8A - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, April 11, 2002
Islamic, Judaic studies
enjoy increased interest
By Margaret Engoren
Daily Sta Reporter
Middle East turmoil and Afghan cave missions seem
to have increased students' interests in Islamic and
Judaic studies. Enrollment figures for Islamic and
Judaic studies courses have increased, and in some
cases doubled, since last year.
"We are excited for new students, but are also sad-
dened because we felt the region was important far
before recent events," said Alexander Knysh, chairman
of the Near Eastern studies department and professor of
Islamic studies at the University. "We are saddened by
the. fact that these interests are generated by such terri-
This year is not the first in which students have shown
increased interest in Islamic and Judaic studies courses.
"During the Iranian hostage crisis, there also
occurred an increased interest in these sort of issues,
but it later leveled out again," history Prof. Michael
"I think the present interest will last because these
problems are not going to go away. Even if things now
begin to go well, the Middle East and North Africa are
going to be very present for us for the rest of our lives,"
In response to increased student interest, the depart-
ment of Near Eastern studies created new courses and
increased the number of seats in others. Introduction to
Arab Culture and Language has 85 students this semes-
ter; compared to 63 last Winter. Modern Middle East
History has 48 students, compared to 29 last Winter.
Introduction to Arab Literature and Translation had 26
students in Fall 2001, compared to 11 in Fall 2000.
People of the Middle East had 73 students this Fall,
compared to 65 last Fall.
In addition to larger classes, the department has also
created new courses and altered the content of others.
"A new course on classical Persian poetry will be
offered next Fall in response to increased student inter-
est," Knysh said.
"Also, the contents of older courses have been
altered to address more recent developments in the area
... In my class, I have added two more lectures on mod-
ern Islam and modern Islamic movements in different
parts of the Muslim world. I address the ideological
assumptions and their institutional organizations. I
think my colleagues are doing the same," he added.
The department of Near Eastern studies has recently
approved minors for the field.
"Our department now has more majors and more
minors. The minor was just approved by the college so
it is new to us and I think it will attract a fair amount of
students," Knysh said. "I think it will be attractive to
students who cannot commit themselves to a double
major, yet are interested in the subject."
Islamic and Judaic studies have always attracted stu-
"During the 1998-1999 school year, 144 BA degrees
were awarded to students who had at least 15 credit
hours of Middle East and North African studies, so
many students come to the department and take a class
or two," Bonner said.
Richard Wallace, a kinesiology sophomore, is taking
a Judaic studies course for the first time next Fall.
"I've never taken one before, but I decided to take
the history of Judaism next semester because I heard it
was a good course about the topic," said Wallace. "I
want to learn about my roots and earn a better under-
standing of the people."
Kim Carfore reads a book in between classes on the lawn in front of the Dennison Building yesterday
Trips to Israel deferred as
violence in region rages
By Leslie Ward
Daily Staff Reporter
Distance Learning Sp
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As the conflicts in Israel continue to escalate, even a free
trip there is becoming a hard sell.
Birthright Israel, which provides free 10-day trips to Israel
for young Jewish people, has been forced to make adjustments
to their program in order to keep their participant numbers up.
"We've taken 27,000 people in the last two years,"
Birthright Israel spokesman Joe Wagner said. "We want to
continue with the success of the program."
The U.S. State Department issued a warning last Tuesday to
all Americans living in Jerusalem and urged Americans to
defer travel to Israel. Dependants of diplomats have also been
encouraged to return to America.
"The potential for further terrorist acts remains high," the
State Department's warning said. "The situation in Jerusalem,
the West Bank and Gaza remains extremely volatile with con-
tinuing terrorist attacks, confrontations and clashes."
Despite the current warnings, Birthright Israel is still plan-
ning on continuing with its spring and summer trips.
"We are monitoring the situation in Israel on a daily basis
very carefully" Wagner said. "People have to realize that there
are five million people in Israel getting up every day and going
to work. Life is going on even in the midst of all the turmoil."
Birthright Israel has stepped up its recruiting process to
encourage people to make the trip by sending representa-
tives to colleges nationwide and sending letters to rabbis
asking them to urge members of their congregations to
"We realize it is a personal decision that parents and stu-
dents need to make on an individual basis. If anyone decides
that the situation is not safe enough, that is their choice to
make," Wagner said.
Last Tuesday, the University of California recalled its stu-
dents studying abroad in Israel and put the fall academic pro-
gram on hold. Twenty-eight of the university's students had
already abandoned their studies there.
"When we have students studying abroad, the top priority of
(the university) is those students' safety," California
spokesman Hanan Eisenman said. "We felt that the safety situ-
ation would be best if students were called home."
Most California students who return from Israel will enter
an independent study situation in which they will be able to
complete their course work from their foreign university.
Eisenman emphasized that UC is only putting their Israel pro-
gram on hold while safety issues continue.
"We're not abandoning our program in Israel whatsoever.
California felt that in this case, the escalating violence made
this a prudent decision," he said.
Grad A Ntes" anarbrS grdeaot.s- -Sww .radanot soCOYEN R
The Hansen-Wessner Memorial Lecture Series
James A. Baker, III
Former U.S. Secretary of State
Professor of Organizational Behavior and
Director of the Global Leadership Program
Professor of Business Administration and
Professor of Corporate Strategy and
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer,
Internet Access Technology
< *Friday, April 12, 2002
-%=- -3:00 pm
Ann Arbor, MI
Oil contaminates Detroit River
DETROIT (AP) - More than 500 gallons of oil spilled
into the Detroit River and its Rouge River tributary, the U.S.
Coast Guard said yesterday. It was unclear if more than one
Recreational boats were asked to avoid a 13-mile stretch
of the lower Detroit River between the mouth of the Rouge
River and Celeron Island, Lt. Cmdr. Brian Hall said. Com-
mercial vessels were asked to travel slowly to disturb the oil
as little as possible, he said.
The Coast Guard also advised people to avoid walking on
the Detroit River shore in Michigan or Ontario from the
Rouge River mouth to Lake Erie, said Petty Officer Adam
The oil has contaminated both U.S. and Canadian waters,
Investigators have traced oil to a storm drain on the
Rouge River but do not know its source or composition,
About 1 mile of the Rouge River, which flows eastward
into the Detroit River at Detroit's southern border, was
closed to all ship traffic yesterday afternoon. Three commer-
cial vessels were indefinitely docked, Hall said.
The oil was not believed to be near municipal water
intakes, Hall said. Boaters were warned to avoid the water.
The spill in the Rouge River was reported Tuesday. Wine
said it was a heavy petroleum product, possibly waste oil.
$10 Rush Tickets on sal
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Wayne Shorter Quartet
After 40 years of touring with Art Blakey, Miles Davis,
the 70s jazz-rock band Weather Report, and most
recently Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter tours for the
first time as the leader of an all-acoustic group.
Les Musiciens du Louvre
Anne Sofie von Otter mezzo-soprano
Swedish mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter joins
Les Musiciens du Louvre, a French chamber orchestra