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date: 21 September 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Few countries receive as much attention as Israel and are at the same time as misunderstood. The Oxford Handbook of Israeli Politics and Society brings together the leading Israeli and international figures in order to offer the most wide-ranging treatment available of an intriguing country. This chapter tackles the issue of Israeli exceptionalism, arguing against those who shy away from assessing Israel in a comparative perspective—whether for reasons of complexity or because of a political agenda. Israel is indeed different, for many reasons, but it possesses enough similarities in its democratic political institutions and social makeup that to truly understand the country, scholars need to employ a comparative analytical perspective. The chapter argues that Israeli politics and society are comparable, that comparison will improve the ability to assess Israel, and that Israel can contribute to theory building and testing in comparative politics. The chapter then outlines the sections and summarizes the main features of each chapter in this handbook.

Keywords: Israel, Israel studies, political science, comparative politics, society

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