution?

Director, and Abraham S. and Jack Kay Chair of Israel Studies, Yoram Peri featured in Washington Jewish Week.




israel-studiesJerusalem Post: If You Build Israel Studies, They Will Come

Mitchell Bard highlights the University of Maryland’s exceptional Israel Studies program

Yiang YangGIIS establishes ties with Chinese universities

Academic interest in Israel Studies is growing at a rapid pace throughout China, and Prof. Peri met with a number of scholars and administrators at Chinese universities and institutions.

GIIS Honors RabinGIIS honors Rabin with Middle East talk

In commemoration of the 20th anniversary of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination, the Gildenhorn Institute for Israel Studies (GIIS) honors Rabin at its annual Dubin Lecture.

Syrian Civil WarThe Syrian Crisis and Israeli Security Challenges

GIIS director Prof. Yoram Peri discussed Israeli viewpoints and national security calculations vis-à-vis the events in Syria at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, DC.