Juan Cole: Attacked by David Horowitz

Historians in the News

[Juan Cole is one of the professors David Horowitz singles out for criticism in his new book, The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America.]

... An exact disciplinary breakdown is difficult because many of the professors do interdisciplinary work. But by far, Middle Eastern studies seems to be the most dangerous field to Horowitz, with at least 15 scholars on his list who do work on the subject. Many other professors on the list work in relatively new fields such as ethnic studies, gay studies, or women’s studies. But there are also plenty of people from traditional fields such as history, English and law.

Horowitz said in an interview that the fields that are well represented on his list are “most prone to the corruption I am describing.”

Juan Cole, a University of Michigan professor who is among the 101 and who is also president of the Middle East Studies Association, said that it’s not surprising that Horowitz would go after his colleagues. “He is an ideologue and he has a particular view of the Arab-Israeli conflict which cannot be sustained by anyone who studies the region with primary texts and a global perspective,” Cole said.

Cole said that he’s not particularly concerned that Horowitz will change anyone’s views. “I think he has no impact whatsoever,” Cole said. “He’s not relevant to our academic governance or the way we make decisions in the academy.”

At the same time, Cole had seen the section written about him and was ready to question it. He said, for example, that Horowitz falsely accuses him of stressing the Jewish role in the neoconservative movement, and of calling Israel a fascist state. Cole said that while he may have criticized individual Jews who are neoconservatives, he never calls that movement a Jewish one, in part because he doesn’t believe it reflects the views of most Jewish people. Further, while Cole said that he has said that the Likud Party has “fascist elements,” he does not call Israel a fascist state.

Asked to back up the claims in his book, Horowitz noted a reference in a Cole column to “Israeli fascists,” but that is, of course different from the claim in the book that Cole “routinely brands Zionism” as “fascist.” Asked to back up the book’s claim that Cole focuses on a Jewish neoconservative group whose views he disagrees with, Horowitz sent back a quote from a Cole column in which Cole criticizes “powerful Likudniks” within the U.S. government and also Paul Wolfowitz, But in the column, Cole does not identify who the “powerful Likudniks” are (and in fact many of the Likud’s most powerful supporters in the United States aren’t Jewish) and doesn’t refer to Wolfowitz’s religion.

Cole called the chapter on him “dishonest” and said that it is “if not libelous, then verging on it.” He declined to say if he’s planning any legal action.

Read entire article at Scott Jaschik in Inside Higher Ed

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Michael Glen Wade - 2/15/2006

While the field has manifold shortcomings, Horowitz might be an interesting subject for a psychohistorian, not least because of his penchant for extremism, first on the left and now on the right. Exposure by examination is indeed one solution. Another, which is deliciously appealing because it might well represent hell on earth, would be to have Horowitz married to the androgynously reactionary Ann Coulter. Each of these pseudo-intellectual attack creatures, of course, would be deserving of the other. Oh, what the heck, maybe they could just shack up! The downside, however, is that they might each write about the experience. It does cause one to wonder what they might convert to next.....but that consideration might well take us from culture wars to star wars.

John Edward Philips - 2/15/2006

Horowitz is a confused, pathetic figure, or would be pathetic if he weren't so well-funded by anti-intellectuals. The only solution is to expose his lies and misinformation as widely as possible.