Israel is often portrayed in media and popular society in incomplete or distorted terms. In some cases, it is presented as a troubled, violent, dangerous place, as a place permeated by long-standing hatred between Jews and Muslims, Israelis and Arabs, Israelis and Palestinians. In others, the focus is on the state’s role as the center of Judsiam–a home of the “chosen people” and the source of inspiration for one of the world’s great monotheistic religions. Some present it as a model for how a democracy can succeed under trying demographic, historic, and geopolitical circumstances. Others frame Israel as a place of conflagration (armageddon) that will usher in a messianic period or as a nation-state with a discriminatory regime that privileges its majority population over its minority and administers oppressive policies over Palestinians in the occupied territories it captured in the 1967 War. While there are elements of truth in each of these presentations, the full picture of Israeli society is much richer and more complex. This course teaches students to cut through the mythology, and develop a more accurate understanding of what Israel is in the 21st century. Since Israel is a culturally, ethnically, and religiously diverse society, it is only possible to understand the true nature of modern Israel through exploring the many sub-groups that comprise the Israeli citizenry. The course looks at Ashkenazi and Mizrahi Jews (both religious and secular), Muslim and Christian Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel, Ethiopian-Israelis, Russian-Israelis, Bedouins, and Druze. For each group, it looks at demographics, background histories, migration patterns, institutions, cultural norms, values, and practices. We will look at what is important to each group, how they see and organize themselves, and how they understand and experience the world around them. The course aims to convey an understanding of the geographic, demographic, and social-historical context in which Israelis live as well as the diversity of Israeli culture. Students will be challenged to be critical readers of Israeli society and the way it is represented and to strive for measured, evidence-based analyses.