Mapping the Middle East: Israeli Student’s Geographical Knowledge and Perceptions

Moran Zaga, Tal Yaar Waisel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In 1959, Roderic Davison asked “where is the Middle East”, a query still lacking a common definition or perception. Our study investigates “where is the Middle East” of young Jewish-Israeli students, while assessing their geographic awareness and perceptions regarding this region. We surveyed 262 students in 2016-2017 and 2021, asking them to identify Middle Eastern countries on an outline map. Our data analysis considers the Israeli formal geography education and the Israeli media exposure to the Middle East as potential sources of knowledge, along with known spatial-mental factors found in other mental map studies. Overall, the students exhibited a medium-level knowledge of the political map (49% correct identifications) and a strong knowledge of neighboring countries (86% accuracy), as their mental maps centered around Israel. The findings unveiled a common understanding of the region, evident in recurring familiarities and mistakes. Surprisingly, their maps did not reveal significant segregation perceptions of Israel the Middle East. This research sheds light on Israel's connection to the Middle East, as reflected in its education system, media, and the mental maps of its youth.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Borderlands Studies
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Association for Borderlands Studies.


  • Israel
  • Middle East
  • geography teaching
  • media
  • mental map

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Law


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