Thursday, February 28, 2008

Juan Cole, Crypto-Zionist?

Juan Cole yesterday put up a rather touching post. He addresses himself to hay some people are trying to make of Barack Obama's middle name Hussein - indeed, not a very admirable line of reasoning. Cole talks about the meaning of various names American presidents have owned that have semitic origins: Benjamin, Abraham, John, Thomas and so on. He explains how both Barak and Hussein are also of semitic origin.

It's actually a rather eloquent post. There is the minor problem of not distinguishing between names of semitic origin that entered the English through the Judaism-Christianity route, and Senator Obama's name which came into English from the Arabic - that, after all, is the reason the Hussein moniler is at all an issue. But John McCain has already positioned himself on the same side of this argument as Cole, so hopefully the whole topic will now fade away.

The ironic part of the post is that since Cole conflates Hebrew with Arabic as semitic languages (correctly), he unwittingly strengthens the Zionist narrative about how the Jews belong here exactly as much as the Arabs. What happened to all the arguments about Zionism being Colonialism?

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