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The United States and Canada:
Political Systems,
Policy-Making and the Middle East (1998)

16 - 27 February 1998

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Introduction:

PASSIA’s seminar on "The United States and Canada: Political Systems, Policy-Making and the Middle East" was part of PASSIA’s annual "Training and Education in International Affairs" program.

The Seminar 1998 aimed to train Palestinian graduates about the "The United States and Canada: Political Systems, Policy-Making and the Middle East" and to apply this knowledge to regional and international affairs. It is part of PASSIA's endeavor to meet the needs of the Palestinian community for formal education, training and practical experience in an area that is receiving increasing attention as Palestinians define and address their own political and economic needs.

PASSIA hopes that this seminar will enable Palestinians to continue the process of state-building and to enhance relations and understanding with others in the international community.

The following report contains the transcripts of comments, lectures and presentations made at PASSIA during the seminar as well as a summary of the subsequent discussions. Some of the presentations given by the American diplomats during the seminar were off the record, therefore PASSIA cannot proceed into publishing them.

In the appendices, one can find information about the lecture program, the lecturers, the Palestinian participants, and a list of relevant reading material.

We also thank most warmly the American and Canadian diplomats, the guest lecturers from the United States, Canada and Europe, and all the local and regional scholars whose lectures and expertise contributed greatly to the success of the seminar.

Last, but not least, the PASSIA team would like to thank the Palestinian participants for their comments and enthusiasm to learn about the political systems and policy-making in the United States and Canada towards the Middle East.

Jerusalem, February 1998
The PASSIA Academic Committee

Seminar Program:

1. Preparation

PASSIA consulted with Palestinian, American, Canadian and European scholars in order to plan and implement the seminar. Consultation began in September 1997 and PASSIA advertised the proposed seminar in the local press, Al Quds and Al-Ayyam during the month of November 1997. Notification was also given to national institutions such as universities, research centers, and institutions of the Palestinian National Authority. No travel, accommodation, food or other expenses are required from participants nor any fees for undertaking the course. The seminar was supported financially by the Ford Foundation.

2. Participant Selection Procedure

PASSIA formed a committee specifically for the preparatory stage of the seminar. Its members were: Dr. Mahdi Abdul Hadi, Dr. Rosemary Hollis and Ms. Deniz Altayli. PASSIA received applications from all over the Palestinian Territories, and all applicants were invited for interviews. The Program Coordinator, Dr. Rosemary Hollis, came from London specifically in order to conduct the interviews, which took place over the period 16-25 December 1997 in Jerusalem, and Ramallah, respectively. The Committee selected 14 of the interviewees to participate in the seminar plus four reserves.

3. Reading Period

The lecturers provided each participant a list of reference materials covering the topics addressed in their respective lectures. Required reading material was photocopied and distributed to the participants in January in order that they could familiarize themselves with the concepts of the seminar beforehand. Each participant received a reading package including assorted articles and essays amounting to approximately 300 pages.

During the seminar, the lecturers distributed further reading material on their subjects and additional material recommended by the lecturers was available for the participants at the PASSIA library. The reading period included the preparation of a background paper, whereby each of the 14 participants was assigned a specific topic on which to collect the required information. PASSIA Program Assistant Ms. Sawsan Baghdadi was at the participants' disposal for whatever help they needed regarding their research work and was, as Seminar Assistant, available for further questions that might have arisen.

4. Lecture Program

From 16 to 27 February 1998 a series of lectures, workshops and other educational exercises was given by the Palestinian scholars and foreign experts. In addition, representatives from the diplomatic corps in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv gave presentations on certain topics. The participants themselves presented their background research papers that they prepared as part of the one-month preparatory reading period.

5. Writing Assignments

Participants were required to write two essays. The first one, a background paper in English on a certain topic assigned prior to the seminar itself, was submitted at the beginning of the lecture period. The assignments centered around subjects such as the basic characteristics of the USA and Canada (geographic characteristics, natural resource base, population size, age distribution, literacy rates, skilled and professional classes, main ethnic and religious groupings, size of the economy (GDP or GNP), per capita incomes, main features and/or dominant sectors in the economy), the political system of the USA and Canada (constitutional arrangements and formal institutions), foreign policy decision-making in the USA and Canada (which institutional players/personalities have most weight in foreign policy decision-making and how they interact or bargain with each other) and foreign policy interests of the USA and Canada. The participants presented these topics during the seminar.

The second essay on topics studied during the seminar was required for submission by 27 March 1997. Seminar lecturers had compiled a list of suggested titles for these essays and participants selected one each for analysis.

Participants who performed all required tasks were handed a certificate acknowledging their successful participation in the seminar program.

6. Publication

PASSIA recorded all sessions and discussions of the seminar. This seminar report contains transcripts of all the lectures and summaries of the discussions.

7. Advanced Studies

Based on their performance during the seminar, the PASSIA Academic Committee nominated the two most outstanding candidates from among those seminar participants who fulfilled all requirements, Hind Khoury and Jamal Abu Khadijeh, for a field trip to the United States. Furthermore, another two outstanding fellows, Hayat Dabus and Saed Abu Hijleh, were nominated to take part in the International Leadership Academy (ILA) 1998 in Amman, Jordan, organized by the United Nations University. The Leadership Program seeks to enhance the commitment of leaders and potential leaders to UN values; participants have the chance to learn directly from important successful leaders, regional and global. Both of them were accepted, but were unable to attend at the end.