Pozez lecture to probe Mideast from Arab Spring to ISIS

Asher Susser
Asher Susser

The University of Arizona Center for Judaic Studies will present “From the Arab Spring to ISIS: The Upheavals in the Middle East and What They Mean for Israel” on Monday, Dec. 8 at 7 p.m. as part of its free Shaol & Louis Pozez Memorial Lectureship Series.

Asher Susser, Ph.D., the Center’s Stein Professor of Modern Israel Studies, will give the talk, which will be held at the Tucson Jewish Community Center.

Beginning with the Arab Spring, he will offer an alternative explanation to the democracy/autocracy paradigm, arguing that the Arab Spring was actually a clash between the forces of modernity and tradition and an outgrowth of the profound socioeconomic crisis that faces much of the Arab world today.

Against the background of a modernization process that has had rather limited success, the younger generation across the region has been overcome by an increasing sense of hopelessness as it looks toward the future. The pervasive sense of crisis has driven many into the embrace of traditionalist or neo-traditionalist forces that have come to the fore in recent years.

Susser will explain three of the main neo-traditionalist forces that have dominated the political scene in the countries of the Arab Spring: political Islam, sectarianism, and tribalism. The resurgence of these more traditional identities poses unprecedented challenges to the cohesion of numerous Arab states, while the emergence of radical Islamic forces like ISIS (also known as the Islamic State) openly call for undoing the Arab state system that has been in existence for a century.

Susser, a visiting professor at the UA, is a professor of history in the department of Middle Eastern history at Tel Aviv University and a senior fellow at the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern Studies at TAU. He was director of the Moshe Dayan Center for 12 years and has taught for more than 30 years at TAU. His most recent book is “Israel, Jordan and Palestine: The Two-State Imperative” (2012). He is the author or editor of nine other books and a monograph on “The Rise of Hamas in Palestine and the Crisis of Secularism in the Arab World” (2010).