The Rise of the Arab American Left

Activists, Allies, and Their Fight against Imperialism and Racism, 1960s–1980s

By Pamela E. Pennock

328 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 10 halftones, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-3098-4
    Published: February 2017
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-3097-7
    Published: February 2017
  • eBook ISBN: 978-1-4696-3099-1
    Published: February 2017

Justice, Power, and Politics

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In this first history of Arab American activism in the 1960s, Pamela Pennock brings to the forefront one of the most overlooked minority groups in the history of American social movements. Focusing on the ideas and strategies of key Arab American organizations and examining the emerging alliances between Arab American and other anti-imperialist and antiracist movements, Pennock sheds new light on the role of Arab Americans in the social change of the era. She details how their attempts to mobilize communities in support of Middle Eastern political or humanitarian causes were often met with suspicion by many Americans, including heavy surveillance by the Nixon administration. Cognizant that they would be unable to influence policy by traditional electoral means, Arab Americans, through slow coalition building over the course of decades of activism, brought their central policy concerns and causes into the mainstream of activist consciousness.

With the support of new archival and interview evidence, Pennock situates the civil rights struggle of Arab Americans within the story of other political and social change of the 1960s and 1970s. By doing so, she takes a crucial step forward in the study of American social movements of that era.

About the Author

Pamela Pennock is associate professor of history at the University of Michigan–Dearborn.
For more information about Pamela E. Pennock, visit the Author Page.


"A work of impressive scope, cogency, precision and credibility, one that breaks new ground in Arab-American studies and will be a key scholarly resource for years to come."--Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

“[Pennock] writes with intelligence and makes relevant the early effort of radical young Arab Americans who organized themselves and made alliances with other sections of the movement in the ‘60s and the ‘70s. . . . A much needed and definitive book that makes the historical connections of these developments and advances our common struggle for equality and justice.”--Mondoweiss

“Readers will emerge with details of Arab-American political efforts in their local communities as they began integrating the issues emerging from their homeland with mistreatment in the US.”--Middle East Journal

“Must reading for anyone seeking to understand Arab-American political and social movements....its accessible style and broad scope should attract general attention from anyone seeking to understand the volatile decades of the 1960s to 1980s.”--The Michigan Historical Review

“With keen insight and voluminous research, Pennock recaptures a political and social universe that has been, till now, dimly remembered at best. She transforms our understanding of the American Left by showing how Middle East–oriented political activism, spearheaded by individuals with kinship ties to the Arab world, modestly but unmistakably recast progressive American discourse on the politics of the Middle East. For years to come, this book will be the definitive history of Arab American political activism in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.”--Salim Yaqub, author of Imperfect Strangers: Americans, Arabs, and U.S.–Middle East Relations in the 1970s

“In The Rise of the Arab American Left, Pamela Pennock writes Arab Americans into the history of the civil rights and racial power movements of the 1950s to 1980s. As she tells the stories of student and labor-union activists, she charts the arc of activist concern from its early emphasis on events in Palestine to more U.S.-based campaigns in the 1980s, amidst growing harassment of Arab Americans by government agents. This is first-rate history, thoughtfully conceived, rich in scholarship, convincing of argument, and written in sparkling prose.”--Paul Spickard, University of California, Santa Barbara