During the June War in 1967, relief workers scrambled to organize welfare services for yet another influx of Palestinian refugees, some of whom were being displaced a second time as all their ancestral land was lost, together with the territory of neighboring Arab countries. Outside Palestine, young Arabs and Arab-Americans witnessed their parents' disbelief and heartbreak as the events of two decades earlier were replayed on radio and television.
For a brief period - between 1968 and 1973 - it seemed that the Arabs had learned the lessons of history. The Palestine Liberation Organization rekindled hope in Arab hearts and the Arab governments performed well in preparing for and conducting the October 1973 War. But all too soon internal and external pressures overwhelmed any capacity to plan coordinated responses to dispossession and occupation, and there followed an era of bilateral settlement, invasion and fragmentation.
Future generations may look back at this period and pinpoint 1967 as the height of Israel's expansion, after which the state began to gradually shrink. They may even live in a time in which a much smaller Jewish entity lives at peace with neighbors that include a flourishing Palestinian state. Indeed, they may experience a time where there are no states at all - simply communities within larger multi-state structures. But for those of us who have lived through these years of despair, empty promises and shattered dreams, it has often been difficult to keep the faith in the struggle against seemingly overwhelming odds.
This issue of Arab Studies Quarterly, the flagship publication of the Association of Arab-American University Graduates, commemorates the 30th anniversary of the June War, by offering several analytical pieces that will help us understand the past in order to better deal with the future.
It is particularly appropriate that AAUG dedicates an entire issue of ASQ to this anniversary, given that the organization itself was formed to enable Arabs, Arab-Americans, and others of like mind to offer a response to the events set in motion by the June 1967 War. The AAUG published the truth about Middle East events, as it understood them, when this position was otherwise impossible to put before the English speaking world.
As the oldest national Arab-American organization, AAUG has lived through many of the trials and tribulations that have affected the Arab region.
It has also monitored and written about the coming of age of the Arab-American community. AAUG has changed and evolved since 1967. But there have been many constants. It has built intellectual and academic bridges between America, Arab-Americans and the Arab region, holding several of its conventions in the Arab World.
Its publications and conventions have provided a unique opportunity for serious debate and a meeting ground for scholars and activists. AAUG publications, which include ASQ, the Mideast Monitor and scores of books and position papers have provided a record of current history. They also offer an opportunity for authors to publish in serious and well-regarded periodicals.
AAUG has greatly served the student community. Many students have at one time or another been members of AAUG and have returned to their home countries. As one young woman, now a civil servant, told me, "When I was a student, I always participated in the AAUG conventions. It was such a privilege for me." Other young people had their first introduction to the Arab World through AAUG-sponsored trips. They have since gone on to make their mark in the worlds of politics, letters and community services. Many have found their way back to AAUG after years of non-involvement.
In the 30 years since it was established, AAUG is no longer alone on the scene. Other national Arab-American organizations have come into being to represent the interests of the Arab-American community, to advocate views about issues of concern to the Arab region, to build bridges between communities, to educate and inform.
AAUG has sought to collaborate with all like-minded organizations in particular with the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC). AAUG's ability to contribute well-researched and authoritative perspectives complement the grass-root membership organizations that advocate and lobby.
While it has fulfilled its goals in many different ways, AAUG has remained true to its main mission to educate and inform, thereby shaping thinking and policy. AAUG members look forward to continuing this role for the next three decades, even as they take pride in their organization's unique role over the past thirty years.
This issue of ASQ is part of that contribution. It is a real privilege for me to introduce this collection of essays, and I want to thank ASQ Editor William W. Haddad, as well as Co-editor Ghada Talhami and Book Review Editor Janice Terry, for their efforts in bringing this special edition into being. By learning from experience, we can help to ensure that if history must repeat itself, it hits only the high notes.
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|Title Annotation:||Arab-Israeli conflict and the Association of Arab-American University Graduates|
|Publication:||Arab Studies Quarterly (ASQ)|
|Date:||Jun 22, 1997|
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