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New Undergraduate Course Supplement 2018


MES 17.15 The Middle East in the United States: Jews and Arabs in American Society

The complex identities of Jews and Arabs alike are affected by religion, culture, language, history, and politics, all in their own terms and with the fault lines running both between and within the two communities. Despite their internal and mutual conflicts, the two groups share similar experiences of hostility when trying to integrate into American society with fierce antisemitism and Islamophobia against the backdrop of increasing right-wing ethno-nationalism. Concomitantly, both groups share deep ambivalences about assimilating to American culture vs. retaining discrete cultural identities. If Jews and Arabs play decisive roles in US politics, both as effective actors and as imagined targets of opposition, the United States in turn acted not only as mediator in the international relationship between the two groups; the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, post-9/11 politics, anti-terrorist actions, or the Trump administration’s travel ban on five Muslim-dominated countries have also influenced the relationship between Jewish and Arab communities within the United States. Instead of equating the experiences of Jews and Arabs viz-a-viz America, this course examines the multifaceted encounters in what has to be considered a complex Jewish-Arab-American triangular. The ways in which Jews and Arabs interact in the US, will be as central to the course as examples of hybrid cultural experiences of Arab Jews and artefacts such as the numerous American synagogues built in the style of Moorish architecture. We will examine cultural representations of Jews and Arabs in American literature, movies, documentaries, memoirs, art, popular culture and political analyses with attention to aspects of class, race and gender. Finally, the course will focus on the political expressions of Jewish- and Arab-Americans and their relations to the Middle East, and here in particular to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Distributive and/or World Culture

Dist:SOC

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