Using previously untapped archives to reclaim a forgotten history, this groundbreaking study traces Arab American advocacy to the early twentieth century, when mass immigration as a result of Arab grievances with Ottoman Turks fostered a unified Arab American political identity.
While conventional wisdom points to the Arab-Israeli War of 1967 as the gateway for the founding of the first Arab American national political organization, such advocacy in fact began with the Syrian nationalist movement, which emerged from immigration trends at the turn of the last century. Bringing this long-neglected history to life, The Making of Arab Americans overturns the notion of an Arab population that was too diverse to share common goals.
Tracing the forgotten histories of the Free Syria Society, the New Syria Party, the Arab National League, and the Institute of Arab American Affairs, the book restores a timely aspect of our understanding of an area (then called Syria) that comprises modern-day Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, and Palestine. Hani Bawardi examines the numerous Arab American political advocacy organizations that thrived before World War I, showing how they influenced Syrian and Arab nationalism. He further offers an in-depth analysis exploring how World War II helped introduce a new Arab American identity as priorities shifted and the quest for assimilation intensified. In addition, the book enriches our understanding of the years leading to the Cold War by tracing both the Arab National League’s transition to the Institute of Arab American Affairs and new campaigns to enhance mutual understanding between the United States and the Middle East. Illustrated with a wealth of previously unpublished photographs and manuscripts, The Making of Arab Americans provides crucial insight for contemporary dialogues.
Note on Arabic Terms and Names
1. Arab Populations under Ottoman Rule: A Background
2. The Syrian Nationalism of the Mahjar Press
3. Soldiers for Syria before World War I: The Free Syria Society
4. The Syria Idea and the New Syria Party
5. The Mandate Years and the Diaspora: The Arab National League and a Historical Context for Arab American Narrative
6. The Arab National League and the Emergence of Arab American Identity
7. The Institute of Arab American Affairs: Arab Americans and the New World Order
“After a century of ignorance, Hani Bawardi has corrected the record. . . . The Arabic-speaking world was circulating news, ideals, and prominent leaders in every field since the mid-1800s. . . . Rich narrative introduces the founders of these organizations, their goals and passions, and their efforts to help their brothers and sisters in the old country while attempting to influence the political future of their ancestral lands. . . . The stories and characters in this book are fascinating.”
Anny Bakalian, Associate Director, Middle East and Middle Eastern American Center, the Graduate Center, City University of New York