California Teachers Association

November 2015

Issue link: http://educator.cta.org/i/602151

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Member spotlight When did you first visit Iraq? My family le in the '70s, and I couldn't go back until I was an adult in 2003 because Saddam Hussein was in power. I could have gotten in trouble before that because of my research about the history of the Iraqi secret police and military. W here can you find students from the Middle East — and military veterans who fought there — sitting side by side trying to understand the world's most volatile region? It happens in Ibrahim Al-Marashi's Middle East history classes, which are standing room only at CSU San Marcos. e campus, known for being friendly to veterans, also has a large student population of Middle Eastern descent. Classes taught by the Muslim scholar are extremely popular, covering a wide range of subjects including military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the rise of ISIS, Middle Eastern art and architecture, the politics of oil, roles of women in Muslim nations, and religions that clash or collaborate. He incorporates current events or history in the making, such as the exodus of Syrian refugees, the nuclear agreement between the United States and Iran, and a Republican presidential candidate stating that he doesn't believe a Muslim should ever be elected president. Al-Marashi's goal is to provide students with historical knowl- edge and perspective, as well as inspire an appreciation for other cultures and dispel myths that surround Islam. His father, a neurologist, and his mother, a diabetes special- ist, fled Iraq and moved to the U.S. in the 1970s, before he was born. Growing up in Baltimore, he became fascinated with the history of his people, and studied Middle Eastern history at UC San Diego, then transferred to UCLA. He earned his Ph.D. from Oxford University in England and taught in Spain and Turkey before arriving at CSU San Marcos four years ago. By SHERRY POSNICK-GOODWIN Photography by SCOTT BUSCHMAN Mideast Historian a Hit With Students e charismatic Iraqi-American speaks at conferences around the globe. He has taught officers at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey. He has shared his insights on "60 Minutes" and Al Jazeera news. But he is best known for his unwitting role in the war against Iraq. e British government plagiarized his 2002 research about Iraq's security and intelligence agencies, changing a passage that said the Iraqi Intelligence Service aided "opposition groups in hostile regimes" to one that said it aided "terrorist groups." e altered version was cited in Secretary of State Colin Powell's speech to the United Nations, and influenced the U.S. decision to declare war. Later, he received an apology from British Prime Minister Tony Blair. e California Faculty Association member, described as a "rock star" by colleagues at CSU San Marcos, sat down with the California Educator recently to answer some questions about himself, the Middle East, and what it's like teaching about the hot spot of the world. 19 November 2015

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