Friday, January 08, 2010

Syllabus for Politics of the Middle East

Politics of the Middle East
3 Credits
Spring Semester 2010
International and Comparative Politics
American University of Central Asia
J. Otto Pohl, Ph.D.

Meeting Time: Tuesday 2:10 in room 216 and Friday 2:10 in room 125

Course Description: This course will cover modern political developments in the Arab states, Israel/Palestine, Turkey and Iran since the First World War. In particular the course will focus on the Arab-Israeli conflict with an emphasis on the central role played by Palestinian resistance to Zionist ethnic cleansing and colonization. It will also cover the rise of various forms of nationalism in Egypt, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. The course will then contrast the political developments in these Arab states with those in Turkey in Iran. Finally, the class will conclude with a discussion of the current war in Iraq.

Requirements: The course will consist of assigned readings, lectures, discussion, two short writing assignments, an oral report and a research paper. There will be three short reflection papers of 600 to 800 words. The first reflection paper should be on the origins of the Palestinian refugee problem in 1948 and why it still remains a salient issue in the Middle East. The second reflection paper should be on the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip and Palestinian strategies of resistance. The third reflection paper should be on the ongoing war in Iraq and present an evaluation of the success of the US and British occupation strategies. Students will also have to complete a 1500 to 2000 word research paper on some aspect of Middle Eastern politics. The research paper is due the last week of class. In the three weeks prior to this deadline each student will be required to give a short oral presentation on the subject of their paper followed by a short question and answer session. Late papers will lose one letter grade for each day they are late. Students must come to class on time. Being more than fifteen minutes late will count as an absence. Students will lose one letter grade after four unexcused absences and fail the course after seven. Written proof of an emergency from a doctor or other appropriate authority is required for an absence to be excused. No mobile phones are to be visible during class. They are to be out of sight and turned off. I will eject any student from class that has a visible cell phone or whose cell phone rings during class. This will count as an unexcused absence. Finally, I have a significant hearing loss and may have to ask people to repeat their questions or statements from time to time. You can minimize this by speaking loudly and clearly. This syllabus is tentative and subject to change.

Readings: All the required readings are contained in the course packets.

Plagiarism Policy: I have a zero tolerance policy regarding plagiarism. If I catch any student plagiarizing once I will fail them for the assignment. If I catch them a second time I will fail them from the class. Plagiarism includes any verbatim copying from a source without using quotation marks or setting the text up as an indented single spaced block quotation. If I find that more than five words in a row in your paper show up in the same order in a Google search and you do not have the words in quotation marks or set up as a block quotation I will fail you. Putting a footnote, endnote or other citation after the copied words without the quotation marks or block quotation form is still plagiarism, you are claiming to have paraphrased verbatim text, and you will still receive an F. Taking text from a source without citing it and rearranging the words so that it does not show up in a verbatim Google search is also plagiarism. I will also do Google searches to see if you have taken text and merely rearranged the words. You must either paraphrase the sentence by putting it completely in your own words and citing it with the proper footnote, endnote or in text citation or quote the actual text verbatim complete with the proper citation. Completely paraphrasing sentences in your own words, but neglecting to cite the source of the information is also plagiarism. All information that would not be known to the average person on the street with no university education must be cited. When in doubt always cite a legitimate source. Wikipedia is not a legitimate source. Books published by university presses and academic journal articles found on JSTOR are legitimate sources. Other sources may or may not be legitimate. If you have questions about whether a particular source is legitimate you can ask me. Using Wikipedia or other illegitimate sources will result in a reduction of one letter grade for each citation in a paper.


Class participation – 20%
Three reflection papers – 45% (15% each)
Oral report on research paper – 10%
Written version of research paper- 25%

Grading Scale

100-96 = A
95-91 = A-
90-86 = B+
85-81 = B
80-76 = B-
75-71 = C+
70-66 = C
65-61 = C-
60-56 = D+
55-51 = D
50-46 = D-
45 and lower = F

Class Schedule:

Week One: Introduction to Course and Review of Syllabus

Week Two: The Mandate Period

Hourani, Albert “The Climax of European Power (1914-1939)” in A History of the Arab Peoples (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 1991), pp. 315-332.

Andersen, Roy R., Seibert, Robert F., and Wagner, Jon G., “The Rise of the State System: 1914-1950” in Politics and Change in the Middle East: Sources of Conflict and Accommodation (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall Inc., 1982), pp. 74-93.

Week Three: The 1948 War and the Lasting Legacy of the Palestinian Refugees

Esber, Rosemarie M. “Rewriting the History of 1948: The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Question Revisited,” Holy Land Studies, vol. 4, no. 1 (2005), pp. 55-72.

Alshaibi, Sama, “Memory Work in the Palestinian Diaspora,” Frontiers, Vol. 27, No. 2 (2006), pp. 30-53.

Khalidi, Rashid, “Observations on the Right of Return,” Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 21, No. 2 (Winter 1992), pp. 29-40.

Week Four: Palestine Continued: Ethnic Cleansing in International Perspective

Falah, Ghazi, “The 1948 Israeli-Palestinian War and Its Aftermath: The Transformation and De-Signification of Palestine’s Cultural Landscape,” Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Vol. 86, No. 2 (June 1996), pp. 256-285.

Pohl, J. Otto, “Socialist Racism: Ethnic Cleansing and Racial Exclusion in the USSR and Israel,” Human Rights Review (April-June 2006), pp. 60-80. The first reflection paper is due in class on Friday.

Week Five: Israel and its Arab and Oriental Jewish Populations

Rouhana, Nadim and Ghanem, Asad, “The Crises of Minorities in Ethnic States: The Case of Palestinian Citizens in Israel,” International Journal of Middle East Studies, Vol. 30, No. 3 (August 1998), pp. 321-346.

Shohat, Ella, “Sephardim in Israel: Zionism from the Standpoint of its Jewish Victims,” Social Text, No. 19/20 (Autumn 1988), pp. 1-35.

Yiftachel, Oren, “‘Ethnocracy’ and its Discontents: Minorities, Protests, and the Israeli Polity,” Critical Inquiry, Vol. 26, No. 4 (Summer 2000), pp. 725-756.

Week Six: Egypt under Nasser

Cleveland, William, “The Middle East in the Age of Nasser: The Egyptian Base” (Chapter 15) in A History of the Modern Middle East, (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1994), pp. 284-303.

Week Seven: Political Islam

Milton-Edwards, Beverly, “Past, Present and Future Politics: Political Islam” (Chapter 5) in Contemporary Politics in the Middle East (Malden, MA: Polity Press, 2006), pp. 134-158

Week Eight: Nationalism in the Arab East

Devlin, John, “The Baath Party: Rise and Metamorphosis,” The American Historical Review, Vol. 96, No. 5 (December 1991), pp. 1396-1407.

Salibi, Kamal, “The Lebanese Identity,” Journal of Contemporary History, Vol. 6, No. 1 (1971), pp. 76-86.

Week Nine: The 1967 War and the Occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip

Kimmerling, Baruch and Migdal, Joel, S., “Steering a Path under Occupation” (chapter nine), The Palestinian People: A History, (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2003), pp. 274-311.

Gallagher, Nancy, “Lessons from the Algerian War of Independence,” Middle East Report, No. 225 (Winter 2002), pp. 44-49.

Andoni, Lamis, “Searching for Answers: Gaza’s Suicide Bombers,” Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 26, No. 4 (Summer 1997), pp. 33-45. The second reflection paper is due in class on Friday.

Weeks Ten: Turkey and Iran

Cleveland, William, “Democracy and Authoritarianism: Turkey and Iran” (chapter fourteen) in A History of the Modern Middle East, Second Edition, (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2000), pp. 267-292.

Keddie, Nikki, “The Revolution” (chapter 9) in Modern Iran: Roots and Results of Revolution (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2003).

Week Eleven: The War in Iraq

International Crisis Group, “Where is Iraq Heading? Lessons from Basra,” Middle East Report No. 67 (25 June 2007), pp. 1-19. The third reflection paper is due in class on Friday.

Weeks Twelve, Thirteen, and Fourteen: Student Oral Presentations

Week Fifteen: Concluding Remarks and Final Paper Due.

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