Middle East studies in the News
Iranians, Israel-Haters Dominate Pro-Nuke Deal 'Experts' Letter [incl. Hamid Dabashi, John Esposito, Rashid Khalidi, Reza Aslan]
by Phyllis Chesler
The National Iranian American Council organized the letter signed by seventy-three "international scholars" who favor the treaty—no, the deal—no, the deal with secret asides—no, the run-around Congress—no, President Obama's cynical fait accompli—between Iran and America.
Unsurprisingly, nearly 50% of the signatories (at least 45%) have Iranian names. Well, Iranians can be scholars, can't they? Yes they can—but they can also have families who are being held hostage or forced to live both in fear and in poverty in Iran. I doubt that the anticipated 150 billion dollars of released sanctions will find its way into the hands of many worthy civilians. More likely, it will fund the Iranian mullahs' mad obsession with exterminating Israel and attacking America—and of continuing a fourteen centuries-old religious war with Sunni Muslims.
Aside from the very obvious radically left, anti-Israel activists like Peter Beinart, founder of J Street (which masquerades as pro-Israel and pro-peace), there are some real scholars among the signatories. They have advanced degrees, teach at Ivy League institutions, and have published many books on a variety of subjects. Here, I am thinking of University of California's Reza Aslan, MIT's Noam Chomsky, Columbia's Hamid Dabashi, Georgetown's John Esposito, Columbia's Rashid Khalidi, University of Chicago's John Mearsheimer, and Harvard's Stephen Walt.
Such scholars have not become exceptionally high profile for their work on medieval Islam, Christianity, comparative literature, or international relations but for one or two main reasons. They are either obsessed with "Islamophobia" (which does not exist) and/or with the Israel/Palestine issue. They defame Israel at every opportunity and view "Palestine" as Edward Said once did: the world's purest and most innocent victim of "Israeli, Nazi, apartheid colonialism," of "ethnic cleansing, and occupation."
The madness starts at the top. America's leading universities, with a financial assist from oil-rich Gulf states, have chosen and supported Middle East Studies faculty (such as Juan Cole, John Esposito, etc.) who follow this party line.
University of California Professor Reza Aslan writes about "the right of return for Palestinian refugees" without noting that, by definition, this means not only the end of the planet's only Jewish state but the probable extermination of Israeli Jews. Contrary to his blinkered view, the Palestinians have been trying to exterminate Israeli civilians. The reverse is simply not true. He argues for a One State Solution; ironically, so does Caroline Glick. They really should talk to each other. I would like to be there.
Professors Mearsheimer and Walt may be known to scholars for their work on international affairs—but not to most civilians who know them mainly for their bad-faith book: The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy. At the time, I wondered whether they would ever publish a book titled The Saudi Lobby. Of course, they never did. I recommend Professor Richard Landes' review of the Mearsheimer/Walt propaganda for which they reportedly received a huge advance.
Edward Said was a Christian, born in Jerusalem, who spent his childhood in Egypt. both Professors Khalidi and Said have fathers of "Palestinian" origin and Lebanese or Lebanese-American mothers. Said attended boarding school as a teenager in Massachusetts. Khalidi was born and grew up in America.
The two men are beloved for their obsession with the persecution of formerly colonized, mainly Arab men (not women)—and Arab men who are, specifically, the descendants of a nation state that has never existed.
Of course, Khalidi is the Edward Said Professor of Modern Arab Studies History. Khalidi is a full-frontal Palestinian expert. He does not write about much else. He is the editor of the Journal of Palestine Studies and was the advisor to the Palestinian delegation to the Madrid and Washington Arab-Israeli peace negotiations. He is also the author of The Iron Cage: The Story of the Palestinian Struggle for Statehood; Palestinian Identity: The Construction of Modern National Consciousness; Under Siege: PLO Decision Making During the 1982 War. He is also the co-editor of Palestine and the Gulf.
Columbia's Professor Hamid Dabashi was born and attended college in Iran. Thereafter, he received a doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania in Sociology of Culture and Islamic Studies and did a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard. He wrote his doctoral dissertation under Phillip Reiff, Susan Sontag's husband and the father of their son David Reiff. He is the author of 25 books about Iranian Studies, medieval and modern Islam, world cinema, comparative literature, which have been translated into many languages.
Ah, but he is at Edward Said's Columbia and on the Middle East Studies faculty. Thus, he is a founding member of the Center for Palestine Studies at Columbia and the founder of Dreams of a Nation, A Palestinian Film Project "dedicated to preserving and safeguarding Palestinian Cinema."
Why would a scholar of Iranian literature care this much about Palestine? Or Israel?
For the record, in the film Columbia Unbecoming, Dabashi was also revealed as having depicted Israelis as follows:
"Half a century of systematic maiming and murdering of another people has left its deep marks on the faces of these people...There is an endemic prevarication to this machinery, a vulgarity of character that is bone-deep and structural to the skeletal vertebrae of its culture. No people can perpetrate what these people and their parents and grandparents have perpetrated on Palestinians and remain immune to the cruelty of their own deeds."Note: Articles listed under "Middle East studies in the News" provide information on current developments concerning Middle East studies on North American campuses. These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch and do not necessarily correspond to Campus Watch's critique.
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