When it comes to off-the-wall commentary on the Middle East conflict, University of Michigan history professor Juan Cole is the gift that keeps on giving. If there's anti-Israel propaganda to be found, one can be sure Cole will be peddling it at his ironically named blog, Informed Comment. His labeling of Gaza in September, 2007 as "the worst outcome of Western colonialism anywhere in the world outside the Belgian Congo" is a case in point.
As noted by Noah Pollack at Contentions, Cole's latest blog ramblings ratchet up the hysteria another notch. Not content with alleging persecution of the self-defeating Palestinians, Cole has now decided to crown them with the martyrdom of slavery. As he puts it:
The Israelis are going to have to live in the midst of the Palestinian people for the rest of the century. The Palestinians are not going away. The Israelis cannot wish them away or intimidate them into accepting statelessness, dire poverty, foreign domination and a condition analogous to slavery.
This is reminiscent of accusations of "genocide" against Israel, even as the Palestinian population has grown exponentially over the past several decades. But for Cole, it's par for the course.
Cole's paranoia seems to know no bounds. In the above-referenced post, "Israeli Atrocity on Gaza Civilians," Cole accuses Israel of perpetrating "war crimes" against the residents of Gaza, and of using the U.S. election season to cover them up:
It is a perfect time for the Israeli government to commit a war crime on the miserable civilians of the Gaza Strip. The US primary season has created a news blackout on US television about foreign news…So most Americans will never even know that the Israelis have cut off fuel to Gaza's power plant, depriving tens of thousands of people of electricity.
For this dramatic claim, Cole relies on an Associated Press article that, along with other mainstream media coverage of the blackout, has been subjected to extensive criticism. In fact, the fuel shipment that was held up following the launching of hundreds of Kassam rockets into Israel over the past week had nothing to do with the Gaza blackout. As Honest Reporting explains in their latest communiqué, Hamas itself shut down Gaza's only power station and invited reporters to watch, thereby using the staged event to spread the usual calumnies against Israel.
Cole certainly fell for the Hamas publicity stunt, to the point where he even managed to overlook the following salient quote in the AP article he references:
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Arye Mekel charged that Hamas created an artificial emergency, though Gaza continues to receive 75% of its normal electricity supplies. The blackout "is a Hamas ploy to pretend there is some kind of crisis to attract international sympathy," he told The Associated Press.
But Cole's feverish imaginings don't end there. In a later blog post, he waxes poetic about:
The humanitarian impact of Israel's electricity blockade of the Gaza Strip. Raw sewage in the streets, which will soon seep into houses; asthmatics choking; hospitals on the verge of switching off life support.
So, on top of "atrocities," "war crimes, and "slavery," Israel now stands accused of killing asthmatics and newborns? Will the madness never end? Not if Middle East studies "experts" such as Juan Cole have anything to say about it.