May 22, 2004

Massad, Joseph
[CLME W3042] Palestinian and Israeli Politics and Societies

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Based on previous reviews of professor and class, I think many students entered this course thinking that Massad would argue point by point why Palestinians are glorious and Israelis are monsters. This wasn't the case at all - Massad took extraordinary care to critically examine each of the events that led to the current conflict and never offered a diatribe on how we should think. Massad always presented facts, never opinion; those facts in turn were supported by the enormous amount of research assigned to us for our weekly readings. Much of the research, which indeed is supported and accepted across much of academia, potentially contradicts positions that support much of Israeli government policy - this rankled quite a few auditors in the class - auditors who argued their opinions (unlike Massad) clearly without having completed the assigned reading, thus delaying, not enlightening, the class. Prof. Massad never belittled any student for his/her opinions, nor did he ever silence a student in order to expound a view of his own: indeed, he never expressed an opinion of his own, instead trusting this class to judge actions based on fact. Moreover, he demonstrated that criticism of Israeli government policy is not, and should not be equated with, anti-Semitism, which he, as any intelligent being, despises. Massad's kindness and approachability allowed us to feel comfortable debating with him during class and office hours; his goal was for us to recognize fact, not to threaten our positions and opinions. That this class was an eye-opener is, indeed, an understatement.

Workload:

About 100 pgs. of reading per week, mainly from research articles; midterm; 8-10 pg. research paper; final (canceled this semester due to the TA strike).