Campus Watch Research
Lustick an Unfortunate Choice for Penn [on Ian Lustick]
by Winfield Myers
The recent appointment of University of Pennsylvania political science professor Ian Lustick as convenor of the new Penn Working Group on Israel and the Middle East is unfortunate, if not surprising.
Mr. Lustick holds the Bess W. Heyman Chair of political science. As professors of Middle East studies go, Mr. Lustick is among those who appear mainstream—smartly dressed and well coifed, he's hardly the scruffy radical of stereotype—but whose words belie their hostility to American interests. Like Fawaz Gerges of Sarah Lawrence College, Mr. Lustick attempts to cloak his radicalism in an aura of dispassionate scholarly respectability.
The Working Group's web site says it will address the question of whether or not the two-state solution is still valid in light of:
But, like many of his peers in Middle East studies (MESers), Mr. Lustick has at times been spectacularly wrong on the particulars of the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East by dint of his habit of soft-peddling Arab aggression toward Israel and America. For example, speaking about Hamas in a March, 2006, interview with the Voice of America, Mr. Lustick said:
In 2002, speaking at the Middle East Policy Council, Mr. Lustick went even further afield when he lamented the rapid success of U.S. forces in Afghanistan:
Expressing regret that not more American soldiers died in war—wishing that things had been more difficult for our troops—is shocking to most Americans, but among Mr. Lustick's peers, it would hardly raise an eyebrow, so toxic is the atmosphere on American campuses.
Mr. Lustick's recent book, Trapped in the War on Terror, argues that the Bush administration, by waging war on Iraq, has unleashed a force that it cannot control, and that the war on terror is therefore self-perpetuating. Speaking about his book at Penn about a year ago, Mr. Lustick said:
He also predicted an American invasion of Iran, and charged the Bush administration with being Orwellian in its manipulation of information on the war:
Writing about the war in The Nation in March, 2003, just ahead of the start of the war, Mr. Lustick claimed that this is a "supply side" war:
Not only does Mr. Lustick downplay any threats from Saddam, but he again laments American military power and charges that, because America is strong, it chooses to wage war for no particular reason—the imperial power loosed upon a victimized world.
In a fashion common among MESers, Mr. Lustick is a master at the art of moral relativism. When asked in 2004 whether he trusted Arafat, he replied:
This answer allows Mr. Lustick to avoid the obvious: that Arafat was a terrorist and ardent enemy of the West who sought the elimination of Israel. Whatever the sins of Clinton, LBJ, and Nixon, refusing to differentiate between them and Arafat evinces at best intellectual cowardice, at worst a devious desire to engage in moral obfuscation.
More recently, Mr. Lustick defended Norman Finkelstein, whose vitriolic, unscholarly attacks on Israel, America, and American Jewry provided the DePaul University administration the ammunition it needed to deny him tenure and eventually reach a settlement that resulted in his resignation.
Mr. Lustick also acted as an outside evaluator of Finkelstein's scholarship for DePaul, and he invited Finkelstein to Penn to speak last year.
Given his past efforts at moral equivocation between Israel and America's leadership and Arafat, his defense of Hamas, his condemnation of the Iraq war and his concomitant cynicism and alarmism about the Bush administration, it's safe to predict that a Working Group under his direction will "discover" that his past predictions have come true, and that the future will conform to his ahistorical vision of the past.
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