March 01, 2005

Eroding Credibility Watch

Juan Cole:

Al-Jazeerah is reporting that the Lebanese Opposition is now calling for the big demonstrations at Martyrs' Square to continue until all Syrian troops leave Lebanese soil.

You wonder what would happen if the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza tried the same thing re: Ariel Sharon's military occupation that they face. They'd be crushed by the jackboot (with convenient allegations that they were a front for terrorism).

Hey Juan, didya ever hear of a little place called Hama?

Posted by Gregory at March 1, 2005 02:27 AM | TrackBack (45)
Comments

Well Juan also seems to think that al-Hassan was captured in Beirut rather than in Hasakah like all the media are reporting.

Also, leave it to Juan to leave the implication open that Israel would behave worse than any Arab government ...

Posted by: Dan Darling at March 1, 2005 02:36 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

He really needs to knock that stuff off. The word "jackboot" is pretty offensive.

Posted by: praktike at March 1, 2005 02:58 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I tend to agree. IMO, I think that Greg articulated Cole's problem pretty eloquently after the Iraqi elections: whatever expertise the guy may have gets utterly and completely swamped by his monomaniacal hatred of the administration and/or Israel. It's unfortunate, because it completely nullifies him as a reliable source of information on any other topic he wants to address.

Posted by: Dan Darling at March 1, 2005 03:10 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Actually, if the Palestinians could stick to massive peaceful demonstrations they would get a lot farther than by bombing. The Israeli electorate would roll over in a heartbeat for a real chance at peace.

Posted by: John Thacker at March 1, 2005 03:28 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Exactly, John. If the Palestinians would emulate the tactics of Martin Luther King, Jr. American opinion would back them 100%. Blowing themselves up in Pizza parlors has hurt them far more than the Israelis. It's too bad that Islam has no tradition of peaceful civil dis-obedience.

Think about that...it is Islam that prevents the Palestinians pursuing a path that requires peaceful measures to be successful.

Posted by: Chris at March 1, 2005 03:44 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Dan,

I respectfully disagree. Given that Cole has been consistently wrong due to his inability to see anything outside of his "Hate Bush and the Israeli Jews" glass snowball, and has consequently reaffirmed his uselessness as a source of anything remotely useful, I prefer he continue his raging Rallian rants so that we don't forget, ever, to discount him when he invariably weighs in again.

Posted by: Tim at March 1, 2005 04:02 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I don't think it's Islam holding the Palestinians back. It's pure, but stupid, politics. The politicians want to continue the old patron/client power relationships they used to have (with them being "patron", of course). As a consequence, they continually mis-read reality. And with very little real knowledge of the west, they don't know how to speak to that audience.

While I'm lobbing blame, I've a good-sized basket full for the French, whether it was "revolutionary politics" or semiotics; colonialism or post-colonial analysis. JP Satre is still a bigger hero in the Middle East than he is anywhere in the West, including France.

Posted by: John Burgess at March 1, 2005 04:03 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Tim:

Believe me, I'm extremely sympathetic to your POV on this one and completely agree that Cole's Gollum-esque hatred and obsession with respect the Bush administration or Israel hurts his analysis and just about anything else he wants to comment on. About the only thing I'd recommend him for is his knowledge of Shi'ite and Baha'i theology, which is where you'd be far better off simply to read his books rather than the ravings of the man himself. His failure to acknowledge that he periodically goes off his meds (such as this most recent example) only serves to further marginalize his views.

Posted by: Dan Darling at March 1, 2005 04:08 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"Think about that...it is Islam that prevents the Palestinians pursuing a path that requires peaceful measures to be successful."

Hmmm.

Wonder why there have been so many secular leftist Palestinian terrorist groups, then?

Posted by: praktike at March 1, 2005 04:14 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Many of them made up of Christian Marxists, IIRC.

George Habash, for example, is hardly a fellow traveler of someone like Khalid Meshaal.

Posted by: Dan Darling at March 1, 2005 04:32 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I had to look it up.

http://www.shrc.org/english/99reports/18021999.htm

It has a feel of the thing you know is probably true, but had never bothered to learn before. This is what regimes like do.

Posted by: TallDave at March 1, 2005 04:51 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

like this*

Posted by: TallDave at March 1, 2005 04:51 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

We must continue to wonder along with good doctor, since so far peaceful protests have proved to be distinctly unpopular among the residents of West Bank.

Posted by: Dar at March 1, 2005 05:27 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Thanks for the link TallDave. I had forgotten the reference. In fact the last time I heard Hama mentioned was ten or more years ago in Tom Friedman's book "From Beirut to Jerusalem."

While I don't agree with his every political statement, at least I can admire Friedman for his expertise in the area of Mid-East relations and lately he's been wrighting in the NYT that there "just might be something to this Bush doctrine after all." Cole's resume is no less impressive, but he keeps making such an A** of himself with hysterical rants and unsubstantiated accusations that it casts doubt on his scholarship.

Hell, I speak arabic, just like Juan. I read the arabic newspapers, just like Juan. But where he sees conspiracy and doom/gloom.. I see an opportunity for real peace in the region. Who's right? I guess we'll have to see.

Posted by: Kadnine at March 1, 2005 05:37 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Juan Cole is now challenged to give a single example of a peaceful Palestinian demonstration which resulted in an Israeli massacre. Not two, or three. Just one. Ever.

While Israel's hands aren't bloodless, there has never been a massacre of nonviolent protestors by Israeli forces. Ever. There have been "Boston Massacre" level incidents, where some were killed after low-level violence -- but that sort of thing even happens at WTO meetings in European cities.

The big reason, of course, is that the Palestinians have never done nonviolent protests, beyond some spontaneous ones at funerals. This is because it has been the policy of every organized Palestinian group to destroy Israel, and everybody knows that the Israelis will not abandon Tel Aviv merely because Palestinian protestors gather in Gaza. It is, in fact, still the goal of the PLO, as marked in its charter, and as reflected in a 2004 denunciation of the two-state solution by the PLO itself in the New York Times.

Of course, Juan Cole, who can read Arabic, knows or should know that there is not a single Palestinian organization that advocates a two-state solution. So, is he just a pathetically ignorant and incompetent professor of Middle East studies, or a lying douchebag?

The Occupied Territories are occupied for a simple reason; Land for Peace may be a worthwhile goal, but Land for More War is too stupid for even Israelis to buy it.

Posted by: Warmongering Lunatic at March 1, 2005 05:55 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Juan's spoken Arabic doesn't appear to be that good. Even on NPR he had to admit that. I just love listening to him on NPR, though. He always manages to sound as if he's in Ramadhi or some small town in Iraq when actually he's just up the road in Ann Arbor and has apparently not be in Iraq at least since the war if at all.

He may know theology, but so far his experience and knowledge in politics and policy appears to be nil or less.

Posted by: JorgXMcKie at March 1, 2005 05:57 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

And, Warmongering Lunatic, why can't he be both. It's not like a professor's job is that busy. I'm sure he could make both work.

Posted by: JorgXMcKie at March 1, 2005 05:59 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

What is amusing is that Juan Cole, the supposed "expert" in the Middle East has already forgotten that the Palestinians did have their first "Intifada" which while not "non-violent" was limited in the weapons used.

And it achieved a lot - sparking the momentum that began Oslo. Then the Palestinians were saddled with the PLO being dumped on them by Oslo and the violence escalated.

But Juan Cole forgets this because it doesn't fit his anti-semitic fantasies.

Posted by: Robin Roberts at March 1, 2005 06:20 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Lee Harris answers the question of "why don't the Palestinians try non- violence?"

http://techcentralstation.com/022805A.html

In short, they are not trying to achieve the objective of an independent state. They are trying to destroy Israel. They can't, so they've enshrined the struggle as its own purpose. They aren't fighting for a seperate state, and we've been pretending that they are.

Maybe they are finally giving up.

Commentary at my blog

liberalempire.blogspot.com

Posted by: John Lynch at March 1, 2005 09:55 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Cole's assertion betrays a fundamental distrust of nonviolent protest as a viable tactic for achieving political goals. He's basically saying "Nonviolence would not work for the Palestinians." Does he even realize this? (I don't read him enough to know.) But it is usually an article of faith on the left that nonviolent protest is a noble AND useful tactic, so it's always a little jarring to me when they go on to repudiate it.

Posted by: Browning at March 1, 2005 11:51 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Browning:

Nonviolent protest only works when the target of the protest is civilized enough to respond lawfully to the grievances (legit or imagined) of the protesters.

Perhaps it's a measure of his anti-semitism that Cole thinks so little of Israelis that he thinks them too uncivilized to be swayed by nonviolent protests.

Posted by: Otis Wildflower at March 1, 2005 01:01 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

> Perhaps it's a measure of his anti-semitism that Cole thinks so little of Israelis that he thinks them too uncivilized to be swayed by nonviolent protests.

I think his use of the term "jackboot" pretty much confirms that analysis.

I think there are plenty of people, inside Israel and out, who could support the Palestinian cause if the Palestinians were a lot more like Gandhi and King but will never support them as long as they are blowing up pizza parlors.

Posted by: kcom at March 1, 2005 02:53 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

IMHO, Cole is simply a bigot -- an anti-Bush, anti-semitic, & anti-American bigot.

He and his expertise are highly overrated and are accurately described in an old arab proverb:

"An ass bearing a load of books remains an ass."

Or by an old American proverb:

"He knows 'everything' and understands nothing."
.

Posted by: Tom Paine at March 1, 2005 03:25 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

John Burgess:

"I don't think it's Islam holding the Palestinians back. It's pure, but stupid, politics."

and praktike:

"Wonder why there have been so many secular leftist Palestinian terrorist groups, then?"

Islam is also a political system guys--and yes, a stupid one.

Posted by: b at March 1, 2005 04:35 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

b, let's try this again.

There are and have been many CHRISTIAN Palestinian terrorists.

CHRISTIAN.

As in, believing that Jesus Christ was of virgin born, was the son of God an died for our sins and so forth.

In other words, not Islamic.

Posted by: praktike at March 1, 2005 05:14 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

b - yes Islam is (among other things) a theoretical political system. But like many others I could name, its adherents are all over the map on what it means and how to implement it.

I think the Lee Harris explanation linked to previously has the better explanation: Pali terrorism continues because the terror leaders would lose power otherwise. Contrast this with some of his other examples where the terrorists moved on to other things (including democratically based power) and you can see the validity of his viewpoint.

Posted by: Oscar at March 1, 2005 05:36 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

praktike,

Please list some of these Christian groups. If they exist, I've missed it, and I'd like to rectify that.

Even if they do exist, it can't be denied that the primary forces of Palistinian terrorism ARE Islamic - just listen to the rhetoric. Quoting the Koran on killing Jews, etc, etc. Islamic Jihad. Hamas. Etc. If there are Christian groups, they are certainly not major players, that's for sure.

Posted by: Deoxy at March 1, 2005 06:37 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Good job in these comments in exposing Juan Cole for the hatemonger he is. Knew he was left-wing and anti-Israel, but had not realized he was off in bigot-land! And yes that phrase "jackboot" is an unforgivable slur.
A really Good news story in the Guardian about how the family of Friday's sucide bomber in Tel Aviv has been shunned. Link to at http://www.guardian.co.uk/israel/Story/0,2764,1427528,00.html
Also another story showing a turning of the tide in Iraq where demonstrators protested today at the site of Monday's sucide bombing that killed 125 people. Link to at http://www.phillyburbs.com/pb-dyn/articlePrint.cfm?id=457073

PS: Warmongering Lunatic, you would not happen to be same person who posts over at HeadHeeb at Rabid Lukidnik would you? If not you two should get together. It might be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Posted by: David All at March 1, 2005 11:42 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I think perhaps praktike has a point when he mentions that "Palestinians" are not a monolithic block of Jew-hating Islamic extremists. At times in this comment string, that distinction seems to have been lost. Just as Dr. Cole has lost his perspective on the Israelis.

Personally, I prescribe to the theories espoused by John and Oscar above. Radical Islam is a tool employed to keep the elite in power. And it's a tool that is beginning to fail when held up against the popular will of the people, expressed through open elections. Thus we see protests in the streets of Hillah following the car bombing and a shunning of the Palestinian suicide bomber's family.

Posted by: Tim F. at March 2, 2005 09:45 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Deoxy, did you read the thread?

Here's a hint.

Posted by: praktike at March 2, 2005 06:05 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Praktike,

I take the hint or took it, or something. I am always impatient with the idea that a people can be said to have views that are congruent with what the extremists or leaders of said group have. Rarely do we know what people feel on any range of issues by what we read here, see in polls or what experts and rulers claim. Often people are far more pragmatic than their leadership allows us to see. Therefore I am more optimistic about what the people of the Middle East, including the Palestinians, really want than many.

It should be noted that by more optimistic I am only saying relatively. I am very concerned about what the real prospects for peace actually are. Still, like you, I am wary of attempts to claim Islam itself is the issue. Similarly I am wary of attempts attribute to, a la Cole, the Jewish body politic as a whole the role of the Nazi party to the Palestinians hapless Poles.

Posted by: Lance at March 2, 2005 07:31 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I recall reading somewhere (I think it was an interview with Bruce Hoffman, the terrorism expert at RAND) that he first act of organized "modern" Palestinian Arab terrorism against Israel was a 1968 hijacking of an El Al airliner carried out by a group of Orthodox Christian Palestinians, who before the "operation" received the blessing of an Orthodox priest. George Habash is (was?) of Orthodox Christian origins, but became a Marxist as a young man in medical school.

That said, I think one might still reasonably maintain that even the "Christian" or secular-leftist extremists among the Palestinians may channel some of the tone of intransigence, bellicosity, and "never give wanting to destroy your enemies" militancy that has been a potent influence in Islamic history and Muslim-dominated cultures (and with the exodus from the region of so many Christian Palestinians over the last several decades and the fading of purely secular versions of Arab nationalism, the Muslim influence within Palestinian society has arguably only become stronger in recent years).

To wax a bit more general, I think one could argue that in some ways the Palestinians are a small-scale example of a Muslim-dominated culture that is (to paraphrase Hillaire Belloc) caught in an unstable situation of being physically paralyzed yet seething internally with puzzled and wounded pride (why are Muslims, whose religions tells them they are God's favored winners, losing to infidels?), anger, resentment, self-righteousness, and rage.

Does this mean that Israel is always beyond criticism and that the Palestinians have no legitimate grievances? I don't think so, but I do think one needs to be honest about where a lot of Palestinians' heads are at, and realize that Israel is dealing with a large number of people (and often they are the most violently intense) who don't just want to go their own way in a separate, peaceful Palestinian state, but in fact want to destroy Israel, and would in heartbeat if they ever got the chance.

Posted by: PJC at March 5, 2005 10:40 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
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