THE RETURN OF JOEL BEININ
By Cinnamon Stillwell
So declared Middle Eastern History Professor and former President of the Middle East Studies Association, Joel Beinin, on the Peninsula Peace and Justice Center (PPJC) cable television program, Other Voices last week in Palo Alto, California.
Following an "extended leave" from Stanford University in 2006, based on what Beinin then described as the University's "minimal institutional interest in the study and teaching of the modern Middle East," a two-year stint as Director of Middle East Studies at the American University in Cairo (AUC), Egypt, and rumors earlier this year that he was to land a position as Director of the Middle East Studies Center at Portland State University, Portland, Oregon, Beinin is back at Stanford this Fall.
If the PPJC interview was any indication, Beinin's anti-American, anti-Israel venom remain intact. At the same time, he made a number of surprisingly candid statements not often heard from Middle East Studies academics.
Beinin followed up his pronouncement about the supposed demise of the "American empire" by conceding that the superpowers most likely to take America's place, China and Russia, were hardly benign or democratic in nature, and that "people will suffer in the process." But he seemed pleased that the "U.S. will no longer dominate the next century," for it will "force Israel to make changes in the Middle East."
Accordingly, Beinin described Israel as "solely dependent on the U.S." and not, as some would have it, "the tail that wags the American dog." Beinin further skewered the Walt-Mearsheimer "Israel Lobby" hypothesis by noting that there are a number of lobbies in the U.S.A. and that the process is a legal and legitimate one.
Beinin was similarly forthright about the problems afflicting Egypt and the tyrannical nature of the Egyptian regime, led by Hosni Mubarak. He spoke about the struggles faced by trade unions, the "dysfunctional" educational system, the persecution of the Baha'i and the corruption of law enforcement, which, as he described it, responds to citizen complaints of any sort with arbitrary imprisonment and torture. One might wonder how Beinin justified his prestigious stint at AUC, or as described in a 2006 interview with Egypt Today, his "comfortable life in Egypt's capital," considering the oppressive nature of his patrons.
The answer lies in Beinin's blame-America first approach. While acknowledging the existence of Islamists and the prevalence of the "imperialism/Zionism/capitalism" trope in Egypt, Beinin placed responsibility for the current state of affairs upon U.S. aid to Egypt. Egypt, as he noted, is the second largest recipient of U.S. aid next to Israel, a fact often lost upon the Israel-obsessed crowd. The U.S. "needs an unpopular government in Egypt" to maintain the "peace treaty with Israel," he concluded.
When asked by a member of the live audience who benefits from the ongoing Arab-Israeli conflict, Beinin pointed the finger at U.S. arms dealers and manufacturers, evangelical Christians trying to "hasten the Second Coming," and the Jewish people who, after suffering the "psychic trauma of the Holocaust," went on via the State of Israel to inflict the same abuse upon others. The identification of Nazism with aspects of Islamist ideology – despite its basis in reality – is an example of this "psychological cycle," according to Beinin.
As for the "self-destructive behavior" of the Palestinians, Beinin again blamed psychological trauma, but this time based on "dispossession." Beinin recognized and condemned the "terrorist outrages" of Hamas, while also noting that the group was democratically elected and thus enjoys popular support. He also pointed out the corruption of Fatah. Yet, he urged Israel to negotiate with a "unified Palestinian government" involving Fatah and Hamas, despite the acknowledged futility of such a course of action. As Beinin put it, "each side needs to recognize the other's pain." Israel retreating to the 1967 borders, abandoning all settlements, and "ending the occupation" wouldn't hurt either, according to Beinin.
In one of the more revealing comments of the evening, Beinin noted that "Egyptian intellectuals" were by far the most rigid and ideologically slanted in their political views. It was the intellectuals, he pointed out, who failed to make a distinction either between the U.S. government and the American people or Jews and Zionists, while the "common people" seemed to "get it."
Ironically, the same could be said for any number of intellectuals inhabiting the ivory towers of Middle East Studies academia in the U.S.A., including Beinin himself. While Beinin's forthrightness on certain issues is laudable, his conclusions remain highly politicized. And questions surrounding Beinin's scholarship and occasionally unsavory tactics persist.
The fact that an audience member, during the question and answer period, described Beinin admiringly as the "counterpart" of the conspiratorial and tendentious University of Michigan History Professor Juan Cole speaks volumes. So, too, does Beinin's status as a guest contributor to Cole's Informed Comment blog.
As Alyssa Lappen, writing about Beinin for Campus Watch in 2004, put it, "if one individual can showcase all the flaws of Middle East Studies in academia, Joel Beinin is that man."
Stanford students beware.
American Foreign Policy -- The Middle East
Israel & the Arabs -- The Israeli-Arab Conflict
Middle East -- Arabs, Arab States,
& Their Middle Eastern Neighbors
North Africa -- The Arab States of Islamic North Africa
The Middle East & the Problem of Iraq
Page Two Page One
The Problem of Rogue States:
Iraq as a Case History
National Strategy for Victory in Iraq
The Middle East & the Problem of Iran
Egypt, Arabs, & the Middle East
Tunisia, Islamic North Africa, & the Arab World
The Middle East & the Problem of Syria
The Middle East -- Lebanon as a Geopolitical Problem
Turkey, the Middle East, & the U.S.A.
Islamism & Jihadism -- The Threat of Radical Islam
Page Three Page Two Page One
International Politics & World Disorder:
War, Peace, & Geopolitics in the Real World:
Foreign Affairs & U.S. National Security
Page Two Page One
Islamist Terrorist Attacks on the U.S.A.
Osama bin Laden & the Islamist Declaration of War
Against the U.S.A. & Western Civilization
Islamist International Terrorism &
U.S. Intelligence Agencies
U.S. National Security Strategy
American Foreign Policy -- Constitutional Democracy:
U.S. Promotion of Constitutional Democracy in Foreign Countries
Cinnamon Stillwell is the Northern California Representative for Campus Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The foregoing article by Cinnamon Stillwell was originally published in Front Page Magazine, September 10, 2008, and can be found on the Internet website maintained by the Middle East Forum, a foreign policy think tank which seeks to define and promote American interests in the Middle East, defining U.S. interests to include fighting radical Islam, working for Palestinian Arab acceptance of the State of Israel, improving the management of U.S. efforts to promote constitutional democracy in the Middle East, reducing America's energy dependence on the Middle East, more robustly asserting U.S. interests vis-à-vis Saudi Arabia, and countering the Iranian threat. (Article URL: http://www.meforum.org/article/1980)
Africa: Black Africa *
Africa: North Africa *
American Government 1
LINKS TO PARTICULAR ISSUES & SUBJECT MATTER CATEGORIES
TREATED IN THE PROGRESSIVE CONSERVATIVE, U.S.A.:
American Government 2 * American Government 3 * American Government 4
American Government 5 * American Politics * Anglosphere * Arabs
Arms Control & WMD * Aztlan Separatists * Big Government
Black Africa * Bureaucracy * Canada * China * Civil Liberties * Communism
Congress, U.S. * Conservative Groups * Conservative vs. Liberal
Constitutional Law * Counterterrorism * Criminal Justice * Disloyalty * Economy
Education * Elections, U.S. * Eminent Domain * Energy & Environment
English-Speaking World * Ethnicity & Race * Europe * Europe: Jews
Family Values * Far East * Fiscal Policy, U.S. * Foreign Aid, U.S. * Foreign Policy, U.S.
France * Hispanic Separatism * Hispanic Treason * Human Health * Immigration
Infrastructure, U.S. * Intelligence, U.S. * Iran * Iraq * Islamic North Africa
Islamic Threat * Islamism * Israeli vs. Arabs * Jews & Anti-Semitism
Jihad & Jihadism * Jihad Manifesto I * Jihad Manifesto II * Judges, U.S. Federal
Judicial Appointments * Judiciary, American * Latin America * Latino Separatism
Latino Treason * Lebanon * Leftists/Liberals * Legal Issues
Local Government, U.S. * Marriage & Family * Media Political Bias
Middle East: Arabs * Middle East: Iran * Middle East: Iraq * Middle East: Israel
Middle East: Lebanon * Middle East: Syria * Middle East: Tunisia
Middle East: Turkey * Militant Islam * Military Defense * Military Justice
Military Weaponry * Modern Welfare State * Morality & Decency
National Identity * National Security * Natural Resources * News Media Bias
North Africa * Patriot Act, USA * Patriotism * Political Culture * Political Ideologies
Political Parties * Political Philosophy * Politics, American * Presidency, U.S.
Private Property * Property Rights * Public Assistance * Radical Islam
Religion & America * Rogue States & WMD * Russia * Science & Ethics
Sedition & Treason * Senate, U.S. * Social Welfare Policy * South Africa
State Government, U.S. * Subsaharan Africa * Subversion * Syria * Terrorism 1
Terrorism 2 * Treason & Sedition * Tunisia * Turkey * Ukraine
UnAmerican Activity * UN & Its Agencies * USA Patriot Act * U.S. Foreign Aid
U.S. Infrastructure * U.S. Intelligence * U.S. Senate * War & Peace
Welfare Policy * WMD & Arms Control
Africa: Black Africa *
Africa: North Africa *
American Government 1
POLITICAL EDUCATION, CONSERVATIVE ANALYSIS
POLITICS, SOCIETY, & THE SOVEREIGN STATE
Website of Dr. Almon Leroy Way, Jr.
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
An Online Journal of Political Commentary & Analysis
Dr. Almon Leroy Way, Jr., Editor