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Israel Prize Laureate Gives Lectures on Ethnic Democracies

Professor Sammy Smooha of the University of Haifa gave two lectures on how different types of democracies cope with ethnonational conflicts this fall at UMass Lowell. He spoke to faculty and students as part of the Middle East Center’s lecture series on “Moving Towards International Peace in the 21st Century.”

Based on research he undertook as the Jennings Randolph Senior Fellow at the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington, D.C., Smooha spoke about how democracies that are grounded in individual rights encourage assimilation, while those that recognize the collective rights of national communities preserve ethnic differences. Each faces unique challenges. For example, ethnic groups may resist assimilation, even though encouraged. Ethnically and culturally diverse democracies have to deal with issues of power-sharing.

He was the second professor from the University of Haifa to come to UMass Lowell since Chancellor Meehan signed the Institutional Collaboration Agreement in the Fall of 2009. Professor Gavriel Salomon of University of Haifa was the 2010 Greeley Scholar for Peace Studies.

Professor Sammy Smooha is Professor of Sociology at the University of Haifa (since 1974) and a Visiting Professor in the Sociology Department and the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies at Brandeis University (2010-11). He was a Jennings Randolph Senior Fellow at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, DC (2009-10), Dean of Faculty of Social Sciences (2006-09), President of Israeli Sociological Society (2008-10), and a laureate of Israel Prize for Sociology (2008). He organized the University of Haifa’s new Masters Program in Peace and Conflict Management Studies, which will be launched in fall 2011. He is an expert in comparative ethnic relations, management of ethnic conflicts, Israeli society and Arab-Jewish relations in Israel. His books include Israel: Pluralism and Conflict and Arabs and Jews in Israel.