Global Connections The Middle East
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December 21, 1908: The Egyptian University (later renamed Cairo University) opens.

The establishment of a university in Cairo had been opposed by the British occupation authorities, who fear that the creation of an institution that produces well-educated citizens might lead to calls for independence.

1921: The Hollywood movie The Sheik includes the first significant portrayal of an Arab character.

Rudolph Valentino plays the title character in The Sheik, a film which promotes stereotypes and distorts Arab culture.

1938: Oil is discovered in Saudi Arabia.

When oil is discovered in Saudi Arabia in 1938, the U.S. founds the Arabian American Oil Company (Aramco). By 1980, Saudi Arabia has gained full control over the company.

May 24-25, 1991: Operation Solomon, a dramatic airlift, brings 15,000 Ethiopian Jews to live in Israel.

Airlifts to Israel of Ethiopian Jews suffering from famine and oppression had begun in the 1980s, prior to Operation Solomon. The integration of Ethiopians into Israeli society has not been smooth for reasons both of culture and race.

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April-September 1996: The U.S. Congress passes the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act and the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act.

These laws allow secret evidence to be used against immigrants and foreign visitors for purposes of deportation. The law has been implemented almost exclusively against Arabs and Arab Americans.

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