Lawrence Davidson takes McGraw-Hill to task (and rightly so) for taking “the extreme step of withdrawing from the market a published text, Global Politics: Engaging a Complex World, and then proceeded to destroy all the remaining books held in inventory.” This radical solution was the result of pressure from pro-Israel groups who didn’t like the story that the above map told. If it had been incorrect, McGraw-Hill’s actions might have been warranted, but as Davidson explains the maps are not “historically inaccurate.”
Did the group pressuring the publisher have any legitimate claims? No. In fact, as Davidson points out, their claims were “historically perverse – the sort of grasping at straws that reflects a biased and strained rewriting of history.”
Read Davidson’s detailed explanation of the whole sorry affair: History News Network | The Zionists Censor a Textbook – An Analysis
In the aftermath of the Paris and San Bernardino attacks more and more Americans are in favor of sending troops to destroy ISIS and a “do whatever it takes” strategy to completely destroy ISIS and other terrorist threats. But do they know exactly what they are advocating? It’s unlikely!
It is not completely their fault. Many on the Right (pundits, politicians, and intellectuals) are advocating this strategy in the face of what they claim is an existential threat. Many of those who are pushing for this all in approach either don’t understand the level of commitment they are promoting, or have not fully thought through what it would take to achieve such a goal.
In light of this disconnect, Andrew J. Bacevich challenges the proposal by laying out in no uncertain terms what it would take to execute this strategy. He concludes that the costs (in terms of lives, treasure, and values) would be great! “By sowing fear and fostering impossible expectations of perfect security, it would also compromise American freedom in the name of protecting it. The nation that decades from now might celebrate VT Day — victory over terrorism — will have become a different place, materially, politically, culturally, and morally.”
Read the entire piece here: History News Network | Beyond ISIS
As the violence escalates between Israelis and Palestinians, Netanyahu reaches a new low. Rather than aiming to deescalate the situation, he continues to use rhetoric that is inflammatory, offensive, and dishonest. But this time he may have went too far. Even Israelis are denouncing him: “Israeli historians and opposition politicians joined Palestinians in denouncing the Israeli prime minister for saying the grand mufti of Jerusalem gave Hitler the idea of annihilating Jews.”
Read the entire article here: Netanyahu Denounced for Saying Palestinian Inspired Holocaust – The New York Times
“Russia and Iran are deeply embedded in Syria; they cannot be dislodged and will always remain a player in shaping Syria’s future. The US has little choice but to accept this simple reality.” As much as I hate the idea, I think that Alon Ben-Meir is right. Given the situation, our only option if we want to stop the conflict in Syria and defeat ISIS is to work with Russia and Iran (both of which have substantial interests in the region). What’s the alternative?
Read an overview of Ben-Meir’s solution here: History News Network | These Are the Hard Steps that Must Be Taken to Resolve the Syrian Mess
Mike Giglio and Munzer al-Awad give us an in-depth view of the antiquities trade in Syria at BuzzFeed. The sell off of the precious cache of ancient antiquities in Syria took off after the war began four years ago. It’s hard to read. The Syrians are losing their lives, their livelihoods, and their heritage.
And it is not just ISIS that is engaged in selling off these historical treasures, many Syrians have been forced by circumstances to participate in the illegal trade. As one of the Syrians admitted, “We feel bad because we are stealing our history and selling it for a cheap price…But we have become homeless and jobless, so we don’t care.” They’re just trying to survive and this lucrative trade is one of the few options open to them. The only thing that will stop this trade is the return of peace and a robust economy that doesn’t put Syrians in the position of selling off their history in order to survive.
Read the entire article here: This Is How Syrian Antiquities Are Being Smuggled And Sold – BuzzFeed News.
Jonathan Judaken is just the latest victim in a concerted effort by a well-organized group united in defense of Israel. I have written on this topic several times (Pro-Israeli Groups Continue their Assault on Academic Freedom and Conservatives go after UCLA’s historian James Gelvin). It is a troubling trend that threatens academic freedom and the progress that flows from it.
Judaken opens with an explanation of his situation: “Let me tell you how I ended up on Jihad Watch. This is a tale of the new red scare wending its way across college campuses. More than an account of my own travails, this is an anatomy of how critical thought about Islam and Judaism, the Arab-Israeli conflict, anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim racism is today monitored in the academy with the goal of chilling reflection.”
I noticed a common theme in the comments section. (Of course, going to the comments section of any online forum is a bit like going to the Twilight Zone. You enter at your own risk.) Many of the commenters accused Judaken of being the McCarthyites, not the minions of Campus Watch. The strategy of flipping an argument on its head as a way of taking down your opponent is not new. It has proven to be an effective strategy on the right. Someone calls you a racist, you respond by claiming that they are the real racist. Someone calls you intolerant, you respond by calling them intolerant, and so on.
The problem with their argument is that they fail to make the appropriate distinction between McCarthyism and criticism. What McCarthy did was attempt to silence people that he disagreed with through intimidation and bullying tactics, not debate. Judaken was not trying to silence those associated with the Middle East Forum and Campus Watch, but expose what they were doing. And the analogy is appropriate because they use the tactics of intimidation to bully those in academia whose account of Middle East history does not agree with theirs (the Israeli government is always innocent and anyone who says otherwise is an anti-Semite).
What Caschetta did was not criticism for the purpose of advancing the debate, but an intentional distortion of Judaken’s lecture and intentions. The Middle East Forum was founded to promote a particular ideology. And the way they have chosen to further that ideology is through intimidation, not academic debate. The academic world is built on the principle of debate and criticism. This is what fuels progress in all academic fields of knowledge. If the real goal of Campus Watch was the advancement of knowledge, there are multiple avenues available to critique Judaken’s position in a constructive and professional manner. Every academic has to face criticism as they engage in their own field. This is not the kind of criticism that Caschetta engaged in. He intentionally distorted Judaken’s lecture as a way to intimidate him. This was the way of McCarthy, and therefore the label is apt in the case of Campus Watch, but not the other way around.
Here’s an excerpt from the essay: “The Iraqi military, which consisted of 385,000 men in the army and 285,000 in the Ministry of Defense, was a much respected institution in Iraq and its disbandment shocked Iraqi society. The tens of thousands of Iraqi soldiers who had taken their weapons home instead of fighting the American invasion felt betrayed when they were fired. This created a recruitment pool of armed, organized and disaffected soldiers. In one fell swoop these Iraqi soldiers lost their careers, their paychecks, their pensions and their source of pride. General Daniel Bolger would claim that de-Baathification ‘guaranteed Sunni outrage.’”
Read Williams’ entire argument here:
David Shulman comments on a report released by Breaking the Silence, an organization of Israeli ex-soldiers. The report is the culmination of an investigation of the Israeli campaign in Gaza last summer. Shulman explains that “the findings of the report—including the results of the fighting and the orders that brought them about—are nothing very new. What is more striking is how they suggest the impressive persistence and, indeed, continual intensification of practices that have occurred over the last three or four decades. Significant change lies only in the fact that the acts in question now reflect deliberate and explicit policy of a systemic nature coming down from the top. The Israel army once claimed to hold, nominally at least, to moral considerations of an entirely different order than those officially adopted last summer. Now, even that pretense seems to be gone.” Read more on this report and Shulman’s insightful commentary: