Juan Cole Kicks it Down a Notch

Historians in the News

Alex Joffe, Campus Watch (6-2-05)

Normally the dim but loquacious Juan Cole is not worth the time of day. But this time, it's personal. Commenting on a TV series made by the Israeli journalist Haim Yavin, Cole states:

The Guardian summarizes some of his findings: ' Some settlers tell Yavin that the Palestinians must be given a deadline to leave the occupied territories or be forced out. "Otherwise we should just bomb and kill them," says one woman. '

This fascist point of view is privately shared by many of the strident Zionist organizations that are so influential with the press and the US Congress in the United States. David Steinmann of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs has stridently denounced anyone who supported the Oslo peace accords. JINSA in turn has been important in politically forming Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith and Bush's nominee as UN ambassador, John Bolton. If you want to know what is behind Campus Watch, the Middle East Forum, the David Project, Frontpagemag and other shadowy organizations that have mobilized to attack US academic specialists in the Middle East that don't toe the Settler line, this is it.

Now hang on, did he just call us fascists? Shadowy is one thing, that's just silly. But fascist? This is libelous. Or maybe it's slanderous. One of those two. It is certainly a monstrous distortion of the facts and more importantly, of the idea of fascism.

Fascism, originally of the left but more typically of the right, engages in the forcible and sometimes violent suppression of political opposition, exalts the nation, engineers social and economic regimentation, and is a totalitarian system that seeks to control every aspect of social, political, and economic life. I fail to see how Campus Watch fits this definition in any respect (although in a future blog I shall make clear our demands for global economic reforms based on the Ferengi Rules of Acquisition). I also fail to see how we or the David Project (or Douglas Feith or John Bolton for that matter) have anything to do with the "Settler line." And, last time I checked, opposition to the Oslo Accord (particularly in retrospect) was neither a sign of fascism nor of unqualified endorsement of "settlers."

Perhaps more telling is the very title of Cole's little calumny "The Good Israelis." Call me oversensitive, but is this a variation on "Good Germans"? Nah, couldn't be. Flirting with Godwin's law is certainly not like Cole. But honestly.

Overall I think this latest nonsense proves that Cole is injudicious in his analogies and thoughtless with language, misinformed and abusive of history, and monomaniacal about Israel. In short, a perfect president for MESA and exemplar of the new Arabists, dumb, defeatist, and destitute. At least the old Arabists knew something and seemed genuinely fond of the peoples they advocated for.

The only thing worse is the hysterical posterboy for latter-day Saidianism, Joseph Massad, whose latest ranting, with its predictable denunciations and self-important lamentations, is hardly worth wasting bandwidth over: "The university, with all its limitations, is one of the few remaining spaces, if not the only remaining one, where critical intellectuals can still live the life of the mind. What the witch- hunters want us to do is to live the life of servitude to state power, as technocrats and as ideologues. This we refuse to do."

People still talk like this?

"Oh wait, you're serious. Let me laugh even harder."

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