From Dr. Barry Trachtenberg:

Reflecting on the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., WFU President Susan Wente recently made a powerful case for the importance of confronting challenging topics in the interest of the exchange of ideas: “I strongly believe that open dialogue and debate can flourish in a community that also cares for one another. Fostering such an environment is not easy, especially now, but we are Wake Forest – we can do this, if we do it together.”

In that spirit, and to foster a deeper understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the ongoing genocide in Gaza, the program in Middle East & South Asia Studies and faculty in Jewish Studies invite members of the Wake Forest community to participate in a reading group in which we can engage with these difficult subjects.

Session 1. Thursday, March 21st, 3:30-5:00pm:
What is Zionism? How was Israel established as a state? What is “historic Palestine” and what political forms has Palestine taken?

Session 2. Thursday, April 4, 3:30-5:00pm:
Keywords: Holocaust, Nakba, Intifada, Peace Process, Terrorism, Apartheid, Genocide

You are invited to register for one or both sessions at Participation is capped at 30 for each session. On account of space limitations, we may not be able to include all who wish to attend. It is our goal to involve a diverse group of WFU participants. We will make short readings available in advance of the sessions.

Our reading groups will culminate in a campuswide event. On Thursday, April 18th at 6:00pm, Nathan Thrall, author of A Day in the Life of Abed Salama: Anatomy of a Jerusalem Tragedy, will give a public talk at Kulynych Auditorium in the Byrum Welcome Center. A Day in the Life is a micro-study of a single day in East Jerusalem, as Abed Salama is forced to negotiate both the complex entanglements of the Israeli Occupied West Bank and the various Palestinian political factions that vie for control over the region, all in an effort to locate his son who is the victim of a tragic bus accident. Thrall’s book has been widely reviewed, including in the New York Times, Foreign Affairs, The Guardian, and the Washington Post.

100 free copies of Thrall’s book will be available to members of the Wake Forest community in advance of the April 18th talk. If you are interested in receiving a copy, please indicate your interest at the registration link ( and provide an email address so that we can let you know where to pick up the book before the talk. Additional copies will be available for sale and signing by the author at the April 18th talk.

Sessions will be co-led by Michaelle Browers (Politics & International Affairs/MESAS) and Barry Trachtenberg (History/Jewish Studies/MESAS). Browers is Professor of Politics and International Affairs who is currently working on a project based in the West Bank. She teaches courses in political theory, including feminist political thought, democratic theory, politics and identity, and Arab-Islamic political thought. Trachtenberg is the Rubin Presidential Chair of Jewish History and writes on modern Jewish history, including the Nazi Holocaust, modern Yiddish culture, Jewish nationalism, and Zionism.

Please note that this series is parallel to (but separate from) the Campus Conversations available on this topic. (For WFU faculty and staff only. Sorry students!) Registration for those sessions is nearly full. Please email or, if you would like to be added to a waiting list.

Hosted by the program in Middle East and South Asia Studies and faculty in the Jewish Studies program, with generous support from the Department of Politics and International Affairs C.H. Richards Fund, the History Department, and the Journalism Program. This event is also sponsored by the Wake Forest University Humanities Institute with support made possible by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.