Crown Essays are monograph-length commentaries intended to foster debate on contemporary issues related to the Middle East. Based on works of scholarship, this series allows for the authors to engage with and contribute to important issues in the region in an essay format.
Crown Essay 2 (Summary) — For years, indeed for decades, aged Arab leaders had retained power. Suddenly, Tunisia witnessed the fall of its leader, Zein al-Abidine Ben Ali on January 14, 2011. On February 11, the President of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, left Cairo for internal exile at the Sharm el-Sheikh resort area; within a short period of time, revolutions and calls for fundamental change gained momentum across the Middle East. This Crown Essay examines the Egyptian revolution, and particularly how the “Prelude to Change” — the 2005 parliamentary elections — set the stage for the current revolutionary ferment in the country. After examining the multiple causes, basic dimensions, and (mis)management of the present revolution, this essay will speculate about possible future directions the revolution might take.
Crown Essay 1 (Summary) — The Hamas victory in the Palestinian elections in January 2006 has more often than not been explained as the result of rampant corruption within the Fatah leadership, poor management by Fatah of the election campaign, and extreme divisiveness within its own ranks. This was contrasted with Hamas, which was seen as honest, well organized, and united. In this essay, historian Asher Susser argues that while these explanations are unquestionably relevant, they miss a key historical process that is at work: The rise of Hamas as part of a regional phenomenon of secularism in crisis, whereby secularizing Arab and Palestinian nationalism is in decline while Islamist politics is on the rise. Using Hamas’ rise as a starting point, Prof. Susser examines the crisis of secularism in the Palestinian and the broader Middle Eastern context.Read a BRANDEISNOW: Interview with Professor Susser