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campus scene

Never a dull moment Mary Lynn's pedagogy
Expert opinion: Food and fitness, with Paul Arciero
Impasse in Israel? Greenberg scholar Benny Morris
Exploring gender issues Male and female imagery
Museum teaching crosses disciplines Tang's "Hudson" spans boundaries
News arts-management curriculum Zankel director debuts
Tomaselli at the Tang Truly mixed media
High-tech imaging Domozych keeping busy
Medal-winning meal Skidmore takes a bronze
Tour d'Afrique Silverman on two wheels
On wisdom, gravity, timing, and truth McCormack scholar Bill T. Jones
Newest faculty, newest scholarship 24 new faces
Sportswrap Fall sports highlights

Impasse in Israel?


Revolutionizing Israeli historiography, as the New Yorker put it, is just one effect of the writings of Benny Morris, who was Skidmore’s Greenberg Middle East Scholar-in-Residence last fall.

Morris is a professor in Ben Gurion University’s department of Middle East studies. It was his 1988 book, The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947–1949, that made waves with its new, more complex view of Israel’s troubled founding. His prolific research and commentaries since then have often provoked objections from both Zionists and Liberals. His recent publications include 1948, A History of the First Arab-Israeli War and One State, Two States; Resolving the Israel/Palestine Conflict.

Morris was born in a kibbutz in 1948, the year of Israel’s own birth; the year before, his parents had emigrated from Great Britain. His father was an Israeli diplomat, and Morris studied in Israel, the US, and England.
At Skidmore, Morris joined a panel discussion, "After Camp David: The Future of the Two State Solution," with Robert Malley, formerly President Bill Clinton’s special assistant for Mideast affairs and currently a director with the International Crisis Group. Though Morris and Malley disagree on many issues, they have both come to doubt that a two-state solution can break the Israeli-Palestinian impasse. The panel was moderated by Prof. Steve Hoffmann of Skidmore’s government department.

Morris’s residency also included teaching a five-week, one-credit course on the Arab-Zionist conflict from 1881 to 1948. Skidmore history professor Jennifer Delton, who sat in, reports that his lectures had some students “riveted.” She says his sharing of primary sources from the British Archives “was a real treat from a historian’s perspective,” and she adds that his frank assertions of his own points of view (along with his acknowledgments of opposing views and explanations of his reasons for rejecting them) were “quite refreshing.” —SR