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Bassam Frangieh (Arabic: بسام فرنجيه) is a scholar of contemporary Arabic literature and culture. He is best known for his pedagogical innovations in the study of the Arabic language, as well as his translations of modern Arabic poets and novelists. Frangieh also lectures on the society and culture of the Arab world. A language professor as well as a scholar and writer, Frangieh has achieved moderate fame in the American academic world of Middle Eastern Studies for his engaging educational methods. He is married to former State Department employee Aleta Wenger, who also currently works at Claremont McKenna College.
Education and career
Frangieh was born in a refugee camp in Lebanon in 1949. His family, Palestinians who had owned an orange grove in Yaffa, had been relocated there due to the conflicts associated with the creation of the state of Israel. His family is distantly related to the famous Frangieh family of Lebanon, including former Lebanese president Suleiman Frangieh, but the Palestinian Frangieh family tree diverged from the Lebanese family tree several generations ago. Frangieh eventually moved to Syria to attend university, earning a B.A. from Damascus University in 1976. While in Syria, he earned fame as a boxing champion and professional soccer player. Frangieh attended graduate school in the United States, and received a Ph.D. in Arabic literature from Georgetown University in 1987. After receiving his doctorate, Frangieh taught Arabic at Georgetown for several years before accepting a position at Yale University. After his resignation from Yale in 2007, Frangieh joined Claremont McKenna College as a full-time Arabic professor and the head of the Arabic Department for the five Claremont Colleges while writing and researching new Arabic books. He is the head of the Middle East studies department.
In April 2010, The Claremont Independent, the right-leaning campus news magazine, wrote an article critical of Frangieh's signature on a petition by Workers in the Public Cultural Sphere in Lebanon. The petition described Israel's 2006 war in Lebanon as part of a "Zionist killing machine", called for a boycott of Israel and Israeli academics, and called Hezbollah, a terrorist organization according to the United States, Israel, the United Kingdom, among other countries, the "legitimate" "national resistance" of Lebanon. The petition  said that signatories agree with the following statement from a flier promoting the petition: "We are all Hizbullah... Boycott Israel." For these reasons, Noah Pollak of the pro-Israel Commentary Magazine described the petition as "anti-Israel, pro-Hezbollah."
The petition included some "well known names" in the preface, Norman G. Finkelstein whom the Anti-Defamation League accused of Holocaust denial., and Tariq Ali, who has argued that suicide bombings attacks in Britain were instigated by Britain's support of the Iraq war.
The petition that Professor Frangieh signed was also signed by 455 other intellectuals, including professors at Oxford University, UCLA, Boston University, MIT, Yale, and Princeton, many of whom are critical of Israel and some of whom are anti-Israel.
Frangieh is a prolific author in both Arabic and English on contemporary Arabic literature. This is a list of some of his most prominent books and articles.
- Arabic For Life: A Textbook for Beginning Arabic (2011)
- Anthology of Arabic Literature, Culture, and Thought (2005)
- The Crane (forthcoming), from Ṭā'ir al-Ḥawm by Ḥalīm Barakāt
- Sun On A Cloudy Day (1997), from al-Shams fī Yawm Ghā'im by Ḥanna Mīna
- Arabian Love Poems (1993), selected poems by Nizār Qabbānī
- al-Ightirāb fī al-Riwāyah al-Filisṭīnīyah (forthcoming)
- Bahjat al-Iktishāf (2003)
- Qassim Haddad: Irregular Rhythms of Life in Kalimat
- Modern Arabic Poetry: Vision and Reality in Traditions, Modernity and Postmodernity in Arabic Literature
- The Concept of Return in Issa Boullat's novel: Returning to Jerusalem in Dirāsāt `Arabīyah
- Mahmoud Belaid: Ru'yah Tastashref Al Mustaqbal in Journal of the Arab Tunisian Union Writers
- Toomajian, Martin (April 22, 2003). "Frangieh focuses on views of 'Arab street'". Yale Daily News. Retrieved October 25, 2011.
- "PACBI-Statement by Workers in the Public Cultural Sphere in Lebanon". Palestinian Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel. July 25, 2005. Retrieved October 25, 2011.
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- "Many intellectuals are backing Hizballah against the Lebanese government". Engage. July 27, 2006. Retrieved October 25, 2011.
- Buchanan, Patrick J. (March 24, 2003). "Whose War? A neoconservative clique seeks to ensnare our country in a series of wars that are not in America’s interest". The American Conservative. Retrieved October 25, 2011.
- Pollak, Noah. "CMES and Man at Yale". Commentary Magazine. Retrieved October 25, 2011.
- "Internet Archive Wayback Machine". Web.archive.org. Retrieved October 25, 2011.