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Skidmore College
Greenberg Middle East Scholar-In-Residence

Fall 2003 Scholar-in-Residence: Meir Zamir, Professor of Middle Eastern Studies, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Israel

Born in Bagdad in 1947, Professor Zamir earned his B.A. from Hebrew University in Jerusalem, his M.A. from Tel Aviv University, and Ph.D. from the London School of Economics and Political Science under the supervision of Professor Elie Kedourie. On the faculty of Ben Gurion University since 1980, he has also taught at York University in Toronto, Cornell University, San Diego State University, Boston University and Tel Aviv University. While most of his appointments have been to history or Middle East studies departments, he has recently been teaching courses on international business management, with an emphasis on the Middle East and on the Islamic world, in Ben Gurion University's Department of Business Administration, San Diego State University's Department of Management and in the International Graduate Center at Boston University in their Master of Science in Management Program.

A recipient of numerous grants and awards, Professor Zamir has also been a regular summer visiting scholar at St. Anthony's College, Oxford, and the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies. He was the founding director of the Center for Jewish-Arab Understanding at Ben-Gurion University as well as the founding chair of the university's Department of Middle East Studies. He is the author of numerous scholarly articles, has delivered papers and lectured in Israel as well as the U.S., Canada, England, France and Turkey and is currently at work on the concluding volume of a three-volume history of Lebanon under the French Mandate. In addition to this work in history, his research and teaching of Arab business culture has recently brought him to look at the role of cultural difference in hindering the advancement of peace between Israelis and Arabs. In particular, he has been focusing on the Camp David Accord of 1978 and the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations at Camp David in summer 2000 and examining the way in which the cultural gap and the different ways of negotiating between Israelis and Arabs has made it more difficult for both sides to solve the conflict between them.

Fall 2003 Events

"Reading the Road Map via Madrid, Oslo and Camp David: The United States and the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process," a lecture by Professor Meir Zamir. September 22, 2003

"(Re-)Building an Iraqi State: From Establishment to the Post-Saddam Era, 1921–2003," a lecture by Professor Meir Zamir. September 30, 2003

"Territorial Extension and National Homogeneity: The Case of Lebanon," a lecture by Professor Meir Zamir. October 7, 2003

Special Event: Palestinian Poet Taha Muhammad Ali and his Israeli translator Peter Cole, September 18, 2003

A charismatic personality and a writer of remarkable gifts, Taha Muhammad Ali has lived through the many stages of the Israeli-Arab conflict, and his poetry and fiction emerge directly from the crucible of that tragedy. His work presents a heartbreaking combination of pain and hope, sadness and humor.

One of the leading poets on the contemporary Palestinian literary scene, Taha Muhammad Ali was born in 1931 in the Galilee village of Saffuriya. During the Arab-Israeli war of 1948 he fled to Lebanon, together with most of the inhabitants of his village. A year later he slipped across the border with his family and settled in Nazareth, where he has lived ever since. The Saffuriya of his childhood has served as the nexus of his poetry and fiction, which is grounded in everyday experience and driven by a storyteller's vivid imagination. An autodidact, he has supported his family for many years by selling souvenirs in his shop near the Church of the Annunciation.

Taha Muhammad Ali writes in a forceful and direct style—the poetry's apparent simplicity and homespun truths concealing the subtle grafting of classical Arabic and colloquial forms of expression. Audiences in the Middle East, Europe and the United States have been powerfully moved by Taha Muhammad Ali's poems of political complexity and humanity.