Shalem College

Alon Naveh ’17 spent six years learning Arabic in the IDF’s elite Intelligence unit 8200. It was only at Shalem, however, that he achieved fluency. “Now, I can converse with native speakers easily and confidently,” he explains. After earning an exemption from Arabic in his sophomore year, Alon began studying Farsi. “With fluent Arabic and Farsi, I can really attempt to understand the minds and motivations of the key players in the region. And then I can take an active role in shaping Israel’s security, diplomacy, and public policy.”

The emphasis on fluency, unique to Shalem, grants students an authentic, unmediated window onto Muslim society and the Arab world. The means by which it is achieved are unique, too: an intensive Arabic boot camp; a summer program designed to immerse students, so much as possible, in Israeli-Arab life; twice-weekly meetings with native Arabic speakers; and even a course whose texts are Arab countries’ YouTube videos, Facebook and blog postings, and online newspaper columns.

Along with foundational courses on the key philosophical, theological, and historical texts of Islam, the major enables its graduates to appreciate, and address, the complexity of the challenges Israel faces in calling the Middle East home.

Eman Ansari, Shalem Arabic facilitator

“My presence here, and the intensity of my work with students, are proof that Shalem aims to turn out graduates for whom Arabic is a living, breathing, and vital language.”

Eman Ansari, Shalem Arabic facilitator
Islam mosque

Shalem’s Middle Eastern studies students also learn philosophy, economics, history. They’re able to place their learning in a much broader context, and make all sorts of connections. That’s critical in a region as volatile as ours, where flexibility of mind is essential to successful leadership.

—ERAN LERMAN, former deputy of Israel’s National Security Council and Shalem professor


Intensive Modern Standard Arabic

Major Issues in Islam

The History of the Middle East I: From Muhammad to the Fall of the Abbasids

Arabic Media and Literature

Intensive Modern Persian

The History of the Middle East II: From the Mongol Conquest to the Collapse of the Ottoman Empire

Classical Islamic Texts I: Koran, Hadith, and Fiqh

Classical Islamic Texts II: Sira, Tarikh, and Adab

The Shi’a

Islamic Reformism and Fundamentalism in the Modern Period

Kurds and Other Minorities in the Middle East

Oil and Water: The Economy of the Middle East in the Modern Period

Politics and Ideology in Modern Egypt

The Art of the Khutba: Analyzing Friday Mosque Sermons

Saudi Arabia

The Arab-Israelis Conflict in War and Words

Modern History: Turkey and the Key Players in the Arab World

Iran: History and Culture