Middle East studies in the News
Meet an Anti-Israel Agitator
by Martin Kramer
Yesterday the Los Angeles Times ran an op-ed by Saree Makdisi, a professor of English lit at UCLA. The headline: "Neocons Lay Siege to the Ivory Towers." The bottom line: there's a neocon conspiracy against academe, the result of an unholy alliance between conservatives and Zionists.
Since Makdisi threw in my name too, combining an insult with an error, I sent off a response to the paper. I have no idea whether they'll publish it, but having a website means you always get the last word, so here it is:
For evidence that Makdisi is an anti-Israel agitator, read his essay written in memory of Edward Said. It includes this mind-boggling claim: Israel has "actualized all the logics, apparatuses, discourses, and practices associated with the worst, the ugliest, the most violent and draconian forms of European racism." Read that sentence again. It says that Israel is a Nazi state; it cannot be read any other way. In another essay, arguing for divestment, Makdisi says Palestinians are shot "for stone throwing, for writing, for thinking, and practically just for being Palestinian."
Makdisi's white-knuckle fanaticism is actually closer to the line of Joseph Massad than to Edward Said. The difference is that Columbia pays Massad to teach his grievance, whereas Makdisi holds down a day job teaching English romanticism and Blake. But take note: Makdisi is writing his Palestine book, so prepare yourself by reading both essays--war propaganda bordering on hate speech. They don't leave any doubt just who's an agitator.
By the way, Makdisi already has a reputation for playing fast and loose with the truth in op-eds. The LA Times had to publish a correction to an op-ed he did back in November, and which retailed falsehoods about Israel's security barrier. Any other author might have been banned for that, but when you're papabile in the Saidian church, people are prepared to look the other way. So they keep publishing him. Will the LA Times clean up the mistakes in Makdisi's latest performance? Will it publish my letter? We'll see.
Update, May 7: The LA Times has published my letter, in an abbreviated form. The record has been set straight on the matter of legislation.
posted Thursday, 5 May 2005Note: 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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