December 31, 1999

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

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

Wow, tensions were flying high in this class between Zionist- sympathizers and Massad (and, to a lesser extent, between Zionist-sympathizers and Palestinian-sympathizers). Massad is clearly pro-Palestine in outlook, and while some students find this troubling, others find it refreshing. His descriptions of the suffering endured by Palestinians make great scholarship -- but he seems unable at times to see why the Jews, in their own words, would support and perpetrate such horrible policies. I agree with Massad's stance, and I am glad to be able to take a class where the professor isn't afraid to condemn a country for chronic flouting of UN resolutions and international law. At the same time, the lack of zionist voices in the (generally mixed-quality, sometimes brilliant) reading list and the strict guidelines on paper topics (they steer you towards making Massad's own points) make this class not as thought-provoking as it should be. In all, most students were at least a little bit disappointed, though I felt this was because they felt frustrated having to learn the brutal history of Israel as fact, not because of shortcomings on Massad's part. The course may not be perfect, but in scholarly terms, Massad is after something real, and there is a lot to be learned if you go along with him -- even if you criticize him all the way.

Workload:

On the heavy side, though there is no midterm. Heavy reading packet in two volumes, which can be hard to keep up with, since Massad talks at length in class about most of the authors and their work anyway. 8-page paper; final exam.