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Abstract

Arab and Jewish U.S. college students are impacted by the Israeli/Palestinian (I/P) conflict and heated interactions among students have erupted across campuses. There is a dearth of research on Arab American student perspectives on this conflict and on their interactions with Jewish students in higher education settings. This study seeks to further our understanding of these topics by reporting on a quantitative survey of Arab American college students (n=66). We examined dependent variables of Arab students seeking education on the I/P conflict, and interest in collaborating with Jewish students for peace. Independent variables were gender, religion, having Jewish friends, learning about Jewish history of oppression, growing up in Arab schools and communities, and parents’ and own views about Palestine. Multiple regression analysis indicates being male, believing Palestine is important, learning about Jewish history of oppression, and having parents with pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel attitudes predicted students’ seeking out education about the conflict. Being male, Christian, having friends who are Jewish and wanting opportunities to talk with Jews about the conflict predicted higher interest in Arab students’ wanting to collaborate with Jewish students for peace. Implications for working with these two groups on college campuses given both the tensions in the Middle East and experiences of Arab American college students are discussed and future recommendations are made for educational settings.

Author Bio(s)

Dr. Manal Yazbak Abu Ahmad, Ph.D, is the Head of the English Department at Sakhnin Teacher’s College , a member in the TEC centre and the director of Access Micro-scholarship Program which is financed by the American Embassy. For ten years, she has been co-teaching a joint intergroup online learning course entitled “Dealing with Diversity” between the Arab students of Sakhnin College and Jewish students of David Yellin College in Jerusalem. Furthermore, she is an expert in teaching and collaborative learning strategies in an online multicultural environment and international relations which is reflected through her courses: “Exploring Culture through English Literature” which she teaches with 5 different colleges in Israel and “Global Understanding” with the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She was a member in the EU International DOIT TEMPUS project in which they developed six syllabi for multicultural education. Her research areas are dealing with diversity in Israel, changing attitudes, e-learning/online collaboration and intergroup dialogues.

Adrienne Dessel, PhD, LMSW (RIP) was the Associate Director of the Program on Intergroup Relations (IGR) at the University of Michigan. She had 20 years of experience providing clinical and community based services to diverse client populations and organizations. Adrienne taught courses on intergroup dialogue, intergroup relations, global conflict and coexistence, and conducted research on intergroup dialogue processes and outcomes, most recently on topics of religion, Arab/Jewish conflict, and sexual/relational orientation. Her publications on intergroup relations and dialogue, and more information about IGR, can be found at http://www.igr.umich.edu. May her memory be a motivator for all the people who knew her. She believed most of all in humanity and in working for peace.

Noor Ali is a consultant who specializes in facilitator trainings and workshops on social identity, group dynamics, multipartiality, and intersectionality. Noor previously served as the Assistant Director for Social Justice Education at Northwestern University, and as Program Manager in the Program on Intergroup Relations at the University of Michigan. Noor’s research focuses on Arab-Jewish dialogue and its impact on student experiences. She has published 5 articles and has done a number of national presentations on the topic. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Loyola University in Chicago and a Masters in Social Work from the University of Michigan’s School of Social Work.

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