Just as Israel stands out from the rest of the Middle East in its basically Western orientation, so does scholarship about Israel differ from that about the rest of the region: unlike the fairly primitive state of research elsewhere, Israel studies can match those of any Western state -- as the excellent New Encyclopedia proves. (It's "new" because it builds on a 1971 edition, The Encyclopedia of Zionism and Israel, edited by the late Raphael Patai, adding about 30 percent more materials).
The two-volume work contains major essays on such topics as Hebrew literature, the history of Israel, immigration to Israel (aliya) and U.S.-Israel relations. The allotment of space is sometimes puzzling: why devote over 7 pages to the Zionist Organization of America but just a quarter-page to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee? Does the United Nations deserve 13 pages compared to David Ben-Gurion's 3? Topics include not just the requisite individuals, institutions, places, and events, but also entries one might not expect: insurance in Israel, Zionism in India, Jewish liturgical music in Israel, and the Israel Aircraft Industries. The volumes are illustrated, mostly with historical photographs of both charm and interest.
Although filling only 2 volumes, the New Encyclopedia has about as much information as other 4-volume books (including the Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East and The Oxford Encyclopadia of the Modern Islamic World, reviewed in MEQ. Sept. 1995).