Joel Beinin

Joel Beinin in 2007. Photo by Hossam el-Hamalawy.

Joel Beinin is Donald J. McLachlan Professor of History and Professor of Middle East History at Stanford University. From 2006 to 2008 he served as Director of Middle East Studies and Professor of History at the American University in Cairo.


Beinin was raised as a Zionist in an American Jewish family. On graduating from high school, he spent six months working on a kibbutz, where he met his future wife. He studied Arabic at university, and received his B.A. from Princeton University in 1970. He spent the summer of 1969 studying Arabic at the American University in Cairo. Intending to move to Israel permanently, he joined other members of Hashomer Hatzair in living and working at Kibbutz Lahav. There, on encountering attitudes that struck him as being contemptuous of Palestinians,[1] he gradually became disenchanted with his early ideals. He returned to the United States in 1973, and took his M.A. from Harvard University in 1974, and, after working in auto plants in Detroit, obtained his A.M.L.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in 1978 and 1982, respectively. He has also studied at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Research and Career

Beinin's research and writing focuses on workers, peasants, and minorities in the modern Middle East. Though initially interested in the rise of an Arab Working class in Mandatory Palestine, under his thesis supervisor's advice, he changed the topic of his doctoral thesis to a history of the Egyptian labor movement since 1936. That Ph.D. thesis was combined with one covering an earlier period of Egyptian labor history by his friend and colleague Zachary Lockman and resulted in the publication of Workers on the Nile: Nationalism, Communism, Islam and the Egyptian Working Class, 1882–1954 (1989). Among his later work is a study of the Jewish communities of modern Egypt which led to his major historical study, The Dispersion Of Egyptian Jewry: Culture, Politics, And The Formation Of A Modern Diaspora (1998), which examines the diversity of Egyptian Jewish identities in Egypt and in the diaspora. He has engaged in fieldwork to collect oral reports among many Egyptian Jewish communities dispersed throughout the world after the Suez War of 1956, among them the Karaites of San Francisco.

In 2002 he served as President of the Middle East Studies Association of North America.[2] He served as Director of Graduate Studies in the History Department at Stanford University in 2002-04 and again in 2005-06, but then took a leave of absence from that institution in order to take up a position as Director of Middle East Studies at the American University in Cairo. At the time he said that Stanford was institutionally uninterested in the study and teaching of the modern Middle East.

Beinin has written four books and co-edited three others and published many scholarly articles.

He is also active as a commentator on issues regarding Israel, Palestine, and the Arab-Israeli conflict. He has been a contributing editor to Middle East Report and has published articles in, among others, The Nation and Le Monde diplomatique.

In 2006 Beinin sued conservative writer David Horowitz for copyright infringement after Horowitz used Beinin's image on the cover of a booklet entitled "Campus Support for Terrorism."[3] In 2008, the case ended in an out of court settlement in which Horowitz donated $27,500 to charity but admitted no liability.[4]

Bibliography, books (partial)

Bibliography, articles (partial)

“Anti-Semitism: The Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia,” Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern World (forthcoming).

“Knowing the 'Other': Arabs, Islam, and the West,” in Doing Race: 21 Essays for the 21st Century," Hazel Rose Markus and Paula M. L. Moya, eds. (W. W. Norton, Inc., 2010).

“Egyptian Textile Workers: From Craft Artisans Facing European Competition to Proletarians Contending with the State,” in Covering the World: A Global History of Textile Workers, 1650-2000, Lex Heerma van Voss, et al., eds. (Ashgate Press, forthcoming).

“The New McCarthyism: Policing Thought about the Middle East” in Academic Freedom after 9/11, Beshara Doumani, ed., (Zone Press, 2006);

“Forgetfulness for Memory: The Limits of the New Israeli History,” Journal of Palestine Studies 35 (no. 2, winter 2005):6-23.

“Political Islam and the New Global Economy: The Political Economy of an Egyptian Social Movement,” The New Centennial Review 5 (no. 1, spring 2005):111-39.

“Imposed Normalization and Cultural Transgression: Cultural Politics in Egypt and Israel since the 1979 Peace Treaty,” in John Bunzl (ed.) In God's Name? Islam, Judaism and the Political Role of Religions in the Middle East (Florida Universities Press, 2004), pp. 137–55.

“The Karaites in Modern Egypt,” in Meira Polliack (ed.), Karaite Judaism: A Guide to its History and Literary Sources (Brill Press, 2003), pp. 417–30.

“The United States-Israeli Alliance,” in Tony Kushner and Alisa Solomon (eds.) Wrestling with Zion: Progressive Jewish American Responses to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (Grove Atlantic Press, 2003), pp. 41–50.

“Middle East Studies after September 11: Presidential Address to the Annual Meeting of the Middle East Studies Association of North America,” MESA Bulletin 37 (no. 1, Summer 2003):2-18 *MESA 2002 Presidential Address and Awards Ceremony


  1. 'I tended livestock on Kibbutz Lahav, which was established on the ruins of three Palestinian villages. The Palestinian inhabitants had been expelled and, because they are not Jewish, were unable to return. One day, we needed extra workers to help clean manure from the turkey cages. The head of the turkey branch said we should not ask for kibbutz members to do the work because, 'This isn't work for Jews. This is work for Arabushim'. Arabushim is an extremely derogatory racial term.' Joel Beinin, ''Silencing Critics Not Way to Middle East Peace.', in San Francisco Chronicle, February 4, 2007
  2. Joel Beinin's personal web page. Last accessed January 31, 2007.
  3. Sturrock, Carrie (August 4, 2006). "STANFORD IDEOLOGICAL WAR LEADS TO SUIT / Middle East professor sues conservative who linked criticism of Bush to terrorism". The San Francisco Chronicle.
  4. Cohler-Esses, Larry (2008-02-22). "A Picture Is Worth...". The New York Jewish Week. p. 3.

See also

External links

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