Monthly Archives: March 2003

Racism Rising

[This article was published in the Columbia Spectator on March 31, 2003]

Racism Rising

The war in Iraq has awakened a racism thought to be long-gone from this earth–a form of hatred and blame that has existed for generations now grips our very own. This specter of racism paradoxically finds fertile ground in those who claim tolerance, from the halls of our government to the hallows of our University. This disease was called the mundaneness of evil in the past. This disease set the world aflame only half a century ago.
Conspiracy theories have become commonplace, and people are leveling charges that would be damned were they about any other group. These claims of plots for world domination have had one effect, regardless of their intent: the isolation and incrimination of an entire people.
Some have assumed that because some Jews support the war in Iraq, all Jews support the war. No one assumes African Americans are behind the war because Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell are for it–why does that change when the ethnicity in question numbers among it Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle and Douglas Feith? As M.J. Rosenberg of the Israel Policy Forum, a group formed to support Arab-Israeli negotiations, notes, “Jews have a millennia of experience disagreeing.” Some of our leaders think otherwise.
Anti-war Congressman James Moran (D-VA) charged “if it were not for the strong support of the Jewish community for this war with Iraq, we would not be doing this” on March 3. University Professor Edward Said wrote in mid-February in Al-Ahram that the administration “seem to me slaves of power perfectly embodied in the repetitive monotone of their collective spokesman Ari Fleischer (who I believe is also an Israeli citizen).” This statement, in addition to the five times that he implicates Jews and Israel as the reason for the war, is no more than a blatant lie in line with the White Aryan Resistance’s charges of the Zionist conspiracy. Ari Fleischer is certainly not Israeli, and his being Jewish should have nothing to do with his service to this country.
Former (and prospective) Democratic presidential candidate Gary Hart said “we must not let our role in the world be dictated by Americans who too often find it hard to distinguish their loyalties to their original homelands from their loyalties to America and its national interests,” as reported by the Jerusalem Post on March 24. On the public radio station WNYC, Brian Lehrer suggested during an interview with a New York City councilwoman that her and her colleagues’ being Jewish means they are pro-war and that they would put their loyalty to Israel over their duty to represent the people of New York City. He wouldn’t dare suggest Catholics would put their loyalty to the Vatican first, would he?
These ethnic-generalizers pay no attention to the fact that Israel has not put Iraq high on its threat list since 1981, and the fact that the war in Iraq will put Israel more in danger than it already is because of the threat of Iraqi missiles, proven to exist in 1991. These pundits are questioning the very existence of Jewish loyalty, singling them out as a foreign entity–as people whose allegiance is not to America but to their ethnic identity.
The effect is immediate: The Institute for Jewish and Community Research in San Francisco found that nearly one in four Americans agreed with a statement that “Jews are a threat to the moral character of the country.” These ideas have results: 56.5 percent of all hate crimes in the United States in 2002 were carried out against Jews, approximately two percent of the American population.
Ethnic-looking Jews have been attacked by anti-war protesters, many of whom have assumed the self-appointed role of Palestinian freedom fighters, preaching tolerance and peace for one people while raining terror down upon another. There are too many incidents to list, with brutal assaults in UCLA, Berkeley, and SUNY-Buffalo, among others. Only last Monday, a University of Michigan junior was beaten by a stranger at a bowling alley outside Ann Arbor for wearing a pro-Israel shirt.
Jewish students at this very University have become dejected by campus anti-war meetings after members of the organizations delivered passionate rants calling Israel a “Nazi, Racist State” while the audience kept quiet at best and applauded at worst.
It is beginning to smell like the fall of 1894, when the French scapegoated a Jewish officer named Alfred Dreyfus, saying he was, in the modern words of Pat Buchanan on Perle, “an agent of influence of a foreign power.” The citizens then chanted “Death to the Jews” as they reveled in their own progressiveness–in their Liberté, Fraternité, Egalité–minus, of course, any liberté, fraternité or egalité for the Jews. History has already shown us where that road leads.
We are not there yet, but we seem to be heading in that direction and must not allow history to repeat itself. We should remember that the greatest murderous racism has developed in those countries that had the most liberal history: ancient Persia, Spain, France, and Germany. We have to act fast: all those, especially those who are not Jewish and care about the sanctity of human life, need quickly provide the antidote of tolerance. As a community, we should at least hold one truth to be self-evident: No group, no matter its identity, should be targeted, no matter what.

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International Solidarity Movement Shows Its Colors

Earlier in this weblog I wrote about the death of the late Rachel Corrie from the International Solidarity Movement, and how she was very well aware of her choice to be where she was and do what she did.
A number of reports came out during the week, showing how the ISM blatently lied about the circumstances of the tragedy, and how the Associated Press played along.
Yesterday it turned out that the ISM not only fights in the propaganda war against Israel, it also protects senior terrorists, hiding them away in their own offices.
It turned out that two women with the group, one British and the other Canadian, tried to hide the man. The ISM spokesman, Tom Wallace, the same one who thought he had “an understanding” with the Israel Defense Forces, said the two group members were not aware of the man’s identity. Really?
But you will not find that information in the New York Times; no, the Times is more interested in reporting that a Palestinian Gunman Killed in the West Bank, no matter that, by most government standards, the person is a terrorist.
This blatant media bias is strengthening those extremest forces on both sides: Palestinians and their sympathizers feel justified in their actions for lack of international condemnation, and Israeli right-wingers use it as proof that the whole world is against Israel–and therefore Israel shouldn’t care what it says.
If we want peace we need truth first.

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Stalin’s Child

Pundits in the press have begun to wonder why the Iraqis are still fighting, and why they aren’t rising up in joy and tearing down the Ba’athist regime.
Seems to me that the answer is pretty apparent: Saddam is a student of Stalin, a loyal one at that, and has perfected the Stalinist tactics of pure fear.
Stalin, if I remember correctly, issued orders during the Soviet push into Germany that any soldiers seen retreating be shot on sight. To that effect he placed one unit behind each other, so that deserters would be seen and executed by their comrades to their back.
Iraqi POWs are making this very clear. In an article in the New York Times, a wounded Iraqi soldier told the paper that “The officers threatened to shoot us unless we fought…They took out their guns and pointed them and told us to fight.”
Also, why exactly should the Iraqis trust us this time around, when the last time a Bush told them to “rise up against the regime” in 1991, we stood back and allowed the Butcher of Baghdad to gun down the revolts from Helicopter gun-ships.
Kanan Makiya makes this very clear when he says “The United States needs to understand that Iraqis do not get CNN. They have not heard constant iterations of how Saddam’s demise is imminent. More importantly, they have not seen it demonstrated. American forces so far have been content to position themselves outside southern Iraqi cities; they have only just began to disrupt Iraqi TV, which is Saddam’s principal tool of maintaining psychological control over Iraq; and, above all, they have not allowed Iraqis to go in and organize the population, a task which we are very eager to carry out.”
As he says, “Do not believe any commentator who says that a rising surge of “nationalism” is preventing Iraqis from greeting U.S. and British troops in the streets with open arms. What is preventing them from rising up and taking over the streets of their cities is confusion about American intentions and fear of the murderous brown-shirt thugs known as the Fedayeen Saddam, who are leading the small-arms-fire attacks on American and British soldiers.”
We are going to have to be patient. The entire Iraqi people have been traumatized: the recovery will take time.

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A Little Semantics

Just a quick note–the actions being carried out by the United States and the United Kingdom in Iraq should really be called the “War for Iraq,” as opposed to the most-often used the “War with Iraq” or the “War in Iraq.”
The reason is straightforward: since the stated goal of the action is to remove the Iraqi leadership and effectively capture control of Iraq, for whatever short time will turn out, the battle is really over who will rule Iraq, as opposed to the clash suggested by the “War in” and “War with” wordings.

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The Rebellion Has Begun

A number of media outlets have begun to report on the uprisings building throughout Iraq, especially in newly-targeted Basra. The New York Times has a good piece on it, although I chose a report from the Al-Iraq list, which I posted in full on the News section of my site.
One part of the report truly struck me, and I think it is important to keep in mind, and to pressure our governments to keep in mind:
“The leader of the biggest Iraqi opposition group said Iraqis would fight any US domination after Saddam Hussein is toppled. Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim, leader of the Tehran-based Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, said: ‘Coalition forces are welcome in Iraq as long as they help the Iraqi people get rid of Saddam’s dictatorship, but Iraqis will resist if they (coalition forces) seek to occupy or colonize our country.'”
Although I readily admit that the Shiia leadership does not speak for all Iraqis, I think this is the major issue that should be taken up now that the War is well on its way by the liberal left.

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Bravo, Maestro

[This post was also published in the Columbia section of my weblog, which I will add to with shorter asides on the going-ons at Columbia University. As with the News section, until all of the pieces are worked out, I will publish selected posts on this page too. Thank you for your patience.]

Bravo, Maestro

John Corigliano, the famous composer who rocked Columbia University’s John Jay Awards Dinner last month has responded to the Middle East Asian Languages and Culture’s Chair, Hamid Dabashi’s, defaming letter in the Spectator published opposite my own column on Middle East Certitude.
In his letter to the editor, the great composer–who says that he did not even know of Rabbi Sheer until Dabashi shouted conspiracy–takes it easy on the MEALAC Chair, who is known for his short-fuse and hyper-sensitivity. The end, though, is the kicker:
“Dabashi’s responses to critics of his actions (including the same Rabbi Sheer) speak more to his outrage at being criticized at all than to any substantial refutation of his critics. I find something distinctly antithetical to the principles of free speech–in fact, something anti-intellectual–in Dabashi’s calls for the silencing of his critics, and something both histrionic and bullying in his comparison in Spectator of the most serious and reasoned critiques of his beliefs and behavior with “a campaign of terror and disinformation reminiscent of the Spanish Inquisition.” (Such a quote only reveals a striking ignorance of history, a troubling matter for a professor in his field.)
Students deserve real self-discipline from their professors. I miss evidence of this quality in the illiberalism, sloppy research, and near-hysterical tone of these statements Dabashi has written for publication. It’s deeply disturbing to me that–at this time, of all times–such a person chairs the department of Middle Eastern and Asian Languages and Cultures at Columbia.
I do hope the administration has the courage–for it will take a lot of courage–to stand up to demagoguery of this nature. Columbia has done so in the past, and, if it is still the institution I remember, I expect it will do so in the future.”
Bravo. Encore.

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Chemical Weapons Plant Captured in Iraq

[This post was also published on the News section of my weblog, which I will add to daily with shorter asides on the news. Until all the pieces are in place, though, I will publish selected posts on this page too. Thank you for your patience.]

Chemical Weapons Plant Captured in Iraq

In times of trouble I find it best to look at the world media. Although I agree in theory that American has one of the freest media in the world, the media follows a much stricter code of reporting, sometime resulting in a significant time-lag between the knowledge of an event and it’s reporting. No matter that, back to the focus:
A report uncovered by the Jerusalem Post comes to remind us what this war is in-part about:
“Caroline Glick’s exclusive on the US 3rd Infantry’s discovery of a “huge” chemical weapons factory in Iraq led Sky TV and Israel Radio’s news early Monday morning. Sky also broadcasted a report on the origins of what it called “this extraordinary story”.
Although my hunch is that this story is accurate, it is only fair to note that the New York Times reminds us “officials cautioned it was premature to conclude any forbidden weapons had been located.”
So, let’s get this straight: Sadaam does have Weapons of Mass Destruction, he does oppress his people who very much want freedom, and, in recognition of the activity of Answar al-Islam and the leadership of the Palestine Liberation Army in Baghdad, he does have links to terrorists. Maybe that’s why the American people are unfazed by the anti-War protests.

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