Monthly Archives: April 2003

Further Proof of Racism

Further Proof of Racism Rising

Since two of my last columns dealt with the issue of the rising anti-Semitism, I find it important to reference an article published in Ha’aretz about the phenomena.
This is the clause that worries me the most, especially since such activity is taking place on college campuses:

According to Dr. Becker, “the rise of anti-Semitism in Western Europe comes in the disguise of freedom of expression. As far as I am concerned, this is the worst type of anti-Semitism. There seems to be an attempt by Europeans to shrug off responsibility for the Holocaust, by claiming that the Jews in Israel use the same tactics against the Arabs that the Nazis employed against the Jews. The rise is very worrying. We have reached a situation where even the publisher of ‘Der Spiegel’ compared [Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon to Hitler. I don’t think it would be right to speak in terms of a new Holocaust at this stage, but there is no doubt that Jewish communities are at war.”

It is time we realize that Academic freedom does not outweigh Academic integrity or responsibility.

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The Burning Flames

[ As published in the Columbia Spectator]

The Burning Flames

At the age of 71, Chaya Bornstein is a psychologically broken woman who, still mentally able enough to demand her independence, travels the Tel Aviv boardwalk in her old cocktail singer’s dress. She picks legal battles with the authorities as revenge on the world for what, she cries, it did to her half a century ago.
Chaya–my grandmother–was around the age of nine or 10 (she lost track of her age in the heat of the furnaces) when her small body found a way through the barbed wire window fencing of the packed cattle car filled with her family, which was on its way to the ovens of an extermination camp. She fell to the ground from the speeding train, mangled her ankle, and ran through a hail of bullets into the cold woods.
When my grandfather found her in hiding two years later, she was under the care of a religious Catholic who abused her to the point where she had forgotten her identity and people. My grandfather, an escapee from Treblinka and a freedom fighter with a story no less horrifying, still calls out the name of his baby sister at night from a kibbutz he built in Israel with his bare hands.
These snapshots are of but two of the lives broken in that terrible chapter of human history that will be remembered around the world on Tuesday, April 29–Holocaust Remembrance Day. An average copy of The New York Times contains 250,000 words; the names of the victims of the Holocaust would fill 48 full copies of the Times, and are only footnotes to the memoirs, biographies, hopes, and dreams of the victims, which would fill all of the libraries of Columbia University.
This was not the first instance of genocide. Many say that Hitler took heart from the fact that the world did nothing to stop the Young Turks in Armenia where, as R.J. Rummel of the Hellenic Resources Network reports, various Turkish regimes killed from 3,500,000 to over 4,300,000 Armenians, Greeks, Nestorians, and others between 1900 and 1923. Another 34 issues of the Times, full of names.
One would think the genocides of the Armenians and the Jews would be enough for the world to realize that something was wrong. One would think the United Nations, formed from the ashes of the Second World War, would put an end to this horror. Yet the flames burn on, and with half a century under its belt, the U.N. has not averted a single genocide.
The carnage continues in the Sudan, where it is estimated that two million, principally from the Dinka and Nuer peoples, have been murdered, and four million have been displaced by the Sudanese government. Sudan is one of the only countries in the world where there is still slavery, as the Muslim northerners draw on some antiquated laws of Islam in order to justify slavery and hold the black tribes of the Nuba mountains in bondage. In Rwanda, over 800,000 Tutsis were massacred by the Hutu government over a mere 100 days. Many women were raped and infected with HIV, leaving them to a slow and deliberate death. Genocides abound in Chechnya and Algeria, among other places, and certainly in Bosnia where, if the United States had not ignored the Security Council, countless more souls would have been lost.
The terrors and horrors of genocide are on a scale so terrible that comparing them to any other misfortune, no matter how harsh that misfortune may seem to the victims, is to disrespect the memories of all the people who were the targets of genocide.
So it is despicable when pro-Palestinian protesters rally carrying signs depicting Zionism as Nazism. Or when the soon-to-be director of the Middle East Institute, Rashid Khalidi, writes in an article published by the American Committee on Jerusalem that the truly serious hardships of the Palestinian refugees were “on par” with the the atrocities experienced by the Jews during the Holocaust–referring to the expulsion and emigration of 750,000 Arab Palestinians from British-controlled Palestine before and during the 1948 war, during which over 800,000 Jews, members of the oldest ethnicity in the Middle East, were forcibly expelled from Arab lands. It is also despicable when Assistant Professor Joseph Massad writes in Al-Ahram that Zionists helped the Nazis due to the Zionists’ alleged interest in “evicting [the Jews] from Europe and transporting them to an Asian land to which they had never been.” These statements trivialize the crime of genocide.
In remembering the horrors of the past century, we should strive to prevent such crimes in the future–just as we should work to prevent all injustices, no matter how many people have been killed–but also never forget the singular evil of genocide or trivialize it through comparison. Some see the liberation of the Iraqi people from Saddam, who himself carried out genocidal acts against the Kurds and the Shiia, as a step in the right direction. Others would rather do nothing, assuming, perhaps, that those targeted by genocidal regimes would find a way out on their own. Some of us have never forgotten. Some of us might never learn.

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IDF Spokesperson’s Unit in Mourning

Sgt. Lior Ziv gave his life so that others can see the truth about the situation in southern Gaza–just around the spot that the late Rachel Corrie gave herself to protect terrorists and weapons tunnels. Although I do know him–I barely missed him by a month–I mourn him just the same.
If even half of the media outlets would be braver than Eason Jordan and CNN, and report the situation in the Palestinian Authority like it is, we would see much less support internationally for the Palestinian campaign, which would translate into substantially less violence.

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Freedom From Europe: The Real Anti-Colonialism

It is actually quite remarkable that the anti-colonialist left hasn’t seen through the ruler-straight borders of the Middle East created and imposed by the imperial forces of Europe, and even more remarkable that it took the conservatives to popularize such a notion.
Let’s be honest: Iraq doesn’t really exist. There is not unified state of Iraq other than that which was put together through fear and intimidation; but now that the fear is gone, outdated trepidation does not social cohesion make.
As Ralph Peters, a retired military officer and the author of “Beyond Terror: Strategy in a Changing World,” writes in the Washington Post, “What if some Iraqis prefer to live apart from others who slaughtered their families? …We are far too quick to follow Europe’s example and resist the popular will we should be supporting. If the United States does not stand for self-determination, who shall?”
But no: the anti-imperialist, post-colonialist school that is an embarrassment to the traditional humanism of the left that would rather have Saddam in power than the liberal constitutional democracy of the United States of America.
These circles of anti-colonialists–and those that still respect their opinions–have taken the Iranian backed marches in Nasseriya as proof that the Iraqi people want to be “liberated of their American occupiers.” Honestly, let’s be realistic: those marching–protesting for the first time in a quarter of a century–no more represent the Iraqi people’s will than the very impressive millions that marched against the war here at home. I was certainly impressed, but the numbers just didn’t add up: support for the war is now at 76%, more than a 2/3rds majority, enough to pass an amendment to the constitution.
But back to the fate of Iraq, now being used cynically as blackmail by the French and Russians to reassert their lost importance: what exactly is keeping Iraq together? The peoples themselves were never a distinct whole, even under Ottoman administration. Baghdad always maintained its independence, as did Basra to the south and Mosul and Kirkuk to the north.
Come to think of it, can anyone name one good reason that the Kurds should not have an independent state, other than “it will anger the Turks”? With the Kurds serving as the symbol of the successful creation of liberal democracy from tyranny in that corner of the world, I cannot think of a nobler cause then to allow the Kurds to declare their independence, with Kirkuk and Mosul, and having US troops dare the Turks to challenge their right to a free and independent state. Yes, they do not have access to ports, but with modern technology and the good ol’ oil pipeline, they will do just fine–as they have for the past half a decade under the protection of US and UK airpower.
The creation of what Michael Oren names “a Kurdish state in the north; a Sunni state in the center; and a Shi’ite state in the South” would bring the freedom from European imperialism long-sought by the region’s peoples. So why are we so keen on keeping Iraq whole again?
[note: In my last post on Canceling Iraq’s debt I noted that it is ironic that the same Russian state that benifited from its own shaking off of debts after the Soviet Revolution is now demanding that the Iraqi people pay Saddam’s dues. William Safire at the New York Times concluded his own article on the same note–published after my own. Now I am not saying that Mr. Safire reads my columns, but I do want to point out to those who said that I “stole” my ideas on the anti-Americanism of the post-colonialist faculty in Columbia from Pipes and the Post that ideas tend to be shared by a number of different peoples with different ideologies, especially when they are true.]

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Cancel Iraq’s Debt

It seems rather odd to me that the French and the Russian governments would really hold the Iraqi people to the debt accrued by their tyrant, who used the money for his lavish palaces and weapons of mass destruction instead of feeding his starving peoples. I seem to remember the newfound Soviet state relieving itself of all debt after the revolution, and the French shaking off responsibility for the Vichy government–could it be that the Russians and French are hypocrites?
In this light, I thought it important to share with you a petition circulated by Ahmed Shames, and activist in the Al-Iraq group:
“The average annual income of an Iraqi today is just $150. Saddam owes around $400bn in debts and reparation claims. If the Iraqi people are made to repay that, then each will owe $15,000 – one hundred times their annual income. Iraq may have great oil reserves, but it is only able to pump about $10bn of oil a year, only about 2% of the money Saddam owes. Unless the Iraqi people are liberated from Saddam’s debt and reparations they will never be able to rebuild their lives. Senior officials in the white house agree that debt relief is important, and there is already an early day motion in the British parliament with backing from all three parties. However, we urgently need your help to ensure that all the debt is relieved.
To assist in the campaign to cancel the debt, we have started up a petition, which can be signed at http://www.jubileeiraq.org/petition.html.”

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On Said and Columbia

[I have posted a glimpse of Arafat in the post-Saddam era on the news section of this site, and Prof. Martin Kramer’s latest on Said on the Columbia section of this site.
As a post-script to my last article, Between the Narrow Points: I understand that it has raised quite a bit of “umbrage” in the words of an editor of a school publication that I respect very much, some even going so far as to accuse me of rewriting Pipes’ last article in the Post (which I checked and really is about Columbia vs America), and with many people “agreeing that it is bogus.” While these people have their full right to an opinion, I have seen no proof nor public remarks to the contrary; instead, I think they should note, denial is the first stage of admitting an addiction. Columbia is addicted to post-Colonialism, to anti-Americanism and to anti-Zionism, and it’s time we got the monkey off of our backs.]

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Between the Narrow Points

[This is the version before it was published in an edited-version by the Columbia Spectator]

Between the Narrow Points

As the people of Baghdad dance in the streets, as the women of Iraq look forward to a future when they will not be raped for the disloyalty of their husbands or their fathers to the Ba’athist regime, and as Iraqis taste the sweetness of freedom for the first time in half a century, one is reminded of the quintessential liberation story that will be recounted by a large part of this campus this Wednesday night: the tale of Passover and the liberation of a people from oppression under the Pharaoh of Egypt.
In this light, it is quite fitting that the liberation of Iraq is occurring at this time of year. In the Jewish tradition, as in many of the traditions of the East, time is not linear but circular. Events are not only points on the march through time, but spokes on the wheel of history, repeated once every cycle. In this view, history really does repeat itself; the past is the prologue.
We should learn from the story of Passover and the exodus from tyranny: just as the people of Israel spent forty years on their way to the promised land, the road to a democratic Iraq will be long, and it will take some time in the wilderness. As Kanan Makiya, an Iraqi activist who has labored long and hard for the liberation of his people, recently wrote in The New Republic, “The transition to something better in Iraq–democracy–is about politics only in a secondary sense. It is primarily about recapturing that lost spirit of Iraq, that elusive idea which the Ba’ath labored so hard to extinguish.”
Great thinkers, however, delve deeper into the symbolism of the story of Passover. They point out that the Hebrew word for Egypt, Mitzraim, is a derivative of tzar or narrow, and that the story of Passover is not only a historical tale of liberation, but also a story of metaphysical liberation from the psychological slavery of narrow-mindedness.
We here at Columbia are witnessing an unveiling of our own narrow-mindedness, brought to the open by the proud and outspoken Assistant Professor Nicholas De Genova, who called for the deaths of Americans in Iraq to some applause from the “teach-in” audience. It should now be clear that Columbia has a problem: decades of feeding and nurturing a post-colonialist school of thought–midwifed by University Professor Edward Said and Orientalism that will be commemorated this Passover eve–whose main goal is to oppose what its members call imperialism, but translates to United States policy.
One should not heed the words of Professor Eric Foner: the remarks made by De Genova were not “idiotic,” at least not if one thinks along the lines of post-colonialist theology. To label them stupid or idiotic is to isolate De Genova—but he is only one of many who hold similar, if less extremist, views at this University. We cannot hide it any longer.
We cannot hide that Professor Bruce Robbins fantasizes “about being liberated by a European invasion” since “nothing short of violence can lead to regime change” in America, or that Professor Ira Katznelson preached that the American government is carrying out “new form of colonialism,” or that Edward Said blames the war on the “Perles and Wolfowitzs of this country.”
Another target of the post-colonialist school of anger is Israel. We cannot hide that the Palestinian film festival was funded and organized in part by the University’s Department of Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures (MEALAC), while it was left to students alone to initiate and find outside funding for an Israeli film festival. Or that Assistant Professor Joseph Massad mentions six times in his latest Al-Ahram article that Israel is a “racist state,” just to drive the point home on how he feels, while lamenting that Columbia does not have an Arab Studies Center—MEALAC not being enough. Or that professors from MEALAC and the Department of Anthropology continue to line-up behind the claim that Zionism is racism, and the comparison of Israel to Apartheid South Africa, while little to no criticism is devoted to the terrors executed against the peoples of the Middle East and Africa by their own leaders. It seems that some of our faculty always have a bone to pick with the democracies of the world, yet are rarely brave enough to challenge the truly brutal dictatorships.
With many of our faculty in the social sciences sharing the same ideological line, we cannot hide that the University has become a stage for political punditry of the narrowest kind. Our educations are bound in intellectual Egypt, enslaved by the post-colonialist slant that has permeated our social sciences, while our institution is trapped by its old-fashion bylaws into protecting the employment of those who openly call for murder and mayhem, such as De Genova and Tom Paulin. I, for one, yearn to be free.
The secretive Druze tradition developed in the mountains of Lebanon teaches that all prophets—or leaders—come in pairs, a gate and a key. Like Moses and Aaron, the prophets work together to bring truth to the world, to make it a better place. Will President Bollinger and provost-elect Alan Brinkely be our gate and our key to a new and better University? Only time will tell. Let’s just hope that our time in the wilderness will be short, and that we will enjoy next year at a rebuilt Columbia.

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