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Most Americans are ill-prepared to engage thoughtfully in the increasingly serious debate about Israel, its place in the Middle East, and its relations with the United States. Essential Israel examines a wide variety of complex issues and current concerns in historical and contemporary contexts to provide readers with an intimate sense of the dynamic society and culture that is Israel today. The expert contributors to this volume address the Arab-Israeli conflict, the state of diplomatic efforts to bring about peace, Zionism and the impact of the Holocaust, the status of the Jewish state and Israeli democracy, foreign relations, immigration and Israeli identity, as well as literature, film, and the other arts. This unique and innovative volume provides solid grounding to understandings of Israel's history, politics, culture, and possibilities for the future.