Across the Bay

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Conspiratorial Humor

If there's conspiracy talk, Juan Cole can't be too far away.

David Bernstein (Volokh Conspiracy) joins in on the fun, commenting on a vintage Cole piece, where the MESA president-elect goes on one of his infamous rants on Israel, "Likudniks" (see this excellent deconstruction of the use of the term), "Neocons" (aka. double agents who cannot be trusted to put America first), ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, yada yada yada... All you need to complete the party is a mention of Halliburton or something of the sort.

All this talk about "ethnic cleansing" reminded me of a recent article by Johann Hari about an actual ethnic cleansing, one that has earned a total of one lame, evasive post (which jumped on the US and the UK and the Iraq war more than anything else) by Juan "I care about human rights" Cole. By that I mean the ongoing nightmare in Darfur, where the Arab government and the Arab Janjaweed militias have murdered tens of thousands of non-Arab Sudanese, and displaced close to two million of them, completely decimating their villages. The savagery is beyond words, and this is not to mention the Sudanese government's previous campaign against the Sudanese Christians and Animists, which, as Hari points out, was stopped in large part not by leftists and human rights activists, but by the now-dreaded Evangelical Christians in the US, whom Cole despises by the way.

Also, if you are interested in "corporation" talk, Hari points out that (European, Russian and Chinese) corporations other than the oft-maligned Halliburton continue to empower the Sudanese government in exchange for Sudan's oil. In fact, it is generally assumed that this is the main reason why China and Russia, for instance, refused to back any UN resolution on Sudan.

But all this matters little for the hypocritical Cole and his likes. For you see, like for all good Arabists, there exists only one sacred cause, the mother of all just causes, the cause of Palestine, on whose altar everything is to be sacrificed. Just so that I'm not misunderstood, this is not meant to diminish any suffering by the Palestinians. It's meant to highlight the disgusting hypocrisy of the poseur activist-academics like our friend Cole here. He jumps over the Lancet report but buries the Darfurians in a tiny useless post long ago. He rants about a fictional ethnic cleansing of Palestinians (which never materialized of course), while keeping silent about an actual one, perpetrated by an Arab Islamic government! Hey, if it has nothing to do with Israel and the US, then Cole wants nothing to do with it!

Cole wrote in that post that if he were a younger man he would have gone to fight Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan (in an attempt to show how pro-American he is as opposed to those ghastly treacherous Neocons). Prof. Cole, no one is asking you to go fight. All we're asking is for you to cut the hypocritical drivel. But keep the conspiracy theories coming; those are funny and they give me material for my blog!

Update: Here's a case in point of the exaltation of the Palestinian cause and its elevation over all others, as the most pressing and legitimate of all causes, next to whom all else pales (that this is the central theme of the political ideology of Arab nationalism is not to be forgotten. The concern is not the Palestinians, who suffer just as much in their host neighboring countries. Rather, the point is to keep the focus away from the interior and on Israel as the prime villain in the world and the cause of all the ills of the region.) Cole today dedicates a post to the death (possible murder) of a Palestinan girl. Once again, I must make clear that when I write these things I don't for a second belittle the Palestinian suffering. My concern is with the hypocrite Cole. He dubs this death "a crime against humanity" (not a "war crime" as a reader remarked in the comments). But my problem is that tens of thousands of acts of brutality against children, and men and women have been taking place in Sudan at the hands of an Arab Islamic government and a government-backed Arab militia, and those have not earned a peep from Cole, let alone the characterization as "crimes against humanity." Instead, Pope Juan Cole issued another of his one-line papal decrees that in the case of Darfur, the "ethnic" element wasn't primary. Rather, in this case, "a traditon of provincial autonomy and conflicts between herders and settled farmers are more important." So, it's merely an economic/social dispute, not an asymmetric ethnic conflict. But if something surfaced about Israeli soldiers, Cole is all over it. (With the Israelis and Palestinians, it's not a thorny political conflict, it's "ethnic cleansing.") Again, this doesn't diminish or excuse the crime, if the story turns out to be true. It just points out hypocrisy and political activism on Cole's part. Focusing on Israel (and the US) and burying the Darfur genocide makes Cole the mirror-image of the Arab media: a propagandist outlet that centers on Israel and buries Arab dirty laundry.

Furthermore, and this portrays incredible hypocrisy, it is more than likely that if the story turns out to be true, the Israeli soldier will be investigated and will likely face charges and trial. On the other hand, the entire Arab world, and Cole (who never associates the Janjaweed with the government or with official Arab racism in his short post), have completely exonerated the Sudanese government, and its recent victories in the UN mean that the murderous government and the Janjaweed will basically be left untouched. Yet the funny thing is that Cole and Arabists (and the Arab media) when talking about Sharon's responsibility for the killings of Palestinians in Sabra and Shatila, refer to the Israeli legal inquiry into Sharon's involvement!! I.e., they rely on the proper functioning of Israeli society to support their case, and then snicker at the larger society itself (while claiming of course that he's only against the far-right Likud government)! For instance, see the jab in his post on MEMRI: "Israeli military intelligence is used to being able to censor the Israeli press and to intimidate journalists, and it is a bit shocking that Carmon should imagine that such intimidation would work in a free society." (emphasis added). So we crap all over the society and call on that same society's peace movement! Very shady to say the least.