This course explores the current realities faced by different participants in the Middle East, concentrating on Israel, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey, the Arabian Peninsula, and Iran. The primary objective is to gain a deeper understanding of the differing perceptions of the Middle East conflict in the Muslim and Arab sphere, and examine the impact the creation and existence of Israel has had on the Middle East and the international community.
We will begin by examining the recent activities in Gaza and then analyze the reactions of the various countries involved in the conflict. We will delve into the motivations and evolutions of militant organizations such as Hezbollah and Hamas and examine the role religion plays in the greater conflict of the Middle East.
Readings will include current articles from various newspapers and journals with an emphasis on articles written in Arab nations and Israel. We will also be looking at historical surveys, published studies on Hezbollah and Hamas and other militant organizations, novels, and primary source documents. Because religion plays an important role in the conflict, we will also be studying the Qura'an and the Hadiith and discuss the interpretations applied to their teachings by Sunni and Shiite participants in the conflict.
This class will offer the participants ample opportunity for both oral and written expression. Students will submit a weekly one page written reaction to readings and discussions engendered by the course and will be expected to deliver an oral presentation and submit a final essay at the conclusion of the semester.
Syllabus: Topics of Discussion
1. Introduction – Operation "Cast Lead" : Discussion of the recent IDF incursion into Gaza.
2. Overview of the Sunni and Shiite branches of Islam. Origins of Hezbollah: Rise of Shiite Politics. (1950s to the Lebanese Civil War). Musa al-Sadr and his impact on Amal.
3. Seminar on Secular and Religious Logic. Hezbollah's Rise continued: The Role of Iraq and Israel's 1982 Invasion. Creation of Hezbollah, its stated goals and implementation.
4. Seminar on Religion and Politics and the role of Religion on the World Stage. Hezbollah's socio-political impact on Lebanon. Modus Vivendi between Israel and Hezbollah. Southern Lebanon, Terrorism and Israel's withdrawal in 2000.
5. Seminar on cooperation between Syria, Iran and Hezbollah. Significance of alliance between Sunni and Shiite factions. Brief Overview of Iranian history (1979 to present Day). Iran and the Mossad.
6. Seminar on Terrorism and Politics. Significance of Hezbollah's decision to take part in the 1992 elections in Lebanon. The role Charity and Social Services in Shiite and Sunni tradition. Introduction to Hamas.
7. Seminar on the Lebanese Civil War and Sectarianism. A new Social Fabric in Lebanon. Brief Overview of Syrian history and its changing role in Lebanese politics. Shiite and Sunni differences of ideology and abandonment of secular ideology. Assassination of Rafiq Hariri.
8. Seminar on the start of hostilities and the outbreak of the Second Lebanon War. Strategies of the combatants. The Outcome. Reaction of Hamas.
9. Seminar on Jihad and its impact on Muslim Communities in the Middle East. Hamas, dawa and secular Palestinians. Dawa and its role in Palestinian Politics.
10. Seminar on Economics, Jihad and Foreign Funding of Hamas. Hamas' Uncomfortable Relationship with Hezbollah. The role of Sheikh Yassin. The Hamas Charter.
11. Tying it all together. Presentations and Discussion.
12. Concluding Remarks. What Next? Presentation