Edward Said is dying. Leukemia and chemotherapy are taking their toll on the distinguished Columbia University professor and most eloquent spokesperson for the Palestinian people. Right now it's difficult to say which hurts Said more — the debilitating cancer or Ariel Sharon's brutality toward the Palestinians.
Professor Said, a secular Palestinian Christian and a voice for Arab-Jewish reconciliation, has been called everything: a fundamentalist, a terrorist, a propagandist and an anti-Semite. A decade ago he was placed on a hit list by the terrorist group the Jewish Defense League.
While in Israel and the occupied territories (yes, they're occupied, not "disputed") Sharon's government is being shorn up with extremists, in the United States there is a concerted campaign of coercion and intimidation underway to attack critics of Israel and U.S. policy in the Mideast.
The new McCarthyism is led by groups with Orwellian sounding names like Campus Watch, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America and the Middle East Media Research Institute. Our own Assistant Professor Robert Ostergard, who also teaches at Binghamton, has been blacklisted and called "dangerous" by Campus Watch because he uses texts that are critical of the Israeli government.
If you even attempt to tell the Palestinian narrative, you're shouted down as an anti-Semite. And if you're not labeled an anti-Semite outright you're called "anti-Israel" or "anti-American" or your motivations are called "suspicious."
For more on these academic thugs, read the Sept. 27 New York Times article on Campus Watch. And I suggest to anyone who wants to get an honest picture of the Middle East — read the Israeli press, not the pathetic drivel that passes for journalism in the United States. Check out www.haaretzdaily.com.
Last week this paper published a poorly written and not quite honest article associating Middle East activism with anti-Semitism.
What you didn't read in the article was that some members of the Jewish communities at the schools which were alleged to be hotbeds of anti-Semitism disputed the claims made by U.S. News & World Report.
Moreover, at the San Francisco State rally, Arab students were attacked as well. They were called "sand niggers," "terrorists," "Arab losers" and told "to stick flags up [their] asses" by the pro-Israel protesters. Not exactly the Kumbaya drum circle last week's article made the rally out to be.
Even U.S. News itself ran a correction a few weeks after its article appeared, retracting some of its more incendiary allegations. Anyone who is familiar with U.S. News knows of its hostility toward Muslims in particular, and honest reporting in general.
A reasoned and intelligent analysis of anti-Semitism and activism, which is sorely needed, can be found in "The Mideast War Breaks Out on Campus" in the May 30 issue of The Nation.
It is not anti-Semitic to care as much for the lives of Arabs and Palestinians as we do for Americans and Israelis, it's human.