Middle East studies in the News
Collaborators in the War Against the Jews: Ian Lustick [incl. Norman Finkelstein]
by Steven Plaut
Three years ago, the tenured left at DePaul was attempting to force the university into granting tenure to the anti-Semitic embarrassment Norman Finkelstein, who has no bona fide academic publications, and is well known as a collaborator with the Hezb'Allah terrorists. To manipulate the tenure system, these leftists needed to recruit letters of recommendation from people at other schools who could be counted upon to endorse and support Finkelstein out of a sense of political solidarity with his propaganda. Two academics were willing to play ball. One was Avi Shlaim, a former Oxford professor known as a hater of Israel despite his own Israeli heritage. The other was Ian Lustick, a radical Jewish anti-Israel and anti-American professor at the University of Pennsylvania who also stood and delivered for Finkelstein, although his opinion was not enough to convince the DePaul to give him tenure.
Lustick used to be Associate Director of the Solomon Asch Center for Ethnic Studies at Penn, named after a famous Gestalt psychologist who must be rolling in his grave at the fact that the Center named for him has hosted radicals and published work that includes a vilification of Israel for building its security wall to keep out suicide bombers.
Lustick has made an academic career out of bashing Israel and fighting againstthe war on terror. He speaks frequently before anti-Israel and pro-terror conferences and organizations. He has also written for Michael Lerner's goofy pseudo-Jewish anti-Israel magazine, Tikkun.
Israelis who insist upon rejecting the demands made upon them by Islamofascist terrorists are denounced by Lustick as "dangerous fundamentalists." Lustick has long campaigned for a Palestinian state and for the division of Jerusalem. Hehas compared the Palestinian "suffering" to that of the Jews in the Holocaust, and he has called on Israel to teach about this Palestinian experience in its schools just like German children study the Holocaust. Meanwhile, hedenounced the President of Harvard, Lawrence Summers, for claiming that the "Divest from Israel" movement is anti-Semitic. Like his client Norman Finkelstein, Lustick likes to rant about the nefarious powers of the "Israel Lobby."
In one of those Orwellian ironies, Lustick actually once headed the Association for Israel Studies in the United States. He has never spent much time in Israel, although he claims that nation's history and politics as a specialty. He is a defender of Israel's own anti-Israel "New Historians," who use historic revisionism to promote the agenda of Israel's enemies. Lustick has spoken favorably of the so-called "One-State Solution" in which Israel will cease to exist altogether. (Cynics refer to it as the Rwanda Solution.) Lustick took part in the anti-IsraelYork University conference last year devoted to discovering an alternative to Israel's continuing existence.
Lustick is almost as anti-American as he is anti-Israel. He may be best known for his expressions of regret that America did not lose more soldiers in the campaign to topple the Taliban in Afghanistan. Denying that terrorism is a valid concept, he deconstructs the term by claiming that activities can be classified as "terrorist" if they encompass any violent "actions and threats" by governmental militaries and even tax collectors, as well as insurgents."
Lustick describes America's relationship to Israel as "like [that of] a friend to a drug addict." He denounces the United States as a "neo-imperialist" power. Helikes to rant against "hegemonists," by which he means mainly the US, the West, and Israel. He frequently speaks about nefarious cabals – his word – notably those "of neocon warriors driving this juggernaut" He insists that President Bush and not al-Qaeda was the true cause of world terrorism. He has campaigned staunchly against America's war against terrorism and expressed his hostility in his book Trapped in the War on Terror.
Denouncing America's military efforts in "The Nation," Lustick wrote:
'This is a supply-side war. There is very little demand for the war, and nothing in the way of a compelling necessity for it. But the enormous supply of political capital flowing toward the President after 9/11 combines with the overweening preponderance of US military power on a global level to make the production of war in Iraq not a trivial affair but one that can be embraced with relatively little thought and almost no need to appeal to a readiness to sacrifice."
Meanwhile, Lustick engages in equally tortured apologetics for Hamas, which he claims "is mainly popular because one of the things it is trusted to do is probably be ready to live with Israel, even if not officially, for a very long time."
Why is there no peace in the Middle East? Here is the Lustick answer, according to a Campus Watch report of a University of Pennsylvania event: "Lustick expressed grave doubts about a resolution to the conflict, and said that insisting on a 'Jewish state' and not a 'predominantly Jewish polity' in the Middle East is one barrier to any solution." A Jewish state is the obstacle; a Palestinian state is the solution.
When it came to Afghanistan, Lustick yearned for a longer war and was concerned only to discredit the so-called "cabal." Said Lustick: "What I wanted was a war, a Goldilocks war, not too fast and not too slow, but we didn't get it. We got one that was too fast and it gave the whip end to the cabal." This cabal, Lustick contended, comprised "neo-conservative warriors" who aspired to nothing less than "American-military-enforced new order in the Middle East with pretensions and fantasies of democratization of the region of an American rule, domination of the oil wealth there, establishment of large, semi-permanent military bases in the heart of the region and the elimination of all pressures on Israel to withdraw from the West Bank and Gaza."
A few years back Lustick was in the news for what has become known as the Gil-White Affair. Francisco Gil-White was fired by Penn at the initiative of Lustick and claims that this was because of the fact that Lustick disapproved of the pro-Israel opinions and activism of Gil-White, who alleges that Lustick's motivation for this opposition was Gil-White's research into the historical origins of Arab terrorism.
Such research is, for Lustick, illegitimate. Norman Finkelstein's pro-terror political opinions are another matter altogether.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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