New Issue: Israel Studies Review (Vol. 35, Issue 2)

ISR Cover PicEditor’s Notes:  This is the first of three special, guest-edited issues of ISR that will precede the retirement of the current editors from the journal. This issue, co-edited by Nir Gazit and Yagil Levy, takes on the unusual and seemingly some- what arcane subject of military policing in Israel—that is, in the West Bank and on the Gaza border. The subject seemed somewhat arcane when we started planning it early in 2019, but now, as this issue reaches publication, we find that military policing is closely related to current events around the world, especially in the US, sometimes even competing with the coronavirus pandemic for the headlines. See the guest editors’ introduction immediately following this note for a fuller exposition before delving into the articles that follow.  Read more

Historian Paul Scham Appointed Director of the Gildenhorn Institute for Israel Studies

By ARHU Staff

paul-schamThe University of Maryland’s College of Arts and Humanities has appointed associate research professor and historian Paul Scham director of the Joseph and Alma Gildenhorn Institute for Israel Studies, effective July 1, 2020.

Scham has served as the executive director of the Gildenhorn Institute since its inception in 2008 and has been a research associate professor in The Joseph and Rebecca Meyerhoff Center for Jewish Studies since 2014. He succeeds Yoram Peri, the institute’s founding director.

“Under Professor Peri, the Gildenhorn Institute has established itself as a leading center for non-partisan and even-handed education about Israel,” said Scham. “I look forward to continuing its growth.”

Longtime Gildenhorn Institute Director To Retire

By ARHU Staff

Yoram Peri and GildenhornsYoram Peri, director of the Joseph and Alma Gildenhorn Institute for Israel Studies (GIIS), will resign his post on June 30, 2020, marking 10 years as the institute’s inaugural director.

Peri will continue as the Jack Kay Professor of Israel Studies at Maryland and the editor of the Israel Studies Review until his retirement in June 2021. Associate research professor and historian Paul Scham succeeds Peri as director of the Gildenhorn Institute, effective July 1, 2020.

“Yoram Peri has been an exceptional leader, who has established a premier institute responsible for expanding the field of Israel studies and educating countless scholars,” said Bonnie Thornton Dill, dean of the College of Arts and Humanities. “I extend my sincerest appreciation for his excellent service.”

Netanyahu and annexation: Will he or won’t he?

June15, 2020
By Paul Scham, MEI Scholar and Executive Director of GIIS


Photo by GALI TIBBON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

When the Donald Trump-Jared Kushner “Deal of the Century” was unveiled in January, purporting to allow Israel to annex 30 percent of the West Bank, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seemed transfixed with joy. He wanted to begin the process immediately until Kushner told him to wait.

The world has changed dramatically in the intervening five months. An election allowed Netanyahu to put together a “unity” government with the opposition Blue and White party whose leader, Benny Gantz, had sworn not to do so. The coronavirus is devastating the world (though Israel locked down early and escaped the worst) and diverting attention from the Middle East, while racial justice riots seem to be undermining Presi­dent Trump’s support. Meanwhile, a somewhat surprising assortment of organiza­tions and interest groups are lining up to oppose annexation, alongside the usual opponents. Read more

Cyber battlefield

Photo credit, Getty Images

‘The next generation of cyber warfare isn’t that far’

University of Haifa Professor Gabriel Weimann warns that future conflicts “will be fought mostly with a keyboard and a screen and not with tanks, planes or bombs.”

May 25, 2020, ISRAEL HAYOM

Dozens of Israeli websites were compromised last week as Iranian hackers and proxies of the Islamic republic rallied for their annual Quds Day cyberattack.

According to University of Haifa Professor Gabriel Weimann, while these attacks were not very sophisticated and posed a low risk to any critical investiture, Israel must continue to prepare for ongoing and more complex attacks in the future. Read more

Israel finally has a government, but for how long?

May 18, 2020
By Paul Scham, MEI Scholar and Executive Director of GIIS


Photo by YONATAN SINDEL/AFP via Getty Images

Israel’s 17-month ordeal without a functioning government has mercifully come to an end. An unlikely coalition that agrees on little has given birth to a monstrosity that is the largest government in Israel’s history, with 34 cabinet positions (some reports say 36) plus 16 deputy ministers. Numerous new ministries have been carved out in order to make it work, including a novel office for Blue and White leader Benny Gantz, who will be “alternate prime minister” (as well as defense minister) for 18 months while Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu holds the top job, at which point they will switch — assuming the government hasn’t collapsed by then. The coalition agreement is hedged in with countless provisions to deal with eventualities that may arise or disputes between parties and individuals who have no trust whatsoever in each other. Read more

New Issue: Israel Studies Review (Vol. 35, Issue 1)

ISR Cover PicEditor’s Notes: “The crisis of liberal democracy affecting a large number of Western countries is, unsurprisingly, also manifesting itself in Israel. Yet it is noteworthy that the extensive literature describing these processes in countries where illiberal regimes have developed and populist leaders now govern, such as Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, and others, does not mention Israel in this unholy list. This is the case even though in Israel in recent years one cannot but notice a relentless battle against ‘elites’, undermining the rule of law and the justice system, taking control of independent media, weakening civil and social rights organizations, narrowing civil society, and developing signs of authoritarian rule.” Read more

paul-schamIsrael’s political crisis is at an inflection point

April 13, 2020
By Paul Scham, MEI Scholar and Executive Director of GIIS

Like the rest of the world, Israel is dealing with a serious coronavirus outbreak, though by most measures it is coping with it (so far) somewhat better than many other countries. Unlike others, though, it is simultaneously coping less well with a year-long political crisis, including three inconclusive elections, that seems to have peaked today, Monday, April 13.  The deal seemingly hammered out two weeks ago between the centrist Blue and White party, led by ex-General Benny Gantz, and the right-wing Likud, headed by veteran Prime Minister Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu, has apparently crumbled, and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Sunday upended all political calculations by denying Gantz’s normally routine request for an extension on his mandate to form a government (which would have, paradoxically, initially been headed by Netanyahu).  Read more

WeimannThe Virus of Hate: Far-Right Terrorism in Cyberspace

05/04/2020 | by ICT Researchers
Written by: Gabriel Weimann and Natalie Masri

The Rise of Far-Right Terrorism

Far-right violence and terrorism are a growing threat to Western societies. Far-right terrorist attacks increased by 320 per cent between 2014 and 2019 according to the 2019 Global Terrorism Index. In 2018 alone, far-right terrorist attacks made up 17.2% of all terrorist incidents in the West, compared to Islamic groups which made up 6.28% of all attacks. In January 2019, the Anti-Defamation League’s Centre on Extremism reported that every extremist killing in the US in 2018 was linked to far-right individuals or organizations. German authorities registered 8,605 right-wing extremist offenses including 363 violent crimes in the first half of 2019.  Read More

Congratulations to Israel Studies grad student, Moran Stern, PhD candidate with the Department of Government & Politics at the University of Maryland, College Park.  Moran’s paper, part of his dissertation, has been accepted to be presented at a conference.


Peer-reviewed Conference Presentations:

• The Graduate Conference at the University of Virginia Department of Politics (The University of Virginia April 10, 2020)
“Factionalization From Below – The Case of Palestinian Fatah”

Click on the link below to read abstract.
Factionalization From Below_Abstract


Congratulations to Chen Mandel-Edrei, Israel Studies grad student, who successfully defended her dissertation on Wednesday March 25, 2020.

Her dissertation titleChend “Hasidic Hagiography in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction – A Historical and Literary Perspective,” focuses on the emergence of Hasidic Hagiography in the 1860s as a new genre in modern Hebrew literature that challenges the literary scale of Enlightenment and the politics of Nationalism. The dissertation was successfully accepted by her committee Eric Zakim and Sheila Jelen (advisors), Rachel Manekin, Adele Berlin, and Brian Richardson.

Giving Day UMD!!

Giving Day!Today, March 4, 2020 is Giving Day! The University’s annual 24 hour online fundraising event. Your donation will help us continue to offer rigorous curriculum and advance academic and applied research. On behalf of our students and faculty, thank you for your generosity and continued support! Please donate at

The Gildenhorn Institute for Israel Studies is dedicated to advancing knowledge and understanding of the State of Israel through exemplary teaching and scholarship.  The institute is educating today’s students and tomorrow’s leaders by providing them with an unparalleled opportunity to wrestle with the complex issues shaping Israel and the Middle East. 

Israel Studies Review gets ranked into the Citation Index

ISR Cover PicThere is great news regarding the Israel Studies Review, edited since 2011 by Profs. Yoram Peri and Paul Scham of the Gildenhorn Institute, on behalf of the Association for Israel Studies (the ISR is the official academic journal of the AIS). We have been pleased to receive more article submissions in general lately, and more as well from senior scholars who hadn’t written for us in the past, but since it usually takes a long time before a new journal gets ranked, we did not expect it to get into the Citation Index so soon. Read more



The next Israeli election: The triumph of the fringes?

By Paul Scham, GIIS Executive Director
MEI, January 22, 2020

Israeli ballots

Photo by Bruno Thevenin/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Jan.15, 2020 was the last date to submit electoral “lists” for the Israeli election scheduled for March 2. If you think you’ve heard a lot about Israeli elections recently, you’re not having déjà vu; in fact this is the third Israeli general election in less than 11 months. The previous two were so evenly split between the “Left” and “Right” blocs that no governing coalition could be formed. While there are still more than six weeks till the election — and an equal length of time after that before any government coalition is likely to be formed — this article will examine the political actors who will contest the election, with particular attention to those on the left and right ends of the spectrum. Read more

The Importance of College Classes about Israel

By Daniel B. Shapiro

Class with teacher

Photo courtesy: Israel Institute

The new Board Chair of the Israel Institute explains why the mission of bringing accessible, high-level courses about Israel to university campuses is so crucial

The American Jewish Community facilitates many opportunities to expose our young people, and increasingly, our non-Jewish friends and partners, to Israel through travel and other experiential education programs and exchanges.  These are important, meaningful initiatives that deserve to be continued and expanded.  Read more

The Widening Military-political Gap in Israel

Former Chiefs of Staff Fight for Principles of Statism

By Yoram Peri, GIIS Director
SWP Comment 2020/C 02, January 2020, 4 Pages

Yoram PeriOver the last decade, the gap between the military and political elites in Israel has increased and eventually peaked in 2019, when a group of senior officers who had just retired from the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) formed a new party – led by three former chiefs of staff – and called for the replacement of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government. This gap has developed because Israel’s previous governments have represented a new kind of polarising, right-wing politics beyond what is considered a shared national common sense. The military, on the other hand, is striving to maintain the character it has acquired as a “Nation in Arms” by reflecting the entire society of Israel and acting according to its professional ethos and national statist values. The stated goal of the officers entering politics was to defend those values against perceivably partisan and polarising governmental politics. The composition of a future government is thus both: A competition over principled values of the state, but also a determination about the steps regarding the military and political leadership in Israel, as well as the military’s relations with society at large. Read more

Conclusion: The Time Has Come for a New Security Paradigm

By Yoram Peri, GIIS Director
Memorandum No. 195, INSS, October 2019

INSS_Memo 195A Fluid, Fluctuating World

It has been precisely thirty years since Eastern Europe experienced the Velvet Revolution, first in Berlin, then Prague, and finally Bratislava. Throngs of people flocked to the squares and a new spirit of freedom filled the air. In November 1989, the Berlin Wall fell, offering dramatic evidence of the collapse of the Soviet Union, the implosion of the Soviet bloc, and the end of the struggle between the two major ideologies of the second half of the twentieth century. The excitement in the West was so great that Francis Fukuyama attributed Hegelian significance to these events, penning The End of History. The world, including the former Soviet Union and even China, he wrote authoritatively, would now undergo a process of “convergence” and all nations would adopt the principles of liberal democracy.  Read more

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 Spring 2020 Internship at the Embassy of Israel is OPEN!!

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.