Upcoming Lecture: “The Little Ice Age Crisis in the Ottoman Empire”

The Middle East Studies Program is proud to announce the next lecture in our Spring Lecture Series, “The Little Ice Age Crisis in the Ottoman Empire” by Professor Sam White of Oberlin College.  The lecture will be held on Tuesday, March 29 at 6pm in Ingraham Hall Room 206.

Dr. White’s research specializes on the early modern world and on the study of past climate fluctuations and their impact on human societies.  His first book, The Climate of Rebellion in the Early Modern Ottoman Empire, on the Little Ice Age crisis in the Middle East, is forthcoming from Cambridge University Press.

The event is free and open to the public.  For more information, please visit mideast.wisc.edu, call (608)265-6583, or email cmes@mideast.wisc.edu.

Thanks and we hope to see you there!

Upcoming Event: Sawyer Seminar on Human Rights

What: Sawyer Seminar on Rethinking Human Rights for the 21st Century: “Rethinking Human Rights and the Environment”

Sponsored By: UW-Madison Human Rights Initiative, Global Legal Studies Center, Division of International Studies, International Institute, Global Studies.

When: Friday, December 3 from 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Where: Law School, Room 3250

Speakers and panelists include:

  • Scott Straus: Associate Professor of Political Science, Director of the Human Rights Initiative (UW-Madison)
  • Richard Hiskes, Professor of Political Science (University of Connecticut)
  • Hari Osofsky, Associate Professor of Law (University of Minnesota)
  • Philippe Cullet, Professor of International and Environmental Law (University of London)
  • Sumudu Atapattu, Associate Director of the Global Legal Studies Center (UW-Madison Law School)

Galillee College Summer Program: Political Sciences and Middle East Studies

Galillee College, Israel has developed a summer programme for students from around the world who are interested in the Middle East. The programme focuses on the Israeli – Palestinian conflict, its roots, background and current situation.

The programme begins with an overview of the Land of Israel-Palestine region, presenting the historical background of the region, as well as an overview of social and economic conditions, ethnic and religious background. The lectures are supplemented by Study Tours to enable students to experience these issues at first hand.

A large part of the programme is dedicated to the Israeli – Palestinian conflict. Different aspects of the conflict are examined by Palestinian and Israeli lecturers and the different points of view are discussed. Additional processes in neighbouring countries, which affect Israel and the Palestinian Authority, are presented as well.

The programme seeks to deepen the participants’ knowledge of conditions, developments and trends in Israel, the Palestinian territories and the surrounding lands and to highlight some of the diverse issues at the centre of the political, social and religious divides in the Middle East.

Students who are familiar with Middle East studies will spend 5 weeks in the area studying the relationship and interactions between the various political, ethnic and religious groups and how these peoples fit into the political, social and cultural frameworks of Israel and the neighbouring lands. The programme will include 150 academic hours with a limited number of background lectures, in addition to study tours, field trips, panel discussions and workshops. This programme will afford the visiting students an opportunity to appreciate the finer details of life in the different communities that make up the Middle Eastern human mosaic and acquire a greater awareness of the diversity that has precipitated conflict when adverse conditions prevailed.

Provide an overview of the history of the Land of Israel-Palestine
Acquaint the students with the different ethnic and religious groups in the region, their way
of  life, beliefs, views and inter-relations
Present different perspectives and views regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
Develop participants’ understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and current issues

Internationally known Israeli academic experts and Middle East experts will address participants.  Lectures will be supplemented by case study analyses; group discussions and group work; workshops; study tours; games and simulations.

Program Dates: 7 July- 10 August, 2010

Tuition:                     –   US $ 2,850
Local expenses:    Early birds – October 1st –  April 1st : $4,200
Late registration –April 2nd –  June 1st : $4,500

For more information, including registration, visit: www.galilcol.ac.il/page.asp?id=17

Middle East Interest Group: Opening Meeting

Middle East Interest Group

Opening Meeting


28 January

1641 Humanities

Formed in cooperation with the Center For Middle East Studies, The Middle East Interest Group strives to increase awareness within the UW campus community regarding Middle Eastern affairs. Weekly, the group aims to discover a new perspective on Middle Eastern politics, economics, geography, culture, religion, language, arts, society and foreign interests. An alternating weekly schedule of films and discussion sessions has been developed to enhance understanding of a multitude of topics pertaining to this critical region.

This semester, the group will focus on four geographical regions and the interactions within them. Each month will combine film, both documentary and feature length, with the discussions and lectures to provide a wide scope of perspectives on the country in focus. The countries selected are Israel and Palestine, Iraq, Lebanon and the United States. The following is the 2010 semester schedule:

February: Israel and Palestine

-Following months of debate surrounding the 2008-09 Israeli Operation Cast Lead into the Gaza Strip the programming will explore issues of status, religion, war and justice within the bounds of these two nations. Is peace a realistic prospect for the two in their current relationship? How does the situation affect the daily lives of Palestinians and Israelis? Issues including the UN Goldstone Report, NGO activity and more will be addressed this month.

March: Iraq

-In March 2003, the United States invaded Iraq. In 2010 the United States remains in the country. This month we will explore the significance of this seven year relationship. Tracing back the conflict to its inception the programming aims to examine how the US invasion evolved and transformed Iraqi society. Accounts from military, religious, academic, media and government perspectives will dissect the interactions between the US and Iraq. This month will be greatly complemented by individual directly involved.

April: Lebanon

-in 2005, Lebanon entered into a revolution following the assassination of Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. By April 2005 the Cedar Revolution succeeded in ousting Syrian influence and formal presence within Lebanon. How has this multi-ethnic, -religious and -ideological population cooperated in forming one of the most “liberal” states in the Middle East? Issues such from Hezbollah to homosexuality will be evaluated determine the nature of contemporary Lebanese society. Is this a sustainable future?

May: The United States

-The semester will conclude with a consideration of what happens when Middle Eastern ideas, people and issues travel across the Atlantic to the United States. How do Americans interact with the Middle East within the United States? Topics including migration, advocacy, religion and customs will be analyzed during May.

For more information on this semester’s programming stay tuned to the Center’s blog at http://www.mideast.wisc.edu

If you are interested in joining the Center for Middle East Studies Mailing List, please e-mail cmes@mideast.wisc.edu with MAILING LIST in the subject line.

Please Note: We are open to new ideas and directions to maximize our understanding of the Middle East. NO PREVIOUS KNOWLEDGE IS REQUIRED.

Israel/Palestine Film Series

Tales from Planet Earth Film Series: “Garbage Dreams” on Nov. 7th

The Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies will be screening the film Garbage Dreams (US 2009, 82 minutes) on Saturday, November 7th at 1:30 pm in the Fredric March Play Circle Theater (Memorial Union) as part of the 2009 Tales From Planet Earth Film Festival

The film will be screened in English.  Directed by Mai Iskander, the film received honors at the Nashville Film Festival (winner of the Al Gore Reel Current Award), Hollywood Film Festival, Vail Film Festival, Phoenix Film Festival, Mexico International Film Festival among many others.

Garbage Dreams is the story of the zaballeen, some 60,000 people at the bottom of Egyptian society, who nevertheless are indispensable to the functioning of Cairo, as they daily collect and recycle 80 percent of Cairo’s garbage. But globalization is threatening their way of life, as foreign companies (far more concerned with revenues than recycling) are taking their garbage from them. As the world around them changes, three teenage boys – Adham, Osama, and Nabil – must navigate their uncertain futures, as they dream of a better life and try to do right by their families. Winner of the Al Gore Reel Current Prize for important current environmental film. (courtesy of the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies)


Jewish Heritage Lecture Series: ‘Reintroduction of Endangered and Extinct Animal and Bird Species to Israel’ by Avinoam Lourie on Oct. 28th

As part of the Jewish Heritage Lecture Series, Avinoam Lourie will be giving a lecture entitled “Reintroduction of Endangered and Extinct Animal and Bird Species to Israel” on Wednesday, October 28th at 7pm at the Pyle Center.  Lourie is the retired former director for the Wild Animal Protection for the Israel Nature Reserve Authority and the Haifa Zoological Garden and Center for Biology Education.


In her sixty-one years of existence, an interesting challenge for Israel has been protecting and bringing back wild animals that once thrived in the area…

In the 1970s, a well-known Israeli army general named Avraham Yoffe was appointed General Director of Israel’s Nature. Yoffe initiated the process of “bringing back” some of the Biblical animals that were on the edge of extinction in Israel, establishing two, large, wild, protected nature reserves, one in the extreme south of the country in the Negev (Hai Bar South/Yotvata), and the other (Hai Bar Carmel), near the Mediterranean Sea at the top of Mount Carmel just outside of Haifa.

Animal reintroduction is a very complicated process, including many considerations, such as which animals to reintroduce, do viable food and water sources exist; are the places protected from predators; is there a possibility for the animals to expand to other parts of the country; is there enough genetic variability; and what happens when wild animals come into contact with civilized and agricultural areas?

Finding and acquiring the animals and getting them to reproduce is a major part of the story.

Some of the animals reintroduced to Israel, like the Mesopotamian Fallow Deer, were nearly extinct in the world; some animals, like the Arabian Oryx, only found in Arab countries were not easily available; starting and maintaining breeding nuclei is a highly critical phase of reintroduction; some animals can be released directly; others have to be gradually adjusted to their new surroundings.

There are also “Animal Politics”, i.e. animals sometimes needed from countries not friendly to Israel; such as Israel “acquiring” rare Persian Fallow Deer and onagers from Iran; Arabian Oryx from the United States; Roe Deer from Tuscany, Italy. Plus stories of released animals straying into nearby countries; Israel’s help establishing a zoo in the Occupied Territory of the West Bank (in Kalkilya); and many more.

About the Lecturer:

An only child (actually the first child born at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem in 1939), Avinoam Lourie discovered early that the animals and insects near his home in Jerusalem’s Beit HaKerem neighborhood were his friends, spending every moment in the fields turning over rocks, picking up snakes and scorpions, and finding and caring for small animals.

Since he knew which creatures would be found under specific rocks, Avinoam’s first job, at age 12, was providing scorpions and poisonous snakes to researchers at the Hebrew University, steering his bike with one hand while holding the poisonous snake or box of scorpions in the other! This aided some of the first attempts to develop antivenins for some of the poisonous animals.

Lourie translated his love of animals into degrees in Marine Biology and Zoology from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, followed by research on fish in the Mediterranean that had migrated from the Red Sea through the Suez Canal; heading up the Haifa Zoo (also a regional center for continuing education for teachers to widen their horizons for biology) for ten years; then he worked with the Israel Nature Authority for nearly 25 years to save and bring back near-extinct and endangered animals that once thrived in the Holy Land, before retiring in 2005.

Recently selected as one of the 50 most influential people in Haifa, Lourie spends much of his time volunteering in released-criminal rehabilitation; general education and working with at-risk young people using animals; and establishing and helping maintain “animal schoolyards” for children to learn more about nature and animals in safe, unthreatening atmospheres. He is also is an “expert witness” in poaching cases where animals must be identified by as little as a hair as evidence.

Lourie lectures widely on the animals of Israel, present and past, is working on an autobiography of his life experiences with animals, and is writing children’s books on Animals of the Bible.

This event is sponsored by the UW Center for Jewish Studies.