Thursday, December 08, 2005

"Terrorism Expert" (former comander of the Labanese Forces militia, although that is stricken out of his c.v.) Walid Phares on Angry Arab. One of my students at UC, Berekely sent me this email:
"Hi As`ad, D. and I had a maddening experience today with Walid Phares. Through the grapevine I found out that he would be speaking on campus today (I also was notified of his status in the Christian militia during the civil I knew I had to go. I found D. there, and after Walid was finished trying to wow us with his terrorism expertise, D. told him she was having trouble reconciling his anti-terrorism stance with the position he had in the civil war. His response was belittling - he tried to claim that we had done faulty research and that the man we were talking about from the Christian militia had the same name as his. He said, "I'm used to this happening, it happens everywhere I go...I supported democracy in Lebanon... next time make sure to do better research," to which I responded (and I hope you're not mad about this) "Really, that's interesting because we received our information from As`ad AbuKhalil, a Middle East expert." To this, he quickly cut me off and said "Yes, As`ad is a great scholar but has close ties to Hizballah" and I said "Really, I don't think UC Berkeley would hire someone who was known to have close ties to Hizbollah." The thing that was so strange was that everyone in the room seemed to buy his story and take what he said about terrorism as valid. I found it maddening how he exotified Islam and the Middle East, using "Allah," saying that "we have a bowl of tubule when it comes to terrorist groups in the Middle East," throwing Arabic words in here and there to make him sound like he really knew what he was talking about, and calling Lebanon "The Old Country." I got so pissed off!! I was especially mad that he tried to discredit you and us by making the Hizbollah comment. What was interesting is that when he responded to us he got very defensive, something he would not have done if it was really just a name mix up. After I got home from class I did some research on him to see if I could find any incriminating evidence. By no means have I caught him red-handed, but I did find a website that monitors the right wing and says: "Walid Phares is reported to have long ties to the Lebanese militia group Guardians of the Cedar, which is supportive [of] the hard-line Likud position." The most interesting thing that happened was that the number of times that he mentioned Hizbollah increased dramatically after we mentioned you, as if he was trying to convince the audience that you are a bad guy. I got so mad!!! Anyway, I wanted to know what you think of all this."
PS I asked for her permission before citing this. Names of students are withheld from email.