Juan Cole: Response to attacks

Historians in the News

John Fund of the Wall Street Journal editorial page has published a large number of falsehoods about me.

The most egregious is this:

' He calls Israel "the most dangerous regime in the Middle East." '

This a lie. I never said that. Try googling it. (All that comes up is the circular allegation I said it, never sourced. It never comes up on my site, because I did not say it, or say or imply anything like it.)

I did say that then-Israeli policies of assassinating people like Sheikh Yassin were dangerous to US interests in the Middle East. Since those policies also inspired such sympathy with Hamas that they went on to win the recent elections, the policies were dangerous to Israeli interests, too.

I presume Mr. Fund will apologize for libelling me and smearing me in an apparent attempt to interfere with my professional life.

That he can't get something so basic right, of course, says it all about the rest of his screed, during which he also accuses me of being a racist bigot for complaining about the then influence of Ariel Sharon and the Likud line on Bush administration policy toward the Middle East.

Mr. Fund should take it up with the Republican Party. Look at former National Security Council adviser under Bush senior, Brent Scowcroft: "Sharon just has him wrapped around his little finger," Scowcroft told London's Financial Times. "I think the president is mesmerized."

Then Secretary of State Colin Powell told W. that Douglas Feith, the number 3 man in the Pentagon was a "card-carrying member of the Likud." Powell also routinely referred to the Neocons in the Pentagon as the "Gestapo."

Fund calls me "anti-Israel." I have a funny way of showing it, if so. What he really demands is not that I be pro-Israel, but that I support Bibi Netanyahu. Why should I, Mr. Fund? Explain that to me.

Mr. Fund goes on to attempt to link me in some way with the Taliban. I am mystified by that particular smear. What similarity, exactly, does he see between an American member of the Democratic Party who voted for Clinton, Gore and Kerry, and the devotees of Mullah Omar?

Fund inaccurately says that I am alone among academics in arguing that the Mearsheimer and Walt paper on the Israel lobby should be given a hearing. He ignores Mark Mazower, Tony Judt, and a host of others. Fund accuses me of saying that AIPAC is powerful in Congress. La di la.

Mr Fund has clearly never read a word I've ever written. He has just cobbled together some snarky smears from other pundits who also have never read my work. Indeed, I know how to fix this Rightwing smear machine that has revved up against me. We'll make a rule that they can't criticize me unless they read my scholarly works first. :-)

As for the Web log being unscholarly or polemical, there are some issues about which some sharp writing is necessary. Fund can't make up his mind as to whether the problem with me is that I have written books about the 19th century Middle East, or that I comment extensively on contemporary developments. I'm not sure what business it is of his, anyway. But he should not lie so blatantly about me.
Read entire article at Informed Comment (blog)

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