Showing posts with label Juan Cole. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Juan Cole. Show all posts

Saturday, October 16, 2010

War and Peace

Khaled Abu Toameh says that things were getting better between Israel and the Palestinians until the Obama administration forced negotiations neither side was interested in, and now things are getting worse.

Robin Shepherd writes about the hypocrisy of Israel's critics who remain silent as ISAF's war in Afghanistan-Pakistan uses the same methods used by Israel. He tells that he's made this point to colleagues in the British bureaucracy, but sadly he doesn't tell how they respond.
The figures are rising fast. In September, the number of publicly admitted drone attacks was 22. And they are extremely deadly too. In 2009, more than 700 people were killed, many if not most of whom will have been civilian bystanders. By the end of this year, the death toll is likely to have far exceeded the 1,400 or so estimated to have died in Israel’s Operation Cast Lead in Gaza.

So where’s the Goldstone Report against the United States and its NATO allies? And where is the uproar against Obama’s policy of mass targeted assassinations? Of course, I’m not suggesting either course of action. And, to be fair, the Obama administration has been resolute in opposing Goldstone at the United Nations which is a lot more than can be said for the brazenly hypocritical Europeans.
With apologies to Abu Toameh and Shepherd for putting them in the same blogpost,  the other day I asked Juan Cole if he might wish to comment on Ahmedinejad's fiery anti-Israeli rhetoric while in Lebanon. Cole was one of the main people to invent and propagate the idea that Ahmedinejad never said he wishes Israel to be destroyed, an idea still often cited in the Mondowiess swamps, the CiF comments section and similar venues. His answer to me: Ahmedinajad merely wishes Zionism to disappear, as the Soviet regime once did, leaving everything else intact behind it. I have no idea what he bases this assertion on, and am reporting on it here merely for purposes of documentation.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

If This Isn't It, What Would Be?

Juan Cole is a professor at a respectable university (Michigan). His politics are a bit odd, but so what. Today, however, he launches a screed against Corporal Goldberg and also a gang of evil people he calls the Neocons. Its title is "An Israeli attack on Iran would reduce Barack Obama to a one-term president". You need to read the whole thing to see how truly weird it is, but the thesis is that the Rightwing-Zionist-inspired-Neocons need a war every five years, and an Israeli attack on Iran would give it to them:
The Neoconservative faction is in the political wilderness in the United States. Eager to play the role in Iran that the enormous floods have played in Pakistan, of paralyzing and destroying much of a thriving country, eager to reduce the shining city of Isfahan to rubble and displace its population into massive tent cities, they find their path blocked at every turn...

The Neocons’ life experience, then, is that aggressive warfare is never really off the table. Even a liberal internationalist like Obama can be pressured, and if he will not yield, be weakened and wounded and the way paved for a leader more pliable to their plans. A war that they pine for the way a teenager pines for a first love, a mass grave they dream of the way a retiree dreams of a Hawaiian resort, an orgy of destruction visited on ancient wonders that they dream of the way a world-class architect dreams of constructing a new city– all these things are really at most just 5 years away if the right political moves are made. They have more assets than is visible on the surface. They have perhaps half of America’s 400 billionaires on their side. They have the enormous military-industrial complex on their side. They have the Yahoo complex of besieged lower middle class White America on their side. They have the Israel lobbies on their side. They have important segments of the Oil and Gas lobbies on their side. They have the whole American tradition of permanent war on their side. They should not be underestimated.
And so on.

Let's postulate for a moment that Prof. Cole is not an antisemite, and that this screed isn't antisemitic. If that's the case, what would someone have to say in order to be one? If yearning for the destruction of cities and people isn't, what is?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Perhaps Not Easing the Blockade of Gaza

Israel decided yesterday to ease the blockade of Gaza. Or not. It depends which media outlets you imbibe.

Haaretz tells that the easing is dramatic, and adds gloatingly that the Turks did it.

The New York Times says Israel bowed to pressure following the Mavi Marmara incident, and the American administration is pleased.

The Washington Post reports that Israel is switching from a short list of permitted items to a list of forbidden ones, and speculates that this may be a good thing - the administration thinks so - or may not. We'll have to see, is the tone.

The London Times starts with Tony Blair, and continues with him: their evaluation of the decision is whatever he says, i.e. it's dramatic, it could of course have been even better but it's still good, and of course the Israelis must implement it as decided.

The BBC has a long report, mostly devoid of snark: they tell what changes Israel is making, cite American approval, underline that Tony Blair was instrumental in the decision, and end with a quote from unidentified Palestinians who say the whole thing is a sham. Ah, and they mistakenly tell that the blockade began in 2005 (which is when Israel left Gaza), when in reality it began only in 2006, after Hamas won the Palestinian elections.

The Guardian is greatly impressed by how the pressure on Israel worked, after its "deadly interception" of the flotilla. They explain what Israel proposes to do, but also explain that it's not clear what this really means, and then give space for various critics of Israel to explain why it's either not significant or not really going to happen. Unnamed "aid agencies", a top Hamas fellow, an Israeli radical NGO, those sort of people. Still, they add, the White House is pleased. Of course, the main reason must have been to foil the arrival of additional ships.

UNRWA says nothing less than Israel fully throwing open its border is acceptable, so this move isn't.

Juan Cole, whom I rarely read these days, starts with an article from the LA Times about how the Israeli decision is only marginally significant, and may well not really change anything. Cole then goes on to poke fun at Israel's security agencies, who don't understand the Arab world and are ridiculous.

Richard Silverstein manages not to notice the matter at all, so I don't have to link to him and you don't need to check - which is good, because he's inordinately sensitive to his page hits. Mondoweiss also hasn't noticed: odd, that. Those folks never miss a report about how ghastly Israel is, but this one seems to have escaped their attention. At least Andrew Sullivan noticed. He agrees with other bloggers that it's a scandal that Israel may wriggle out of an international investigation of the flotilla incident in return for easing the blockade, but admits the easing itself is a good thing.

The IDF announced it is expanding supplies into Gaza by 30% immediately, with more to come.

Meanwhile, watch the market: prices in Gaza are tumbling since yesterday. Not because shortages will now disappear, but because goods brought in from Israel are of higher quality than those smuggled in through the Rafah tunnels, and are also cheaper.

We're not talking about learned scholars disagreeing about an event from, say, 500 years ago. This all happened last night.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Christopher Columbus Wasn't

You'd think that after the public rebuke by The Economist, Juan Cole would tread carefully for a while. You'd be wrong. Yesterday he explained to his readership that the Jews' connection to Jerusalem is largely myth (and of course, that Israel's politics on the matter are illegal, harmful and so on).

Bill Clinton apparently once told Yasser Arafat that in his insistence on denying a Jewish connection to Jerusalem he was offending Clinton's sensibilities as a Christian. To which one might add that when revisionist history goes so far as simply to deny inconvenient chapters of the past while trampling on the entire methodology of knowing about it, they offend anyone invested in the attempt to think rationally about what cannot be known through immediate experience. Once you're ready to do that you're in Orwell's 1984: you can't prove the French Revolution ever happened; George Washington never lived; Martin Luther was a fable; Thermopylae was invented by the sports equipment companies, and of course Alexander the Great is the brain-child of cynical Greek politicians unhappy with the disintegration of Yugoslavia. (Need I mention that the Nazis never killed Jews?)

I'm not going to fisk Cole's silliness. He's not important enough, and if his followers accept nonsense such as this that mostly tells us about them. I will however briefly note that his entire edifice is based on two hugely controversial books. One by Shlomo Sand, and the other a collection of articles from the Copenhagen School of Thought. Like Cole, this is not my specialty, so I won't go so far as to say that the Copenhagen scholars are truly as unprofessional as the Holocaust deniers; I will however say that they are at the extreme edge of what the scholarly community has to offer. Ah, and they first appeared a year or so after the Six Day War.

Propounding a historical thesis based on these folks alone, as if their argumentation is accepted knowledge and given truth is, how to put it, not serious.

PS: Remember this?

Monday, March 22, 2010


The Economist, no less, takes on the silliness of Juan Cole and Andrew Sullivan, who've been touting this Ministry of Truth map of a faraway land they know nothing about. Ouch!

H/t Judeosphere

Sunday, September 27, 2009

There Are Antisemites and There Are Antisemites

My reading of Juan Cole is that he's either an antisemite, or he writes a lot of things that are antisemitic. (Follow my "Juan Cole" tag to see the story). Still, as anyone who has ever given the topic of antisemitism any thought will readily recognize, there are gradations of the malaise. Cole's is a comparatively benign version, and he himself recoils from some of the worse stuff. A fine example of this is his post of September 19th, in which he forcefully expressed his revulsion at a speech of Ahmedinejad. You may wish to note, however, that he then posted some comments from readers who were less squeamish than he - and keep in mind that he actively censors the comments on his blog, thus taking responsibility for each and every one of them.

Being repulsed by Ahmedinejad, of course, is no proof of innocence. That would be like saying, say, that Father Coughlin wasn't an antisemite, since his contemporary Goebbels was worse - clearly not a reasonable position.

The folks at CIFWatch have noticed the Guardian is less squeamish than Juan Cole. They apparently can't bring themselves to say that Ahmedinejad is a Jew hater. Particularly useful is an article by Mark Gardner, who compared how the various British news outlets reported on Ahmedinejad's UN speech. The Guardian was the only outlet that didn't manage to see the plain reality.

Someday I should write about this in greater depth, but this afternoon - a few short hours before Yom Kippur - isn't gong to be that day.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Uninformed Comment

Long-term readers will remember that for a while I followed Prof. Juan Cole's popular Informed Comment blog, until I got tired of his silliness and stopped. (I even had a label in his honor, see below this post).

Though I no longer record his antics here, I still stop by his blog from time to time to see what his audience likes to hear. Yesterday he had a post that contained this fine nugget of non-truth:
Israel's war last winter on little Gaza achieved virtually none of its real (as opposed to its announced) aims. There had not been any rocket fire from Hamas against Israel during the period of cease-fire in 2008. Israel violated the cease-fire and even thereafter, no Israelis were killed in the lead-up to the invasion.

Unless perhaps there's another Gaza somewhere, from which prior to the war there was no fire at another Israel? And perhaps in that alternative universe, Hamas now does shoot at Israel in spite of the thrashing it received? That might explain it, because nothing else can.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Post Mortem for Durban II

Claudia Rosett explains why the fiasco of the United Nations "Durban II" conference was inevitable given the way the UN understands the world:
The debacle this week was, above all, a natural product of the U.N. system. The real basis for fighting racism is neatly summed up in five words from the U.S. Declaration of Independence: "All men are created equal." But in the U.N. calculus, it is not the equality of individual men or women that matters most. Instead, the U.N. tends to exalt the "equality" of sovereign states--as if there were no difference, say, between North and South Korea; Iran and the U.S.
As an aside: The person who almost single-handedly convinced the Useful Idiots that Ahmedinijad never said Israel should be destroyed - my old friend Juan Cole - seems to have managed to get through this whole week with nary any mention of the event. A blogger's prerogative, of course, to talk about what one wishes and be silent on other matters.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Right War, Wrongly Waged

According to the NYT, an airstrike by NATO forces - that would mean Americans, since who else has air power - yesterday killed six Afghani civilians. NATO officials denied killing civilians, in the face of confirmation from the local governor - keep in mind that NATO and the local government are on the same side, or supposed to be.

The bottom of the item tells of an unrelated Taliban atrocity elsewhere. The Times wants us to remember who the Good Guys are, and which the Bad Ones.

They are right of course, but wrong. The Taliban are a blot on the face of humanity, and they and their ilk are the mortal enemies of any reasonable person, including many of their own people and just about all their own women. Yet being at war with monsters doesn't mean you needn't think about how you're waging it; the two are quite separate levels of morality and have been recognized as such for centuries. The distinction is being removed by Useful Idiots and pacifists who would condemn all wars, the just with the criminal, because of their inevitable human price; losing the will and ability to wage just wars means condemning far greater numbers of innocents to far worse. By blurring the discussion the NYT strengthens those who would appease, obstruct, apologize and look away.

It is a sign of the weakness of the American public discussion that we need Juan Cole to call our attention to an article on a Pakistani website tallying the figures from American air strikes in Pakistan (not Afghanistan), and they're not pretty: 14 dead al-Qaida to 687 innocent Pakistani civilians. 14 to 687.

I can think of a theoretical scenario in which killing 14 exceptionally potent mass murderers might justify killing 687 innocents, if by killing the 14 one were saving a million. Is that what the Americans are claiming? Then they should say so and the public should have the discussion. Personally I'd be skeptical: the Islamist murderers are part of a deeply sick culture, and I doubt any specific 14 of them are irreplaceable. So far as I can see, however, that's not what anyone is claiming; rather, no-one is having the discussion at all. I don't even know if the numbers are correct, but there again, you need an open, public discussion to reveal if someone is systematically disseminating bald lies about casualties (a not unheard of phenomenon).

Of course I'm holding this up as a demonstration of the fundamental hypocrisy with which Israel is consistently treated. Yet I'm also calling for a real discussion on the merits of the discussion itself, not only so as to level some rhetoric field. The war against the Islamists is the most important war of our day because of the dimensions of the threat; it's necessary and moral. It must be waged morally, too.

Finally, back to Israel: Israelis are often castigated by their detractors for claiming to be morally superior to anyone else in waging war. Some antisemites pretend this claim is the root of their hatred - an unconvincing pretense. Yet this is precisely what we mean. The Danny Zamirs of Israel are not the Juan Coles of America, and IDF spokesmen generally wait until their fellow officers really have investigated before denying false allegations - or trying to learn from authentic ones.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Learning to Wage War?

You've got to feel for these fellows, the Juan Coles and Glen Greenwalds of the world. Back in 2001, when the Islamists finally managed to catch the attention of the Americans after years of unsuccessful attempts, it just so happened there was a Republican in the White House. How much difference this made to thousands of professionals in the various security and legal branches of the American government I have no way of knowing, but since the Cole-Greenwald brigade disliked many of their actions, they attributed them to the Bad Man at the top. (As did Andrew Sullivan, after a while). Their delirious expectations of Obama were fired partly by his different rhetoric on such matters as waging wars, and interrogating and jailing Islamists.

Alas, it appears the professionals had reasons for doing what they did, irrespective of whether an election had been stolen in 2000; now that Obama is at the top, they're still doing them. So you have Cole who can't understand why American forces are killing civilians in Pakistan, and Greenwald is getting ever more strident about the incarceration issues.

Personally, I can empathize with both of them. Killing innocents is awful, though in some contexts it is inevitable; jailing people without due process seems wrong to me, no matter who's in the White House. Yet they're refusing to see the threat to which those professionals are responding. The enemies of the West these days play by different rules than the enemies of previous generations; while the fundamental rules shouldn't change, applying them is a constant, never-ending deliberation. Israelis have known this for decades, as we've been facing the same enemies for that long; the derision that has been meted out to us for trying to find the correct balance looks ever more hypocritical.

Actually, it seems to me the Americans have not yet found the correct balance - a point on which I may say more later; but at least they're trying. Lots of others aren't, probably secure in the knowledge the Americans are.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Iranians and Fools

Jefferey Goldberg has helpfully posted 19 (nineteen) quotes from Iran's president Ahmedinejad in less than four years in which he talks about Israel disappearing. His reason for doing so is that his fellow Atlantic blogger Andrew Sullivan is casting doubt.

Andrew has made an interesting personal journey over the past few years, from an unusual and interesting conservative blogger to boring and predictable left-wing one. Which is fine: many people don't have the intellectual courage to re-examine their fundamental positions anytime after age 22. I personally stopped reading Andrew's blog quite a while ago. Anyone who regards Juan Cole as an authoritative source for information can't be very serious himself. (On which topic, I recommend the comment left here by someone who took the time to listen to some Cole lectures. If Sullivan can't see the dynamic, it's only because he chooses not to). A. Jay Adler, however, has some more informed comments about Andrew, and the sad direction he is now conforming to. He tells that after Goldberg did his research and posted his findings, Andrew read them and pronounced that

Reading them all, it becomes quite clear to me that Ahmadinejad does indeed want Israel to cease to exist, but equally clear that he is not speaking of dropping a nuke on it.

Well, that's certainly comforting, isn't it? Andrew knows the Iranian fellow is merely talking through his hat, and we have nothing to worry about.

I hope no national leaders, in any country, glean their information from the blogosphere. I write this as a (part-time) blogger.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Iranians with a Clenched Fist

There are mounting indications Barack Obama's hope the world will join him in being civilized nice and pleasant may not happen, at least not yet. The top Iranian fellow, Ayatollah Ali Khamenai, that's the boss of Ahmed Ahmedinajad, mind you, gave a feisty speech before a crowd of tens of thousands of Iranians, who responded by chanting Death for America.

This is one reason I'm generally in favor of enemies talking to one another: in the good scenario, they talk, find agreement, and cease being enemies. In other cases, they talk, re-affirm for themselves that the other side really needs to be confronted, and carry on with the enmity with new resolve. A win-win situation.

The NYT, however, sees it differently. Their response to the Iranian clarity is to call for America to be even nicer, lest the Iranians haven't yet understood this is the Obama administration, not that horrible Bush fellow. They've dug up an Iranian economist named Saeed Leilaz, dubbed him "a prominent political analyst" - which for all I know he may be, but he certainly isn't the only one around - and he urges the NYT readership not to take Khamenai seriously:

Prominent political analyst Saeed Leilaz said Khamenei's comments did not amount to a rejection of better ties with the Obama administration. Rather, Iran's current hard-line leaders need to publicly maintain some degree of anti-U.S. rhetoric to bolster their own position, especially with their conservative base, he said.

''Iran's ruling Islamic establishment needs to lessen tensions with the U.S. and at the same time maintain a controlled animosity with Washington,'' he said. ''Iran can't praise Obama all of a sudden.''

Khamenei will also likely stand his ground as long as he remains concerned about the United States' ability to destabilize Iran, he said.

For its part, the Obama administration must take practical steps such as lifting a ban on selling Iran spare parts for passenger aircraft or considering unfreezing Iranian assets in the U.S., Leilaz said.

You tell 'em, Leilaz.

Update: Juan Cole explains how Khamenai is actually engaging in constructive dialog. The part about the chanting mob seems to have been dropped in his depiction.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Random Antisemitism Roundup

I once had a discussion with a fellow from the Guardian (this must have been, oh, six or seven years ago at least), in which I pointed out that one way of knowing if the Guardian was being antisemitic or not would be to wait a few decades or a century, and then see if the books being written in 2080 about antisemitism in 2000 would dedicate chapters to the Guardian. The problem with this method, of course, being that one must defer the satisfaction of being proven right by a rather long time.

My interlocutor, of course, was of the opinion that I was over-reacting to criticism of Israel, and there was no antisemitism involved. What would you expect him to think?

Unfortunately we didn't need to wait three generations; we didn't even have to wait until the end of that very decade. Here's a totally random roundup of antisemitism culled from the online reports on this Sunday, March 8th, 2009, in about 10 minutes of online rambling: I didn't even go googling.

Israeli tennis player Andy Ram responding to the violent demonstrations against an Israeli tennis team in Sweden.

Students at Oxford (Britains' top university) throwing anti-Jewish parties. I'm not really into worrying too much about sophomoric students and their drunken antics, but when their drunken antics reflect the Zeitgeist it's time to take notice. Also, my youngest son is their age, and is actually quite able to take life-and-death responsibilities upon himself as these kids never will have to - as did his older siblings at the same age. Being 20 does not inevitably mean being asinine.

Israel Apartheid Week, in New York. In which context look at this recent quote from Prof Cole:
you are a little unlikely to be denied a high government post in the US because you once criticized Milosevic or Bashir. But if we leave aside the question of how many people, exactly, they have killed, and just examine the mindset and the shape of the policy they advocate, Binyamin Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman are also ultra-nationalists.
See that one? Some people are mass murderers, other merely talk nasty (assuming they really do, which is moot), but essentially they're all the same if we don't like them.

Guy Bechor comes back from Europe to report. I can attest to having the same experiences.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Tell Me Who Your Friends Are...

A few days ago Juan Cole had this to say:
Outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has ruled out allowing needed goods into Gaza, which Israel has virtually surrounded from land and sea, until Hamas releases captured Israeli soldier Sgt. Gilad Shalit. Olmert is thereby committing a war crime. You can't collectively punish the general Gaza population if you are the occupying authority. It is not allowed to torture that wailing child in the video above by keeping out painkillers, just because some adult somewhere from the same territory captured an Israeli soldier. But Olmert will get a pass on his war crimes. Apparently you only get punished for them if you are weak or lose; it isn't the crime but the power of the criminal that matters.
This is more or less what the Palestinian representative at the UN says, too (and keep in mind that he's a PA, i.e. Fatah person, not a Hamas appointee)
The Palestinian UN observer, Riyad Mansour, stressed the importance of achieving a long-lasting cease-fire so that Israel does not go and attack our people as they want but said Shalit's release should not be linked to the opening of border crossings.

"These are two separate issues," he told reporters. "To connect them in this manner, it means that the Israeli government is not interested in a long-lasting cease-fire now, and not interested in opening the crossings and lifting the siege."
Not everyone, however, agrees. Among the dissenting voices one can find - mildly astonishingly - Robert Serry, the UN's top Mideast envoy (same link as Mansour):
Serry told council members that a durable cease-fire can only be achieved if there is broad progress including an exchange of Palestinian prisoners for Shalit, who was captured in a 2006 cross-border raid, action to prevent the smuggling of weapons into Gaza, the opening of borders, and unity among rival Palestinian factions.

These steps, he said, would also pave the way for the longer term recovery and reconstruction of Gaza.

"I emphasize these points...because one month since unilateral cease-fires were declared, a proper cease-fire is still not in place, and there is an ever present danger of a return to the unsustainable conditions of last year, or even for renewed and more devastating violence," Serry warned.

Asked afterward about Israel's decision to link the border openings with
Shalit's release, the UN's special coordinator for the Middle East peace process said, "If you want to improve the situation in Gaza, you have to look at the other issues as well, and Shalit is a very important one."
So, on one side we've got Cole and the Palestinians, while on the other side we've got an important UN fellow and Israel. How very peculiar.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Cole Chops Logic

Juan Cole gives his subjective and factually questionable take on the results of our elections. As regular readers will be aware, Cole is not the best place to go for informed content, in spite of the title of his blog, but it can be a fine place to go for the gags. Today's post contains this one:
Israel is 20% Arab, which should yield 24 seats in the Knesset, but only 9 were apparently elected, down from 12. Attempts were made to disqualify some Arab parties from running, but the Supreme Court struck them down.
Let's see: If 20% of Israelis are Arabs, while the Arab parties only gleaned 7-8% of the votes, and the point of our post is to make sure everybody understand how bad Israel is, let's create the impression that most Arabs were disqualified from voting. There, that ought to work, as long as no one really stops to think about what I just said...

By the way, the reality is even further from Cole's thesis. Something like one of the eight percent of votes garnered by the Arab parties came from the far-left Jews who voted for Hadash, a sort of communist party which has one Jewish MP on its list to prove its cross-national solidarity, and indeed he attracts cross-ethnic votes. Which means that at the very most 40% of the Arabs voted for Arab parties. The proportion of abstainers was a bit higher among the Arabs, but even so it looks like a majority of the Arabs voted for regular Zionist parties; they didn't even converge on the Left-wing Meretz party, which almost disappeared for lack of votes across the board. In the past, when the Haredi Shas party used to control the Ministry of the Interior and its control of funds for the municipalities, one of their MKs was voted in by Arabs, but that wasn't the case this time. Looks like the Arabs voted for Labor, Kadima, Likud.... Lieberman?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Lieberman: Ethnic Cleanser!

Juan Cole demonstrates his hazy grasp of Israeli realities, in a long post that contains this gem in its first paragraph:
Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu, [is] a far, far-right faction that advocates ethnically cleansing Palestinians.
Cole doesn't enable free comments on his blog, only the ones he chooses. However, I've noticed that when I address him as "Prof Cole" and sign off as a Dr, while keeping an even tone, he tends to allow my comments through. So if you go visit him you can also see my rather lengthy take on Lieberman.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Cole Really Really Doesn't Get It

Juan Cole warns Israel not to spoil the party:
There are rumors that the Israeli government may declare a unilateral cease fire Saturday. They had better. Because if they ruin the Obama inauguration by splashing the bloody bodies of dead Palestinian children all over the press during the next few days, no Americans, even the most pro-Israeli, are going to forgive them. The war has left 1,140 Palestinians dead, over 300 children, and over 5,000 wounded including many women and children, as well as 13 Israelis (4 of them civilians killed by rocket fire). We pay for these wars, we provide the fighter jets, bombs, and tanks. And we don't want our money used for this sanguinary purpose in the first place; we have enough to be guilty about all on our own. And we especially don't want to hear a peep from over there while we swear in our first African-American president.
Newsflash for Cole: after 2,000 years, the Jews have reacquired sovereignty. This doesn't mean they can do whatever they wish, even the USA can't do that; indeed Israel generally tries to stay on the good side of the Americans, their best friends; but "generally" isn't "automatically and always". If we had our druthers, we wouldn't be on the agenda of the American president at all, and we'd be mentioned in the media only rarely, as the place top technology companies open R&D units in, an occasional Nobel Prize winner hails from, and a fine place to visit if you're into history and archeology. We'd be fine with that. However, if we need to spoil your party in order to defend ourselves, that's just what we'll have to do. Sorry, but we've got our priorities.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Cole Plumbs New Depths: Israelis to Blame for 9/11

I have a low opinion of Professor Juan Cole, but he has earned it with the sweat of his brow. I even have a special tag for him (Juan Cole), so if you really want to spoil your afternoon feel free to click on it. Today he has another long and wearisome post generally on a par with his standard scholarship. I wouldn't bother you with it were it not for the first few paragraphs:
In 1996, Israeli jets bombed a UN building where civilians had taken refuge at Cana/ Qana in south Lebanon, killing 102 persons; in the place where Jesus is said to have made water into wine, Israeli bombs wrought a different sort of transformation. In the distant, picturesque port of Hamburg, a young graduate student studying traditional architecture of Aleppo saw footage like this on the news [graphic]. He was consumed with anguish and the desire for revenge. As soon as operation Grapes of Wrath had begun the week before, he had written out a martyrdom will, indicating his willingness to die avenging the victims, killed in that operation--with airplanes and bombs that were a free gift from the United States. His name was Muhammad Atta. Five years later he piloted American Airlines 11 into the World Trade Center. (Lawrence Write, The Looming Tower, p. 307: "On April 11, 1996, when Atta was twenty-seven years old, he signed a standardized will he got from the al-Quds mosque.l It was the day Israel attacked Lebanon in Operation grapes of Wrath. According to one of his friends, Atta was enraged,and by filling out his last testamentd during the attack he was offering his life in response." ).

On Tuesday, the Israeli military shelled a United Nations school to which terrified Gazans had fled for refuge, killing at least 42 persons and wounding 55, virtually all of them civilians, and many of them children. The Palestinian death toll rose to 660. The Israelis say they took fire from one of the schools. Was it tank fire?

You wonder if someone somewhere is writing out a will today.
Let's assume for a moment, merely for the purpose of the intellectual exercise, that what he has just written is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Bear with me, just for the moment.

What Cole has just told us is that his mind can live with the explanation that Mohammad Atta murdered thousands of people in New York, because five years earlier he'd been absolutely and totally furious at an Israeli killing of one hundred people in Lebanon. Moreover, Cole implies, it is well likely that another act of Israeli killing today will have a similar result sometime down the road. Furthermore, he then goes on, he's telling us this because the Obama administration must stop the way Israel is purposefully putting Americans in danger merely because Israelis are that kind of people.

In 1348 Europe was stricken by its first wave of Bubonic Plague, in which about a third of the entire population perished. Among the millions of dead there were entire communities of Jews, but they didn't have time to die from the plague; they were murdered by their neighbors who were convinced they must be poisoning the wells. Eventually the rampaging murderers desisted, when they managed to notice that when left alone, the Jews were dying from the plague just like everyone else. In spite of their terror and hate, they were able to observe reality and make rational judgments - well, after a while. In the 14th century.

In the 21st, Professor Cole doesn't have the terror, ensconced in Ann Arbor Michigan, he's got only the hate. But then, neither does he have the ability to observe reality and make rational judgments.

Not to mention moral ones.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Things a History Professor Doesn't Need to Know

History, for example, else how to explain Juan Cole's long description of Israel's history.

I suppose I could write an entire book full of facts to refute his post, but I already have. I hope, for his students, that the professor is better informed about the things he teaches in his university courses, because what he has posted here is about as factual as you'd expect from an overly enthusiastic high-school junior with a blog. That's the factual part I'm talking about, statements such as
Hamas pursued the tactic of sending small home-made missiles against nearby Israeli towns, mainly Sderot, emulating what Hizbullah had been doing to the Israeli colony in the occupied Shebaa Farms in 2005-2006.
My italics. Do you think the professor can find that colony on the map? If so it would be quite a feat, since it's not there and never has been. Or how about
Egypt launched the 1973 war as a surprise attack, and used sophisticated underwater sand-moving equipment to get across the canal and penetrate into the Sinai.
Sounds sinister, doesn't it. Rubber boats, most decidedly on the surface, otherwise the Egyptian commandos would have drowned.

Then you get the conceptual parts of his lecture, which are by definition slippery because they're speculation, not fact. Still, even when merely ruminating, I do think one can expect more of a university professor than paragraphs such as this:
Israel's political tradition seeks expansion if possible; if not possible, it seeks a balance of power with its enemies. If that is not possible, it seeks to be held harmless from its avowed foes. If that is not possible, it is willing to wage total war to punish the enemy population until it accepts at least a cold peace. Where necessary, Israel is willing to give up territorial expansion to get the cold peace.
Set aside that the professor couldn't substantiate this paragraph even if he spent ten years in the appropriate archives (assuming he knew the language); just try to figure out the syntax of that paragraph, and if you wish, come back and tell me what it means.

I never studied at an American university, but I sure hope this fellow is a rotten apple, not your standard professor. Where I studied, an undergraduate seminar paper of this quality would have been thrown out.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Blind Belief vs. Facts

Juan Cole: Israel is destroying tunnels that allow Palestinians to smuggle in goods from Egypt.

LGF: Here's a film that shows that how the tunnels kept on exploding after they were hit.

Technology in the service of disseminating lies and refuting them.