CAMERA Letter in Washington Jewish Week Discusses Speaker’s Falsehoods

Unreliable prose, not politics, is the problem

In “Author favoring one-state solution back on at Politics and Prose” (WJW, June 12), “Carla Cohen blames ‘dumbness’ for her decision to cancel an appearance” by University of California English professor Saree Makdisi. Earlier, in The Washington Post, Cohen reinstated her invitation although Makdisi’s position — implying the end of the Jewish state — “disturbed” her.”

The issue should have been Makdisi’s unreliable prose, not his politics.

For example, from a series of Los Angeles Times op-eds:

• On Nov. 21, 2004, Makdisi charged that in “our global, multi-cultured world … among developed countries, only in Israel is ethnicity deemed an acceptable foundation for politics.” Yet in virtually all 21 countries of the Arab League and 57 states of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, ethnic-religious minorities find their political participation limited by law and custom. Meanwhile, Israeli Arabs serve in parliament and on the courts, for example.

• Makdisi also alleged that Israel’s security barrier would “trap” “hundreds of thousands of Palestinians” in “dozens of separate enclaves.” Make that 5,200 Palestinian Arabs in a “closed military area.”

• On Jan. 7, 2006, Makdisi charged that “20,000 people — almost all innocent civilians — were killed during [Ariel] Sharon’s [1982] Lebanon adventure.” An Nahar, a Lebanese publication, reported approximately 18,000 dead — including nearly 11,000 PLO terrorists and Syrian troops.

• On Oct. 21, 2006, Makdisi insisted that Hezbollah gunmen did not hide among Lebanon’s civilian population in the 2006 Israeli-Hezbollah war. Contradicting him were, among others, the head of U.N. humanitarian efforts (July 24, 2006), and items in The New York Times (July 28), Associated Press (August 26) and The Washington Post (Oct. 8).

• Makdisi also charged that “the vast majority of the 1,200 Lebanese killed by Israeli bombardments were civilians” who were “in the first instance” the targets. But British and Arab newspapers reported between 500 and 700 Hezbollah fatalities. Noncombatant deaths were largely the consequence of Hezbollah’s basing itself among civilians.

Disinviting Makdisi ought to stem from fact-checking, not censorship.

ERIC ROZENMAN

Washington Director, CAMERA-
Committee for Accuracy in Middle East
Reporting in America

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