Middle East

Brookings: Markaz
Comments for Middle East Monitor
UN News

Monday, March 28. Welcome back! Especially with so much in the news about the Middle East right now, I am excited to dig into an exploration of this region of the world for our Spring Term. The syllabus below reflects what we covered in this class last year. We will do things a little bit differently this year, but there will probably be a lot of similarities. I will make appropriate revisions to our syllabus in the coming days. To begin, though, I know I want to accomplish a few specific tasks: 1) I need your feedback related to the research project; 2) I want you to familiarize yourselves with the geography of the Middle East (with a Map Assessment next week); 3) I want to know what interesting questions you have about the Middle East; e-mail me three compelling questions about issues related to the Middle East. I will consolidate your questions in to a single page to discuss tomorrow.
HW: Find two excellent articles on some topic of interest in the Middle East. Enter the articles into NoodleBib (print out the NoodleBib entries to hand in). Read one of the articles; in less than one page, summarize the article and prepare three questions that emerge from your reading.

Tuesday, March 29. Explore shared questions; article "cocktail party." How do our articles relate to the questions we have in mind? How do they relate to articles other classmates read? What new questions emerge from these considerations? Pay attention to bias, stereotypes, and the significance of history.
HW: Please watch any three of the five TED Talk videos linked here: Middle East TED Talks. Which one matters the most to you? What do these videos tell us about the Middle East? What do they tell us about American perceptions of the Middle East? Study for upcoming Middle East Geography assessment.

Wednesday, March 30. Five videos. Reactions? Assign Middle East Leaders. 15 minutes exploring basic background of your leader. Listen to this report on teaching the Koran:
Begin two-night readings on Huston Smith's "Islam" (begin in class)

HW: Finish through chapter 3 ("The Migration That Led to Victory"), i.e. up to page 22. Map quiz prep.

Thursday, March 31. Discuss Huston Smith's "Islam." How does Islam connect to Judaism and Christianity? How did Islam develop historically?
HW: Read Huston Smith's "Islam," (chapters 4 and 5, pp. 23-45); continue map quiz prep.

Monday, April 4. Discuss essential beliefs of Islam. Prep for Map Quiz. Work on ME Leader wiki pages.
HW: Map quiz prep

Tuesday, April 5. MAP QUIZ; When done, work on tonight's homework (see below).
HW: Huston Smith's "Islam" (chapter 6 and 7, pp. 46-74); listen to "The Origins of the Shia-Sunni Split" (Part 1)
from NPR's "The Partisans of Ali"


Wednesday, April 6. Discuss Five Pillars of Islam. Include Malcom X's experiences on his pilgrimage to Mecca. and his letter written after that journey. Discuss the social aspects of Islam. What conflicts seem to emerge as part of the Islamic religion? How do "beliefs" differ from preconceptions and practices? How can we best understand the Shi'a Sunni split? Will this Sunni Shi'a Map help?
HW: In The Middle East in Transition, read "Introduction" and "Part I," pp. 1-10.

Thursday, April 7. Discuss the reading. What are the important factors in the development of "The Middle East" in the 20th century? Fill in what you can of the "Timeline: Keeping Track of Events" handout.
HW: In The Middle East in Transition, read "Part II: The Middle East during the Cold War," pp. 11-20.

Monday, April 11. Discuss highlights of the history of the Middle East. Question from reading, timeline, core questions?
HW: Begin reading Kramer, "Arab Nationalism," to top of 10th page (stop at "Arab Revolution"). If you were absent, I have xerox copies for you, or you can read an electronic version:

Tuesday, April 12. Define "nationalism." Consider what nationalism means in America. What does "Arab nationalism" mean? What factors shaped Arab nationalism, and how?
HW: Read Kramer, "Arab Nationalism," next 7 pages (stop at "The Challenge of Islam").

Wednesday, April 13. Continue discussion of Arab nationalism. What shape did the concept take from the 1940s until 1967? What major events occurred in the region, and how did those events shape Arab nationalism? What role did Nasser and Egypt play in the rise of Arab nationalism?
HW: Finish Kramer, "Arab Nationalism."

Thursday, April 14. How did the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and developments in Iraq and Iran effect the development of Arab nationalism? Consider the lessons of the Iranian Revolution as an alternative to Arab nationalism... Availability for special visitor tomorrow? Work on ME Leader wiki pages.
HW: Read this excellent article on the significance of the Mossadeq coup...


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Monday, April 18. NO SCHOOL: PATRIOTS' DAYS!

Tuesday, April 19. Discuss "The Coup." What factors shaped U.S. policy in Iran? What were the short- and long-term strengths and weaknesses of U.S. policy? What did U.S. policy mean to the people of Iran?
HW: Please read all three parts of the "The Iranian Revolution"

Wednesday, April 20. Understand more thoroughly the roots of the Iranian Revolution, its goals, and its outcomes. Introduce Persepolis.
HW: Persepolis, pp. 3-39.

Thursday, April 21. Discuss opening chapters of Persepolis. What are the major themes? What strikes you about Marji (the little girl at the center of the story) and her family? Observations, questions, favorite "passages"?
HW: Persepolis, pp. 40-71.

Monday, April 25. Discuss Persepolis. Questions, observations? Identify continued and new themes presented in the book. Select most striking, significant, meaningful passages, and share. 15 minutes on Persepolis, then watch the first half of this documentary on Ayatollah Khomeini.

HW: Persepolis, pp. 72-110.

Tuesday, April 26. Continue Persepolis discussion. New themes? Further development of previously established themes? Relevant passages? Continue with Khomeini documentary.
HW: Persepolis, pp. 111-153.

Wednesday, April 27. Finish Persepolis discussion. Continue with Khomeini documentary.
HW: Read "Iran's Islamic Republic" (understand that the beginning, especially, will include terms and concepts you won't be altogether familiar with: forge ahead anyway!).


Thursday, April 28. Summarize reading on Iran's Islamic Republic. How did the Revolution change Iran? What was the significance of the Iran-Iraq War?
HW: Work on your Middle East leader wiki page. Compile and read the sources you've gathered. Where does your leader stand on issues like: the war in Syria, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Islamic fundamentalism, relations with the U.S. and Europe, economic development, the refugee crisis, the nuclear deal with Iran?

Monday, May 2. Discuss leader positions on major issues in the Middle East. Who in the room could be potential allies? Who might be enemies?
HW: Begin "Letter from Tehran" article. Read for 25-30 minutes (undistracted reading!). We'll finish the rest in class and for homework Tuesday.


Tuesday, May 3. Continue reading "Letter from Tehran" for first half of class, then discuss.
HW: Finish "Letter from Tehran."

Wednesday, May 4. Discuss "Letter from Tehran." Consider especially the nature of the Iranian state, the election, sanctions, "the bus," and relations with foreigners. Review for test on Islam, Arab Nationalism, and the Iranian Revolution.

HW: TEST PREP!

Thursday, May 5. Middle East Test 1.
HW: Read this NYT Book Review on the 1948 Israeli-Palestinian War and Ch. 1 (pp. 149-157) in Ghassan Kanafani's "Returning to Haifa" (you can find this article under the "Projects" tab).

Monday, May 9. Discuss 1948 and early developments in "Returning the Haifa." Continue reading the story in class.
HW: Finish reading the story "Returning to Haifa."

Tuesday, May 10. Discuss "Returning to Haifa." What does this story reveal about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a whole?
HW: Answer, in a fully developed paragraph or more, one of the Returning to Haifa Student Questions we posed today.

Wednesday, May 11. Finish "Returning to Haifa" discussion. What questions did you choose? How did you respond? What does this story reveal about the Israeli / Palestinian conflict? Do you find yourselves picking sides? How? Why?
HW: Please read these two articles (print them out if that's more useful for you) and complete the accompanying reading guide (to be handed out, based on your assigned groups).




Thursday, May 12. Press freedoms (and limitations) in the Middle East.

HW: In The Middle East in Transition, read from mid-page 29 ("Israel and the Palestinians") to 34.

Monday, May 16. Introduce and assign questions on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. Begin looking for useful sources.
HW: Continue looking for and reading sources related to your questions.

Tuesday, May 17. Discuss the contours of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, especially 1967 war and its lasting legacies; also be able to identify (explain and provide significance of) Yom Kippur War, Camp David, First Intifada, Oslo Accords, Second Intifada, the one-state and two-state solutions, settlements, etc.
HW: Read this discussion about the implications of failing to establish a "two-state solution":


Wednesday, May 18. Discuss the prospects for a "two-state solution." What is won or lost if that solution becomes impossible? Continue working on your question.
HW: Continue working on your question.

Thursday, May 19. Continue working on your question.
HW: Continue working on your question. Your 3-page response (plus bibliography) due Monday.

Monday, May 23. Paper due. Discuss questions, round 1.
HW: Exam Prep

Tuesday, May 24. Discuss questions, round 2.
HW: Exam Prep

Wednesday, May 25. Exam thinking. Discuss questions, round 3. Select and read an article from my Pearltrees collection. Be prepared to discuss the article of your choice in the context of the conversations we've had this week.
HW: See above: be prepared to discuss the article you selected; plus read and consider this Andrew Bacevich article:
Andrew Bacevich, "Peace between Unequal Parties"

Thursday, May 26. Discuss selected articles. Watch this video. Discuss.


Monday, June 6. WORLD HISTORY EXAM (8:15 am, Main 206)