Arab-Israel discourse needs improvement at Tulane

Kevin Young, Staff Writer

This is an opinion article and does not necessarily reflect the views of The Hullabaloo.

Tulane University is home to one of the nation’s best Jewish Studies programs, a fantastic history department, renowned political science faculty, and an emerging Middle Eastern Studies program. Naturally, the Arab-Israeli Conflict is a hot topic at Tulane that interests many. While Tulane succeeds at hosting an interesting and multi-dimensional discourse on Arab-Israeli issues, there are some aspects that Tulane can improve.

Foremost, it is important to understand where Tulane succeeds with its discourse on the Arab-Israeli conflict. There is the annual Mandel-Palagye Middle East Peace Summer Program, where 15 students receive full fellowships to study the history, politics, and literature of the Arab-Israeli conflict at the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace in Jerusalem. Likewise, Tulane’s various departments offer many courses pertaining to the conflict, most popular and successful of which include Jewish Studies Professor Brian Horowitz’s Arab-Israeli Conflict and Political Science Professor Louis Campomenosi’s War on Terror. Tulane also hosts many speakers on the conflict, such as Haaretz journalist and Israeli-Arab Sayyed Kashua and LGBT activist and Lebanese Christian Jonathan El-Khoury, two figures respected by people on all sides of the Arab-Israeli political spectrum.

There are, however, many issues with the discourse on the Arab-Israeli conflict at Tulane. For example, there are no fourth-year Arabic and Hebrew language classes and classes for the third year of these languages are only offered occasionally. This is the case even though both languages’ first-year and second-year classes have huge enrollment numbers that often result in the classes admitting more students than the Registrar limits for them.

There is no Arab historian at Tulane. Tulane still has not finished setting up a Department of Middle Eastern Studies, despite many students completing self-designed majors in the subject. Lastly, the only Tulane study abroad programs in the Levant — the heartland of the Arab-Israeli Conflict — are in Tel Aviv, Haifa, Jerusalem and Be’er Sheva.

To remedy these issues, Tulane should hire an expert in Judeo-Arabic linguistics to teach both Hebrew and Arabic, since the university would be hard pressed to hire two new linguistics for each language of Arabic and Hebrew.

Regarding the lack of Arab history and Israeli Studies, Tulane may hire a historian specifically of the Arab-Israeli conflict, rather than two people for each Arab history and Israeli history. These hires would also be good because the scholars would be knowledgeable about multiple sides of the conflict and open-minded to many students’ viewpoints in class discussions.

Regarding the lack of a Middle Eastern Studies department, the School of Liberal Arts should appoint some of Tulane’s most popular professors of the Middle East–such as Brian Horowitz, Yigit Akin, and Louis Campomenosi — to spearhead the program. Finally, Tulane should consider gauging interest and possibly adding study programs in Beirut and Ramallah, specifically with the American University of Beirut, Université Saint-Joseph, and Birzeit University.

With these remedies, Tulane could easily become one of the world’s most respected institutions for studying the Arab-Israeli Conflict.

Kevin Young is a senior at Newcomb-Tulane College. He can be reached at [email protected].

Leave a Comment