Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Joseph Massad, Abu Gharib Photos, Vegetative States, Opt-Out, Islam, Booklift

1) Columbia debates grow ever more heated:

www.juancole.com

New York Times Supports McCarthyite Witch Hunt

I am cancelling my subscription to the New York Times,
and I urge others to do the same.

The New York Times editorial board went over to the
Dark Side on Thursday, with an editorial that blasted
the end results of a panel at Columbia University that
investigated whether students had been intimidated by
professors at Columbia University. The panel found
that there was no evidence of any such thing, that no
students had been punished for their views by lowered
grades, that there was no evidence of racial bigotry.

The NYT nevertheless praised the neo-McCarthyite
"film" (actually it is large numbers of films that are
constantly re-edited and have never been publicly
shown) produced by the shadowy anti-Palestinian "David
Project." But the "film" is not an objective document.
I could interview on film lots of people who ascribed
all sorts of bad behavior to the editors of the New
York Times and call it a "damning documentary."
Students, including Israelis, who have actually taken
classes in Middle East studies at Columbia dispute the
films' allegations.

The real question here is whether it is all right to
dispute the Zionist version of history. The David
Project, AIPAC, the American Jewish Congress, the
Washington Institute for Near East Policy, the Middle
East Forum, Campus Watch, MEMRI, the Jewish Institute
for National Security Affairs, the Zionist
Organization of America, etc., etc., maintain that it
is not all right. Some of them have even been known to
maintain that disputing Zionist historiography is a
form of hate speech.

Historians are unkind to nationalism of any sort.
Nineteenth century romantic nationalism of the Zionist
sort posits eternal "peoples" through history, who
have a blood relationship (i.e. are a "race") and who
have a mystical relationship with some particular
territory. The Germans, who were very good at this
game, called it "blood and soil." Nationalism casts
about for some ancient exemplar of the "nation" to
glorify as a predecessor to the modern nation. (Since
nations actually did not exist in the modern sense
before the late 1700s, the relationship is fictive. To
explain what happened between ancient glory and modern
nationalism, nationalists often say that the "nation"
"fell asleep" or "went into centuries of decline. My
colleague Ron Suny calls this the "sleeping beauty"
theory of nationalism.)

But there are no eternal nations through history.
People get all mixed up genetically over time, except
for tiny parts of the genome like the mitochondria or
the Y chromosome, on which too much emphasis is now
put. Since there are no eternal nations based in
"blood," they cannot have a mystical connection to the
"land." People get moved around. The Turks now in
Anatolia once lived in Mongolia (and most Turks anyway
are just Greeks who converted to Islam and began
speaking Turkish).

The David Project wants Middle East historians to
reproduce faithfully in the classroom the Zionist
master narrative as the "true" version of history. We
aren't going to do that, and nobody can make us do it,
and if anyone did make us do it, it would be
destructive of academic, analytical understandings of
history. Next the Serbs will be demanding that we
explain why the Bosnians had to be suppressed, and the
Russians will object to any attempt to understand the
roots of Chechen terrorism, and the Chinese will
object to our teaching about Taiwan. The American Nazi
Party will maintain that the Third Reich is presented
unsympathetically in university history classes, etc.
etc. Ethnic nationalisms if allowed to dictate the
teaching of history would destroy the entire
discipline.

The NYT editorial concludes:

"But in the end, the report is deeply unsatisfactory
because the panel's mandate was so limited. Most
student complaints were not really about intimidation,
but about allegations of stridently pro-Palestinian,
anti-Israeli bias on the part of several professors.
The panel had no mandate to examine the quality and
fairness of teaching. That leaves the university to
follow up on complaints about politicized courses and
a lack of scholarly rigor as part of its effort to
upgrade the department. One can only hope that
Columbia will proceed with more determination and care
than it has heretofore."

What the editors mean by "anti-Israeli" is not spelled
out. But generally the term means any criticism of
Israel. (You can criticize Argentina all day every day
till the cows come home and nobody cares in the US,
but make a mild objection to Ariel Sharon putting
another 3500 settlers onto Palestinian territory in
contravention of all international law and of the road
map to which the Bush administration says it is
committed, and boom!, you are branded a racist bigot.
And if you dare point out that Sharon's brutality and
expansionism end up harming America and Americans by
unnecessarily making enemies for us (because we are
Sharon's sycophants), then you are really in trouble.

Personally, I think that the master narrative of
Zionist historiography is dominant in the American
academy. Mostly this sort of thing is taught by
International Relations specialists in political
science departments, and a lot of them are Zionists,
whether Christian or Jewish. Usually the narrative
blames the Palestinians for their having been kicked
off their own land, and then blames them again for not
going quietly. It is not a balanced point of view, and
if we take the NYT seriously (which we could stop
doing after they let Judith Miller channel Ahmad
Chalabi on the front page every day before the war),
then the IR professors should be made to teach a
module on the Palestinian point of view, as well. That
is seldom done.

Academic teaching is not about balance or "fairness"
or presenting "both sides" of an issue. It is about
teaching people to reason analytically and
synthetically about problems. The NYT approach would
ruin our ability to do this and would impose a
particular version of history on us all by fiat. It
even implies that some committee should sanction
anyone critical of Israel.

Universities are about skewering sacred cows. Anyone
who doesn't want their views challenged or their
feelings hurt should stay away from them. If you can't
handle an intellectual challenge, you shouldn't be on
campus. And you certainly shouldn't be editing a major
newspaper.

Links:

Rashid Khalidi on Democracy Now..
http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=05/04/06/1421213

Links to the report and to Joseph Massad's response.
http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article3742.shtml

Baruch Kimmerling, the eminent Israeli sociologist,
denounces the witch hunt at Columbia. The Chronicle of
Higher Education, which hasn't done squat for
professors faced with the New McCarthyism, rejected
Kimmerling's piece, and they are another good
candidate for cancelled subscriptions.
http://www.dissidentvoice.org/Mar05/Kimmerling0329.htm

Scott Sherman in the Nation, "The Mideast Comes to
Columbia."
http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml%3Fi=20050404&s=sherman

Note: The links aren't "balanced." You'll have to find
the McCarthyites on your own.



2) NYT Op-Ed referred to by Juan Cole:

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/04/07/opinion/07thu1.html?oref=login



3) Why you'll never see the second round of Abu Ghraib
photos:

http://www.reason.com/0504/co.mw.the.shtml



4) Anwaar Hussain Op-Ed:

Wednesday, April 06, 2005
The United Vegetative States of America
Anwaar Huusain's

http://malakandsky.blogspot.com/2005/04/united-vegetative-states-of-america.html

Fountainhead

Be it the atrocities of Neocons, or the stifling of
modernistic thought in the Muslim world, Fountainhead
will always be a wellspring of pure unadulterated
truth. (Please be warned....the contents of this site,
painfully truthful as these are, may prove to be too
graphic for your sense and sensibilities)...



5) Article on Islamic Law:

MAN MADE DIVINE LAW AND ISLAM
By: Reema I. Ali Esq.
Vanderbilt Law School March 25th 2005

Reema Ali is Managing Partner of Ali & Partners and
board member of the American Task Force on Palestine.

*** Editorial Note: To view the transcript below
including
the quoted Quranic verses in Arabic, please visit:

http://www.americantaskforce.org/IslamPresentation.pdf

---------------------------------------------------

There is nothing more crucial for a better
understanding between the East and the West than a
clear understanding of Islam. In many significant ways
Islam is widely misunderstood by those who follow it
and those who do not.

I want to start by saying that I am proud to be both
an American and a Muslim. I believe that 9/11 was the
darkest day in the lives of those who follow my faith
and it is indeed one of the darkest moments of a
civilization that positively contributed so much to
the world as we know it today.

When I was asked to speak in this fine institute of
learning I thought there cannot be a more appropriate
forum to lay out an internal debate amongst Muslim
Americans who have been striving to learn more about
what went wrong in the interpretation of their faith.
Who is doing the interpretation, and what tools are
they using to reach the conclusions they have reached?

Because those conclusions bear no resemblance to the
text we read, nor do they correspond to our
understanding of our faith.

A certain class of individuals has monopolized
determining what is Islamic, how Muslims should
behave, and the consequences of non conformity.

How did these individuals become in charge of issuing
what is the equivalent to 'Indulgences', and where
does their authority come from.

The starting point in understanding Islam is to
understand what Shari'a is....


6) Appreciate the irony:

Arab Boy Wins Israeli School Quiz on Zionism

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/nm/20050406/od_nm/life_mideast_quiz_dc



7) On Settler Religious Visions:

END OF THE PERIOD OF REDEMPTION
By Avirama Golan
Haaretz, Opinion (Israel)
April 5, 2005
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/561000.html



8) "Booklift" to Iraq Story:

http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/archive/2005/April/03/local/stories/05local.htm



9) No Recruit Left Behind:

"Under the No Child Left Behind Act, if you attend a
public high school, your school system is required to
turn over YOUR private information to the US military
unless you OPT OUT. Sec 9528 of The No Child Left
Behind Act gives you the right to OPT OUT by turning
in a form signed by your guardian or parent stating
that you do not want the military to have access to
your private information."

www.militaryfreezone.org.



10) University of Mary Washington Living Wage Campaign
Articles:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A35521-2005Apr7.html?sub=AR

http://www.fredericksburg.com/News/FLS/2005/042005/04082005/1726886






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