Laurie Zittrain Eisenberg

Teaching Professor of History
Ph.D.: University of Michigan, 1990
Department Member Since: 1992


Prof. Eisenberg is an historian of the modern Middle East. Her areas of research and publication include the Arab-Israeli conflict and peace process and the interaction of multiple Middle East actors, particularly Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and the Palestinians. Recent publications include an assessment of the pedagogical value of a videogame about the Palestinian-Israeli situation, a second edition of her co-authored textbook on the Arab-Israeli peace process (with Neil Caplan, Negotiating Arab-Israeli Peace, Indiana University Press, 1998 and 2010), articles on Lebanese-Israeli relations, an overview of the Arab-Israeli peace process, 1967-1993, and a conference paper on Israeli-Syrian relations. On-going research projects focus on the legacy of Jordan's King Hussein and the June 1967 war.

In the classroom, Prof. Eisenberg emphasizes the interpretation of primary source documents and their centrality in original research projects. Her students learn to read historical documents closely and critically and to subject them to rigorous content analysis. Students also explore a wide variety of sources beyond the textbook, such as maps, media, photographs, biographies and historical testimony. Many of her courses incorporate in-class role-playing exercises. In “The Origins of the Arab-Israeli Conflict” students immerse themselves in an extended five week role-playing exercise, The Struggle for Palestine, 1936, an elaborate simulation game. “The Arab-Israel Conflict and Peace Process” concludes with a week-long Arab-Israeli negotiation simulation via Facebook which allows CMU students to interact with students at universities in the Middle East. Historical reenactment constitutes an exciting pedagogical experience and provides the opportunity for delving deeper into topic material than regular coursework allows.

She also teaches courses on religion and politics in the Middle East, American foreign policy in the region, the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, and a practicum on how historians conduct research and interpret historical evidence. “American-Arab Encounters” takes place via video-conferencing in real time, uniting CMU students in Pittsburgh with students at the CMU campus in Qatar. An unusual but highly rewarding aspect of her work came when she served as a consultant for ImpactGames, a company which produced “PeaceMaker,” a video game simulating Palestinian-Israeli interactions. Prof. Eisenberg works closely with the Director of Undergraduate studies to bring exciting programming to undergraduates in the History Department.

She is a frequent speaker on Middle East topics on university panels and programs and at the invitation of area churches, synagogues, schools, civic groups and for the World Affairs Council of Greater Pittsburgh.

selected Publications

Gonzalez, Cleotilde, Lelyn Saner and Laura Zittrain Eisenberg, "Learning to Stand in the Other's Shoes: a Computer Video Game Experience of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict," Social Science Computer Review, 31:2 (April 2013), 236 - 243
“Peace Plans: 1967-1993”, in Joel Peters and David Newman, eds., Handbook of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (New York, Routledge, 2012).
“From Benign to Malign: Israeli-Lebanese Relations, 1948-1978,” in Clive Jones and Sergio Catignani, eds., The Israel-Lebanese Conflict: An Interstate and Asymmetric War in Perspective (New York: Routledge, 2010).
“History Revisited or Revamped? The Maronite factor in Israel’s 1982 Invasion of Lebanon,” in Efraim Karsh, ed., Israeli-Lebanese relations Since 1948, (New York: Routledge, 2010) and Israel Affairs, 15:4 (October 2009), 372-396.
With Neil Caplan, Negotiating Arab-Israeli Peace: Patterns, Problems, Possibilities, revised second edition (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2010).
“Do Good Fences Make Good Neighbors? Israel and Lebanon After the Withdrawal,” Middle East Review of International Affairs, 4:3 (September 2000).
“The Arab-Israeli Conflict: Lessons about Diplomatic Initiatives and Negotiations,” in Mark Tessler, ed., Area Studies and Social Science: Strategies for Understanding Middle East Politics (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999).
With Neil Caplan, Negotiating Arab-Israeli Peace: Patterns, Problems, Possibilities (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1998).
With Neil Caplan, "The Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process in Historical Perspective," in Ilan Peleg, ed., The Middle East Peace Process: Interdisciplinary Perspectives (Albany: SUNY Press, 1998).
“Israel's Lebanon Policy,” Middle East Review of International Affairs, 3:2 (September 1997).

The Arab-Israeli Peace Process: A Contextual and Textual Analysis, Occasional Paper published by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, June 1996.
My Enemy's Enemy: Lebanon in the Early Zionist Imagination, 1900-1948 (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1994).
Restraint or Retaliation? Israel's Response to Iraqi Missile Attacks During the 1991 Gulf War, Pew Case Studies in International Affairs #361, Pew Charitable Trusts, 1994.
“Desperate Diplomacy: the Zionist-Maronite Treaty of 1946,” Studies in Zionism, Vol. 13, No. 2 (Autumn 1992).
“Passive Belligerency: Israel and the Gulf War,” The Journal of Strategic Studies, Vol. 15, No. 3 (September 1992).

Courses Taught

Origins of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 1880-1948
Arab-Israeli Conflict and Peace Process since 1948
American Foreign Policy and the Middle East since 1945
Religion and Politics in the Middle East
Introduction to Historical Research
Documenting the 1967 Arab-Israeli War
American-Arab Encounters

Contact Info

Department of History
Baker Hall 138
P: 412.268.1430
F: 412.268.1019