U.S. Global Power and Transnational Perceptions of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, from the 1967 War to the Camp David Accord

AHA Session 55
Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations 1
Friday, January 7, 2011: 9:30 AM-11:30 AM
Room 305 (Hynes Convention Center)
Wm. Roger Louis, University of Texas at Austin
Ussama Makdisi, Rice University

Session Abstract

The period between the 1967 Arab-Israeli War and the 1978 Egyptian-Israeli peace accord at Camp David was a formative one for Middle Eastern state, society, and culture, U.S. involvement in the Middle East, and for global affairs. In those years, Arab governments and movements globalized their cause and brought Middle Eastern politics to the forefront of the international stage, encouraging the formation of transnational networks that opposed perceived Israeli militarism and U.S. global power.  In response to these efforts, various local and state actors took up the Middle East issue to support either Arab or Israeli positions and to advance their own particular agendas.  Thus the Arab-Israeli conflict served as a meeting ground for negotiating human rights, decolonization, the Cold War, and U.S. global power.

This proposed panel will explore how the United States and societies across the globe negotiated power through the prism of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Chaired by Peter Hahn, Professor of History and Chair at the Ohio State University, and featuring commentary by Ussama Makdisi, Professor of History and Arab-American Educational Foundation Chair of Arab Studies at Rice University, the panel will bring together a sampling of the latest historical scholarship on the United States and the Arab-Israeli conflict. Panelists include Maurice Jr. Labelle, doctoral candidate in History at the University of Akron; Paul Chamberlin, Stanley Kaplan Visiting Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of History and Leadership Studies Program at Williams College; and Salim Yaqub, Associate Professor of History at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and director of UCSB’s Center for Cold War Studies and International History.

Labelle’s paper, “Taking Arabs Seriously: Arab Anti-Americanism, the ‘Big Lie,’ and U.S.-Lebanese Relations during the 1967 War,” explores how the Arab-Israeli conflict influenced Lebanese politics, local perceptions of and experience with U.S. global power, and U.S.-Lebanese relations. Labelle’s study attempts to decolonize and democratize international and transnational history by unearthing the power of local Arabs and integrating them into the greater narrative of international relations. Chamberlin’s paper, “A Second Vietnam in the Middle East: The United States and the PLO, 1968-1975,” examines the PLO’s attempts to associate itself with this transnational wave of radical politics both in the United States and in the Non-Aligned world. Yaqub’s paper, “Fixing a Hole: U.S. Diplomacy, World Opinion and the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict, 1973-1978,” analyzes U.S. attempts to circumvent an emerging international consensus that favored a two-state settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.

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