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David Mednicoff
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David Mednicoff is a professor of Public Policy and Director of the Middle
Eastern Studies Program at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. He
holds a J.D. and Ph.D. from Harvard University. His teaching and writing
focus on connections between law, politics and US foreign policy,
especially in the Middle East, where he has had the good fortune of living
for extended periods in Egypt, Israel, Morocco and Qatar.

Entries by David Mednicoff

What the Paris Attack Is Really About (Hint -- Neither Free Speech Nor the Varied Nature of Muslims)

(0) Comments | Posted January 9, 2015 | 5:27 PM

As with any dramatic, tragic attack on Western civilians, the mass-murder of the staff of the French cartoon satirical weekly, Charlie Hebdo, and secondary attack on a Kosher supermarket, have generated lot of broad, heated responses. Two easy responses in particular may seem reassuring to American audiences. First is that...

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U.S. Military Intervention in Syria: Legitimacy Does Matter

(27) Comments | Posted August 30, 2013 | 4:20 PM

Even after a decision has likely been made, and possibly carried out, by the time you read this, the U.S. internal debate continues on whether or why to punish Syria's Assad through limited bombing, as captured brilliantly by a veteran writer on such matters. The occasional American foreign...

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Independence Days at the Pentagon and the Pyramids

(1) Comments | Posted July 4, 2013 | 4:53 PM

Egyptians awakened on July 4 much like Americans, celebrating with fireworks and hope and a renewed sense of popular independence, albeit with some vagueness, political divisiveness and concern for the future.

As Americans know very well, politics is often as much a battle about words and symbols as it is...

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Tentative Lessons From, Instead of for, Egypt Today

(46) Comments | Posted July 2, 2013 | 1:27 PM

Following perhaps the largest national protest in global history, an enormous, diverse group of Egyptians awaits the political results of the rapid erosion of legitimacy of the government of Mohammed Morsi whom they elected very narrowly one year ago.

Will the unpopular, ineffective and divisive President Morsi...

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Boston Bombing Aftermath: If It's Not About Islam or Foreign Policy, Then What?

(5) Comments | Posted April 22, 2013 | 4:21 PM

Now that it looks as if we know who carried out last Monday's Boston Marathon bomb attack and how, our understandable fascination with a grisly story like this of widespread impact settles firmly on the why. The search for answers to this has included media emphasis on the alleged perpetrators'...

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On Boston and Cooler Heads

(0) Comments | Posted April 16, 2013 | 2:03 PM

I grew up in the Boston area. Like many thousands of residents, the Monday holiday of Patriots Day was a time for me to enjoy early spring and celebrate the tradition and athleticism of the Boston Marathon, as a child by walking from my home to the race course, and...

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Middle Eastern Politics Two Years After the Uprisings: A Brief, Even Hopeful Overview

(7) Comments | Posted March 5, 2013 | 1:32 PM

A little over two years ago, the world was enthralled by the peaceful overthrow of two of the Middle East's most repressive military leaders, Zine Ben Ali of Tunisia and Hosni Mubarak of Egypt. And these two seismic political shifts exposed the fault line of embedded authoritarianism throughout the Arab...

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Now Is a Great Time to Reclaim the L-Word

(11) Comments | Posted February 20, 2013 | 9:52 AM

For the last several years, many Americans with progressive, open-minded and open-hearted political viewpoints have been ridiculed with the term "Liberal," despite the term's origin in free market libertarianism. Indeed, being a "Liberal" in the U.S. has been such an easy epithet from a right-wing standpoint that employing the term...

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University Etiquette 101: How to Deal With Your Professors

(1) Comments | Posted January 24, 2013 | 11:24 AM

Dear college students,

As a new semester begins, it is time for you to jump back into the fun-filled world of college activities, friends, intense late-night conversations, strange roommates, parties and other forms of early adulthood angst...

And, oh yes... classes. Hopefully not last on your list of your on-campus...

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My Father-in-law's Political Islam Problem, and My Own

(37) Comments | Posted December 31, 2012 | 4:23 PM

My father-in-law is one of the smartest people I know. An Indian who left his native country decades ago to earn both an M.D. and a Ph.D., he became a successful medical school professor and researcher in the U.S. He has been unable to go back to India since resettling...

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An Open Letter to My Children in a Town Not Far From Newtown

(0) Comments | Posted December 17, 2012 | 10:43 AM

My Dearest Children:

By now, we have talked about the recent tragedy in a school less than 100 miles away from us, where children and teachers were shot with guns by someone who had problems in his head. Your mother and I join the millions of people everywhere who are...

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The Middle East: Has Hope Become Truly and Treacherously Audacious?

(33) Comments | Posted December 5, 2012 | 1:20 PM

Events in the Middle East in the last few weeks of November suggest a sad, simple, and scary conclusion. Key logical propositions that have given many of us reason to hope for a better future for the region and its people are proving to be imperiled, perhaps impossible, by decisions...

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Israel/Palestine: WWASD? (What Would Anwar Sadat Do?)

(0) Comments | Posted November 28, 2012 | 4:13 PM

During the recent Gaza conflict, a major theme of people in Israel who are older than forty was the contrast of the violence and Israeli national mood then with the mood 35 years earlier, when Egypt's President Anwar Sadat became the first leader of an Arab country to...

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Paralyzed by Gaza

(168) Comments | Posted November 19, 2012 | 11:25 AM

At this time where the elected governments of Israel and Gaza try to intimidate each other through rocket-bombs and guns, I have no brilliant, dispassionate analysis to provide. I admire those who can do this in a way that sheds light, not heat.

But that's not me. Not now....

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Last-Minute Election Special: The American Problem of False Political Equivalence

(3) Comments | Posted November 5, 2012 | 11:25 PM

An issue that has vexed me through much of my political life, and that is different in the United States than in many other countries' political discourse, is what might be called the problem of assumed equivalence. For a variety of historical reasons, the U.S. has two large political parties....

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My Electoral Journey From Moderation to Outrage

(3) Comments | Posted November 5, 2012 | 11:40 AM

I am a middle-aged man of lower-middle-class background who worked hard and had good luck in being able to achieve a very high level of education and a job that I enjoy, thanks in part to the opportunities my country and its governments, Democratic and Republican, have provided.


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And the Winner of the Foreign Policy Debate Is... the Emir of Qatar?

(11) Comments | Posted October 25, 2012 | 4:00 PM

In the final presidential debate, neither President Obama nor Governor Romney said much of anything that was specific or enlightening with respect to the debate's supposed subject, foreign policy. This was to be expected, given how little Americans generally follow or care about international affairs, or recognize how much they...

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A Fading Jewish Voice in the Middle Eastern Wilderness

(5) Comments | Posted October 2, 2012 | 1:27 PM

At this time of the year, the Jewish holiday calendar moves nearly as quickly as our 24/7 global news cycle. So Yom Kippur, the major holiday where Jews, like their Muslim cousins during Ramadan, fast and ponder self-improvement, is SO last week. This is, fortunately, like the issue of Israeli...

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Benghazi Embassy Attacks: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

(2) Comments | Posted September 13, 2012 | 6:00 PM

The wave of protests at U.S. diplomatic installations in Egypt, Libya and Yemen, which resulted in the tragic death of several Americans, reminds Americans, if such a reminder is needed, of the speed and intensity with which misunderstanding and anger can inflame the Middle East and the U.S. In the...

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My Top Ten (I Mean 11) List From 9/11/01

(3) Comments | Posted September 11, 2012 | 3:26 PM

Historical anniversaries are strange things, requiring a measure of solemnity and attention that most of us are either too busy or apathetic to muster. Small wonder last year's tenth anniversary of the 9/11/01 bombings did not, at least in my experience, pique the collective American psyche, apart from the families...

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