Despite its leaders' sometimes bellicose rhetoric and international reputation for intransigence, on closer examination Israel seems to be having an identity crisis in its sixtieth anniversary year.
Never-ending political crises and growing economic inequalities beg the question - does Israel risk imploding from within?- Battle of Ideas
Karl Sharro is an architect, writer and co-founder of Manifesto: Towards a New Humanism in Architecture (ManTowNHuman)
He has practiced architecture in London and Beirut, and taught for five years at the American University of Beirut where he participated in various research projects on post-war reconstruction and urban renewal. He also taught a seminar that looked at the relationship between art and the city in which a number of artists, film-makers and writers participated.
Karl has written for a number of international publications, such as Springerin (Austria), Mark Magazine (Holland) and Blueprint (UK). He wrote a chapter entitled â€˜Density versus Sprawlâ€™ in the upcoming book The Future of Community: Reports of a Death Greatly Exaggerated.
Avi Shlaim is a Fellow of St Antonyâ€™s College and a Professor of International Relations at the University of Oxford. In 2003-6 he held a British Academy Research Professorship. In 2006 he was elected Fellow of the British Academy.
He was born in Baghdad in 1945 and grew up in Israel. He read History at Jesus College, Cambridge, 1966-1969 and did an M.Sc. (Econ.) in International Relations at the London School of Economics, 1969-70. He was a Lecturer then Reader in Politics at the University of Reading, 1970-87.
Avi Shlaim is based at the Middle East Centre at St Antonyâ€™s College and his main research interest is the Arab-Israeli conflict. He is author of British Foreign Secretaries since 1945 (joint author, 1977); The United States and the Berlin Blockade, 1948-49: A Study in Crisis-Decision Making (1983); Collusion across the Jordan: King Abdullah, the Zionist Movement, and the Partition of Palestine (1988); The Politics of Partition (1990 and 1998); War and Peace in the Middle East: A Concise History (1995); The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World (2000); and Lion of Jordan: King Husseinâ€™s Life in War and Peace (2007). He is co-editor of The Cold War and the Middle East (1997) and The War for Palestine: Rewriting the History of 1948 (2001, 2nd ed. 2007).
Professor Shlaim is a frequent contributor to the newspapers and commentator on radio and television on Middle Eastern affairs.
Professor Asher Susser earned his PhD in Modern Middle Eastern History at Tel Aviv University (TAU) and is presently the Director for External Affairs of the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern Studies at TAU. He was the Director of the Center from 1989 to1995 and again from 2001 to 2007and has taught for over twenty-five years in the Universityâ€™s Department of Middle Eastern History. Professor Susserâ€™s research and teaching at TAU has focused on Modern Middle Eastern History, Religion and State in the Middle East and Arab-Israeli issues, with special reference to Jordan and the Palestinians. He has been a Fulbright Fellow, a visiting professor at Cornell University (1986-7), the University of Chicago (1990) and Brandeis University (1998, 2007-8), and a visiting fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (1987, 1996-7).
Professor Susser wrote the Political Biography of Jordanâ€™s Prime Minister Wasfi al- Tall (London: Cass, 1994) and is the author or editor of seven other books, the most recent of which are:
* Challenges to the Cohesion of the Arab State (editor, Moshe Dayan Center, 2008).
*Jordan: Case Study of a Pivotal State (Washington Institute, 2000).
*Six Days-Thirty Years, New Perspectives on the Six Day War (Hebrew) (editor, Am Oved, 1999).
He is presently engaged in the writing of a new book on Israel, Jordan and the Palestinians.
In 2005, he was one of 33 Israelis (academics, security experts and politicians) included in a book (Hebrew) of interview/essays on the pros and cons of Israelâ€™s disengagement, compiled by Haâ€™aretz columnist Ari Shavit. In 2006 Professor Susser was selected as TAUâ€™s Faculty of Humanities Outstanding Lecturer.
Born in Washington DC, spent 15 years as a foreign correspondent. For five years, was the Christian Science Monitor's Chief Middle East Correspondent, covering not only Israel and the PLO and the Lebanese civil war but the wider Arab world and the aftermath of the revolution in Iran. Wrote To Win or To Die (biography of the late Israeli PM Menachem Begin, 1987). Was also based in Moscow (1981-84), Johannesburg (1986-87) and finally London (1987-90). Became editor of The Jewish Chronicle (1990-2005) before joining The Observer as Chief Political Correspondent.
Bruno Waterfield has been the Brussels correspondent for The Daily Telegraph since December 2006. He has been reporting on European affairs for eight years, first from Westminster and then from Brussels since January 2003. Bruno was part of the founding editorial team on www.ePolitix.com. He was then editor for a daily online EU news service, EUpolitix.com and ran the fortnightly Parliament Magazine.
Karl Sharro argues the focus in post-Zionist Israel has shifted to a multicultural paradigm without a clear political agenda to shape the actions of the state, which has negative consequences in regards to violent conflict.
Ned Temko acknowledges the many missed opportunities from both Israelis and Palestinians to negotiate peace agreements over the years, and sees the central problem of Zionism as the Arab majority in greater Israel which he says, "requires redefinition of what a Jewish state is."