When is a Map Not a Map?

Gary Fouse

Portion of a map of the Middle East in the display at UC Irvine

On Tuesday, I visited an exhibit at UC Irvine put up by the Arab-American Museum of Dearborn, Michigan. It highlights the contributions of Arab-Americans to the US and includes representations of several military personnel who are Arab-Americans, none of which is objectionable.

Below is an e-mail sent to the campus community by Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, Thomas Parham..

Dear UCI Community, 

You are invited to view "Patriots : Peacemakers: Arab Americans in 
Service to our Country", a multi-media interactive exhibit on 
display at the UCI Student Center in Doheny Beach C & D rooms from 
9a.m. to 9p.m. and is open through Saturday, January 26, 2013. This 
traveling exhibit is from the Arab American National Museum (AANM) in 
Dearborn, Michigan and is making its West Coast premiere at UC Irvine. 
The AANM is an Affiliate member of the Smithsonian Institute in 
Washington D.C. 

The Patriots & Peacemakers exhibition tells the story of over 100 
years of contributions by Arab Americans to three arenas of national 
service: the U.S. military, diplomatic service and the Peace Corps. 
The AANM designed the exhibit to shine a light on the acts of heroism 
and sacrifice of generations of Americans of Arab descent, and to 
challenge prevailing stereotypes. The display opened on Veterans Day 
2011 at the museum in Michigan. 

On Sunday, January 20, in conjunction with the exhibit, the Middle 
East Studies Student Initiative at UCI (MESSI) is sponsoring "Arabic 
Calligraphy" at 1 p.m. with Maece Seirafi, and at 2 p.m. Dr. Faiza 
Shereen and Rima Nashashibi will give a talk on "Who are Arab 
Americans?" in the Emerald Bay Room at the UCI Student Center. 

Having viewed the exhibit myself, I encourage our campus community to 
take the time to visit the display to learn about these important 
contributors to America's history. 


Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D. 
Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs 

Learn about the exhibit at 


I do want to make two observations:

First of all, the Arab-American Museum in Dearborn is the same organization that honored Helen Thomas with a sculpture after she made her anti-Semitic comments.


Secondly, one of the displays shows a map of the Middle East (above) which-you guessed it- omits Israel. It is all called Palestine. On Tuesday, I observed it myself.

Dr Parham, with all due respect, how can you put your imprimatur on this exhibit when it presents students with a politically falsified map of the Middle East? What kind of educational experience is that?

This week, students, faculty and staff at all UC campuses are being sent a questionnaire on the UC Campus Climate project. I cannot wait to fill it out.

"One person's hate speech is another person's education."

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