Middle East studies in the News
What's Fair and Not Fair in the Middle East Debates? [on Ian Lustick, Norman Finkelstein]
by David Slavin; reply by Steven Plaut
The posting on HNN April 25, 2007 with the title "Norman Finkelstein: Controversy featured at frontpagemag.com" is actually an attack essay by Steven Plaut. Go to Plaut's blog and the following appears:
At the new address of this blog (I cannot explain the 31 Dec 07 dateline on both sites), this photo and caption are at the top of the page:
For those of you unfamiliar with the caption's reference, Naqba is Arabic for "catastrophe" and is a term used by Palestinians to refer to the 1948 expulsion of 750,000 Palestinian Arabs from territories occupied by the Zionist armed forces when setting up the state of Israel. Addressing the controversy surrounding the Naqba by consulting the Israeli archives, historians such as Ilan Pappe and Benny Morris (the latter now advocating solutions to the conflict which are the opposite of what his scholarship would suggest) have described an "ethnic cleansing" of hundreds of Palestinian villages which were razed to the ground, renamed, and rebuilt to accommodate Jewish settlers who became citizens of the new state of Israel. The way I read this photo and caption is that Plaut advocates a second ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. In Israel, this position has been legitimated by the recent appointment of Avigdor Liberman as deputy prime minister. He has put forward plans to offer "incentives" to Palestinians to leave parts of the Occupied Territories and Israel proper. Readers of HNN can decide for themselves the meaning of Plaut's message.
Plaut accuses Finkelstein of being a Jew-baiter, friend of Holocaust deniers, and a denier himself. Finkelstein's parents are both Holocaust survivors, as is known by anyone familiar with his books, a point unmentioned by Plaut. Besides targeting Finkelstein in this particularly hurtful way, Plaut also attacks two professors who wrote letters in support of Finkelstein's tenure. One is John Mearsheimer at the University of Chicago, co-author of the report on AIPAC that appeared last winter and which Plaut's blog among others bills as the new "Protocols of the Elders of Zion." Plaut attacks the other professor, Ian Lustick of the University of Pennsylvania, citing "Storm Warnings for A Supply-Side War," which was posted March 4, 20003 and written for the Nation. Lustick's essay is mainly a review of Kenneth Pollack's The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq, published by the Council on Foreign Relations. Lustic wrote it days before the US invasion. Lustick points out that the first 300 pages are a historical background for 2003, but the last 100 pages address the pitfalls of such an invasion:
The essay by Lustick seems remarkably clear sighted to me. Today the same people who advocated the Iraq invasion are hinting that the solution to Iraq is a confrontation with Iran, possibly even bombing its uranium processing facility. HNN readers can judge for themselves, but once again objectionable and tendentious writing on Palestinians, Muslims, and Jews who express solidarity with them appears with no rebuttal. If such writing goes unchallenged, the sheer nastiness hampers the discourse throughout the academy and beyond. I hope others will come forward to insist on civility that will allow us all to exercise our reasoning on this crucial topic.
Finally, just to counter some of the 'karmic disharmony' of Plaut's screeds, please consider the following poem by Naomi Shihab Nye, an American poet of Palestinian background. It only takes a minute or two.
Response by Steven Plaut
David H. Slavin, a historian of France, has taken time off from his busy teaching schedule as an adjunct at Emory University to defend pseudo-scholar, Neo-Nazi, and terrorism apologist Norman Finkelstein, and to distort what I had earlier written. This is hardly his first attempt at rewriting Middle East history - see his earlier comments and their rebuttal here, including Slavin's bon mot "If any analogy applies to 'clash of civilizations' thinking, it is anti-Darwinism or refusal to accept human sources of global climate crisis." Critics of Islamofascists are "anti-Darwinian?" Cowabunga!
It is not necessary for me to repeat or explain my denunciations of Finkelstein and of the academic prostitutes who tried to get him tenured, now that his own colleagues from DePaul University have decided to deny him tenure. Slavin's own career difficulties may well be explained by his inability to distinguish between Arab fictional lies and actual history. He repeats the false claim that Israel "ethnically cleansed" the area that became Israel in 1948-49, and claims that Israel "expelled" 750,000 "Palestinians" at that time. As "proof," he cites pseudo-historian Ilan Pappe, whose "research" makes Ward Churchill and Finkelstein look like serious scholars, and erstwhile "New Historian" Benny Morris, not quite a credible source but one who today decidedly denies Israel ever engaged in ethnic cleansing. In fact the entire Israeli War of Independence of 1948-49, and all later Arab-Israeli armed conflicts, were essentially Israel's successful efforts that prevented the Arab world conducting ethnic cleansing, actually -- genocide, against Israeli Jews.
The silly Naqba (Arabic for catastrophe) slogan has been invented by Arab fascists and their apologists to describe Israel's military victories in 1948-49 and its exerting its independence. Those tossing about the "Naqba" nonsense word just want to see Israel annihilated and its Jewish population destroyed or expelled, in a 21st century implementation of the Arab world's program from 1948. Had the Arab world accepted the 1947 UN partition plan, as Israel did, a Palestinian Arab state would have arisen in 1948. Instead, the Arab forces attempted to annihilate Israel and its population, and illegally annexed the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Any "suffering" by Palestinian Arabs is exactly as self-created as was the suffering of German civilians during World War II, and just as deserving of being deemed irrelevant.
I stand by everything I ever wrote about Finkelstein, Mearsheimer, and Lustick. I suggest that Slavin read some real Middle East historians, rather than silly poems about airports.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.
Campus Watch contact e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org