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SOURCE: Juan Cole at his blog, Informed Comment (5-9-06)
Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran
c/o H.E. Javad Zarif
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations
We write to you on behalf of the Committee on Academic Freedom of the Middle East Studies Association of North America (MESA) and the Committee on Academic and Intellectual Freedom of the International Society for Iranian Studies (ISIS) to protest in the strongest possible terms the recent arrest of Dr. Ramin Jahanbegloo, a prominent Iranian intellectual and political theorist. We urge you to use your good offices to deter mine the circumstances of his detention and to secure his immediate release.
The Middle East Studies Association of North America and the International Society for Iranian Studies are the preeminent international organizations in their respective fields. MESA, founded in 1966, and ISIS, founded in 1967, were established to promote scholarship and teaching on Iran, the Middle East, and North Africa. MESA publishes the International Journal of Middle East Studies and has more than 2600 members worldwide; ISIS publishes the international journal of Iranian Studies and has more than 500 members worldwide. Both organizations are committed to ensuring academic freedom, the free exchange of ideas, and freedom of expression in all its forms, both within Iran and the Middle East and in connection with the study of Iran and the Middle East in North America and elsewhere.
According to information we have received Dr. Jahanbegloo was arrested at Tehran’s Mehrabad air port in late April. Officials from your government have stated that Dr. Jahanbegloo is currently undergoing “interrogations” and that he is suspected of crimes related to “security and spying”. Despite these statements, as of this date no official charges have been filed against Dr. Jahanbegloo. Officials have stated that charges against Dr. Jahanbegloo will only be filed after his interrogation. Given these facts we are concerned that officials of your government are in the process of coercing confessions from Dr. Jahanbegloo. We also have reason to believe that he has been allowed only limited access to his family, and as far as we know he has not had any access to legal counsel.
Dr. Jahanbegloo is a highly respected scholar and academic who is currently the head of the department of Contemporary Studies at Tehran’s Cultural Research Bureau, an important institution in your country that has gained international recognition for its impo rtant scholarly work in the area of Iranian history, culture, and politics. Dr. Jahanbegloo’s work as part of the Cultural Research Bureau has contributed to the high regard in which it is held by scholars both inside and outside of Iran. He has also studied and taught at major universities in Europe and North America, including the Sorbonne, Harvard University, and the University of Toronto. In his role as a public intellectual Dr. Jahanbegloo has also consistently advocated for the US and Europe to adopt a less confrontational approach in dealing with Iran. His published work includes over twenty books in Persian, French, and English on topics relating to European and Iranian intellectual history and political philosophy. Dr. Jahanbegloo’s writing reflects a thoughtful consideration of Iran’s encounter with modernity and the difficult and complex process by which modern Iranian intellectuals have soug ht to define universal values such as democracy and human rights in terms that are organic to Iranian tradition. Given the arbitrary and unusual nature of Dr.
Jahanbegloo’s detention, we are compelled to conclude that his arrest is connected to his scholarly and intellectual pursuits.
We also feel compelled to remind you, Your Excellency, that the rights of individuals to freedom of thought, opinion, and speech are explicitly protected under the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran (Article 23), as well as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Articles 18, 19, 21), to which the Islamic Republic of Iran is also a state party. The arbitrary arrest of Dr. Jahanbegloo does further harm to the reputation of Iran as a country where scholarly research and inquiry are highly valued. Dr. Jahanbegloo’s arrest and detention can only be conceived as a direct attack on the principles of academic freedom and critical intellectual inquiry .
Your Excellency, we trust that you will appreciate the seriousness of this matter and will take the appropriate measures. We urge you to secure his immediate release.
Juan R.I. Cole
SOURCE: AHA Perspectives (May 2006) (5-1-06)
Among the ongoing programs is the congressional seminar series, designed to provide a historical perspective on current issues especially for the benefit of members of Congress and their staffs. The latest of these was held on March 13, 2006, and was devoted to a discussion on the theme, “Revisiting Race and Reconstruction.” The seminar, held at the Senate Russell Building in Washington D.C., was attended by an overflow audience and featured John Hope Franklin, the James B. Duke Professor Emeritus at Duke University, and Eric Foner, the Dewitt Clinton Professor of History at Columbia University. Foner, author of several books on Reconstruction, pointed out that the federal government as we know it today was shaped by the Civil War and Reconstruction, which both imposed new burdens on the government. Franklin took a longer view, arguing the significance of the contradictions in the earliest institutions of the federal government. Both Foner and Franklin responded to many questions from the audience following their presentations, referring to the lasting impact of the events and developments of the 1860s on race relations in America today. Lonnie Bunch, director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, moderated the seminar....
SOURCE: AHA Perspectives (May 2006) (5-1-06)
In March, Robert Townsend, AHA assistant director for publications and research, asked Ian Tyrrell (by e-mail) about some of the issues raised in and by his book.
Q: I think many Perspectives readers would agree that they fought the culture wars and lost. Why study the prehistory of those events?
The profession certainly faced powerful pressures in the 1990s against the kinds of multicultural history that had become fashionable among academics. In this sense historians were politically marginalized. But the profession, it seems to me, sets high standards for its influence and is disappointed when politicians ignorant or deliberately contemptuous of the nuances of academic debates blunder in. These standards are rarely measured against the practice of history in other times or in other countries.
The prehistory of the 1990s debate therefore provides perspective. In my opinion, historians are too quick to assume that their public influence has been in decline in recent years whereas at some distant and better time they shaped public perceptions of history. One point was to show how exaggerated this common impression is, and to show both the strengths and the weaknesses of the forms of professional engagement that have occurred in the past. Another was to examine closely the process of historical practice, as I call it, to see the different ways in which historians shaped and were influenced by audiences. Though historians in the past have given attention to professional practice, they have generally focused either on intellectual trends in historiography, or examined the work of prominent historians. I wanted to cast a wider net, and sought to root the activity of historians in its social and institutional setting. I hoped thereby to demonstrate the variety of responses among professional historians to their social roles, and to show the diversity of historical practice.
I was also concerned about attacks on the professional practice of history, coming both from within and outside the academy. I wanted to demonstrate that professional practice was not inimical to wider public engagement, but in some circumstances and under certain traditions of history making, could be made more compatible with public representations of history. I hoped in part to give historians confidence that tendencies towards specialization and professionalism were not the key problems, but rather the way practitioners of history in the academy related to the changing nature of historical audiences. I wanted to show that historians had modified their practice before and that, learning by example, this could be done again. Indeed, they might well recognize traditions that still influence them today....
SOURCE: Jesse Lemisch, in an email circulating on the Internet (5-6-06)
Below is a statement from the Campaign for Peace and Democracy, which I have signed, opposing both theocratic repression in Iran and US aggression there. I think this intelligent statement can play a very positive role in shaping public discussion on this increasingly urgent situation. Historians among the initial signers include: Ros Baxandall, Eileen Boris, Martin Duberman, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz. Rusti Eisenberg, Linda Gordon, Adam Hochschild, Nelson Lichtenstein, and Howard Zinn.
This statement will be widely distributed and published. I hope you will sign (at www.cpdweb.org) and forward this to others -- both individuals and lists -- who might be interested
As the Administration escalates its threats against Iran, we are writing to invite you to sign the Campaign for Peace and Democracy statement "Iran: Neither U.S. Aggression Nor Theocratic Repression-A call for a new, democratic U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East." The text is below. If you would like to add your name or donate to publicize the statement, please go to our website www.cpdweb.org
Initial signers include the following: Initial signers include the following: Tom Ammiano, Stanley Aronowitz, Ronald Aronson, Rosalyn Baxandall, Medea Benjamin, John Berendt, Eileen Boris, Noam Chomsky, Joshua Cohen, Martin B. Duberman, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Rusti Eisenberg, Carlos R. Espinosa, Gertrude Ezorsky, Samuel Farber, Barry Finger, Barbara Garson, Linda Gordon, Larry Gross, Mina Hamilton, Thomas Harrison, Michael Hirsch, Adam Hochschild, Nancy Holmstrom, Doug Ireland, Joy Kallio, Larry Kramer, Joanne Landy, Jesse Lemisch, John Leonard, Sue Leonard, Rabbi Michael Lerner, Nelson Lichtenstein, Norman MacAfee, Marvin and Betty Mandell, Selma Marks, David McReynolds, David Oakford, Grace Paley, Frances Fox Piven, Len Rodberg, Nancy Romer, Peter Rothberg, Matthew Rothschild, John Scagliotti, Jennifer Scarlott, Jay Schaffner, Sydney Schanberg, Paul Schindler, Stephen Shalom, Wallace Shawn, Kenneth Sherrill, Micah L. Sifry, Meredith Tax, Steve Wasserman, Lois Weiner, Naomi Weisstein, Cornel West, Edmund White, Reginald Wilson, Kenton Worcester, Julia Wrigley, and Howard Zinn.
Signers’ names and affiliations (for identification only) will be listed on the Campaign for Peace and Democracy website. CPD's previous statements, including "We Oppose Both Saddam Hussein and The War Against Iraq: A call for a new, democratic U.S. foreign policy,” have appeared in The New York Times, The Nation, and The Progressive, as well as on many websites and listserves in this country and abroad. Your tax deductible donation will enable us to publicize this declaration of opposition to war and repression in these dangerous times.
In peace and solidarity,
Joanne Landy, Thomas Harrison, and Jennifer Scarlott
Co-Directors, Campaign for Peace and Democracy
Please go to the CPD website to sign, and forward this message widely.
NEITHER U.S. AGGRESSION NOR THEOCRATIC REPRESSION
A call for a new, democratic U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East
Just as it did before its invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration is manufacturing a climate of fear in order to prepare public opinion for another act of aggression this time against Iran. Three years ago it was the specter of Saddam Hussein’s alleged weapons of mass destruction; today it’s the Iranian nuclear bomb. Washington’s immediate goal is to get the U.N. Security Council to impose sanctions on Iran and, in all probability, to justify a military attack on Tehran’s nuclear facilities -- a job that may be outsourced to Israel. The White House even insists on keeping the catastrophic “nuclear option” on the table -- that is, using tactical nuclear weapons to strike Iranian nuclear facilities, many of which are located in or near civilian population centers. Although a full-scale invasion of Iran is highly unlikely at the moment, there can be little doubt that the neoconservatives in the Bush administration have a grand strategy that includes, eventually, “regime change” in Tehran as a way of further enlarging U.S. imperial power.
We strongly oppose the U.S. occupation of Iraq: it has brought appalling suffering to the Iraqi people with fatalities in the tens of thousands, descent into civil war and the strengthening of the most authoritarian elements in Iraqi society -- as well as more than 2,000 U.S. soldiers dead and thousands more wounded. Likewise, the U.S. government’s attempts to bully Iran are succeeding mainly in terrorizing the Iranian people and weakening internal opposition to the mullahs. The Bush administration’s claim that it is promoting democracy in these two countries is the grossest hypocrisy; its only interest is power and control of oil resources. We, on the other hand, care very much about the ability of the Iraqi and Iranian people to control their own societies, about civil liberties and the rights of women, gays, workers, and ethnic minorities there. That is why we raise our voices against the current threats to Iran and call for immediate withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Iraq.
We too would like to see a regime change in Tehran, but one brought about by the Iranian people themselves, not by Washington. For 26 years Iran has been ruled by a repressive theocracy. Behind the formal trappings of democracy, real power is held by an un-elected oligarchy of clerics; all electoral candidates must receive their approval, and their authority is enforced by gangs of religious thugs. President Ahmadinejad is a Holocaust denier who has called for the elimination of Israel.
Iranian women lack some of the most basic human rights. They cannot dress, work, travel or choose spouses freely. “Honor killing” is legal, and women are hanged or stoned to death for “unchaste behavior.” Apart from Saudi Arabia, there are few if any countries in the world where women are as severely repressed by law as in Iran.
Workers who try to strike or form independent trade unions are violently suppressed. Hundreds of thousands of workers have not been paid for months and in some cases for years. Any attempt to organize is attacked by club- and knife-wielding mercenaries, security forces and the military.
As in many countries, homosexuality is outlawed, but Tehran has gone further than most by making sex between men punishable by death and unleashing a vicious pogrom against Iranian gays, many of whom have been tortured, beaten, and publicly executed. The government is carrying on a massive campaign of entrapment through the Internet; victims are subjected to constant surveillance, loss of employment, arrest, and violent blackmail that forces them to reveal the names of other homosexuals. Torture is used to make gay people confess to crimes they never committed. The basiji, a parapolice recruited from the criminal classes and the unemployed young, kidnap gay people, who are sequestered and tortured until they name names. Gays on the government's lists are forbidden to leave the country. And now Iran has exported its violent anti-gay crusade to Iraq.
In recent years there has been growing resistance within Iranian society, particularly from workers fighting privatization and unemployment and young people chafing against social and political repression. This resistance holds the promise of bringing grassroots democratic change to Iran. The threat of military action or broader and harsher sanctions from outside -- and especially the horrifying menace of nuclear strikes -- only serve to rally people around the regime and to give it another excuse to clamp down on dissent, inhibiting a potentially revolutionary process and strengthening the right-wing clerics. U.S. threats help the regime to justify its quest for nuclear weapons to the Iranian people.
As for the Iranian nuclear threat, Tehran’s assurances that it only wants to develop peaceful nuclear energy are not credible. Iran is probably still several years away from being able to produce nuclear weapons. If Tehran acquires the bomb, it is unlikely that the ayatollahs, who hold decisive power, would use it since it would be suicidal to do so. Israel alone has between 200 and 300 nuclear warheads capable of striking Iran, and this is not counting the thousands of warheads the U.S. can launch at Iran. Nevertheless, there is no guarantee that Iran, or any other state armed with nuclear weapons, won’t use them or make them available to others. As long as these barbaric weapons exist, they can be used, and the more countries that possess them the more likely it is over time that they will be used.
We therefore strongly oppose Tehran’s efforts to acquire nuclear weapons. But as long as a handful of nations arrogate to themselves the exclusive right to possess nuclear weapons, the have-nots will always be able to point to the threat posed by the nuclear powers and will constantly seek to acquire such weapons for themselves -- as North Korea has already done, withdrawing from the Non-Proliferation Treaty regime. Likewise, Iran, which has been menaced by the U.S. for more than two decades and was a charter member of Bush’s “axis of evil,” may opt out of the NPT.
An end to Washington’s belligerence is a crucial step in preventing Tehran from joining the nuclear “club.” Beyond that, the only way to stop proliferation is for those countries that have nuclear weapons to begin disarming -- something the Bush administration and previous administrations of both parties have refused to do, despite the fact that the U.S. is a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty which commits it to “pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament.” At the same time the nuclear powers must work toward nuclear-free zones around the world, but especially in the Middle East, a particularly volatile and dangerous region.
We call for a new democratic U.S. foreign policy that would deal with the threat posed to all of us by terrorist networks, and by weapons of mass destruction, and promote real democracy in the Middle East and elsewhere, by:
• Renouncing the use of military intervention to extend and consolidate U.S. imperial power, and withdrawing U.S. troops and bases from the Middle East.
• Ending U.S. support for authoritarian and corrupt regimes, e.g. Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states and Egypt.
• Opposing all forms of terrorism worldwide by Al Qaeda, Iraqi death squads, and Palestinian suicide bombers, and by U.S.-backed forces like the Colombian paramilitaries and the Israeli military in the Occupied Territories -- as well as the brutality and humiliation inflicted on Iraqis every day by U.S. occupation forces and Washington’s ominous threats against Iran.
• Supporting the right of national self-determination for all peoples in the Middle East, including the Kurds, Palestinians and Israeli Jews. Ending support for Israeli occupation of the West Bank and oppression of the Palestinian people.
• Taking unilateral steps toward renouncing weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons, and vigorously promoting international disarmament treaties, instead of obstructing even minimal efforts to end the arms race.
• Abandoning the effort to impose, through the IMF/World Bank or unilaterally, neoliberal economic policies of privatization and austerity that bring mass misery to people in large parts of the world. Initiating a major foreign aid program directed at popular rather than corporate needs.
The majority of people in this country now believe that the invasion of Iraq was disastrously wrong and that they were systematically lied to by the Bush Administration about the reasons for going to war, and they are wary of new U.S. military intervention in the Middle East. At the same time, the administration’s scare tactics are generating popular support for aerial attacks on Iran. It is therefore imperative to speak out now against Washington’s threats, to educate public opinion, and to build organized opposition to aggression against Iran, as well as support for immediate, complete withdrawal from Iraq. It is time to demand a new democratic U.S. foreign policy that genuinely expresses solidarity with the aspirations of people for liberty everywhere, renounces once and for all imperial intervention, and is committed to real disarmament.
SOURCE: John Mearsheimer & Stephen Walt in the London Review of Books (5-11-06)
One of the most prominent charges against us is that we see the lobby as a well-organised Jewish conspiracy. Jeffrey Herf and Andrei Markovits, for example, begin by noting that ‘accusations of powerful Jews behind the scenes are part of the most dangerous traditions of modern anti-semitism’ (Letters, 6 April). It is a tradition we deplore and that we explicitly rejected in our article. Instead, we described the lobby as a loose coalition of individuals and organisations without a central headquarters. It includes gentiles as well as Jews, and many Jewish-Americans do not endorse its positions on some or all issues. Most important, the Israel lobby is not a secret, clandestine cabal; on the contrary, it is openly engaged in interest-group politics and there is nothing conspiratorial or illicit about its behaviour. Thus, we can easily believe that Daniel Pipes has never ‘taken orders’ from the lobby, because the Leninist caricature of the lobby depicted in his letter is one that we clearly dismissed. Readers will also note that Pipes does not deny that his organisation, Campus Watch, was created in order to monitor what academics say, write and teach, so as to discourage them from engaging in open discourse about the Middle East.
Several writers chide us for making mono-causal arguments, accusing us of saying that Israel alone is responsible for anti-Americanism in the Arab and Islamic world (as one letter puts it, anti-Americanism ‘would exist if Israel was not there’) or suggesting that the lobby bears sole responsibility for the Bush administration’s decision to invade Iraq. But that is not what we said. We emphasised that US support for Israeli policy in the Occupied Territories is a powerful source of anti-Americanism, the conclusion reached in several scholarly studies and US government commissions (including the 9/11 Commission). But we also pointed out that support for Israel is hardly the only reason America’s standing in the Middle East is so low. Similarly, we clearly stated that Osama bin Laden had other grievances against the United States besides the Palestinian issue, but as the 9/11 Commission documents, this matter was a major concern for him. We also explicitly stated that the lobby, by itself, could not convince either the Clinton or the Bush administration to invade Iraq. Nevertheless, there is abundant evidence that the neo-conservatives and other groups within the lobby played a central role in making the case for war.
At least two of the letters complain that we ‘catalogue Israel’s moral flaws’, while paying little attention to the shortcomings of other states. We focused on Israeli behaviour, not because we have any animus towards Israel, but because the United States gives it such high levels of material and diplomatic support. Our aim was to determine whether Israel merits this special treatment either because it is a unique strategic asset or because it behaves better than other countries do. We argued that neither argument is convincing: Israel’s strategic value has declined since the end of the Cold War and Israel does not behave significantly better than most other states.
Herf and Markovits interpret us to be saying that Israel’s ‘continued survival’ should be of little concern to the United States. We made no such argument. In fact, we emphasised that there is a powerful moral case for Israel’s existence, and we firmly believe that the United States should take action to ensure its survival if it were in danger. Our criticism was directed at Israeli policy and America’s special relationship with Israel, not Israel’s existence.
Another recurring theme in the letters is that the lobby ultimately matters little because Israel’s ‘values command genuine support among the American public’. Thus, Herf and Markovits maintain that there is substantial support for Israel in military and diplomatic circles within the United States. We agree that there is strong public support for Israel in America, in part because it is seen as compatible with America’s Judaeo-Christian culture. But we believe this popularity is substantially due to the lobby’s success at portraying Israel in a favourable light and effectively limiting public awareness and discussion of Israel’s less savoury actions. Diplomats and military officers are also affected by this distorted public discourse, but many of them can see through the rhetoric. They keep silent, however, because they fear that groups like AIPAC will damage their careers if they speak out. The fact is that if there were no AIPAC, Americans would have a more critical view of Israel and US policy in the Middle East would look different.
On a related point, Michael Szanto contrasts the US-Israeli relationship with the American military commitments to Western Europe, Japan and South Korea, to show that the United States has given substantial support to other states besides Israel (6 April). He does not mention, however, that these other relationships did not depend on strong domestic lobbies. The reason is simple: these countries did not need a lobby because close ties with each of them were in America’s strategic interest. By contrast, as Israel has become a strategic burden for the US, its American backers have had to work even harder to preserve the ‘special relationship’.
Other critics contend that we overstate the lobby’s power because we overlook countervailing forces, such as ‘paleo-conservatives, Arab and Islamic advocacy groups . . . and the diplomatic establishment’. Such countervailing forces do exist, but they are no match – either alone or in combination – for the lobby. There are Arab-American political groups, for example, but they are weak, divided, and wield far less influence than AIPAC and other organisations that present a strong, consistent message from the lobby.
Probably the most popular argument made about a countervailing force is Herf and Markovits’s claim that the centrepiece of US Middle East policy is oil, not Israel. There is no question that access to that region’s oil is a vital US strategic interest. Washington is also deeply committed to supporting Israel. Thus, the relevant question is, how does each of those interests affect US policy? We maintain that US policy in the Middle East is driven primarily by the commitment to Israel, not oil interests. If the oil companies or the oil-producing countries were driving policy, Washington would be tempted to favour the Palestinians instead of Israel. Moreover, the United States would almost certainly not have gone to war against Iraq in March 2003, and the Bush administration would not be threatening to use military force against Iran. Although many claim that the Iraq war was all about oil, there is hardly any evidence to support that supposition, and much evidence of the lobby’s influence. Oil is clearly an important concern for US policymakers, but with the exception of episodes like the 1973 Opec oil embargo, the US commitment to Israel has yet to threaten access to oil. It does, however, contribute to America’s terrorism problem, complicates its efforts to halt nuclear proliferation, and helped get the United States involved in wars like Iraq.
Regrettably, some of our critics have tried to smear us by linking us with overt racists, thereby suggesting that we are racists or anti-semites ourselves. Michael Taylor, for example, notes that our article has been ‘hailed’ by Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke (6 April). Alan Dershowitz implies that some of our material was taken from neo-Nazi websites and other hate literature (20 April). We have no control over who likes or dislikes our article, but we regret that Duke used it to promote his racist agenda, which we utterly reject. Furthermore, nothing in our piece is drawn from racist sources of any kind, and Dershowitz offers no evidence to support this false claim. We provided a fully documented version of the paper so that readers could see for themselves that we used reputable sources.
Finally, a few critics claim that some of our facts, references or quotations are mistaken. For example, Dershowitz challenges our claim that Israel was ‘explicitly founded as a Jewish state and citizenship is based on the principle of blood kinship’. Israel was founded as a Jewish state (a fact Dershowitz does not challenge), and our reference to citizenship was obviously to Israel’s Jewish citizens, whose identity is ordinarily based on ancestry. We stated that Israel has a sizeable number of non-Jewish citizens (primarily Arabs), and our main point was that many of them are relegated to a second-class status in a predominantly Jewish society.
We also referred to Golda Meir’s famous statement that ‘there is no such thing as a Palestinian,’ and Jeremy Schreiber reads us as saying that Meir was denying the existence of those people rather than simply denying Palestinian nationhood (20 April). There is no disagreement here; we agree with Schreiber’s interpretation and we quoted Meir in a discussion of Israel’s prolonged effort ‘to deny the Palestinians’ national ambitions’.
Dershowitz challenges our claim that the Israelis did not offer the Palestinians a contiguous state at Camp David in July 2000. As support, he cites a statement by former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak and the memoirs of former US negotiator Dennis Ross. There are a number of competing accounts of what happened at Camp David, however, and many of them agree with our claim. Moreover, Barak himself acknowledges that ‘the Palestinians were promised a continuous piece of sovereign territory except for a razor-thin Israeli wedge running from Jerusalem . . . to the Jordan River.’ This wedge, which would bisect the West Bank, was essential to Israel’s plan to retain control of the Jordan River Valley for another six to twenty years. Finally, and contrary to Dershowitz’s claim, there was no ‘second map’ or map of a ‘final proposal at Camp David’. Indeed, it is explicitly stated in a note beside the map published in Ross’s memoirs that ‘no map was presented during the final rounds at Camp David.’ Given all this, it is not surprising that Barak’s foreign minister, Shlomo Ben-Ami, who was a key participant at Camp David, later admitted: ‘If I were a Palestinian I would have rejected Camp David as well.’
Dershowitz also claims that we quote David Ben-Gurion ‘out of context’ and thus misrepresented his views on the need to use force to build a Jewish state in all of Palestine. Dershowitz is wrong. As a number of Israeli historians have shown, Ben-Gurion made numerous statements about the need to use force (or the threat of overwhelming force) to create a Jewish state in all of Palestine. In October 1937, for example, he wrote to his son Amos that the future Jewish state would have an ‘outstanding army . . . so I am certain that we won’t be constrained from settling in the rest of the country, either by mutual agreement and understanding with our Arab neighbours, or by some other way’ (emphasis added). Furthermore, common sense says that there was no other way to achieve that goal, because the Palestinians were hardly likely to give up their homeland voluntarily. Ben-Gurion was a consummate strategist and he understood that it would be unwise for the Zionists to talk openly about the need for ‘brutal compulsion’. We quote a memorandum Ben-Gurion wrote prior to the Extraordinary Zionist Conference at the Biltmore Hotel in New York in May 1942. He wrote that ‘it is impossible to imagine general evacuation’ of the Arab population of Palestine ‘without compulsion, and brutal compulsion’. Dershowitz claims that Ben-Gurion’s subsequent statement – ‘we should in no way make it part of our programme’ – shows that he opposed the transfer of the Arab population and the ‘brutal compulsion’ it would entail. But Ben-Gurion was not rejecting this policy: he was simply noting that the Zionists should not openly proclaim it. Indeed, he said that they should not ‘discourage other people, British or American, who favour transfer from advocating this course, but we should in no way make it part of our programme’.
We close with a final comment about the controversy surrounding our article. Although we are not surprised by the hostility directed at us, we are still disappointed that more attention has not been paid to the substance of the piece. The fact remains that the United States is in deep trouble in the Middle East, and it will not be able to develop effective policies if it is impossible to have a civilised discussion about the role of Israel in American foreign policy.
SOURCE: D.M. Giangreco at AmericanThinker.com (5-8-06)
Newman, whose own works such as Owen Lattimore and the Loss of China and the recent Enola Gay and Court of History have received critical acclaim, states that Hasegawa has succeeded in posing as
“the only student of the Pacific War to incorporate documents from U.S., Soviet, and Japanese sources,”
and maintains that “Hasegawa is not only highly selective, he distorts and misrepresents consistently” throughout the work which puts “all the participants in the Pacific War on the same moral plane.”
Hasegawa’s response largely lays out a string of non sequiturs to counter Newman’s charges, lists the eminent historians who graced his dust jacket with their praise, and bemoans the lack of civility directed toward him. “I do not have any ideological axe to grind” maintains Hasegawa, and he points out that “If I am critical of Truman, I am equally critical of Stalin.” This prompted one quizzical reader to respond
”[It is] interesting that Hasegawa believes that his positing a moral equivalence between Truman and Stalin proves that he has no ‘ideological axe to grind’.”
Perhaps the most curious aspect of Hasewawa’s response, though, is that he manages to say literally nothing at all about the stinging assessment of his Racing the Enemy by the namesake of the Ferrell Book Prize, Robert H. Ferrell, in his own new book, Harry S. Truman and the Cold War Revisionists. While other fine Truman historians like David McCullough or Alonzo Hamby are better known to the public at large, Ferrell is almost uniformly regarded within the academy as the premier Truman scholar. Over the past 30 years, Ferrell has authored, co-authored or edited innumerable books and articles on Truman, his contemporaries and the times in which they lived, including the best seller Dear Bess.
After decades pouring over Truman’s papers, Ferrell has absorbed more of his words and thoughts than any living American. The man knows Truman preeminently, and Hasegawa’s glaring omission of Ferrell’s analysis—- while simply characterizing criticism of his book as being generated by ideologues “not happy with the fact that my book received SHAFR’s Robert Ferrell award”—- seems to be made in the hope that if he does not mention Ferrell, what Ferrell wrote might just slip by with little notice.
On pages 114-115 of his book, Ferrell acknowledges that
“The literature in English regarding the effect of Soviet entry upon [Japan’s World War II] surrender is slight”
and adds that Hasegawa maintains the surrender came “because of the shock of the Russian entry.” After examining Hasegawa’s material closely, however, he gently suggested that “Hasegawa may have speculated in this regard.”
Ferrell goes on to say:
“The Hasegawa book seems an unfortunate contribution in another way, for it places the responsibility for use of nuclear weapons evenly on Japan, Russia, and the United States. The author ignores the behavior of the Japanese Army in its conquests beginning with the Sino-Japanese War in 1937, in which the death toll of prisoners and civilians alike ran into the millions; the United Nations figure is seventeen million, the Chinese thirty. For the Americans this meant the Bataan death march, among many other hostilities. In 1945, with the imminence of the attack on Kyushu, the vice minister of war sent out an order that when the first American landed on one of the home islands there should be the immediate execution, by any means, of all Allied prisoners held within the empire, whose numbers were estimated at one hundred thousand.”
Ferrell’s view is cited by Newman in his closing, but completely ignored by Hasegawa who seems to have decided that his interests are best served by not incriminating himself further.
SOURCE: Robert KC Johnson at HNN Blog, Cliopatria (5-3-06)
Many of Chafe’s current comments are common sense. He argues that based on the undisputed facts, the lacrosse team deserved “censure and disciplinary action”—which, of course, it received, in the form of a cancellation of the season, the forced resignation of the coach, and resumption of the program under restrictions, behavior-related penalties as draconian as virtually any in intercollegiate athletics over the past 15 years. Chafe urges Duke to adopt a stricter behavior code, to forbid things like students hiring strippers—a commendable idea, though probably one that’s not even needed at this stage. And he hopes for a university where alcohol plays a less significant role in students’ social lives, one “about celebrating the ‘playfulness’ and pleasure that infuse the process of debating intellectual and spiritual issues over extended lunches after class,” and “using some of our ‘party time’ to discuss the origins of the universe or existential ethics, even as we socialize at mixers.” I can’t imagine a single professor anywhere in the country would oppose this vision, and I hope Duke can achieve it. But I’m enough of a realist (and surely Chafe is as well) to know that progress along these lines will be fitful at best. Duke could make a healthy start by ensuring that all students live on-campus for all four years, as Chafe recommends, though I gather there are some practical limitations here revolving around space and town/gown tensions in the construction of new dorms.
Chafe’s article is most striking in what it fails to say. As, sadly, has become the pattern, Chafe apparently sees neither a professional nor a moral responsibility for Duke faculty to publicly demand that Durham authorities respect the due process rights of their own institution’s students. ...
Update, 5.15pm: Prof. Chafe emailed to note that, in the article, he specifically commented that "whether or not a sexual assault took place is something we will not know for months and is a task for the criminal-justice system to establish," and therefore it wouldn't have been appropriate for him to comment on such issues. As Cliopatria readers know, I disagree--first of all, because I don't see advocating for due process as taking a position one way or the other on the substance of the charges; and second, because Chafe's position essentially means that the "campus culture" initiative cannot explore the faculty's failure to call for duue process protections for Duke students, since the criminal case will be going on simultaneously to the campus culture initiative. By the way, the DA announced this afternoon that he doesn't expect the trial to occur until next spring--only raising further questions as to why he was in such a rush to secure an indictment.
SOURCE: Jamie Glazov at frontpagemag.com (5-5-06)
FP: Dr. Efraim Karsh, welcome to Frontpage Interview.
Karsh: Thank you Jamie.
FP: Tell us why you wrote this latest book on Islamic imperialism.
Karsh: Ira Gershwin wrote in July 1937, shortly after the death of his famous brother George, “The more I read the papers, the less I comprehend the world and all its capers, and how it all will end.” I had a similar feeling for quite some time, whenever reading scholarly and popular works on the Middle East and Islam, and this impression has been strongly reinforced after 9/11, when the attacks were widely portrayed as a response to America’s (allegedly) arrogant and self-serving foreign policy, particularly with respect to the Arab-Israeli conflict.
As someone who has studied the languages and history of the Middle East and Islam for decades, I knew that these views couldn’t be further from the truth and that the 9/11 attacks, and their underlying ideology, tap into a deep imperialist undercurrent that has characterized the political culture of Islam from the beginning. I also felt that, given the pervasiveness of this misconception, the nature of the foremost threat confronting the West at the beginning of the new millennium would remain largely misunderstood, and thought I should do my modest best to help set the record straight.
FP: The Left often likes to paint Muslim political ambitions as reactions to Western encroachments. What would your view be of this interpretation? What, for instance, was 9/11 about? The victims of American imperialism striking back?
Karsh: I am afraid that such perceptions have long transcended the traditional divide between left and right, representing as they do the received wisdom among many educated Westerners since the early twentieth century. In this view of things, Muslims, whether in the Middle East or elsewhere, are merely objects - the long-suffering victims of the aggressive encroachments of others. Lacking an internal, autonomous dynamic of their own, their history is rather a function of their unhappy interaction with the West. Some date this interaction back to the crusades. Others consider it a corollary of the steep rise in Western imperial power and expansionism during the long nineteenth century (1789-1923). All agree that Western imperialism bears the main responsibility for the endemic malaise plaguing the Middle East to date.
In Islamic Imperialism: A History, I challenge this mega-narrative by showing that Islamic history has been anything but reactive. From the Prophet Muhammad to the Ottomans, the story of Islam has been the story of the rise and fall of an often astonishing imperial aggressiveness and, no less important, of never quiescent imperial dreams. Even as these dreams have repeatedly frustrated any possibility for the peaceful social and political development of the Arab-Muslim world, they have given rise to no less repeated fantasies of revenge and restoration and to murderous efforts to transform fantasy into fact. These fantasies gained rapid momentum during the last phases of the Ottoman Empire, culminating in its disastrous decision to enter World War I on the losing side, as well as in the creation of an imperialist dream that would survive the Ottoman era to haunt Islamic and Middle Eastern politics to the present day.
This in turn means that if, today, America is reviled in the Muslim world, it is not because of its specific policies but because, as the preeminent world power, it blocks the final realization of this same age-old dream of a universal Islamic empire (or umma). In the historical imagination of many Muslims and Arabs, Osama bin Laden represents nothing short of the new incarnation of Saladin, defeater of the Crusaders and conqueror of Jerusalem. In this sense, the House of Islam’s war for world mastery is a traditional, indeed venerable, quest that is far from over.
FP: So the conflict we are in today, is it a clash of civilizations?
Karsh: No it is not, and one shouldn’t misconstrue a struggle for world domination for a civilizational clash – which has been a far rarer phenomenon than is generally recognized. For one thing, conflicts and wars among members of the same civilization have been far more common, and far more intense, than those between members of rival civilizations. For another, more often than not, empires across the civilizational divide have pragmatically cooperated with their counterparts.
Of course, throughout history all imperial powers and aspirants have professed some kind of universal ideology as both a justification of expansion and a means of ensuring the subservience of the conquered peoples: in the case of the Greeks and the Romans it was that of “civilization” vs. “barbarity,” in the case of the Mongols it was the conviction in their predestination to inherit the earth, in the case of the British it was the “white man’s burden.” For generations of Muslim leaders it has been Islam’s universal vision of conquest as epitomized in the Prophet’s summons to fight the unbelievers wherever they might be found.
A very good example of this is the fact that Muhammad never went out of his way to convert all of the Arabian tribes to Islam, preferring instead to use their booty as a substitute for the lost taxes from which the Muslims were exempted - this is imperialistic, pragmatic, not ideological. Likewise, the Arab conquerors, bursting from the Arabian Peninsula under the banner of Islam after the Prophet’s death, were far less interested in the mass conversion of the vanquished peoples than in colonizing their lands and expropriating their wealth, resources, and labor. Not until the second and the third Islamic centuries did the bulk of these populations embrace the religion of their latest imperial masters, and even this process emanated from below in an attempt to escape paying tribute and to remove social barriers, with the conquering ruling classes doing their utmost to slow it down.
Even during the age of the crusades, the supposed height of civilizational antagonism, all Christian and Muslim rulers freely collaborated across the religious divide, often finding themselves aligned with members of the rival religion against their co-religionists. The legendary Saladin himself spent far more time fighting Muslim rivals than the infidel crusaders; while he was busy eradicating the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem he was closely aligned with the Byzantine Empire, the foremost representative of Christendom’s claim to universalism.
So, I would rather refer to the millenarian confrontation between the worlds of Islam and Christianity as a “clash of imperialisms” rather than a “clash of civilizations.” But then, while the West had lost its imperialist ambitions by the mid-twentieth century (having lost its religious messianism centuries earlier), the fuel of Islamic imperialism remains as volatile as ever, and this ambition for world domination is the primary threat confronting the West today.
FP: What real distinction is there between Islam and Islamism? For instance, which Islamic sect or school of law does not teach the jihad imperative to subjugate all others under the Islamic social order, by force if necessary?
Karsh: It seems to me that this distinction is very much a misnomer. From its rise in the early seventh century to the abolition of the caliphate in 1924 by Mustafa Kemal (Atatürk), Islam constituted the linchpin of Middle Eastern politics, and the term Islamism, as I understand it, refers to the desire to restore this religious-political order.
This is an ambition that has a millennial warrant, both in doctrine and in fact, and is shared by far wider audiences than the individuals and groups that are actively engaged in its pursuit, as evidenced by the proliferation (in the face of persistent repression by the authorities) of numerous religious groups and organizations throughout the Middle East and the Islamic world. As a universal religion, Islam envisages a global political order in which all humankind will live under Muslim rule as either believers or subject communities and obliges all free, male, adult Muslims to carry out an uncompromising “struggle in the path of Allah,” or jihad.
This duty has nothing to do with “Islamism.” It was devised by Muhammad shortly after his migration to Medina in 622 C.E. as a means of enticing his local followers to raid Meccan caravans, and was developed and amplified with the expansion of the Prophet’s political ambitions until it became a rallying call for world domination. As he famously told his followers in his farewell address: “I was ordered to fight all men until they say ‘There is no god but Allah.’”
This goal need not necessarily be pursued by the sword; it can be achieved through demographic growth and steady conversion of the local populations by “an army of preachers and teachers who will present Islam in all languages and in all dialects.” But should peaceful means prove insufficient, physical force can readily be brought to bear. This is a vision by no means confined to “Islamists.”
This we saw in the overwhelming support for the 9/11 attacks throughout the Arab and Islamic worlds, in the admiring evocations of Osama bin Laden’s murderous acts during the crisis over the Danish cartoons, and in such recent findings as the poll indicating significant reservoirs of sympathy among Muslims in Britain for the “feelings and motives” of the suicide bombers who attacked London last July.
FP: If the Left hates imperialism so much, where is it moral indignation regarding Islamic imperialism?
Karsh: There is a pervasive guilt complex among left-wing intellectuals and politicians, which dates back to the early twentieth century and stems from the belief that the West “has been the arch aggressor of modern times,” to use the words of Arnold Toynbee, one of the more influential early exponents of this dogma. This has resulted in a highly politicized scholarship (especially under the pretentious title of “post-colonial studies”) which berates “Western imperialism” as the source of all evil and absolves the local actors of any blame or responsibility for their own problems. But this self-righteous approach is academically unsound and morally reprehensible. It is academically unsound because the facts tell an altogether different story of Islamic and Middle Eastern history, one that has consistently been suppressed because of its incongruity with the politically-correct dogmas. And it is morally reprehensible because denying the responsibility of individuals and societies for their actions is patronizing. It completely ignores regional players, and instead views them, in the words of Lawrence of Arabia, as “a limited, narrow-minded people, whose inert intellect lay fallow in incurious resignation.”
FP: Christianity and Islam are very different in terms of making distinctions between temporal and religious powers, no? And isn’t this rooted in the behavior of Jesus and Muhammad?
Karsh: It is true that Christianity’s universal vision is no less sweeping than that of Islam, yet the worlds of Christianity and Islam have developed differently in one fundamental respect. The Christian faith won over an existing empire in an extremely slow and painful process and its universalism was originally conceived in purely spiritual terms that made a clear distinction between God and Caesar. By the time it was embraced by the Byzantine emperors as a tool for buttressing their imperial claims, three centuries after its foundation, Christianity had in place a countervailing ecclesiastical institution with an abiding authority over the wills and actions of all believers. The birth of Islam, by contrast, was inextricably linked with the creation of a world empire and its universalism was inherently imperialist. It did not distinguish between temporal and religious powers, which were combined in the person of Muhammad, who derived his authority directly from Allah and acted at one and the same time as head of the state and head of the church.
Whereas Jesus spoke of the Kingdom of God, Muhammad used God’s name to build an earthly kingdom. Having fled from his hometown of Mecca to Medina in 622 C.E. to become a political and military leader rather than a private preacher, Muhammad spent the last ten years of his life fighting to unify Arabia under his rule. Had it not been for his sudden death, he probably would have expanded his reign well beyond the peninsula. Even so, within a decade of Muhammad’s death a vast Arab empire, stretching from Iran to Egypt and from Yemen to northern Syria, had come into being under the banner of Islam in one of the most remarkable examples of empire-building in world history. Long after the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the abolition of the caliphate in the wake of World War I, the link between religion, politics, and society remains very much alive in the Muslim and Arab worlds.
FP: Can you tell us a bit about Muslim anti-Semitism? It originates in Muhammad's massacre of the Medina Jews, no?
Karsh: It has long been a staple of anti-Israel propaganda that Arabs and Muslims have never had anything against Judaism or Jews but only against Zionism and Zionists. After all, did not Muslims treat their Jewish minorities far better than their European counterparts? Did not Arabs and Jews coexist harmoniously for centuries prior to the advent of the Zionist movement?
This idyllic picture is at odds with the historical record. True, persecution of Jews in the Islamic world never reached the scale of Christian Europe. But that did not spare them from centuries of legally institutionalized inferiority, humiliating social restrictions, and the sporadic rapacity of local officials and the Muslim population at large. In pre-Zionist Palestine itself, Arab peasants, revolting in the 1830s against a military conscription imposed by Egyptian authorities, took the occasion to ravage the Jewish communities of Safed and Jerusalem, and when Arab forces arrived from Egypt to quell the insurrection, they slaughtered the Jews of Hebron in turn. A century later, in June 1941, following an abortive pro-Nazi coup in Iraq, the Jews of Baghdad were subjected to a horrendous massacre in which hundreds perished. And so on and so forth.
The truth of the matter is that, for all their protestations to the contrary, Arabs and Muslims have never really distinguished among Zionists, Israelis, and Jews, and often use these terms interchangeably. Indeed, the fact that Arab and Muslim anti-Zionism has invariably reflected a hatred well beyond the “normal” level of hostility to be expected of a prolonged and bitter conflict would seem to suggest that, rather than being a response to Zionist activity, it is rather a manifestation of longstanding prejudice that has been brought out into the open by the vicissitudes of the Arab-Israel conflict.
Where does this prejudice come from? Though modern, ideological anti-Semitism is an invention of 19th-century Europe, the ease and rapidity with which the precepts of European anti-Semitism were assimilated by the Muslim world testify to the pre-existence of a deep anti-Jewish bigotry. This bigotry dates to Islam’s earliest days, and indeed to the Prophet Muhammad himself.
Upon migrating to Medina, Muhammad sought to woo the local Jewish population by emphasizing the similarity between his incipient religion and Judaism and adopting a number of religious Jewish practices and rituals. As these gestures failed to impress the Medina Jews, the embittered prophet turned against Medina’s three Jewish tribes with great ferocity - expelling two of them from the city and dividing their properties among the Muslims, while executing the third tribe’s six-to-eight hundred men and selling the women and children into slavery.
Reflecting Muhammad’s outrage over the rejection of his religious message by the contemporary Jewish community, both the Qur’an and later biographical traditions of the prophet abound with negative depictions of Jews. In these works they are portrayed as a deceitful, evil, and treacherous people who in their insatiable urge for domination would readily betray an ally and swindle a non-Jew; who tampered with the Holy Scriptures, spurned Allah’s divine message, and persecuted His messenger Muhammad just as they had done to previous prophets, including Jesus of Nazareth. For this perfidy, they will incur a string of retributions, both in the afterlife, when they will burn in hell, and here on earth where they have been justly condemned to an existence of wretchedness and humiliation.
Given the depth of this anti-Jewish bigotry, it is hardly surprising that some of the hoariest and most bizarre themes of European anti-Semitism, such the “blood libel,” that medieval fabrication according to which Jews use Gentile blood for religious ritual, or the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a virulent anti-Semitic tract fabricated by the Russian secret police at the turn of the 20th century, becoming household items on the Arab and Muslim mass media.
FP: What really lies behind the Arabs’ rejection of the Jewish state? For some reason I have a feeling it has very little to do with concern for the Palestinians.
Karsh: It is easier to unite people through a common hatred than through a shared loyalty, hence anti-Zionism has always been the core principle of pan-Arab solidarity. As early as 1945 the senior British official in Egypt was reporting back to London that the only thing holding the newly formed Arab League together was shared opposition to Zionism. However, you are correct to assume that the Arab states have never had any real stake in the “liberation of Palestine.”
Consider, for example, the pan-Arab invasion of the newly proclaimed state of Israel in 1948. This, on its face, was a shining demonstration of solidarity with the Palestinian people. But the invasion had far less to do with winning independence for the indigenous population than with the desire of the Arab regimes for territorial aggrandizement. Transjordan’s King Abdullah wanted to incorporate substantial parts of mandatory Palestine into the greater Syrian empire he coveted; Egypt wanted to prevent that eventuality by laying its hands on southern Palestine. Syria and Lebanon sought to annex the Galilee, while Iraq viewed the 1948 war as a stepping stone in its long-standing ambition to bring the entire Fertile Crescent under its rule. Had the Jewish state lost the war, its territory would not have fallen to the Palestinians but would have been divided among the invading Arab forces.
At a secret meeting in September 1947 between Zionist officials and Abdel Rahman Azzam, secretary-general of the Arab League, the latter warned the Jews of Arab efforts: “We succeeded in expelling the Crusaders, but lost Spain and Persia, and may lose Palestine.” In other words, he rejected a Jewish right to statehood not from concern for the national rights of the Palestinian Arabs but from the desire to fend off a perceived encroachment on the pan-Arab patrimony.
The eminent Arab-American historian Philip Hitti described the common Arab view to an Anglo-American commission of inquiry in 1946: “There is no such thing as Palestine in history, absolutely not.” A similar view was voiced by the Jerusalem newspaper al-Wahda (Unity), mouthpiece of the Arab Higher Committee, the effective “government” of the Palestinian Arabs, which in the summer of 1947 advocated the incorporation of Palestine (and Transjordan) into “Greater Syria.” So did Fawzi Qauqji, commander of the pan-Arab force that invaded Palestine in early 1948. He expressed the hope that the UN partition resolution of November 1947 “will oblige the Arab states to put aside their differences and will prepare the way for a greater Arab nation.”
During the decades following the 1948 war, the Arab states manipulated the Palestinian national cause to their own ends. Neither Egypt nor Jordan allowed Palestinian self-determination in the parts of Palestine they had occupied during the 1948 war (respectively, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip). Palestinian refugees were kept in squalid camps for decades as a means of whipping Israel and stirring pan-Arab sentiments. “The Palestinians are useful to the Arab states as they are,” Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser candidly responded to an inquiring Western reporter in 1956. “We will always see that they do not become too powerful.” As late as 1974, Syria’s Hafiz Assad referred to Palestine as being “not only a part of the Arab homeland but a basic part of southern Syria”; there is no evidence to suggest that he had changed his mind by the time of his death on June 10, 2000.
FP: Are Osama bin Laden and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi good Muslims?
Karsh: I don’t know how devout they are in private, but their vision of international affairs as a permanent “striving in the path of Allah” until the attainment of world domination is far more akin to that of the Prophet than Westerners tend to realize. It is not for nothing than bin Laden is widely lionized by Muslims and Arabs as the incarnation of a new Saladin.
FP: Will Europe may come under Islamic domination by the end of the twenty-first century?
Karsh: It really depends on whether Europeans will awake to reality and recognize the real nature of the threat confronting them. Thus far, this hasn’t happened, though some recent developments, such as last year’s French riots or the violence attending the Danish cartoons, have acted as (admittedly modest) wakeup calls.
Only last month Mu’ammar Qaddafi, the Libyan leader, predicted the imminent Islamization of Europe. “We have 50 million Muslims in Europe,” he stated in a public speech aired on al-Jazeera television. “There are signs that Allah will grant Islam victory in Europe - without swords, without guns, without conquests. The fifty million Muslims of Europe will turn it into a Muslim continent within a few decades.” “Allah mobilizes the Muslim nation of Turkey, and adds it to the European Union,” he went on. “That’s another 50 million Muslims. There will be 100 million Muslims in Europe.”
While this prediction will probably be dismissed by many as a delusional gloating of an eccentric leader, the truth of the matter is that to this day many Muslims and Arabs unabashedly pine for the reconquest of Spain and consider their 1492 expulsion from the country a grave historical injustice waiting to be undone. Indeed, as immigration and higher rates of childbirth have greatly increased the number of Muslims within Europe itself over the past several decades, countries that were never ruled by the caliphate have become targets of Muslim imperial ambition. Since the late 1980s, Islamists have looked upon the growing population of French Muslims as proof that France, too, has become a part of the House of Islam. In Britain, even the more moderate elements of the Muslim community are candid in setting out their aims. As the late Zaki Badawi, a doyen of interfaith dialogue in the UK, put it, “Islam is a universal religion. It aims to bring its message to all corners of the earth. It hopes that one day the whole of humanity will be one Muslim community.” To deny the pervasiveness and tenacity of this imperialist ambition is the height of folly, and to imagine that it can be appeased or deflected is to play into its hands.
FP: Dr. Efraim Karsh, thank you for joining Frontpage Interview.
Karsh: Thank you Jamie. It was a pleasure.
SOURCE: Martin Kramer at Sandbox (blog) (5-3-06)
But Khalidi, it turns out, has friends in Princeton's history department, and they began to push for his appointment there. People tell me that Jeremy Adelman, chair of the department, bulldozed Khalidi through the history faculty (against opposition), and a favorable recommendation has gone up to the so-called Committee of Three (the Faculty Advisory Committee on Appointments and Advancements). Its recommendation will go to the university president.
An odor arises from this procedure, on this account: the department didn't conduct a search. In very rare cases, involving candidates of immense distinction, university departments do recruit without searches. But Khalidi doesn't have such standing, and the proof has already been provided by Princeton itself, which passed him over for the Niehaus Chair.
So Khalidi's admirers in Princeton are already dropping the university to the abject level of Columbia, which brought him to the Edward Said Chair without a search. One suspects that these admirers know that if a search were conducted, Khalidi might not make the cut, and so they've chosen the back-door route.
Until now, I've always regarded Princeton as a more demanding setting than Columbia (and I'm an alumnus of both). Columbia has a culture of cutting corners and under-the-table dealing, in which friend recruits friend. This is why it exploded in scandal less than two years ago. Princeton's history department now seems to have been infected with the same virus. I urge the Committee of Three at Princeton to hold the line against this latest assault on the university's integrity. The way is simple: it should send Khalidi's file back, and insist on a publicly-announced search for the position.
SOURCE: Times Picayune (5-3-06)
Brinkley, who since Katrina has been outspoken in his criticism of Nagin in frequent appearances on national media outlets -- at one point calling his handling of the crisis "criminal" -- makes ample use of a historian's license to analyze and assign blame. He faults the government response to the killer storm from top to bottom in the article, which is excerpted from his 700-page book on Katrina to be released Tuesday.
For example, President Bush, by Brinkley's lights, put too much trust in ill-equipped federal appointees, particularly Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and then-FEMA Director Michael Brown. Bush also engaged in a pointless set-to with Gov. Kathleen Blanco over who would control federal troops in Louisiana, Brinkley alleges.
As for Blanco, Brinkley credits her with working hard and sleeping little, but suggests she was beyond her depth. He notes that in a phone call with the president the night of the storm, Blanco asked for "everything you've got," but didn't specify what she needed. And he quotes Brown, who has since resigned from FEMA, as saying Blanco "reminded me of an aunt I have whom I love to pieces. But I would never trust this aunt to run a state or be a mayor. . . . I just see Blanco as this really nice woman who is just way beyond her level of ability."
But Brinkley's harshest critiques are saved for Nagin, whom he paints variously as fastidious, frightened, irresponsible, out of touch and, at times, unstable. Notably, the named sources for several unflattering anecdotes include two of Nagin's opponents in the April 22 mayoral primary, Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu and Audubon Nature Institute chief Ron Forman, as well as Forman's wife, Sally, who served as Nagin's communications director until her husband declared his intention to run for mayor.
Nagin, who declined to comment on the specifics of what he labeled "political satire," pointedly questioned the timing of Brinkley's article and book, less than three weeks before the May 20 runoff.
"He was not there so he does not know what he is talking about," Nagin said. "Any real credible historian would not publish a book in the middle of a re-election campaign. This is nothing more than a political hit that will (have) zero impact on me."...
Click here for the Vanity Fair story.
SOURCE: Scotsman (5-3-06)
The author and academic said the medieval chapel in Midlothian was built by William Sinclair so that Mass could be said for the souls of his family.
She condemned those who believed it was at the centre of a conspiracy and said the chapel, looked after by the Rosslyn Chapel Trust, perpetuated a false image to cash in on the popularity of The Da Vinci Code.
Dr Yeoman said: "William Sinclair built this beautiful church for the saying and the hearing of Mass.
"He built it for his soul and the souls of his family, yet it has been taken over by a rabble of conspiracy theories, many of them anti-Catholic and absolutely ludicrous.
"The level of misunderstanding and ignorance you need to think this is some sort of pagan, occult conspiracy is huge.
"It is like a biologist being faced by people who think you could actually get all the animals on Noah's Ark.
"There needs to be some sort of proper interpretation telling people that this is a medieval Catholic church, and telling people more about Scottish medieval piety.
"If people want to stuff the bookshop full of that rubbish, then fine, but it should not seep into the official guides or interpretation."
Dr Yeoman said tourist guides and information boards within the chapel, seven miles south of Edinburgh, falsified its history.
She said: "I was in Rosslyn Chapel recently and the first thing I heard was a guide telling people nonsense about Robert the Bruce and the Knights Templar. I wanted to tell people, 'Sorry, I hope you have not paid money for this; that's awful'.
"What really upsets me is that they know the Knights Templar connection is false, yet they still perpetuate the myth on their interpretation boards."
Dr Yeoman said Historic Scotland had done a lot to safeguard the chapel by scheduling the site and land around it.
She called for the chapel to be preserved in its intended manner, as a place of piety.
Stewart Beattie, the project director for the Rosslyn Chapel Trust, said it was sometimes difficult to persuade tourists that the building was not exactly as Dan Brown depicted it.
He said: "Dan Brown has caused us a few problems, because the book mentions specifics which are not here.
"People come along and say we have put a carpet down to disguise a star of David on the floor, because the book says it is there and so it must be.
"On occasion we have actually had to lift the carpet to show it is not there."
SOURCE: NY Review of Books (5-11-06)
The following letter was sent to Michael Chertoff, US Secretary of Homeland Security, and Condoleezza Rice, US Secretary of State, on February 22, 2006.
Dear Secretary Chertoff and Secretary Rice:
We are writing on behalf of the Department of History and the Institute for Ethnic Studies at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln to express our dismay over the US government's refusal to issue a visa to Dr. Waskar Ari to allow him to accept the position of Assistant Professor. We offered Dr. Ari an appointment at the University of Nebraska one year ago on the strength of his unquestioned potential as an outstanding scholar and teacher in the field of Latin American history. Dr. Ari received his Ph.D. from Georgetown University with a promising publication record and several years of meritorious teaching experience in the US as a visiting assistant professor at Western Michigan University and a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Texas. After conducting a nationwide and indeed international search for the best candidate to research and teach Latin American history at the University of Nebraska, we judged Dr. Ari the most qualified applicant and voted to appoint him unanimously. Dr. Ari received several job offers at other American universities, and we are both appreciative and proud that he decided to accept an appointment at the University of Nebraska.
At the time of his appointment, we were —and we remain—deeply impressed with Dr. Ari's superlative academic record, his rigorous and ambitious research agenda, his palpable dedication to teaching and scholarship, and his sterling reputation as both a student and colleague among some of our most respected peers within our profession. In particular, we valued—and continue to value—the unique perspective on Latin American history and culture that Dr. Ari is able to articulate as a member of the Aymara indigenous people of Bolivia. For instance, Dr. Ari's cutting-edge research on the Bolivian indigenous intellectuals of the early to mid-twentieth century demonstrates a unique understanding of the processes at work in this region with deep and complex historical roots. Further, his exemplary appreciation of the religious beliefs, traditional culture, and political development of this indigenous Andean nation and the indigenous cultures of South America more generally informs our own research on the indigenous peoples of the Great Plains. Dr. Ari's superlative ability to analyze and communicate the complex interaction of race, nationality, gender, and class within the history of these regions makes him an invaluable addition to the faculty of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and indeed to American academic circles in general. Dr. Ari can contribute substantially to the kind of vibrant international community of scholarship that is essential to understanding the challenges our world confronts and preparing our students to encounter them with confidence.
In June, the University of Nebraska–Lincoln petitioned the US Citizenship and Immigration Services for the H-1B visa classification for Dr. Ari, submitted all necessary documentation, and paid the $1,000 fee for premium processing to allow him to enter the US and begin teaching in August 2005. When he returned to Bolivia during the summer, however, Dr. Ari discovered that not only had the adjudication of the visa petition been delayed without explanation but that the US Embassy in La Paz had been told by the Department of State to cancel all existing visas. We were and remain to this day mystified at the US government's refusal to grant a visa to a promising scholar of Dr. Ari's caliber, as well as to provide any explanation whatsoever for that decision. In the absence of any evidence that Dr. Ari poses a threat to American national security, the US government's continuing refusal to grant him a visa seems unjustified and indeed inexplicable.
The Department of History and the Institute for Ethnic Studies at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln join the American Historical Association in expressing intense concern over the plight of Dr. Ari, urging that the petition be granted without further delay, and if such appeal is not forthcoming to provide us with a clear and compelling explanation.
Kenneth J. Winkle
Chair, Department of History
University of Nebraska–Lincoln
Director, Institute for Ethnic Studies
University of Nebraska–Lincoln
SOURCE: Jill Lepore in the New Yorker (4-24-06)
Morison wrote more than fifty books and won two Pulitzer Prizes, but he is probably best remembered for his biography of Christopher Columbus, whose voyages he retraced, in 1939 and 1940, by yacht. When the resulting book was published, in 1942, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was so impressed that he agreed to allow Morison to join the Navy as what we might now call an “embedded historian”: for the remainder of the Second World War, Lieutenant Commander Morison fought the battles about which he later spent twenty years writing; the result, in fifteen dense, salt-sprayed volumes, was “The History of United States Naval Operations in World War II.” He left the Navy in 1951, a rear admiral.
Besides the sea, Morison wrote about two things especially well: Colonial New England and historical writing. In a 1931 essay called “Those Misunderstood Puritans,” he fought hard against the notion that “the fathers of New England” were “somber kill-joys.” Morison blamed this myth on the Victorians, who cast the Puritans as prudes in order that they might feel, by comparison, broad-minded. As Morison pointed out, with characteristic clarity, relying on the nineteenth century to understand the seventeenth is a rather grave chronological error. “The right approach to the Puritan founders of New England is historical, by way of the Middle Ages,” he explained. “They were, broadly speaking, the Englishmen who had accepted the Reformation without the Renaissance.”
Reading Morison, you can almost hear yourself agree with him, even when you don’t. That was Morison’s gift. Except that it wasn’t a gift. Morison cared about writing, evangelically, but he had to work hard at it, and he railed against members of his profession who were unwilling to exert the same effort. In a twenty-five-cent pamphlet, “History as a Literary Art: An Appeal to Young Historians,” printed in 1946, Morison complained, “American historians, in their eagerness to present facts and their laudable concern to tell the truth, have neglected the literary aspects of their craft. They have forgotten that there is an art of writing history.”
They had forgotten, that is, an American literary tradition begun by “the earliest colonial historians” and, above all, by William Bradford, the governor and first chronicler of the Plymouth plantation. In 1620, Bradford crossed what he called “the vast and furious ocean” on board the Mayflower, a hundred-and-eighty-ton, three-masted, square-rigged merchant vessel, its cramped berths filled with forty other religious dissenters who wanted to separate from the Church of England, and some sixty rather less pious passengers who were in search of nothing so much as adventure. Bradford called these “profane” passengers “Strangers,” but to modern sensibilities they can feel more familiar than, say, William Brewster, who brought along a son named Wrestling, short for “wrestling with God.”...
SOURCE: Central Daily (Pennsylvania) (5-2-06)
Lewis, an emeritus professor at Princeton University, was celebrating his 90th birthday on the same day of a conference organized by the council on Islam and the West.
During a brief luncheon speech, Cheney said he first met Lewis more than 15 years ago, when he was defense secretary under President George H.W. Bush, after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait.
Cheney praised Lewis for being "always objective, clearly candid and completely independent."
"You simply cannot find a greater authority on Middle Eastern history, classical Islamic civilization, the Ottoman Empire ... than this man," Cheney said.
SOURCE: Press Release -- John W. Kluge Center (5-2-06)
The event, which is sponsored by the Library's John W. Kluge Center, is free and open to the public; no reservations are required.
Remini's single-volume history traces the development of the House of Representatives from a struggling, nascent body to the venerable powerhouse it has become over the past two centuries. The history is told through the lens of America's first through 108th federal Congresses-from the House's origins in 1789 in a chamber in New York reserved for 65 male members drawn from the elite of the founding 13 states to today's heterogeneous body of 435 located in Washington. The struggle between principle and pragmatism is showcased through the many colorful personalities who have made the institution what it is today.
The House Awareness and Preservation Act of 1999 (P.L. 106-99) directed the Library of Congress to commission and oversee the first comprehensive narrative history of the U.S. House of Representatives for the general reader, under the oversight of the Committee on House Administration. Congress intended the book to foster an appreciation for the institution of the House, not only for the general public, but also for current and future members of the House. In response to the bipartisan passage of this legislation, Librarian of Congress James H. Billington appointed Robert V. Remini as Distinguished Visiting Scholar of American History in the Library's Kluge Center in order to research and write this book.
Professor of history and the humanities emeritus at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Remini received his bachelor's degree at Fordham University and master's and doctorate degrees at Columbia University. In addition to his three-volume biography of Andrew Jackson, he is the author of biographies of Henry Clay and Daniel Webster, as well as a dozen other books on Jacksonian America. On April 28, 2005, Remini was appointed historian of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Through a generous endowment from John W. Kluge, the Library established the Kluge Center in 2000. The center brings leading scholars together with key Washington policymakers to discuss important world issues, drawing on the Library's incomparable collections. For further information, visit www.loc.gov/kluge.
The award goes each year to the"author of the best, newly published work on the American Revolutionary period."
Previous winners include David Hackett Fischer and Joseph Ellis.
SOURCE: Richard Byrne in the Chronicle of Higher Education (5-1-06)
Until the 1980s, the scholars who worked on these writings formed a small circle in which almost everyone knew everyone else. Thanks in part to the success of a series of books written by the Princeton University professor of religion Elaine H. Pagels over the last 25 years, the circle of researchers delving into once-lost texts such as the Gospel of Mary and the Gospel of Phillip has widened considerably [thanks in considerable part to Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code]....
At a time when many in the humanities lament their disconnect with the public, growing interest in what scholars say about early Christianity is a notable exception.
Researchers are unanimous in insisting that such interest is welcome. "It really is a pedagogical moment," says Karen L. King, a professor of ecclesiastical history at Harvard Divinity School. "Gospel of Mary? Gospel of Thomas? Gospel of Phillip? What is that?" Questions that The Da Vinci Code raises about the New Testament and what was and was not included in it, she says, "can open up people's capacity to read the Bible fresh."
Ms. Pagels, one of the great popularizers of the Nag Hammadi texts, agrees. "I'm not a snob about how this material reaches a general audience," she says.
Indeed, Ms. Pagels's skill in weaving lost Christian texts back into the history of the religion has made her a highly visible expert on the varieties of early Christianity. And her books have created a template of sorts for scholars who seek to find a general audience for their scholarship.
Mr. Ehrman's 2003 book, Lost Christianities (Oxford), is a good example. It is a scholarly book that examines a wide variety of ancient texts that did not make it into the New Testament, with verve and accessibility to a general audience. (Oxford also published an accompanying volume, Lost Scriptures, with translations of the texts.)
"I've been grappling with ways to communicate this material to a general audience," says Mr. Ehrman, who has published three other books on early Christianity aimed at a popular audience in the past two years. "I think the best people to communicate with the general public are people doing genuine research."
Marvin W. Meyer, a professor of Bible and Christian studies at Chapman University, also writes books for general audiences about the rediscovered Coptic writings.
"We live in a brand new world when it comes to a popular audience's attention," says Mr. Meyer. "The good news is that the words are getting out there to the public as never before. ... When this is done in a responsible way, it is, in large part, a good thing. It's a lovely sort of thing."...
SOURCE: Inside Higher Ed (5-1-06)
But while MIT’s OpenCourseWare project has been lauded for sharing course materials freely in an effort to inform and educate the world, a controversy that exploded at the university last week suggests that the institution has a ways to go in educating and informing some of its own students about the purpose of history, scholarship and higher education.
Last Sunday, April 20, MIT featured the “Visualizing Cultures” course on the home page of its central Web site, and seemingly as a result of that increased attention, some of the wood-block images — particularly one entitled “Illustration of the Decapitation of Violent Chinese Soldiers,” which depicted just such a scene — circulated on the Internet, without the captions and other material explaining their meaning (and criticizing them as dangerous Japanese propaganda) that accompanied them on the MIT site.
Within a day, screeds criticizing the prints, Dower and Miyagawa, and MIT appeared on Chinese Web sites, and the university and the professors received e-mail messages (from people outside the institution, reportedly including some MIT alumni) that accused them of cultural insensitivity, called them racist, and urged their firing.
The Chinese Students and Scholars Association, a group made up mostly of MIT graduate students from mainland China, wrote a letter to President Susan Hockfield in which they reportedly asked the university post warnings that the images were graphic and racist. “We do understand the historical significance of these woodprints and respect the authors’ academic freedom to pursue this study,” they wrote. “However, we are appalled at the lack of accessible explanations and the proper historical context that ought to accompany these images.”...
Dower and Miyagawa were not available for comment. But in a statement posted on MIT’s Web site (to which all links to the original course site now point), the two scholars expressed their “deep regret over the emotional distress caused by some of the imagery” and said they were “genuinely sorry that the Web site has caused pain within the Chinese community. This was completely contrary to our intention. Our purpose is to look at history in the broadest possible manner and to try to learn from this.”
Of the images on the site, they said: “These historical images do not reflect our beliefs. To the contrary, our intent was to illuminate aspects of the human experience — including imperialism, racism, violence and war — that we must confront squarely if we are to create a better world.”
“Many people who have seen the Web site, however, have indicated that the purpose of the project is not sufficiently clear to counteract the negative messages contained in the historical images portrayed on the site,” they added. “We have temporarily taken down this Web site while these community concerns are being addressed.”...
Others at MIT and elsewhere had harsh words for the Chinese students who complained, and some said they were perplexed that MIT had responded by taking the site down.
George Wei, professor and chairman of the history department at Susquehanna University and president of Chinese Historians in the United States, an affiliate of the American Historical Association, said he was particularly distressed by the lack of understanding that the Chinese graduate students displayed about the role of history and the value of scholarly exploration.
“I don’t understand what’s going on in the minds of these Chinese students — they’re looking at things in a simplistic way,” said Wei. “In general, students from China, especially those who’ve been trained in technology and science, lack proper training in humanities and social sciences; and they don’t how to look at historical events, to see things in context.”
In his own courses, Wei said, he often posts images “without saying anything,” and asks students “to think about what’s behind the images without trying to influence them by my explanation first.” Images like the ones to which the students objected show that “the Japanese did some terrible things to the Chinese in the past,” he said. “We wish to remember this, not forget it.”
SOURCE: Fouad Ajami in the WSJ (5-1-06)
In the normal course of things, America is not a country given to excessive deference to historians and to the claims of history, for the past is truly a foreign country here. But the past quarter century was no normal time, and Mr. Lewis no typical historian. He knew and worked the archives, it is true; and he mastered the languages of "the East," standing at the peak of his academic guild. But there is more to him than that: He is, through and through, a man of public affairs. He saw the coming of a war, a great civilizational struggle, and was to show no timidity about the facts of this war. "I'll teach you differences," Kent says to Lear. And Mr. Lewis has been teaching us differences. He knew Islam's splendor and its periods of enlightenment; he had celebrated the "dignity and meaning" it gave to "drab impoverished lives." He would not hesitate, then, to look into--and to name--the darkness and the rage that have overcome so many of its adherents in recent times.
We anoint sages when we need them; at times we let them say, on our behalf, the sorts of things we know and intuit but don't say, the sorts of things we glimpse through the darkness but don't fully see. It was thus in the time of the great illusion, in the lost decade of the 1990s, when history had presumably "ended," that Bernard Lewis had come forth to tell us, in a seminal essay, "The Roots of Muslim Rage" (September 1990), that our luck had run out, that an old struggle between "Christendom" and Islam was gathering force. (Note the name given the Western world; it is vintage Lewis, this naming of worlds and drawing of borders--and differences.) It was the time of commerce and globalism; the "modernists" had the run of the decade, and a historian's dark premonitions about a thwarted civilization wishing to avenge the slights and wounds of centuries would not carry the day. Mr. Lewis was the voice of conservatives, a brooding pessimist, in the time of a sublime faith in things new and untried. It was he, in that 1990 article, who gave us the notion of a "clash of civilizations" that Samuel Huntington would popularize, with due attribution to Bernard Lewis. ...
It was vintage Lewis--reading the sources, in this case a marginal Arabic newspaper published out of London, Al-Quds Al-Arabi, in February of 1998--to come across a declaration of war on the United States by a self-designated holy warrior he had "never heard of," Osama bin Laden. In one of those essays that reveal the historian's eye for things that matter, "A License to Kill," Mr. Lewis would render into sublime English prose the declaration of bin Laden and would give it its exegesis. The historian might have never heard of bin Laden, but the terrorist from Arabia practically walks out of the pages of Mr. Lewis's own histories. Consider this passage from the Arabian plotter: "Since God laid down the Arabian Peninsula, created its desert, and surrounded it with seas, no calamity has ever befallen it like these crusader hosts that have spread in it like locusts, eating its fruits and destroying its verdure; and this at a time when the nations contend against Muslims like diners jostling around a bowl of food. . . . By God's leave, we call on every Muslim who believes in God and hopes for reward to obey God's command to kill the Americans and plunder their possessions whenever he finds them and whenever he can."...
SOURCE: Martin Kramer, at his blog, Sandbox (4-26-06)
One member of the search committee is Yale history professor Abbas Amanat, who also runs Yale's equivalent of a Middle East center. Amanat is a distinguished scholar, whose judgment normally would be important in such matters. However, he has had an extra-academic relationship to Cole, which may well constitute a conflict of interest between personal obligation and institutional responsibility.
The sum of it is that Amanat and Cole belonged to a small group of dissident Baha'is who left (or were eased out of) the organized "Faith" in the 1990s. In the bitter polemics surrounding this affair, Cole defended Amanat against charges that he had abandoned his belief. "He has never disavowed being a Baha'i," Cole attested of Amanat, "and has been an important mentor to younger Baha'i scholars in the Middle East studies field." Cole wrote that Amanat "has feelings about the Faith that prevent him from doing so [i.e., renouncing his belief], despite what he described to me as his 'liminality.'" Cole also composed a detailed apologia for Amanat, defending him against what Cole called the "Inquisition" of the Baha'i administration.
It is perhaps interesting to note that Amanat and Cole are also politically aligned. The Yale Daily News gave this account of an Iraq war "teach-in" held at Yale in January: "Cole said the decisions of the U.S. government upon entering the war were misguided. Abbas Amanat, a professor of history who concluded the event, reenforced the themes in Cole's speech." Amanat's views on Iran are likewise indistinguishable from Cole's. And immediately after 9/11, Amanat followed Cole in locating the "ultimate rallying point for the Arab and Muslim worlds" in U.S. policy toward Palestine.
Given all these personal and political intersections, one wonders whether this is yet another case of friend-brings-a-friend. Such a culture created the morass at Columbia, where Edward Said managed to assemble a small faculty of personal allies. It would be unfortunate were Yale to allow scholars with like allegiances, like interests, and like minds to nest in its Middle East programs.
posted Wednesday, 26 April 2006
SOURCE: Yale Daily News (4-18-06)
Cole writes about contemporary politics on his blog, "Informed Comment," and has drawn criticism from conservatives for his opposition to the war in Iraq. But Frances Rosenbluth, a member of the search committee for the professorship, said the committee considered only his scholarly writing -- not his blog or his political views -- when they named him a finalist for the slot, which is sponsored by the Yale Center for International and Area Studies.
Search committee chair Julia Adams and Rosenbluth both confirmed that Cole is a leading candidate in the search process, but Rosenbluth said he is not the only person being considered for the job. The committee was attracted to Cole because of the caliber of his scholarship, she said.
"He's a historian who's written very subtle and insightful history of the Middle East," Rosenbluth said.
Rosenbluth said that if Cole comes to Yale, he will likely have a joint appointment in history and sociology.
Modern Middle East studies has not been one of Yale's strengths historically, but administrators are currently considering the creation of a new major in the field. Although the major might be housed within the Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations Department, it would likely draw on faculty members from throughout the University, including YCIAS....
SOURCE: NYT (5-1-06)
Causes included cancer and heart and Alzheimer's diseases, Donald S. Frazier, president and chief executive officer of the Grady McWhiney Research Foundation, said.
"It's just a question of which one broke the tape," said Dr. Frazier, who shared with Dr. McWhiney, his former professor, a penchant for storytelling on porches, aged bourbon and endless analyses of the Civil War.
Dr. McWhiney (pronounced like "whinny") was also a respected judge of fiddling contests, but his major contribution was in putting forth the idea that Southerners descend from the wild Celtic tribes of Scotland, Ireland and Wales. He contrasted Celts and Southerners with the English and Yankees.
His "Cracker Culture: Celtic Ways in the Old South" (University of Alabama, 1988) most fully expressed his theory. He traced "cracker" to the Gaelic word craic — still used in Ireland and anglicized in spelling to "crack" — and said it meant "entertaining conversation." (Folk etymology had had it that cracker came from cracking or pounding corn, or using whips to drive cattle.) ...
Dr. McWhiney is seen by some as the godfather of what has come to be called the neo-Confederate movement, whose members urge the South to secede once more. The League of the South, which the Southern Poverty Law Center called a hate group, is headed by Michael Hill, a former student of Dr. McWhiney's, and is a very visible part of the movement.
In 1994, Dr. McWhiney helped found the league and was a director for a few years, but resigned, complaining that it had been taken over by "the dirty fingernail crowd," Dr. Frazier said....