In spring 2013, an Israeli professor and a Palestinian professor at the College of Charleston will share the classroom for fourteen weeks, working to break barriers and share alternative perspectives about life in the Middle East. They are coming together to teach a new course, Cultures of the Middle East, which will be held on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 12:00 p.m. to 12:50 p.m. at the Jewish Studies Center in room 100 of Arnold Hall.
The course will focus on the twentieth and twenty-first centuries and will highlight history, geography, religion, family structure, gender relations, literature, and cinema. “There’s much more to the Middle East than the conflict. We have beautiful cultures, music and festivals,” says Naomi Gale, Shusterman Visiting Professor of Israel Studies. “This is the first time I will work with a professor who is Palestinian. But we have a lot in common. We were both born in the Middle East and are both refugees of the Middle East.”
“We’re trying to tell another version of the story, more than what the students are familiar with and what they’ve been exposed to in the media,” says Ghazi Abuhakema, a professor of Arabic language and culture. “I want to give the students a chance to think critically about the Middle East and show them the normal life the people have and their traditions and values. We want to show them how Muslims, Jews and Christians are living together and weave those cultures together.”
Originally, Gale and Abuhakema discussed creating a lecture or a film series, and the conversations led to the idea of offering the course. They hope the class will encourage students to continue to learn, share stories with their families and perhaps travel to the Middle East one day.