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Executive Director: Paul L. Scham
Paul Scham has been Executive Director of the Gildenhorn Institute since 2008. Originally an attorney, with a B.A. from Columbia and a J.D. from U.C. Berkeley (Boalt Hall), he quickly tired of practicing law and has worked on issues relating to Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for more than twenty years at NGO's, in think tanks, and at universities.
In the early 1990's he was part of the early efforts in Washington with American and Israeli NGO's trying to encourage early Israeli-Palestinian contact and dialogue. From 1996-2002, he lived in Jerusalem and worked as a Research Fellow at the Truman Institute for the Advancement of Peace of the Hebrew University, coordinating on its large program of Arab-Israeli joint research, academic cooperation, and civil society projects. He also spent considerable time in Jordan and closely observed the failure of Jordanian "normalization" with Israel. During his time in Jerusalem, he participated in dozens of civil society workshops, dialogues and conferences. In 2000, in cooperation with the European Union, he published one of the first surveys of Israeli/Arab academic cooperation after reviewing 195 ongoing Arab-Israeli academic projects.
He returned to Washington in 2002 and was a Visiting Scholar at George Washington University and subsequently an Adjunct Scholar at the Middle East Institute, with which he is still affiliated. During the next few years, he wrote numerous commentaries and other articles on aspects of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the peace process and frequently appeared on radio and television discussing the issue. He also taught a number of courses on aspects of the conflict, the history of Israel, and related subjects.
While in Israel, he began studying the role of the respective understandings of their joint history on the part of Israelis and Palestinians, after observing countless examples of the two sides talking past each other based, among other reasons, on a completely different reading of history. With an Israeli and a Palestinian colleague he organized a conference on this issue. This resulted in Shared Histories: A Palestinian-Israeli Dialogue, edited by Paul Scham, Walid Salem, and Benjamin Pogrund, published in 2003. A second volume, examining some of the broad themes in the historical narratives of both sides, has been completed and publication is expected in 2013.
Professor Scham has also done research on Hamas, and in 2009 the U.S. Institute of Peace published a Special Report he co-authored, entitled "Hamas: Ideological Rigidity and Political Flexibility." He has received an Iwry Summer Fellowship for 2012 to do research in Israel and Jordan on some changing Israeli perceptions of Hamas
At the Gildenhorn Institute he has taught a history of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, a Federal Semester course on the Making of American policy towards the conflict, an Introduction to Modern Israel, and an "I-course" entitled Fundamental Questions of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, which he will teach in the fall of 2012. In the spring semester of 2012, he test-taught a simulation of Arab-Jewish-British negotiations that took place in 1937, with each student playing the role of a major historical character , such as David Ben-Gurion or the Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini. Students felt that the simulation, combined with readings from contemporary sources, provided a unique understanding of both the period and of the Arab-Israel conflict in general.
Longer Articles (Refereed)
Selected Other Articles