This essay examines the intellectual history of American studies programs and departments in the Middle East, especially the relationship of these programs to US State Department efforts at cultural diplomacy or “soft power” after the Cold War. Through this examination, the essay theorizes the relationship of transnational American studies scholarship in the Middle East to the internationalization of the field. In their efforts to understand the United States, American studies programs in the Middle East have foregrounded the question of Palestine in ways that make these programs distinct from US-based American studies programs that still often regard Palestine as “America’s last taboo.” In their insistence on centering the question of Palestine within their vision of American studies, American studies programs in the Middle East demonstrate the unruly consequences of the internationalization of the discipline in political geographies where American primacy and exceptionalism are contested.
The past two decades have witnessed a dramatic shift in the extent and focus of concerns about Jewish life on campus. The Jewish community is increasingly occupied with the education of the next generation and the rise of anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiment on campus. Outreach to Jewish students—from the expansion of Hillel and Chabad to the flourishing of Birthright Israel, as well as the growth of Jewish and Israel Studies—have engaged formerly uninvolved students with Jewish education and Jewish life. This article describes the situation on campus: the proportion of Jewish students, Israel-related activity, and perceptions of anti-Semitism. It discusses academic programs such as Jewish and Israel Studies and informal programs, such as Hillel and Chabad, that engage students in Jewish life. It also describes organizations and programs, both experiential and advocacy-oriented, that help students identify and combat attempts to delegitimize Israel and intimidate Jewish expression.
Yazbak-Abu Ahmad, Manal, Adrienne B. Dessel, Alice Mishkin, Noor Ali, and Hind Oma. “Intergroup Dialogue as a Just Dialogue: Challenging and Preventing Normalization in Campus Dialogues.” Digest of Middle East Studies 24.2 (2015): 236-59.
The tensions from the Israeli occupation of Palestine reach around the globe and heated debates over the struggles of these two peoples are evident on U.S. college campuses. The power imbalance represented in the relationship between Palestinians and Israelis is replicated on college campuses. BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) is a response to this inequality, is a movement to end the occupation, and has raised the issue of normalization. Teaching about this conflict presents particular challenges for faculty who negotiate this highly contested issue in classrooms or campus communities, and intergroup dialogue is an important pedagogy that can be used. It is critical to address normalization in intergroup dialogue. We discuss examples and themes of normalization in intergroup dialogue, and present pedagogical and other strategies to prevent and address normalization in intergroup dialogue and in other similar intergroup contact approaches with Arab or Palestinian and Jewish or Israeli participants.