Remembering the 1967 War: transnational politics, memory and identity

By Randa Kayyali
Submitted to Session P4563 (50 YEARS AGO: THE 1967 WAR'S IMPACT ON ARAB AMERICANS AND ARABS IN AMERICA, 2016 Annual Meeting
Anthro
Mediterranean Countries;
Nationalism;
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The late Michael Suleiman and others have argued that Arab American identity was formed as a result of negative portrayals of Arabs and strong pro-Israeli bias in the U.S. media during and after the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. Certainly, the media acted as a negative motivating force behind the solidification of an ethnic “Arab American” identity and was key to the formation of a handful of key community organizations, such as the Association of Arab-American University Graduates (AAUG). In AAUG publications and scholarly sources in the 1960s and ‘70s, the founders and founding members of AAUG distinguished between the “recent arrivals” and past generations from the Middle East in the U.S. They mostly framed these differences in terms of transnational politics, demographics, and ethnic identity; claiming a pan-Arab, secular nationalism as opposed to religious, ethnic, village based identities popular among earlier generations of immigrants from the Middle East. The two groups, however, were not so clearly defined into oppositional binaries. This paper will examine how Arab immigrants reflect on the period 1945-80 in memoirs and autobiographies, and how they related to the politics of “homeland” through emotional and financial connections with ecclesiastical structures, Islamic organizations and states in the region. The sources for this project will be AAUG publications, including memoir-articles in Arab Studies Quarterly, biographies and autobiographies published in the 1970s and 1980s as well as materials from the Antiochian Orthodox Church and the Washington Mosque Foundation.