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History > Middle Eastern History

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The Downfall of Abba Hillel Silver and the Foundation of Israel Cover

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The Downfall of Abba Hillel Silver and the Foundation of Israel

by Ofer Shiff

In early February 1949 American Jewry’s most popular and powerful leader, Abba Hillel Silver (1893–1963), had summarily resigned from all his official positions within the Zionist movement and had left New York for Cleveland, returning to his post as a Reform rabbi. In the immediate years prior to his resignation, during the second half of the 1940s, Silver was the most outspoken proponent of the founding of a sovereign Jewish state. He was the most instrumental American Jewish leader in the political struggle that led to the foundation of the State of Israel. Paradoxically, this historic victory also heralded Silver’s personal defeat. Soon after Israel’s declaration of independence, he and many of his American Zionist colleagues were relegated to the sidelines of the Zionist movement. Almost overnight the most influential leader—one who was admired and feared by both supporters and opponents—was stripped of his power within both the Zionist and the American Jewish arenas. Shiff’s book discerns the various aspects of the striking turnabout in Silver's political fate, describing both the personal tragic story of a leader who was defeated by his own victory, and the much broader intra-Zionist battle which erupted in full force immediately after the founding of Israel. Drawing extensively on Silver’s personal archival material, Shiff presents an enlightening portrait of a critical episode in Jewish history. This book is most relevant for anyone who attempts to understand the complex homeland- diaspora relations between Israel and American Jewry.

Dreaming of Baghdad Cover

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Dreaming of Baghdad

Haifa Zangana, Foreword by Hamid Dabashi, Afterword by Ferial J. Ghazoul

Haifa Zangana was a member of a left-wing group of Iraqis who organized in the 1970s to oppose the Baath Party and its charismatic leader, Saddam Hussein. Zangana was captured, imprisoned, and tortured in Abu Ghraib. In this memoir that describes her arrest, imprisonment and eventual forced exile, she describes life in an Iraq she can never return to, an Iraq that now no longer exists.

Education, Empowerment, and Control Cover

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Education, Empowerment, and Control

The Case of the Arabs in Israel

Education, Empowerment, and Control is about the education of the Palestinian Arab minority in Israel from the establishment of the state of Israel to the present. Using a comparative approach, the study throughout juxtaposes Arab and Hebrew educational systems in terms of administration, resources, curricula contents, and returns. Developments in education are analyzed in conjunction with wide demographic, economic, and sociopolitical changes. Al-Haj explores the expectations of the Palestinian community on the one hand and dominant groups on the other, showing that whereas Palestinians have seen education as a source of empowerment, government groups have seen it as a mechanism of social control. The book also sheds light on the wider issue of education and social change among developing minorities in the postcolonial era. Al-Haj examines modernization, underdevelopment, and control in order to delineate the role education plays among a national minority that is marginalized at the group level and denied access to the national opportunity structure.

Egypt as a Woman Cover

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Egypt as a Woman

Nationalism, Gender, and Politics

Beth Baron

This original and historically rich book examines the influence of gender in shaping the Egyptian nation from the nineteenth century through the revolution of 1919 and into the 1940s. In Egypt as a Woman, Beth Baron divides her narrative into two strands: the first analyzes the gendered language and images of the nation, and the second considers the political activities of women nationalists. She shows that, even though women were largely excluded from participation in the state, the visual imagery of nationalism was replete with female figures. Baron juxtaposes the idealization of the family and the feminine in nationalist rhetoric with transformations in elite households and the work of women activists striving for national independence.

Elections in Israel 1992, The Cover

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Elections in Israel 1992, The

As the momentum toward peace in the Middle East surges and wanes, the intensity of politics in Israel takes on added relevance. There can be little doubt that the historic Israel-PLO peace accord could not have occurred were it not for the turnabout elections of 1992. This volume, the seventh in a series begun in 1969, carries on the tradition of offering in-depth analyses of the major issues, actors, and parties involved in Israeli politics. Leading social scientists from Israeli and North American universities and research institutes, using different methods and coming from diverse intellectual traditions, address questions such as whether the elections were a referendum on the return of the Territories; what roles the PLO and the United States played in the election results; how technological changes in political communications, packaging of candidates, and opinion polls affected the results; what contributions such groups as women, Arabs, and members of various religions made to the change in government; and whether the political reforms instituted before the elections resulted from changes in the mood of the electorate or brought about changes in Israel’s policy. Contributors to the volume include Majid Al-Haj, Gideon Doron, Aaron Fein, Hillel Frisch, Tamar Hermann, Hanna Herzog, Barry Kay, Jonathan Mendilow, Barry Rubin, Ron Shachar, Gabriel Weimann, Aaron Willis, Gadi Wolfsfeld, and Yael Yishai.

Embodying Hebrew Culture Cover

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Embodying Hebrew Culture

Aesthetics, Athletics, and Dance in the Jewish Community of Mandate Palestine

Nina S. Spiegel

From their conquest of Palestine in 1917 during World War I, until the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, the British controlled the territory by mandate, representing a distinct cultural period in Middle Eastern history. In Embodying Hebrew Culture: Aesthetics, Athletics, and Dance in the Jewish Community of Mandate Palestine, author Nina S. Spiegel argues that the Jewish community of this era created enduring social, political, religious, and cultural forms through public events, such as festivals, performances, and celebrations. She finds that the physical character of this national public culture represents one of the key innovations of Zionism-embedding the importance of the corporeal into national Jewish life-and remains a significant feature of contemporary Israeli culture. Spiegel analyzes four significant events in this period that have either been unexplored or underexplored: the beauty competitions for Queen Esther in conjunction with the Purim carnivals in Tel Aviv from 1926 to 1929, the first Maccabiah Games or "Jewish Olympics" in Tel Aviv in 1932, the National Dance Competition for theatrical dance in Tel Aviv in 1937, and the Dalia Folk Dance Festivals at Kibbutz Dalia in 1944 and 1947. Drawing on a vast assortment of archives throughout Israel, Spiegel uses an array of untapped primary sources, from written documents to visual and oral materials, including films, photographs, posters, and interviews. Methodologically, Spiegel offers an original approach, integrating the fields of Israel studies, modern Jewish history, cultural history, gender studies, performance studies, dance theory and history, and sports studies. In this detailed, multi-disciplinary volume, Spiegel demonstrates the ways that political and social issues can influence a new society and provides a dynamic framework for interpreting present-day Israeli culture. Students and teachers of Israel studies, performance studies, and Jewish cultural history will appreciate Embodying Hebrew Culture.

Embracing the Divine Cover

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Embracing the Divine

Gender, Passion, and Politics in the Christian Middle East, 1720-1798

Akram Fouad Khater is associate professor and director of Middle East studies at North Carolina State University. He is the author of Inventing Home: Emigration, Gender, and the Making of a Lebanese Middle Class, 1861-1921 and Sources in the History of th

Embracing the Divine narrates the transformation of Christianity in the Middle East during the 18th century. It traces the tumultuous events surrounding the life of Hindiyya al-Ujaimi, a visionary nun determined to establish her own religious order in the Levant against the will of the Vatican. This Christ-centered and driven desire led to two inquisitions by the Holy See, a concerted campaign on the part of Latin missionaries to discredit her, turmoil within her Maronite church between supporter and detractor, and tragic exorcisms and deaths. Thus, beyond its compelling cinematic scope, Embracing the Divine presents a critical chapter in the history of Christianity in the Middle East, a history that has been largely absent from both Middle Eastern studies and from histories of Christianity. Moreover, this story relates the radical nature and perceived magnitude of Hindiyya's transgressions across gender lines constructed locally and by a universalizing Roman Catholic Church.

Empires in Collision in Late Antiquity Cover

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Empires in Collision in Late Antiquity

G. W. Bowersock

Political and military developments in the Arabian Peninsula on the eve of Islam In this book, based on lectures delivered at the Historical Society of Israel, the famed historian G. W. Bowersock presents a searching examination of political developments in the Arabian Peninsula on the eve of the rise of Islam. Recounting the growth of Christian Ethiopia and the conflict with Jewish Arabia, he describes the fall of Jerusalem at the hands of a late resurgent Sassanian (Persian) Empire. He concludes by underscoring the importance of the Byzantine Empire’s defeat of the Sassanian forces, which destabilized the region and thus provided the opportunity for the rise and military success of Islam in the seventh century. Using close readings of surviving texts, Bowersock sheds new light on the complex causal relationships among the Byzantine, Ethiopian, Persian, and emerging Islamic forces.

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Encountering Morocco

Fieldwork and Cultural Understanding

Afterword by Kevin Dwyer. Edited by David Crawford and Rachel Newcomb

Encountering Morocco introduces readers to life in this North African country through vivid accounts of fieldwork as personal experience and intellectual journey. We meet the contributors at diverse stages of their careers–from the unmarried researcher arriving for her first stint in the field to the seasoned fieldworker returning with spouse and children. They offer frank descriptions of what it means to take up residence in a place where one is regarded as an outsider, learn the language and local customs, and struggle to develop rapport. Moving reflections on friendship, kinship, and belief within the cross-cultural encounter reveal why study of Moroccan society has played such a seminal role in the development of cultural anthropology.

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Enemy in the Mirror

Islamic Fundamentalism and the Limits of Modern Rationalism: A Work of Comparative Political Theory

Roxanne L. Euben

A firm grasp of Islamic fundamentalism has often eluded Western political observers, many of whom view it in relation to social and economic upheaval or explain it away as an irrational reaction to modernity. Here Roxanne Euben makes new sense of this belief system by revealing it as a critique of and rebuttal to rationalist discourse and post-Enlightenment political theories. Euben draws on political, postmodernist, and critical theory, as well as Middle Eastern studies, Islamic thought, comparative politics, and anthropology, to situate Islamic fundamentalist thought within a transcultural theoretical context. In so doing, she illuminates an unexplored dimension of the Islamist movement and holds a mirror up to anxieties within contemporary Western political thought about the nature and limits of modern rationalism--anxieties common to Christian fundamentalists, postmodernists, conservatives, and communitarians.

A comparison between Islamic fundamentalism and various Western critiques of rationalism yields formerly uncharted connections between Western and Islamic political thought, allowing the author to reclaim an understanding of political theory as inherently comparative. Her arguments bear on broad questions about the methods Westerners employ to understand movements and ideas that presuppose nonrational, transcendent truths. Euben finds that first, political theory can play a crucial role in understanding concrete political phenomena often considered beyond its jurisdiction; second, the study of such phenomena tests the scope of Western rationalist categories; and finally, that Western political theory can be enriched by exploring non-Western perspectives on fundamental debates about coexistence.

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