The infamous Juan Cole, darling of the Left (and take note Democrats, this guy is a favorite of fast-growing sections of the Democratic party such as those about to bring down Lieberman), is a professor who is respected enough as a scholar to have recently headed the MESA, a prominent association of Mid-East scholars and to have almost received a position at Yale. He does have tenure and some seniority at a pretty good university anyway, and has given himself a high public profile by taking on a vocal role at his blog.

Reading his blog, one cannot escape the view that his sources are often biased, his observations no less biased and the suggestion that this man would be capable of writing an objective analysis of any given topic seems absurd.

In any case, after Yale said “no,” Cole let his supporters such as those at Daily Kos encourage the proposition that, uh, you know, the Jews did it. Of course, he was in a bit of a pickle there since he was clearly interested in this plum offer of a position and was probably quite upset that he wasn’t offered a position. The pickle results from the conspiracists who blame it on powerful Jews, a notion to which he seems to subscribe with his constant attack on the “Likudniks” in the US who supposedly control and have tremendous influence on US foreign policy, including, yup, the Iraq War. The “Likudniks” for Cole are a grab bag of any Israeli supporters who take a political position or active advocacy role for Israel. They also include…Neo-Cons. I presume he refers solely to the Jewish Neo-Cons when he speaks of Likudniks, but never bothered to analyze the issue closely but somehow I doubt that he would refer to Rumsfeld or Cheney as a Likudnik. He refers in large part to AIPAC when he speaks of Likudniks, but manages to let the epithet (that is how he uses the word) spill over to describe other Jews or advocates who don’t belong to AIPAC.

Sound familiar? Yup, you must be thinking of Walt & Mearsheimer’s mediocre paper, “The Israel Lobby.” Ironically, considering that those two lean to the Right and Cole is of the Left, he was a strong proponent of the paper and eager to lap up its impact even if a he would have had to grade it with a “C” had one of his students submitted such a shoddy piece of writing.

Anyhow, Juan Cole has been hysterical about the war in Lebanon since its beginning. While he pays mild lip service every once in a while to the fact that Hizbullah is doing wrong, he is unashamedly on the attack against Israel. For example, when Israel attacked the hospital that housed Hizbullah operatives – clearly legal under international law – his readers were and continue to be invited to assess this as a criminal and inexcusable act. No word about Hizbullah using the building for purposes of its own, their refusal to admit journalists to see the building or the fact that Israel did capture Hizbullah men there. On the other hand, when the Israeli hospital in Nahariya was severely damaged by a Hizbullah rocket, Cole simply didn’t address the atrocity involved. He also doesn’t address comments posted in his discussions if they don’t fit his views or if they skew the ratio of Lefty pro-Cole-analysis comments to those against. I know because I try sometimes to provide another viewpoint to the reflexive masturbatory Cole-objectifying commentary that he does publish. I have no idea whether my comment tonight will be published, but the last three weren’t and they were on topic and substantive (as well as short so he couldn’t claim that this was the problem).

Why all this info? Because Cole has now published the following incredible statement:

The difference between Ahmadinejad and Olmert is that the Iranian president is a blowhard. The one who had practical plans to wipe a country off the map was Olmert.

I have to think that upon reading that, many professors in the faculty and administration at Yale are breathing a sigh of relief. I have to also think that anybody who has quoted the academic work of this man in their own research and publications must be wondering whether they have given too much credence to his work.

About the author

themiddle

19 Comments

  • The Middle said:

    Reading his blog, one cannot escape the view that his sources are often biased, his observations no less biased and the suggestion that this man would be capable of writing an objective analysis of any given topic seems absurd.

    Middle, Muffti can only hope that you know not to judge a person’s academic work by their work on a blog. People who know this well enough also wouldn’t feel any of what you suggest:

    I have to also think that anybody who has quoted the academic work of this man in their own research and publications must be wondering whether they have given too much credence to his work.

  • (If the Democratic voters in Connecticut ever expect to see another Democratic president, it seems to me that they had better not Lieberman go down, WHATEVER they may think of him. Their party is about to take its first step into the “Can’t-Be-Elected-Zone”, a place of no return. But what do I know. I don’t live in Connecticut. He isn’t my senator.)

  • Well, GM, as you are a genuine academic, do you have time to review his serious work for the Jewliciousosphere? Maybe you have better things to do. TM’s points are valid, it seems to me.

  • You can thank this very medium for the decline in quality of academic works (opinion), everything thinks he is an expert now (opinion)! But then again this is part of a greater anti-intellectual trend (fact) which, I pray, culminates with the election of some pretty dumb people. I struggle with the idea of trying to reduce anti-Semitism cloaked in academia; I just shrug and read on, thinking, “we know something you don’t know” and feel sorry for the anti-Semite. I feel the same way about people with W stickers on everything that then wonder why they have no health care.

  • The problem is this is a growing trend in the intellectual world. One would expect it in the “under educated” simply because this is generally where prejudice reigns supreme. However, when a nations intellects begin to despise an ethnic group, that ethnic group needs to watch itself.

  • Begins? Where have you been?
    It is worth your life to wear a Support Israel t-shirt on any college campus except Brandeis.

    The Jewliciousosphere could send out a few people to just sit in the sun and read, wearing such a t shirt, for a few days, and report what happens. They should be male and large.

  • GM, on the contrary. While I am not comparing the contents of Cole’s work to that of David Irving, you will recall that Irving was touted as a great historian. That reputation became tarnished when it was clear that he had been writing with a deep bias. My point with respect to Cole is that if one’s non-academic work is clearly colored by a significant bias and blind spot, any astute reader will begin to ask how this might affect one’s “official” or, in this case, academically oriented work. As an example, if he writes any newly published article that includes information about Iran or Israel, now that you’ve read his deeply biased view of the political situation there – a view so off the mark that it raises significant questions about his judgement and whether he approaches this entire topic from a dogmatic rather than analytical point of view – wouldn’t you immediately question whether he has the capability to properly assess the situation? I would and I suspect many others already do and others will as he continues with his hysterics.

  • Nathan, Cole is an expert. His work is respected, as is he. He got by two academic committees at Yale and they moved his candidacy forward. He headed a fairly significant scholarly association that dominates the Middle East scene on many campuses. He is fluent in Arabic, was a practitioner of the Ba’hai faith in the past and has expertise in that area. He seems to have written about Shi’ism as well.

    The problem he has is that he needs to fit Iran into his politics, and so he’s developed this entire thesis about how Ahmadinejad doesn’t really mean it when he talks about Israel’s destruction and in reality the West and the media are misreading this man, what he says and his country’s objectives. I won’t even bother with the Olmert part of Cole’s assessment since it’s so patently ridiculous.

    Where you are right, I think, and we saw this is the Walt & Mearsheimer paper, is that many of the scholars out there today, even the well known and respected ones, end up getting their information from the Internet and the Internet is a tough place to do research. Every source is tainted in some way and personal biases deeply affect the information out there. With Walt & Mearsheimer, for example, there is very little doubt in my mind that a large portion of the arguments they make about Israel’s morality stem from historical research and ideas they gleaned from Internet sites. Some of that information was false or misrepresented history (for example, their view that Israel was brutal toward Fedayeen in the early ’50s and that these Fedayeen were merely Arabs trying to make their way back to their homes, when in fact Israel suffered losses of 100-150 civilians per year to attacks by these early terrorists). Cole’s assessment of Israel and of Olmert in this case also seems to originate with various selective information that has come his way through the Internet and fits his world view.

  • There is an old fallacy known as an ad hominem attack: attacking an argument based on its source rather than its validity or soundness. Muffti tries to avoid that and thinks academics generally should. Of course, if one has to assess whether someone else is lying, then the person’s character etc. may well come into play. But Muffti takes it that you aren’t accusing Cole of being a liar…

  • “Nathan, Cole is an expert. His work is respected, as is he. He got by two academic committees at Yale and they moved his candidacy forward. He headed a fairly significant scholarly association that dominates the Middle East scene on many campuses. He is fluent in Arabic, was a practitioner of the Ba’hai faith in the past and has expertise in that area. He seems to have written about Shi’ism as well.”

    Cole’s expertise is in 19th century Iran and he hasn’t publish any books in 8 years. He is not an expert on the Arab world at all. He is not fluent in Arabic. He has a general ability to read it, but can’t speak it.

  • Middle, you may want to look at back issues of the Sunday NYT Week in Review section (hmm, not sure when the article appeared), which did a searching analysis (and debunking) of Cole’s ‘translation’ of Ahmadinejad’s threats.

  • GM, I have no idea why Cole would write what he does. If he’s lying, then perhaps it’s better than being a scholar of the Mid-East who can’t read the situation on the ground. I can state that he doesn’t publish comments that disagree with his views very often and that suggests an overt purpose. But lying? I don’t know. People are blinded by their ideology or try to see in everything a supporting position for their views.

  • TM, once again maligning the left and Democrats. As if the right can do no wrong? What about their favorite mega church pastor who is funding the anti-semitic “Left Behind” video game? Don’t you think video games involving the killing of Jews who refuse to convert to fundamentalist Christianity are a wee bit more dangerous then what some nutty pundit says on his blog? It’s basically teaching young minds that it is OK to kill Jews if they don’t convert to fundamentalist Christianity. It’s almost as bad as some of the rubbish that Saudis have in their textbooks. Also, I would dare say that the “Left Behind” crew have a far larger following on the right then the following Juan Cole does on the left. Haven’t you noticed them all jumping out to defend Mel Gibson? Funny, for supposed “strong” supporters of Israel, they don’t seem to be that strong on supporting the Jews by calling out anti-semites amongst their midst…

    As for Connecticut, Lieberman is getting exactly what he deserves. Notice that the same people who are actively working to bring Lieberman down are also very much committed to seeing Russ Feingold be president in 2008. This race in Connecticut has absolutely nothing to do with Lieberman being a Jew and everything to do with him being the Republicans’ “favorite” Democrat. We’re tired of Lieberman’s Fox News appearances and his bashing of progressives like Feingold. We’ve decided that since he loves being on Fox News so much, why not let him go work there instead? I’m quite pleased to say that the voters of Connecticut overwhelmingly agree. Even Mort Zuckerman, Joe’s #1 fan, has conceded that Lieberman is toast in both the Primary and the General.

  • Dude, I’m called TheMiddle for a reason. I have strong criticisms of the Right as well. In fact, the irony here is that I’ve always thought going into Iraq was a profound mistake for the US and absolutely the wrong direction to take with respect to the war on terrorism and especially in view of the many other economic issues facing the US at this time.

    The problem has become that in vilifying the so-called Neo-Cons and their support for the Iraq adventure, many on the Left, being the natural opponents of the Neo-Cons who populate the Right, have taken to using “Neo-Con” as a substiture for “Jew” and/or “Zionist.” It’s the same bullshit as Cole using the term “Likudnik.” Once you’ve breached that line – that false line, I should add – the next step, of course, is to sound the Buchanan trumpet of dual loyalty and bring up the Zionism issue as if this is what dictates American policy. Sorry, it’s too much to swallow and in this case while you have some on the Right who say these things – Walt & Mearsheimer; Buchanan; Novak – the strongest attacks come from the Left. In part this is because the Iraq war has given common cause to many and as we’ve seen in the past years, many on the Left, even the moderate Left who oppose the war, end up signing on to the views of groups like ANSWER.

    With respect to fundamentalist Christians, I don’t see your point here. Why are you bringing them up? They are not the only supporters of Israel on the Right first of all, and second, I’m talking about Cole here.

    Anybody reading Jewlicious knows that I abhor any attempt to convert Jews. It’s not as if I walk around trying to convert others to Judaism and fully expect to be left alone with my faith. If the Southern Baptists or the Christians who call themselves “Jews” for Jesus want to convert me, I oppose this vehemently. If they also choose to support Israel, what should I do? I don’t go to their public events and don’t support them financially and attack their attempts to convert me. Isn’t that sufficient opposition? I want to do stem cell research and oppose the Right’s views on this issue. So I oppose them on that and welcome their support of Israel because on that issue they are right.

    I admit that I haven’t seen people out there defending Gibson, so I guess I must be reading the wrong websites. The funny thing is that when he accused the Jews of causing all the wars, he was repeating one of the canards of the pro-Palestinian Left where they blame the current state of the Middle East, particularly its violence, on Israel.

    As for Lieberman, again I’m not such a big fan. If he loses, he loses. I don’t vote for people because they are Jewish but rather because they are good at what they do and represent many of the views that are important to me. That, however, was not my point about Lieberman and those on the Left who are trying to bring him down. Rather, my point was that those who are trying to bring him down are also among Cole’s strongest supporters and readers. As such, the issue isn’t whether Lieberman is Jewish or not because that isn’t a primary consideration for me, but rather that the forces bringing him down seem to support views such as Cole’s with respect to Israel AND the current state of the world. When Cole writes that,

    The difference between Ahmadinejad and Olmert is that the Iranian president is a blowhard. The one who had practical plans to wipe a country off the map was Olmert.

    I can only envision all the Daily Kos readers and all those Democrats who are screaming about Lieberman nodding their heads in idiotic unison because their master and mentor, the great Wizard of Cole, has spoken. They can support Russ Feingold from here to forever and even if he is about to become the first-ever Jewish President of the US, if these are the views he supports and the views of his supporters, please give me a Gibson-lovin’, apocalyptic, world-end devotee Presidential candidate any day of the week because it is Ahmadinejad we should be very worried about, not Olmert.

  • I wrote a long post covering every error and bias and unprofessional behavior of Cole’s I knew about. What has been talked about in this post is just the tip of the iceberg.

    One of many many examples is that he thinks Israel’s generals have deliberately started wars in the summer (like Israel’s wars have never been reactions to aggression) because – get this – universities are primary locations of opposition to israel and in the summer students are on vacation, so they can’t protest Israel.

    He really thinks Israel times its wars based on college calendars.

  • With 83% of districts reporting at 10:30pm EST, Joe Lieberman has 48% of the primary vote vs. Ned Lamont’s “landslide” 52%. It’s gonna be a long night…

Leave a Comment