Friday, April 29, 2005

The Nation and the Middle East Part II: My dear friend Joseph Massad wrote an excellent critique of the lousy piece on the war on Middle East studies at Columbia University in the ostensibly leftist Nation magazine. American leftists--especially in the Nation which is still in mourning over the collapse of the Oslo process because it has believed all along that the Palestinians deserve some 10% of their homeland and not the 22% that they have been demanding--as if it is sufficient to satisfy legitimate Palestinian national aspirations. Also, the Nation always believes that Israelis are the ones who are qualified to criticize Israel, but not the Arabs. They always follow the standards of Israel-centric arguments, and, like the Tikkun magazine crowd, was critical of the Israeli occupation of West Bank and Gaza (but not of the rest) only because it worried about its psychological impact on the "soul" of the Israeli occupation soldier. On his part, Scott Sherman, who seems to believe that you need to blame the victim for his victimhood, offers a typically weak and vapid response to the letters that reached the Nation, and only a handful of which were published. Sherman, as Angry Arab was told by inside sources, scrambled to find one token critical Arab to offer him praise in this section of the letters to the Nation but alas could not find any. And if the mainstream Washington Post does not print a news item that is not based on at least two sources, Sherman--you shall notice--is satisfied with one anonymous source merely to smear Joseph Massad. This is like me saying that an "an unimpeachable source" told me that Sherman made up his "unimpeachable source." That is his (il)logic, or his journalistic standard. And notice, that Sherman inexplicable vengeful attitude permeates not only his original article but also this pathetic attempt at a response. He only refers to the Ad Hoc Committee report to again smear Joseph, and seems to change the tone of the report to make it more damning of Joseph. And Sherman's obsession to attack Joseph is such that while he grudgingly concedes that the report did indeed refer to praise for Joseph as a teacher by his students, but then goes on to refer to "highly charged vocabulary". What does that mean? Was it charged with electric or nuclear power, we are not told. And for the life of me, Sherman does not refer to words of praise but to the unsubstantiated negative comments. Such are the standards of the Nation magazine when it comes to the Middle East. Or perhaps the Nation is being influenced by those rabid anti-Arab ads that they regularly publish and Victor Navasky justified purely on financial grounds.