Joanne Cummings is the director of Baylor’s Middle East Studies program and teaches in the BIC and Political Science department. She has also been instrumental in the development of an interfaith minor here at Baylor. A retired diplomat, her experience is wide-ranging. She was most recently the Foreign Policy Advisor (POLAD) to CJTF-OIR, based in Baghdad. She has also served extensively in the Middle East, North Africa, and East Africa.
As the daughter of a diplomat, she was raised in Lebanon, lived in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province, finished high school in Tehran, Iran, and graduated from university in Beirut, Lebanon before gaining an MA from the University of Texas at Austin. In the Department of State and in the private sector, she has worked in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan, Jerusalem, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Cyprus, Ethiopia, and Micronesia as well as nine years working regionally from Morocco through Pakistan. Joanne was previously Deputy Chief of Mission in the Federated States of Micronesia.
In this conversation, Joanne and I discuss the recent escalation of war between Israel and Hamas. She helped me understand the conflict, the history, the two sides, and – very importantly – the language we use to describe the region and the people in it.
Much has happened since we taped this conversation and I knew that would be the case, so towards the end listen for Joanne’s suggestions on which media outlets to follow for up-to-date, accurate, and considerate coverage of the unfolding events.
I hope this conversation is useful for you in understanding such an important global issue. If you’d like to hear more from Joanne, she’s been in several other interviews lately:
After our conversation, she also sent me this link from the BBC on how they approach using the word “terrorists.”