Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Juan Cole - contender for America's dumbest Professor

1. This is one of the most wonderful pieces I have read in a while,
reprinted here in full, from

Martin Kramer is definitely one of the funniest web commentators around:

posted Monday, 30 April 2007
"The Israelis tend to launch their wars of choice in the summer, in part
because they know that European and American universities will be the
primary nodes of popular opposition, and the universities are out in the
summer. This war has nothing to do with captured Israeli soldiers." --Juan
Cole at his blog, Informed Comment, July 23, 2006.

The Winograd Commission, the Israeli body established to investigate the
political and military management of the war in Lebanon, released its
interim report today. The material includes the minutes of a crucial
Israeli General Staff meeting in the lead-up to the war. They shed new and
damaging light on its conduct, and they confirm the obvious: Professor
Cole is supremely well-informed about Israel's inner workings. It's

Chief of Staff: Good morning. At the top of the agenda, I want us to take
up a crucial issue, related to the timing of our planned operation in
Lebanon. We've already considered several key factors: the preparedness of
our troops, the situation on the ground in Lebanon, coordination with the
Americans. But there's a paramount matter that I want to revisit before we
present the plan to the Cabinet. It's the academic calendar in foreign

Neutralizing anti-Israel professors has always been a key ingredient of
our strategy. We all know how vastly influential they are: just think of
Juan Cole, Rashid Khalidi, Norman Finkelstein. So part of our strategic
doctrine in past years has been to launch operations in summer, when
academics are non-operational. Even the French work harder in summer.
That's partly why two of my predecessors chose June to launch the Six-Day
War and the 1982 Lebanon war.

But it's an issue I feel we should revisit. We take a slice of our
strategic doctrine from the Americans. Our own intelligence was surprised
three years ago, when the Pentagon informed us that Operation Iraqi
Freedom would be launched in March, smack in the middle of the academic
year. All our early estimates assumed that the Americans would hold off
until after the last graduation ceremonies in June.

For our discussion today, I've invited Gentleman C, head of Middle East
101, the Mossad unit that tracks American and European academics. I think
we'd all benefit greatly from his insights in planning the timing of our

Gentleman C, why don't you give us a quick summation of your analysis?

Gentleman C: On the table before each of you, you'll find a comprehensive
study compiled by Middle East 101, looking at the academic year factor in
Israel's wars since 1948. What we've done is a statistical comparison of
the amount of anti-Israel verbiage expended by American and European
professors in all of Israel's wars. I draw your attention to Table 8.
You'll see that in every war, our military operations have taken less
incoming criticism during summer months. We call this the "Away From My
Desk" effect. Professors on summer break are less likely to write op-eds
and show up in the media. There aren't any students to attend their campus
teach-ins, and there's no student press to cover them.

Bottom line is that summer remains an ideal time to launch a war. The
operational readiness of academe is at its lowest.

Director of Military Intelligence: May I? I have a lot of respect for my
opposites in the Mossad, and especially Middle East 101. They do fine
work. And I take my beret off to their targeted character assassination of
Juan Cole. If it weren't for the Mossad's clandestine efforts, Cole would
be at Yale. As you know, it's vitally important to keep people like Cole
outside the 200-kilometer-radius security zone we try to maintain around
New York City.

Chief of Staff: Here, here.

Director of Military Intelligence: That said, we in Military Intelligence
don't share the Mossad's assessment of the "Away From My Desk" effect. It
may be true that the professors manage to fire off more rounds of
criticism during the academic year. But these are mostly short-range
projectiles--teach-ins and classroom agitprop that don't have a range
beyond the campus. Most academics are too preoccupied during the school
year to get off medium- to long-range op-eds in the New York Times or The
Nation. They're too busy preparing lectures, fixing syllabi, keeping
office hours, or quashing rivals in faculty committees.

We think that during the summer, the quality and range of attacks against
us actually increase. You've got professors with lots of time on their
hands, and the more senior, tenured ones are looking for distractions from
their bigger projects. In particular, we think a summer war could expose
us to sustained assault by academic bloggers.

GOC Southern Command: I thought sustained blogging by a professor was
pretty much tantamount to a suicide bombing.

Director of Military Intelligence: There's ample evidence for that. But
we're talking about a group of highly ideological and thoroughly
indoctrinated fanatics. They're quite willing to sacrifice career
prospects in order to advance the cause. The tenured ones, of course,
think they've already died and gone to heaven. They spend most of the year
in classrooms full of near-virgins. It's almost impossible to deter a
tenured professor.

We think the ideal time for an operation is the very first month of the
fall semester, in September. This is crunch-time for professors, who've
got to get all their courses up and running, make sure textbooks are in
the stores, solve scheduling conflicts, and suck up to new deans and
chairpersons. About the only thing professors manage to put on paper in
September is their signatures on drop/add forms, and maybe the occasional

GOC Home Front Command (with alarm): September? We're not going to launch
a war of choice right in the middle of the Jewish holidays, are we?

Gentleman C: With all due respect, I think my friend from Military
Intelligence underestimates the travel factor in summer. Middle East 101
tracks the movements of professors throughout the world. The
highest-caliber ones are the most likely to disappear in summer for weeks
on end, on "research" trips to London or Provence. We know from
intercepts, and satellite surveillence shared with us by the Americans,
that a lot of them aren't even near a library or archive. Their spouses
have real jobs and need real vacations. We've seen major blogs shut down
entirely for the better part of the summer.

Director of Military Intelligence: Maybe, but a lot of these professors
travel in summer to the Middle East--Beirut, Damascus, Amman. If we launch
a summer operation, they'll suddenly become on-site resources for the
media. If they have to evacuate Lebanon, that becomes a story in itself.
Let's not forget how Rashid Khalidi got started: Beirut, summer of 1982.

Gentleman C (with irritation): Well, who was it who let Khalidi escape
from Beirut?

Director of Military Intelligence (raising voice): Oh? Who authorized
Edward Said to make a visit to Israel? You didn't have to be a prophet to
predict the outcome of that.

Chief of Staff: Gentlemen, please, let's not get sidetracked by past
mistakes. Lord knows we've made plenty of them--bungling the recruitment
of Joel Beinin, letting Ilan Pappe do cushy reserve duty, and the list
goes on. Look, I'd like to continue this discussion all morning, but we do
have other issues on the agenda, like the extent of air power we'll need
to dislodge Hezbollah. I see the Commander of the Air Force is looking at
his watch. Too bad we can't solve the campus problem with air power.

Commander of the Air Force (dryly): Don't say can't. We haven't tried.

Chief of Staff: Well, I'm going to conclude this discussion. My view is
that we should stick with what's worked for us in the past. We'll propose
to go in summer. If we ever do a complete overhaul of doctrine, we can
reconsider. But I think Gentleman C has made a compelling case, and the
empirical data speak for themselves. Agreed?

Director of Military Intelligence: Let the minutes show that I think

Chief of Staff: Duly noted. Oh, and by the way, Gentleman C, what's your
assessment of what Juan Cole might do when we move?

Gentleman C: There's some debate in our shop as to whether he'll stick to
Iraq, or blog furiously about Lebanon. If he Lebanonizes his blog, it'll
be a problem for us, but it'll take some heat off the Americans. They'll
be grateful, and we can trade on that for things we need. Like

Chief of Staff: Splendid. Juan Cole might turn out to be one of our
biggest assets. "The work of the righteous is done by others." (Laughter
around the table.)

2. Selective outrage over racism: Hos and Japs:

3. Oxford wishes to annihilate the US:

3. Self-hating Jew of the week:

4. Mickey Abu Mouse:

April 30, 2007, p. 50


Gil Troy

Every spring, representatives of Israel .s universities crisscross the
Diaspora seeking donations. The appeals are deliciously, explicitly,
inspirationally Zionist, inviting Zionist givers to fulfill the modern
Zionist dream by funding Israel .s centers of higher learning. Yet, as
administrators sing this lovely, lucrative Zionist song, some Israeli
professors, funded by these same donor-dollars, preach an ugly
anti-Zionist line.

Israeli academics have helped choreograph the shameful demonization of
Israel and Zionism. They have caricatured Israel as the aggressor and an
oppressor, hailed Palestinian terrorists as freedom fighters, and led
campaigns to boycott their own universities. Many anti-Semitic Websites
highlight Israeli academics trashing the Jewish state. The section in
jewwatch.com, detailing .Jewish Genocides today and yesterday. showcases
one Israeli academic.s 1991 article which popularized the .apartheid.

I wish we could note these academics. unpatriotic poison, applaud Israel.s
vigorous democracy, toast Israel.s academic freedom, and leave it at that.
But words can kill. The intellectual demonization of Israel has helped
isolate Israel diplomatically, emboldening the terrorists. Moreover, I
feel snookered when I hear university leaders entreating donors to build
the Jewish state, without acknowledging that some of that money is used,
even indirectly, to libel the Jewish national project. And I am outraged
by reports of anti-Zionist intellectual bullying in some departments.

We need vigorous, nuanced responses that preserve academic freedom. The
flow of ideas, like blood flowing to the brain, cannot be restricted
without causing harm. Academics must remain free to pursue foolish,
subversive, distorted ideas, so that tomorrow.s wisdom can be born today.
We should not starve or boycott Israeli universities. Investing in Israeli
research and teaching pays great dividends, creating literate,
sophisticated, citizens and maintaining Israel.s leading role in today.s
information revolutions.

Still, a more balanced campus culture would combat educational
malpractice in the classroom and promote national sanity. Universities
should offer calm, broad-minded, civil alternatives to Israel.s bruising,
polarizing political culture, not replicate it.

Paradoxically, while fighting intolerance and indoctrination, universities
should also cultivate pride, patriotism, altruism, democracy, and yes,
Zionism, in Israeli society. Even as professors and students think
freely, universities should act responsibly. Whether they acknowledge it
or not, universities express their values through the projects they fund,
the problems they pinpoint. If donations can attract scientists to brain
research, business professors to information systems, scholarship to
women.s studies, strategic investments can shape a civics agenda too.
Just as plants lean toward sources of light, professors and students will
respond to visionary leadership.

Recently, Yeshiva University generously endowed a .Center for the Jewish
Future,. an in-house, activist think tank harnessing the university.s
different resources to build an exciting Jewish tomorrow. Imagine what
Israeli universities could accomplish with similar entities. Historians,
philosophers, sociologists, anthropologists, political scientists, and
economists could develop an updated Zionist vision for today.
Interdisciplinary experts on South Africa could study apartheid more
fully, explaining why applying that label to Israel minimizes South
African suffering and distorts reality. Psychologists, social workers,
and educators could join with their colleagues in the more abstract
humanities fields to tackle Israel.s values crisis, cultivating civics in
Israeli classrooms, civility on Israeli streets, equality in Israeli
society, openness in Israeli political discourse, and an ethos of mutual
respect . and honor -- in the Israeli government.

Of course, other professors should feel free to disagree or pursue
different interests. Investing in certain ideas should not discriminate
against iconoclasts. Most funds in the university should remain based on
academic merit. But particular bursaries and efforts should be invested in
propping up Israel . and Zionism . in the war of ideas. Simply beginning
the conversation, defining a mission, challenging universities to live up
to their idyllic self-descriptions will inspire new visionaries even if it
does not silence the cynics.

In fairness, this problem goes beyond Israel. American academics also
delight in bashing the very country which gives them a platform to
pontificate. Too frequently, 1950s McCarthyism has been replaced by an
equally close-minded counter-culture. Political correctness of all stripes
hinders good learning and thinking

Modern universities rarely talk about their missions, except when wooing
young students or rich donors. All universities try to remain free forums
for inquiry while perpetuating certain values. Israel.s universities
should not become indoctrination camps. Still, it is fair to ask what
values are bubbling up in the vacuum of top-down leadership. Israel.s
universities . uniquely motivated by Israel.s need for champions . can
lead here, preserving scholarly objectivity while promoting social
utility. The idea is not to please donors; universities should tackle
this challenge to fulfill themselves and offer Israel desperately needed
ideological, intellectual and moral leadership.

Gil Troy is Professor of History at McGill University and the author of
Why I Am A Zionist: Israel, Jewish Identity and the Challenges of Today.

6. Karsh on the Palestinian "Moderate" Nusseibah:

7. Academic free speech ... not:

8. Monkey Business

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