Dr. Rami Zeedan is a political scientist and historian whose research interests include Israeli politics, Middle Eastern politics, history of modern Israel, and ethnic politics. Dr. Zeedan is the author of two books focusing on Israeli Arabs. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Israel Studies at the University of Kansas. Zeedan was a visiting professor with the Institute during the 2017–18 school year, and taught two courses during his time at Berkeley: Comparative Politics: Democracies, Dictatorships, and Hybrid Regimes in the Middle East and North Africa and Palestinian Society in Israel: Integration vs. Segregation.
What was it like to be a visiting professor with the Helen Diller Institute?
It was an excellent experience. Because of the work the Institute did in cross-listing and advertising my classes across multiple departments, I was able to teach a wide variety of students across multiple academic disciplines. In my previous positions I usually had smaller classes, so having the ability to teach a large number of students was a good experience for me. I found Berkeley students to be smart and engaging, and really enjoyed reading their assignments.
I felt incredibly supported by the Institute staff over the time I was there. It was truly impressive to see the number of events they were able to put on over the span of 10 months. In the fall semester, I gave a talk about ethnic minorities in the Israeli Defense Forces, which was based on my first book. I was also able to moderate a panel in the spring semester on Arab-Palestinian society in Israel. Additionally, I supervised a student-run course with one of the Undergraduate Fellows on the topic “What is Israel?”. I worked with the student to develop the content and bring scholars to speak in class.
What do you think the Institute adds to Berkeley’s campus?
Before arriving, I had heard a lot about UC Berkeley and its relationship to Israel and Palestine. I was happily surprised that in my experience, the people that I met were coming to events or my classes to actually listen, widen their perspectives, and make informed decisions about their beliefs. I think this type of open dialogue is immensely important and that we need to be able to have these kinds of conversations, no matter how difficult they may be. The Institute is instrumental in bringing diverse voices and narratives about Israel to Berkeley’s campus. By providing a wide variety of programming and taking a nuanced approach to these issues, the Institute opens the door for students and community members to make informed decisions about their beliefs.
How did your experience at the Institute influence your career?
During my time at UC Berkeley, I was able to devote time to completing my second book, which focused on Arab-Palestinian society in Israel. I also applied for my current position at the University of Kansas during my time as a visiting professor, and I’d like to believe that my experience at UC Berkeley contributed to the decision to hire me for this position. I’ve been an assistant professor at the University of Kansas for the past three years, working on many research projects. I’m also working on my third book right now, which examines ethnic minorities in the IDF during the 1967, 1973, and 1982 wars. This is expected to be published in 2023.