POLC83G3F- Applications of American
Renan Levine, Department of Political Science Version: 9/11/2013
Office: MV 332. Office Hours: Tues. 14:00-16:15
Lama Mourad [email protected]
This course examines the foreign policy of the United States by analyzing its context and application to
the Middle East. In particular, we will examine American efforts to reach a peace agreement between
the Israel and the Palestinians. For [at least] 40 years, the United States has taken the lead on trying to
coax state and non-state actors in the Middle East to agree to a just and lasting peace with little success.
These negotiations are currently going on (again) with American mediation. We are going to examine
American strategy towards these negotiations, asking what could (or should) the United States do to
bring about peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
Nothing, of course, happens in a vacuum, and world events have seemingly overtaken those
negotiations and this class. A coup in Egypt overthrew an elected President from the Muslim
Brotherhood, a Sunni Islamist party. Meanwhile, civil war rages in Syria and recent revelations that the
Syrian government gassed their own citizens have led President Barack Obama of the United States to
request authorization from Congress to allow the US military to attack Syria in retaliation. During the
course of the term, we will be keeping a close eye on these developments since they impact stability in
the Middle East and the security of Israel’s borders.
The class will culminate with a final exam that will primarily consist of an essay-based critique of a
recent book edited by a former American ambassador and several academic experts, The Peace Puzzle.
After reviewing American efforts to realize peace between Israelis and Palestinians since the Oslo I
Accord in 1993, the authors make a series of recommendations for US Policy. By reviewing American
policy-making dynamics, learning about Israelis and Palestinian opinion and political institutions, and
reviewing the Peace Puzzle’s own review of American efforts, students will be expected to assess the
value of the authors’ recommendations with a critical eye.
The other important piece of work students will complete is a research paper into a topic of approved by
the instructor/TA into a major event in the Middle East in which the United States played a role or chose
not to play a major role.
1 Course Goals
Understand dynamics of American foreign policy-making on a high-profile issue.
Learn about the Arab-Israeli conflict and evaluate how American can influence its resolution.
Complete original research into American foreign policy efforts in the Middle East.
Critique recent work suggesting ways America should pursue peace between Israeli and the
Assignments and Grading Scheme
Name of Assignment Weight (%) Due Date
Research Paper 35 November 5, 3 pm.*
Final Exam (primarily essay-based critique of
Peace Puzzle Recommendations) 35 TBA
Online Quizzes 5 Sep. 19; Oct. 10; Oct. 31; Nov. 14 +?
Position Paper on Syria/Egypt 10 October 3
Israeli Public Opinion Worksheet 5 October 24
Extra Credit: Peacemakers Game 2 TBA
* Online submission outside of class time.
A full description of each assignment will be posted on Blackboard.
Students will choose a topic to research with the approval of the instructor and/or TA. In this paper,
students will research in depth a major event (wars, elections) that have influenced the peace process, a
historical attempt to mediate between Israelis and Arabs, or an aspect of the conflict.
Critique of Peace Puzzle Recommendations
The capstone of this course will be final exam that will primarily include an essay that will require
students to critique of one/two of the recommendations of the authors of the Peace Puzzle. After
reviewing evidence that apparently supports the recommendation, students will be expected to issue a
critique of the recommendation on the grounds that the proposal is too simplistic, unrealistic, is unlikely
to lead to success, is unlikely to play a role in any success, may inadvertently harm the process or other
grounds. Your critique should be based on your knowledge of players involved in negotiations, the issues
on the table, or historical examples.
To ensure that you are keeping up with course readings and current events, there will be as many as five
on-line quizzes. Each quiz will be made available on Blackboard and will be open book, covering that
week’s readings and current events. In addition to the four dates listed above, a fifth “surprise” quiz may
take place. If there are fewer than five quizzes, the grade for on-line quizzes will be an average of all of
the quizzes administered during the term.
2 Position Paper
You will write a short position paper urging a particular policy that President Obama should take on Syria
or Egypt. The specifics of this assignment will reflect current events and dilemmas.
Public Opinion Worksheet
Using an on-line analytical tools or statistical tools acquired in previous classes, we will briefly examine
some facets of Israeli opinion towards Arabs and territorial compromise. A detailed set of instructions
will be made available via Blackboard that assumes no prior knowledge of statistics and requires no
We will set up forums on Blackboard for students to discuss class concepts and relevant current events
stories. Participation credit will be granted for active and informed participation in such on-line forums
as well as during class discussion. Participation in a game and/or a role playing simulation of peace
negotiations will also count towards participation.
All matters of grading, exemptions, and discipline procedures will be handled in accordance with the
UTSC Academic Handbook. Late assignments will be penalized 3% per day for the first ten days of
lateness. After ten calendar days of lateness, the teaching assistant and the instructor will refuse to
accept the work for grading. Extensions for non-health reasons may only be granted prior to the day of
the deadline. Students whose health renders them unable to complete an assignment should contact
the professor before deadlines under all non-exceptional circumstances.
Any student who believes that any work has been unfairly graded may ask the instructor to re-evaluate
his or her work. Grading appeals should be submitted with a cover letter explaining the basis of the
appeal to the instructor or the teaching assistant. No oral or emailed appeals will be considered. Such
re-marking may involve the entire piece of work, and may raise or lower the mark. All other appeals and
complaints will be handled in a manner consistent with the regulations described in the handbook. See:
http://www.utsc.utoronto.ca/pdf/Academic%20Handbook%20September%202010.pdf for the
Plagiarism and Collaboration
All work submitted must be original and reflect the student’s own efforts. In this class, there are
opportunities to consult with classmates and to collaborate on certain assignments. For collaborative
assignments, the work should clearly identify everyone who collaborated on the project.
Students agree that by taking this course that all assignments will be subject to submission for textual
similarity review to Turnitin.com for the detection of plagiarism. All submitted papers will be included as
source documents in the Turnitin.com reference database solely for the purpose of detecting plagiarism
of such papers. The t