Middle East studies in the News
There you go again, Juan ...
by Dan Darling
In discussing Sharon's decision to withdraw from the Likud, Juan once again goes off his medication, leaving me with ample material.
Ariel Sharon's resignation from the Likud Party is a more forceful critique of that party than any I have offered.
Not really. He said that he doesn't believe that the party is going to accept his deal and wanted to forestall any lengthy internal political battles that he doesn't believe would do anyone much good. As was recently noted in Middle East Quarterly, Juan has gone far beyond that in his ramblings, comparing Likud to the Syrian Baath Party, asserting that the entire Likud coalition is fascist, asserting its control over US foreign policy, or favorably citing from conspiratorial ravings by Justin Raimondo on the Franklin case that among other things asserts that Mossad had some kind of role in the 9/11 attacks. If Sharon said anything like that, I must've missed it in the news reporting.
Likudniks are notoriously unable to deal with being criticized, so my simple and accurate characterization of the party as having colonialist and fascistic tendencies has driven its acolytes on this side of the Atlantic into a piranha-like frenzy.
This sounds more like a case of projection than anything else, given Juan's own reaction when Martin Kramer called him on his claim that the 9/11 attacks were a response to Israeli action against the Jenin refugee camp. Likudniks are quite able to deal with being criticized, they get it all the time within the context of Israeli politics. As for your Likud having colonialist or fascistic tendencies, Juan, you simply have to understand that a lot of you disagree with you on this and that your complete disregard and disdain for the arguments of anyone who isn't in lockstep with you on this one, including the vast majority of Israelis from all sides of the political spectrum.
Being cultists of a sort, they play all sorts of dishonest political games, such as equating criticism of their party with racism (?), or equating their party with Israel itself and then saying that I called Israel a fascist state because I had so characterized the Likud.
Here again, I think that this is more a case of projection in that Juan regularly characterizes both neocons and US policy-makers in general as having all kinds of racist neo-colonialist fantasies with regard to the Middle East. I don't think I've ever called Juan an anti-Semite and as I've explained many a time before, my problem with the man isn't whether or not he's racist but rather that he's a conspiratorial lunatic who uses his position as an authority on the Middle East to spread all kinds of crackpot theories alongside his legitimate analysis. And the nature of those same crackpot theories, of course, always have to do with Israel. As a result, Juan is sort of using the language of anti-Semitism (to borrow William F. Buckley's phrase) in expressing his nutty beliefs regardless of what he himself personally believes.
As for Israel being a fascist state, Juan regularly asserts that it engages in a manner inconsistent with a representative democracy, that it is not in fact a representative democracy because of the Palestinian issue, and so on. Of course, he also sort of says the same thing with regard to the first category about our own country because of his infantile and all-consuming dislike of the Bush administration, though I don't believe he's specifically categorized the GOP as fascists just yet.
(I did not, of course, but then the surrogate American Likud has millions of dollars with which to smear me and an easy in with the major media, whereas I just have this little web site; so their megaphone is rather louder than mine.)
There's the Learned Elders of Likud conspiracy combined with the complete inability to substantively respond to criticism again. Maybe Juan should reexamine these issues himself before he starts smearing his opponents on the subject.
It would be rather as though American Latinos should take vehement exception to any criticism of Argentina's colonels and their authoritarian and murderous state in the 1980s. No one ever complains about people "maligning" Argentina, but the Likudniks have an obsession that their party be completely above criticism (or as they would call it, "slander.")
Ah, here again the analogies are quite telling. He draws a direct analogy Likud to the Argentine junta, calling it an "authoritarian and murderous state" and then wonders why American Jews might be offended by such a thing. Here's a hint Juan - there's a world of difference between Israel and various authoritarian governments you see it as analogous to, which is one of the reasons why it has such a large sympathy base among both Americans Jews and Americans in general, not as the result of a vast conspiracy but rather because it's supported at a popular level. I'll leave it to you to figure that out one of these days.
So how delicious it is that Sharon has left the Likud because it is too fascistic even for him! The party's highly authoritarian politburo was an albatross around Sharon's neck. Its strident insistence on continuing to steal Palestinian land and never trading land for peace would have accelerated the engorgement of the West Bank by Israel and the consequent transformation of Israel into a binational state. You can't annex the West Bank without getting a couple of million Palestinians into the bargain. The very hard line Likudniks would deal with that prospect by just ethnically cleansing the Palestinians, but Sharon is enough a man of the world to know that the US (and especially Condi), the European Union, and the Muslim world would never put up with that Milosevic-like war crime.
Here again, note that the world Juan describes bears little if any resemblance to reality, particularly his assertion that the Likud base wants to ethnically cleanse the Palestinian territories Milosevic-style (which major Israeli politician is calling for that, exactly?). This is yet another reason why people who know anything about Israel get so offended by Juan: in contrast to the Arab world where his expertise is usually superior, when it comes to Israel most people know enough to call him on his bullshit.
And a little further down, we get this assertion:
The lack of a strong Palestinian leader, and Sharon's refusal to deal with the Palestinian leadership that now exists, make it unlikely that there will be real progress on Arab-Israeli peace any time soon. You can't declare peace unilaterally, the way you can war. But if the Likud can be gotten out of office, at least the ruling party in Israel won't be actively attempting to destroy any peace process.
The lack of a "strong Palestinian leader" is actually something I view as having had positive effect on the situation, given how the last one turned out. One of the things you'll notice in this whole discussion is the utter and complete lack of attention to the fact that if anybody is trying to destroy the peace process, it's the various terrorist groups including Hezbollah, which just yesterday attacked Israel. But in Juan's world, if the peace process fails, only Likud is to blame.
One of the other things you'll note is that Sharon's decision to leave the Likud sort of debunks a lot of Juan's conspiracy-mongering over the last several years in which he asserted that Sharon had set into motion a wide-ranging conspiracy for the US to invade and occupy large chunks of the Middle East as a cover for Israel's expansionism and to destroy its enemies. He doesn't address that here, of course, but it's worth pointing out so that people can remember just how wrong he's been over the last several years.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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