Friday, October 01, 2010

Ruth Wisse on the Harvard Jihad

1. J-Street unmasked
by Isi Leibler
October 1, 2010

See also

2. At Harvard, Groupthink About Islam
A liberal editor stands accused of anti-Muslim bigotry.

Last Saturday, at a university-sponsored event to celebrate the 50th
anniversary of Harvard's Committee on Degrees in Social Studies, a
group of former students launched a research fund in honor of Martin
Peretz, a former teacher in the program and the longtime editor in
chief of the New Republic. After the event adjourned, the afternoon
turned ugly as police had to protect Mr. Peretz while he walked across
campus surrounded by a mob of screaming students.
Mr. Peretz admits that he wasn't blameless in the controversy. On
Sept. 4, blogging at the New Republic's web site, he lamented that
Muslims don't respond more vigorously to acts of terrorism against
their own people:
"Muslim life is cheap, most notably to Muslims. And among those
Muslims led by the Imam Rauf [of the proposed Cordoba House mosque]
there is hardly one who has raised a fuss about the routine and random
bloodshed that defines their brotherhood. So, yes, I wonder whether I
need honor these people and pretend that they are worthy of the
privileges of the First Amendment which I have in my gut the sense
that they will abuse."
For that final sentence, Mr. Peretz apologized and sought atonement.
Nonetheless, his column set off a firestorm. The Harvard Crimson
reported over 500 protests against the honorary research fund by
alumni, students and staff.
Harvard accepted the money to create the fund. Yet a member of the
Social Studies Standing Committee extolled the protest, while also
declaring that everyone on the committee "was—without
exception—appalled by Peretz's comments."
Why not, then, organize an open forum where Mr. Peretz might engage
with his critics? That, presumably, was out of the question: better to
ensure that students know which side "everyone—without exception" is
To date, no defense of Mr. Peretz has emerged from within the academy
he served so well as a teacher and benefactor.
The first at Harvard to exploit the Peretz case was Stephen Walt of
the Kennedy School of Government, who co-authored a book, "The Israel
Lobby," which argues that a conspiracy skews American policy in the
Middle East in favor of Israel. Mr. Walt's blog on the web site of
Foreign Policy magazine offers readers a series of Mr. Peretz's
statements "displaying hatred and contempt for Muslims, Arabs, and
other minorities."
But to wish that Muslims would condemn the violence in their midst is
not bigotry but liberality, treating others as you would have them
treat you.
One student I spoke with offered a quainter interpretation than did so
many professors. Hadn't Mr. Peretz said something true, though far too
What about Muslim disregard for Muslim life taken by terrorism? Have
Mr. Peretz's critics tried to show that Muslims really do value the
life of their co-religionists? Why were protests trying to shout the
problem down? In this student's view, the pressure for political
conformism had combined with a suppressed anxiety about Islam into a
toxic mix of hostility against one man.
The student had sought me out to ask whether, as the Martin Peretz
Professor of Yiddish Literature, I might offer an opinion on the
flare-up. Of course, donors do not dictate those who hold the chairs
they endow; indeed, the Belfer family may regret that Mr. Walt
occupies theirs. And I doubt that Mr. Peretz and I have ever voted
alike. But whatever qualities of his still excite his former students,
I can be sure that they do not include any habit of wrapping himself
in the opinion of "everyone—without exception."
Like him, I too regret that Muslim political culture in the U.S. and
internationally is not more confident, positive and life-affirming.
Where are the campus protests against Hamas torture and murder of
fellow Palestinians, against Muslim suicide bombers in civilian
centers of Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan? A necessary step toward a
more peaceful world is, indeed, greater respect of Muslims for Muslim
life. Universities ought to be encouraging, not inhibiting, that
Ms. Wisse, a professor of Yiddish and comparative literature at
Harvard, is the author of "Jews and Power" (Schocken, 2007).


The Left's Peretz Problem
Posted By Jacob Laksin On September 30, 2010 @ 12:30 am In FrontPage |

It doesn't take much to provoke the modern furies of political
correctness, but longtime New Republic editor-in-chief Martin Peretz
touched off a still-raging storm earlier this month when he published
a blog post [1]lamenting the general failure of Muslims to protest the
sectarian murder of their coreligionists in the Islamic world. In the
passage that most incensed his critics, Peretz concluded that
…frankly, Muslim life is cheap, most notably to Muslims. And among
those Muslims led by the [Ground Zero mosque champion] Imam Rauf there
is hardly one who has raised a fuss about the routine and random
bloodshed that defines their brotherhood. So, yes, I wonder whether I
need honor these people and pretend that they are worthy of the
privileges of the First Amendment which I have in my gut the sense
that they will abuse.
Judging by the howls of indignation and excoriation generated by that
post, one might think that Peretz had called for the immediate
extermination of all Muslims. Left-wing blogs condemned Peretz as a
"racist" and a bigot. New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof called
[2] the post "debased." The backlash was even more hostile at Harvard
University, where Peretz had taught for over 40 years and where he was
honored this weekend for an undergraduate research fund established in
his name earlier this year. What was supposed to be a celebratory
occasion instead became a public inquisition, as student protestors,
bearing signs with quotes from Peretz – evidence, by their standards,
of the consummate evil of his views – heckled the honoree and
harangued him as he tried to exit the campus. In that harassment they
were openly encouraged by some Harvard faculty and implicitly by the
university's administration, which all but sanctioned the protests
when it called Peretz's comments about Muslims "distressing to many
members of our community, and understandably so."
It is not to excuse the more inflammatory name-calling of Peretz's
critics to note that some of his comments were indeed offensive. In a
follow-up to his initial post, a rightly "embarrassed" Peretz
apologized [3] for his crass and carelessly worded suggestion that
Muslims should be denied First Amendment rights. And yet it remains
the case that Peretz's broader point, however artlessly made, was a
sound one.
The controversy surrounding the mosque and Islamic cultural center to
be built two blocks from Ground Zero is a case in point. That project
has been defended on First Amendment grounds by everyone from Imam
Rauf to President Obama, who insist that Muslims have a First
Amendment right to built where they please. But in truth none of the
mosque project's opponents – who polls show include the majority of
New Yorkers, hardly a right-wing powerbase – have questioned the right
to build a mosque at Ground Zero – only the wisdom and decency of
doing so at that sensitive and, for many New Yorkers, uniquely sacred
location. No reasonable person would deny that Muslims should have the
same access to the First Amendment as all Americans, but the
promiscuity with which proponents of the mosque project have tried to
make a constitutional issue out of what is really a debate about
propriety certainly validates Peretz's concern about First Amendment
The hypocrisy of Peretz's critics is also striking. The same
protestors who professed outrage at Peretz's comments about the First
Amendment tried to have him barred from speaking at this weekend's
celebration. How genuine are their concerns about the unrestricted
exercise of the First Amendment if they are so eager to deny it to
those, like Peretz, with whom they disagree?
All the more rank is that hypocrisy when one considers that Peretz's
other controversial comment – "Frankly, Muslim life is cheap,
especially for Muslims" – is not actually that controversial, and has
been made so only through deliberate misconstruction. Thus, the
Economist absurdly interpreted the statement to mean that Peretz was
downgrading the significance of Muslim life generally and charged,
equally absurdly, that America's military involvement in the Middle
East "creates pressure to believe this sort of thing." But as would be
obvious to any fair-minded reader, Peretz was simply making the
irrefutable observation that Muslims are disproportionately
responsible for the deaths of their fellow believers.
Evidence for the claim abounds. In a 2007 article, for instance,
Daniel Pipes estimated [4] that of the approximately 11 million
Muslims that have been violently killed since 1948, over 90 percent
were killed by fellow Muslims. Muslims may cry foul about Israeli and
American "occupation," but the cold fact is that they are their own
worst enemy. From Sudan, to Pakistan, to Afghanistan, to Iran, to
Iraq, to Gaza, no one kills more Muslims than other Muslims. What the
Economist considers a "prejudice" on Peretz's part is in fact a
reality – a reality no less true for being so tragic.

4. Two Cheers for Lieberman:,7340,L-3962227,00.html

5. Leftists are to Blame:,7340,L-3962502,00.html

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