History of the Modern Middle East

Israel Trip, May 2016

Course Description
HIST 4703

A survey of the history of the Middle East from the time of Mohammed to the present. The nineteenth and twentieth centuries as well as Arab-Israeli relations will be emphasized.

Course Objectives

Upon completion of this course, students will have:
(1) A firm grasp of the overall historical narrative of the Middle East from c. AD 600 to today.
(2) the ability to explain the history of the Modern State of Israel in the 20th century.
(3) the ability to discuss both the causes and various perspectives on the Israel vs. Palestinian debates.
(4) the ability to discuss the history of the modern State of Israel informed by their Christian faith.

Course Instructor

Asst. Prof. Daniel Ostendorff
Office: HHH 111
Office Hours: Tues/Thur Afternoons
(903) 233-3394


Required Textbook

Students should purchase one of the following overviews of Middle Eastern history to supplement the group discussions and their research:
A. Goldschmidt Jr,
A Concise History of the Middle East

Amazon | ABEBooks

W. L. Cleveland,
A History of the Modern Middle East

Amazon | ABEBooks

P. Mansfield,
A History of the Middle East
Amazon | ABEBooks

B. Lewis,
The Middle East

Amazon | ABEBooks

Students should purchase one of the following two books for their Israel-Palestine issue summary:

Israel: Opposing Viewpoints
Amazon | ABEBooks

The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Amazon | ABEBooks

Recommended Resources

The following books are recommended as valuable additional resources for making the most of the Israel trip:


Blackboard & Faithlife.com

Students will submit assignments via the course group on Blackboard. 

More information on Faithlife.com coming soon.

Grading Rubric

Participation (5%)

Believing that God has brought the specific members of this group together for his purposes, each student is expected to prepare for our sessions throughout the semester and engage in the group discussion in appropriate ways. As well, given that the 10 days in Israel is central to this course, active and thoughtful participation during the trip is also expected.

Journal (15%)

Students will keep a daily journal during our time in Israel in which they will discuss what was learned that day and their reflections and analysis.  More details will be provided closer to departure.  Students are only required to have one journal, which will be used by both professors for assessing their journal grade.

Book Review (15%)

Students will read and review a book on a topic of interest to them relevant to the Middle East.  The book must meet the following criteria:

150 pages or more in length.
Written by an expert in the topic (ex. academic, diplomat, or long-term missionary or reporter).
Be approved by the course instructor.

Analysis of Israeli-Palestinian Perspective Book (20%)

Students must read one of the following two books, which provide counter-arguments from an Israeli and a Palestinian perspective.  Students will then create a 5-8 page guide highlighting no fewer than 5 different topics, providing the arguments used by both sides, and the students own thoughtful analysis of the five topics they have selected.

Due prior to departing LeTourneau University on May 14th.

  Site Presentation & Research Paper (50%)

The central component of this course is the research, presentation, and academic paper.  The following  components are all components of this grade:

Application - Due March 1st*
Draft of Site Presentation - Due April 5th
Meeting with Professor to Discuss Presentation - April 12th
[Completion of above is 10% of grade]
Site Presentation - May14-28th in Israel (20%)
Research Paper - Due by midnight on June 10th (20%)

1948 Israeli War of Indipendence
The Role of the Kibbutz
The Golan Heights & Syria in 1967 and 1973 Wars
Israeli Settlements in the West Bank
Impact of the Holocaust on the State of Israel
Palestinian Life & Future
Israel & Contemporary Middle Eastern Crises
Jerusalem in the Modern World
The Intifada's of the 1990s and 2000s

Site Presentation - approx. 20 minutes in length
Research Paper - 10 page minimum, 15 page maximum; Chicago/Turabian citation style; 3 primary sources (minimum) and 5 secondary sources (minimum); submit as a PDF.


Participation 5%
Book Review
Israeli-Palestinian Analysis
Site Presentation & Paper
TOTAL: 100%


The following are the expectations for every student in this course:


Believing that God has brought the specific members of this group together for his purposes, each student is expected to prepare for our sessions throughout the semester and engage in the group discussion in appropriate ways. As well, given that the 10 days in Israel is central to this course, active and thoughtful participation during the trip is also expected.

Class Participation

Believing that God has brought the specific members of this class together for his purposes, each student is expected to prepare for our meetings and engage in the discussion (and during the trip to Israel) in constructive and appropriate ways.  Active, helpful, and regular participation is expected for a student to receive the full 5% of their participation grade.

Late Assignments

Late assignments are due upon the student’s return to class following a University approved absence. The late submission of work, for non-excused absences, will receive a letter grade penalty per 24-hour period following the original deadline.

Integrity & Honesty

It is expected that each student will submit work and exams that reflect their own thinking and knowledge of the material. This is central to a life of Christ-like integrity and honesty. Collaborative work is encouraged, but the final product must be each individual student's work. Any work that is not original to the student must be properly cited (i.e. direct quotations, specific information, etc.). Work that is copied or not original to the student which does not include a clear and complete citation will be considered plagiarized and, in the case of an exam, cheating. Instances of plagiarism/cheating will be handled according to university policy, as well as receive a zero (0%) on the given assignment. God has equipped each of us with the ability to accomplish the tasks he sets before us - including the work required for this course.

LETU Email

Your LeTourneau University email account is an official avenue for communication. You should check your email daily for course updates and other helpful information.

LETU Ethics Statement

A foundation of mutual trust is essential to the learning community. That trust is broken when the standards of right and wrong that all students and faculty are expected to uphold are violated. Academic dishonesty is a serious breach of trust within the LeTourneau University community because it violates the regard for truth essential to genuine learning and Christian consistency. From a broader perspective, it hurts all students and their peers who try to do their work with integrity. Therefore, it cannot be tolerated by the University. Given the serious nature of academic dishonesty, a student experiencing particular difficulties in a course is encouraged to discuss the problem with the instructor rather than succumb to the pressure to commit academic dishonesty.

Academic dishonesty is not qualitatively different from other types of dishonesty. It consists of misrepresentation in an attempt to deceive. In an academic setting, this may take any number of forms: copying work, plagiarizing the work of others, use of work from a previous course, looking at another students exam answers, etc. If academic dishonesty is found, a student will receive a zero for the assignment in the first instance. If a second instance occurs, the student will receive a zero for the entire course.

Consult the LETU student handbook for detailed information on academic honesty and the appeals process.

LETU Disability Statement

Students enrolled in an institution of higher education are required to self- identify if they would like to request academic support services on the basis of a disability. LeTourneau University encourages a student with a disability to self-identify after admission and to provide required documentation to the Office of Student Support Services. The office may be reached by calling (903) 233-4400 or emailing KristyMorgan@letu.edu.

LETU Grievance Policy

If you feel that you have been treated unfairly or if you have any questions or concerns, please talk to me. I will do everything in my power to resolve any disagreements or misunderstandings. If you still feel that your rights as a student have been violated, please visit http://www.letu.edu/_Student-Life/ Complaints for full university policy and procedure on the filing of a grievance.


The following schedule is subject to change during the course of the semester.
All meetings during the semester will take place in HHH 132 on Tuesdays from 11am-11:50pm.

February 1st
Overview of the History of the Middle East
March 1st
Overview of the History of the Middle East (cont)
Topic Applications Due
March 15th
April 5th
Zionism & the Establishment of Israel
Site Presentation Draft Due
April 12th
Meet to Discuss Site Presentations with Professor
April 26th
Israel vs. Palestine: Israel since 1947
Week of May 9th-13th
Israel Today
Israeli-Palestinian Analysis Due
May 14th-28th
In Israel on Trip
Site Presentations Due
June 11th
Report Due
Trip Journal Due
Book Review Due

Contact Info

Daniel Ostendorff

Department Chair | Assistant Professor of History & Political Science

Email: DanielOstendorff@letu.edu
Phone: (903) 233-3394

Department of History & Political Science
2100 S. Mobberly Ave.
Longview, TX 75602