11 thoughts on “What Do You Get When You Cross Vidal Sassoon With Global Jihad? – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. “My own extensive research into this phenomenon has, unfortunately, convinced me that the Holocaust did not truly succeed in neutralizing the scourge of anti-Semitism.”

    Hahahaha! That is hilarious! I never knew that it had been Hitler’s aim to neutralize the scourge of anti-Semitism! What a scholar!

  2. Richard,
    Yesterday you defended the Goldstone Report, although you seem not to have read its 575 pages – or if you have, you oddly refrained from saying so anywhere. Today you lambast a brief op-ed written on the bases of a 1,200 page book which you certainly haven’t read, as it will be published only in January 2010. Wistrich, of course, needs no certification from you. The academic world has developed tools to measure the importance of research (publications, citations, that sort of thing), and he is widely regarded as one of the most important scholars in his field, world-wide.
    What’s with you?

    1. although you seem not to have read its 575 pages

      I have participated in conference calls with Richard Goldstone and Jessica Montell of B’Tselem. I have read significant portions of the report. I have read numerous interviews with Goldstone. All of this allows me to feel comfortable with the Report and defending it.

      Wistrich has written a lamentable op ed in Haaretz. I base my judgment of Wistrich’s scholarship on this op ed. Believe me, if Wistrich’s scholarship were first-rate I’d be able to see at least a glimmer of that even in something as short as an op ed. And if this doesn’t represent Wistrich’s views fairly then why did he publish it?

      he is widely regarded as one of the most important scholars in his field, world-wide.

      Meaning because you endorse his hysterical Islamophobic view of the world that he’s a top flight scholar. What does “widely regarded” mean specifically? By whom? And on what basis?

      If I think he’s a borderline inarticulate blow-hard I assure you I’m not in the minority.

      I notice you haven’t even attempted to defend the thesis of his op ed. Cold feet? Or do you too believe it’s a crock? Or at the very least grossly exaggerated?

      1. Richard,

        We’re not going to evaluate Wistrich’s scholarship here, as you obviously lack the tools to do so. Suffice it to say that no-one who deals with scholarly analysis of antisemitism can overlook him; it is possible to disagree with him, that’s what academia is all about after all, but it’s not possible to denigrate him without yourself looking uneducated.

        I’m not voicing an opinion. I’m stating fact. Wistrich is at the top of his field, worldwide. Whether you can round up a gang of people who are as unlearned as yourself? I have no doubt you can. Whether any of them will be scholars in the field? I think not.

        As for the facts he postulates in his article. I’m an expert on Nazism and also Nazi antisemitism, things I spent decades learning about, using mostly German sources. I don’t read Arabic (you don’t either), so my ability to know what’s going on in the Arab world is limited: I have no choice but to listen to the people who know. When faced with descriptions and analysis of things I cannot investigate on my own, I have to rely on how plausible their narrative is, how convincing their methodology is, and what other people say about the same matters. Ah, yes, and the record of the analysts also plays a role, up to a point. Based upon all this, I don’t see anything particularly surprising about Wistrich’s column. The fact that the Arab world (not all of the Muslim world) is currently the world’s largest bastion of the worst antisemitism around is hardly news. Quite a bit of it, so far as I can tell, looks decidedly Nazi-like, yes.

        1. you obviously lack the tools to do so

          You’re such a twit. I don’t lack the tools to evaluate his scholarship. Do you know anything about my own academic background? Besides, a close friend is a tenured professor of Jewish studies at a major university says this about Wistrich:

          He went over to the dark side a long time ago. It’s a pity, really, because he was once a fine historian. But he drowned in anti-semitism studies.

          no-one who deals with scholarly analysis of antisemitism can overlook him

          You mean no one who is involved with an histrionic approach to the issue of anti-Semitism studies can overlook him. Clearly, he has long since stopped being a scholar and like Dan Pipes, turned into an ideologue w. a thin veneer of scholarship.

          Based upon all this, I don’t see anything particularly surprising about Wistrich’s column.

          And I draw a diff. conclusion. But what’s interesting is that you concede you do not know Arabic. Your only familiarity w. sources will be 2nd hand via a tainted source like MEMRI or Wistrich. I’d be willing to bet that Wistrich doesn’t know Arabic either. But even if he does, that doesn’t mean he’s a reliable interpreter of what he’s reading.

          Besides, the issue isn’t whether there is Muslim anti-Semitism. Of course there is. Just as there is Jewish Islamophobia. The real question is what does it mean & how significant is it. Any reasonable observer grasps the fact that anti-Semitism derives at least as much fr. Muslim hatred of Israeli oppression of Palestinians as it does fr. any intrinsic anti-Semitism. And the fact that Wistrich compares Islamic anti-Semitism to Nazism thus implying that Muslim anti-Semitism poses the same type of existential threat to Israel & the Jewish people as Nazism did is just plain junk scholarship.

        2. These empty comparisons of historical European anti-Semitism and Nazi Germany with the contemporary Arab and Persian Middle East are so phony and tiresome. Cultural context and historical framing are completely lost on ideological zealots like Wistrich. Germany in the early 20th century was a major world power and very formidable military power, and one of the most scientifically & technologically advanced nations on earth at the time (as it is today). The country had vast scientific, intellectual & material resources to draw from when Hitler started building up the Nazi military war machine in the mid & late ’30’s.

          To compare the historical Nazi cancer that grew up and festered in the heart of Western civilization & culture to the imperially dominated (by the West), bruised & beaten-up Middle East is beyond ludicrous, it’s frankly insane. You guys need to get over your debilitating Europe complex, and stop taking it out on the Palestinians and other Middle Eastern peoples, both Arab and Persian. The Palestinians are an oppressed, occupied people. The power relationship and historical context here are so fundamentally different. Wistrich’s deeply ideological anti-Semitism narrative applied to the Middle East and Israel/Palestine is mostly meaningless. It refuses to take into account the context of the horrific Occupation and the daily brutalization of the Palestinians (and periodic brutalization of the Lebanese). That is the crucibe from which hostility toward Israel—and to some tragic extent Jews in general insofar as Israel is the ‘Jewish state’—arises, when you’re specifically talking about the Middle East.

  3. Hey Richard –

    This isn’t for posting (thou you may, if you wish). It’s a bit off thread here, as it relates directly to our previous spat about how thriving Israel is.

    You’ve really got to go read Jeffrey Goldberg’s recent post where he interviews Dan Senor. Now I”m not going to tell you the dirty secret about Senor and Singer and who they really are, coz that would send all your warning bells a-clanging, but it’s not really relevant to their subject matter anyway. (Unless you’re into conspiracy theories… which you, Richard, actually may be). But anyway, you’ve just GOT TO read that interview. It will warm your cockles and make you proud. The best thing about it, of course, is that’s it’s all true. A bit understated, perhaps, but true. I know, because I’m in the middle of it, having the time of my life.

    1. Blah, blah, blah. Goldberg, Senor, Friedman—they all chant the same bankrupt mantra: Israeli high tech miracle. It’s so trite, so unconvincing. To read a really thoughtful scholar who actually knows what he’s talking about on this subject you have to read Bernard Avishai. He’s not only an entrepreneur, but he is an academic with an economics background. He is not merely a journalist, nor a promoter, nor a partisan hack, terms which variously characterize all of those I mentioned above. He actually writes about how much more developed Israel could be w/o the Occupation as an albatross around Israel’s neck. And to divorce Israel’s economy from the Occupation as Goldberg praises Senor for doing shows neither has a clue about Israeli economics.

  4. In and of itself, Wistrich’s placement of the term ‘ethnic cleansing’ in ironic quotes rather clearly indicates that he cannot be taken seriously as a scholar.

    I also see that Wistrich references Kristallnacht twice – in reality, every day is Kristalltag for the Palestinians.

    Shame on Ha’aretz for publishing this bigoted rubbish.

    1. But that’s just it, Wistrich and co. don’t see the Palestinians as human beings with inalienable rights, so the crimes perpetrated against the Palestinian and other Arab nations by Israel are invisible to them. That’s the great irony of their essentialistic ‘anti-Semitism’ narrative and references to the Nazis.

      To the extent one can draw a parralel with Nazi racism (which I think is generally problematic and unadvisable) I’m afraid it’s the inverse of how they’d like to construct it. In the Israeli racial hierarchy, Palestinians are seen as sub-human savages who can be regularly treated with savage brutality without compunction or consequence. Look at the regular shootings, harrassment, sickening ‘target practice’ and the like perpetrated against Palestinian civilians in the occupied territories by both the IDF and the fanatic settlers. Since the victims and targets aren’t Jews, Wistrich (and Yaacov) couldn’t care less, that’s about as hardcore and deep-seated a form of racism you’re gonna find these days.

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