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Fund-Cole Feud:

John Fund on Juan Cole on Israel: "He calls Israel 'the most dangerous regime in the Middle East.'"

Juan Cole on Israel, written in 2004, when Ariel Sharon was prime minister: "The most dangerous regime to United States interests in the Middle East is that of Ariel Sharon."

Juan Cole on John Fund on Juan Cole: John Fund of the Wall Street Journal editorial page has published a large number of falsehoods about me. The most egregious is this:'He calls Israel "the most dangerous regime in the Middle East."' This a lie. I never said that.... I did not say it, or say or imply anything like it."

Juan Cole on John Fund on Juan Cole II:

John Fund of the Wall Street Journal attacked me in a column on Monday in which he alleged that I had called Israel the "most dangerous regime in the Middle East."

This quote is a sheer fabrication. Mr. Fund put it forward as a reason for which I should not have a professorship. Yet I never said it. He knows that I never said it. He has still not retracted it or apologized for this and other falsehoods he spewed about me in his column.

What kind of journalist just makes falsehoods up and puts them in someone's mouth? What kind of newspaper allows that? And in order to damage someone's career? Isn't that a tort?

Conclusion: The Fund quotation is inaccurate because either an ellipsis should have replaced the "to U.S. interests," or Fund should not have used quotes, but "sheer fabrication" doesn't seem right. And I'll leave it to readers to judge whether Cole did not "say or imply anything like it."

Suggestion: Fund publish a correction in which he acknowledges that Cole did not say that Israel "is the most dangerous regime in the Middle East," but that Israel "is the most dangerous regime to United States interests in the Middle East." Then readers can decide whether this is an important distinction.

UPDATE: Several commentors argue that the correction would still be inaccurate, because Cole wasn't talking about "Israel" as a dangerous regime, but Ariel Sharon's Israel as a dangerous regime. I think this is semantics, but let's say that an even more precise correction would be that Cole wrote that presently, Israel "is the most dangerous regime to United States interests in the Middle East." Given that when he wrote this Ariel Sharon was prime minister of Israel, and he said Ariel Sharon's regime is the most dangerous to U.S. interests, I think that is indisputably accurate, though I'm sure somone will dispute it, anyway. I'm happy to make this as accurate as possible, because it's not like Cole hasn't said much more outrageous things, not all of which are noted in Fund's article.

spencere (mail):
It looks like a massive distinction to me.
4.26.2006 10:53am
xx:
I agree with spencere. "sheer fabrication" might not be the right term for it, but those sure sound like totally different concepts.

"Most dangerous regime" standing alone seems to imply that the speaker is saying Israel is violent.

"Most dangerous regime to U.S. Interests" seems to say that the policies the regime is pursuing will end up substantially harming U.S. interests.

These are dramatically different statements.
4.26.2006 11:08am
Hoya:
Ditto. Anyone who cannot see that there is a massive conceptual difference between 'dangerous to x' and 'dangerous' simpliciter is really confused.
4.26.2006 11:12am
ATL (mail) (www):
Prof. Bernstein, your paraphrase of Prof. Cole's quote is hardly accurate. Cole's quote distinguishes not only between the generality of "most dangerous regime in the Middle East" and the specificity of "most dangerous regime to United States interests in the Middle East," but also between "Ariel Sharon's regime" and the state of Israel. That, to me, is an even bigger distinction than the one you pointed out.
4.26.2006 11:12am
Juan Cole (mail):
You know who's behind Fund misquoting me, right?

THE JOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSSSSS!!!!!!
4.26.2006 11:15am
davidbernstein (mail):
ATL, that's not a persuasive distinction, though Cole tries to push it. Ariel Sharon's regime WAS the Israel regime. No one claims that Cole stated that Israel "will always be the most dangerous regime..." just that he said it was then.
4.26.2006 11:16am
Some Guy (mail):
Mr. Bernstein,

Keep in mind, everyone that steps up to defend Cole is probably a big fan of his. Anti-Semitism runs deep in those troubled waters, so I wouldn't be surprised if half his defenders were looking at your name and muttering under their breath while commenting.
4.26.2006 11:18am
ATL (mail) (www):
Prof. Bernstein, I guess we'll agree to disagree. To me, the original Cole quote was much closer to "the most dangerous man in the middle east to US interests is ariel sharon" than "the most dangerous country to US interests in the middle east is Isreal." I would have never read the Cole quote as saying the latter, but I would readily read it as the former.

To me it's a clear attack against Ariel Sharon, not Israel. I guess you have a right to apply contra proferentem to the quote, but I don't even find it ambiguous.
4.26.2006 11:21am
davidbernstein (mail):
Well, I think we should be fair to both Cole and Fund, even though I'm generally far more inclined to substantively agree with the latter than the former. Cole has said plenty of undisputed things worthy of criticism.
4.26.2006 11:21am
ATL (mail) (www):

Keep in mind, everyone that steps up to defend Cole is probably a big fan of his. Anti-Semitism runs deep in those troubled waters, so I wouldn't be surprised if half his defenders were looking at your name and muttering under their breath while commenting.


Great point. You may want to alert the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta that all my donations have been made in the name of anti-semitism.
4.26.2006 11:22am
eeyn524:
Well, I have to commend DB for his bravery in finally turning on comments on an Israel related post. Unfortunately, this one of less defensible ones. The suggested correction is intentionally misleading. The only reason for it is to try to blur the distinction between criticizing a paricular leader and criticizing a whole nation.
4.26.2006 11:25am
xx:
"You may want to alert the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta that all my donations have been made in the name of anti-semitism."

As long as he doesn't tell my rabbi I'm an antisemite. That guy can lecture you for a long time.
4.26.2006 11:25am
Goober (mail):
Ah, the first gratuitous charge of anti-semitism of the day. Congrats, Someguy!
4.26.2006 11:26am
Kneejerk:
Juan Cole is an idiot; he obviously doesn't realize that Israel can do no wrong.
4.26.2006 11:27am
davidbernstein (mail):
"The most dangerous regime in the world is that of George W. Bush."
"The most dangerous regime in the world is that of the United States."

Sorry, I don't see any meaningful distinction. Obviously, anyone making the latter statement would not make it if their preferred leader, whoever that is, was in power. No country is inherently dangerous apart from its leadership.
4.26.2006 11:28am
Raw_Data (mail):
There's a big distinction. Leaving off "to United State interests" significantly changes the meaning.
4.26.2006 11:30am
xx:
Raw_Data - I think Prof. Bernstein was responding to ATL, not commenting on the "interests" distinction.
4.26.2006 11:32am
Mr. Anahnimus (mail):
Nothing is "dangerous" in a vacuum.

EVERY time you hear someone saying that someone or something is dangerous, or threatening, or anything of the like, you have to ask "dangerous to whom?"

The fact that Juan Cole clearly does not identify the phrase "dangerous" with "dangerous to the interests of the United States" suggests that he was not speaking as a member of the United States.

Which leads inexorably to the question of exactly what he thought he was speaking as when he made the statement.

All things considered, I think we can forgive Fund his assumption that a professor in the United States who says something is "dangerous to the United States" is, in fact, saying that something is "dangerous" with an implicit qualification that it is dangerous to us, as in, we people who live in the United States.

Still, clarity is important, so it couldn't hurt to make sure that things are set right. I think Fund should apologize for assuming that Juan Cole was an American.

-A
4.26.2006 11:35am
Glenn Bridgman (mail):
"Sorry, I don't see any meaningful distinction. Obviously, anyone making the latter statement would not make it if their preferred leader, whoever that is, was in power. No country is inherently dangerous apart from its leadership."

Counterexample: Pakistan.
4.26.2006 11:36am
Choosing Sides 2 (mail):
Bernstein has also truncated Cole's quote. This is the full sentence:

"The most dangerous regime to United States interests in the Middle East is that of Ariel Sharon, not because he fights terrorists, but because he is stealing the land of another people and is brutalizing them in the process--and those are people with whom the rest of the Middle East and the Muslim world sympathizes."

Notice that the rest of the quote refers to "he" (Ariel Sharon) and not "it" (Israel). The further context shows that Israel per se is not the "dangerous regime," but rather Israel led by Sharon is the most "dangerous regime." You can quibble over whether that is true (I would say that even under Sharon's leadership, Israel was not the most dangerous regime), but Cole's view has been misrepresented by Fund, and to a lesser extent, Bernstein.
4.26.2006 11:37am
eeyn524:

"The most dangerous regime in the world is that of George W. Bush."
"The most dangerous regime in the world is that of the United States."

Sorry, I don't see any meaningful distinction. Obviously, anyone making the latter statement would not make it if their preferred leader, whoever that is, was in power. No country is inherently dangerous apart from its leadership.


Well, if you really feel there isn't any distinction, out of two version, why didn't you choose the one that's closest to Cole's original? Clearly you thought there was some rhetorical advantage to be gained for your side of the argument by adding the word Israel and deleting Ariel Sharon.
4.26.2006 11:40am
xx:
Anahnimus: That's a dumb distinction. Is it inaccurate for an American to describe a serial murderer in rural China as "dangerous?" The serial murderer isn't dangerous to Americans.

It also misses that the distinction isn't WHO Israel is dangerous to, but whether the regime is dangerous to a specific set of interests, or just plain dangerous.
4.26.2006 11:42am
Angus:
I've never even read anything by Juan Cole before this. (I initially thought the post was about John Cole). It seems to me, though, that Bernstein and Fund (who I also am unfamiliar with) are twisting the guy's words.

"Israel is the most dangerous regime in the world." or "The United States is the most dangerous regime in the world." Both imply that the country and its entire people are the source of the problem, and that therefore there is really no solving it.

To me, that is entirely different than saying:

"Sharon's regime is the most dangerous." or "Bush's regime is the most dangerous." Both imply that the problem is in the country's current leadership only, and not inherent in the country or the people as a whole.

Ariel Sharon is not Israel.
George W. Bush is not the United States.

Then add in on top of that the omission of "to United States interests" and what you have amounts to an exercise in creative fiction.
4.26.2006 11:43am
CJColucci (mail):
But the only interests that matter to anyone in the world are the United States' interests -- obviously. So what else can Cole have been talking about?
4.26.2006 11:44am
byrd (mail):
To me, "most dangerous regime in the middle east" means most dangerous regime in the middle east. It's a very broad statement. On the other hand "most dangerous regime to US interests" is much more narrow. It means merely dangerous to US interests in that part of the world without suggesting anything of its relationship to the interests, peace, stability, etc. of other states.

I'm no Juan Cole fan, but I think he has a real beef here.
4.26.2006 11:44am
Glenn Bridgman (mail):
Mr. Anahnimus, a simple "dangerous" connotes moral blameworthyness. "dangerous to US interests" invokes a sense of realpolitik which explicity excludes morality.
4.26.2006 11:45am
Chukuang:
"The most dangerous regime in the world is that of George W. Bush."
"The most dangerous regime in the world is that of the United States."

Sorry, I don't see any meaningful distinction. Obviously, anyone making the latter statement would not make it if their preferred leader, whoever that is, was in power. No country is inherently dangerous apart from its leadership.


I'm not a big fan of Cole, but you have to be kidding with this comment, esp. with regards to Israel. Given that there are so many people who assert that Israel does not have the right to exist at all, it seem that this is a particularly clear case of there being a big difference between the state in general and it's present leadership in particular. I really don't think you're being intellectually honest here, Professor Bernstein.
4.26.2006 11:47am
A. Random Physicist:

Sorry, I don't see any meaningful distinction. Obviously, anyone making the latter statement would not make it if their preferred leader, whoever that is, was in power. No country is inherently dangerous apart from its leadership.


But extremists often portray countries as inherently dangerous. Certainly Osama Bin Laden considers the U.S. to be inherently dangerous apart from its leadership. I'm sure lots of members of Hamas and Hezbollah consider Israel to be inherently dangerous. The reason Fund obscures what Cole actually said is to make Cole sound more extreme---as if Cole's views are just as extreme as Osama Bin Laden's and Hamas'.
4.26.2006 11:47am
Blar (mail) (www):
Everyone commenting here should be sure to actually read Cole's piece in which the "dangerous" quote appears (or at least the last two paragraphs). In a nutshell, Cole was saying that Sharon had been acting like a boor (with extra-judicial killings, land seizures, military action right after 9/11, etc.) and pissing off Muslims everywhere, which was causing significant damage to our goal of winning hearts and minds, an essential component of our fight against radical Muslim extremists. He explicitly contrasted Sharon's actions with those of Yitzhak Rabin, who knew how to be a good ally to the US and to move the peace process forward.

So it is clearly misleading to claim that Cole was making an accusation against Israel, rather than against the approach that one Israeli leader had taken (and in favor of another leader's approach), and it's even worse to suggest that Cole was claiming that Israel was the threat, rather than that Israel was being a bad US ally by inflaming others. Fund's claim is spurious, and Bernstein's "correction", which isolates one difficult to interpret fragment of a sentence, is not much better at communicating the meaning of what Cole wrote.
4.26.2006 11:48am
xx:
I think Glenn's explanation is a good one. It's perfectly plausible that Israel could take an action that is both morally and logically defensible but will have the effect of hurting U.S. interests.

It would be inaccurate to call Israel "dangerous" for taking the action, but accurate to say that the action is "dangerous to U.S. interests."
4.26.2006 11:49am
von (mail) (www):
"The most dangerous regime in the world is that of George W. Bush."
"The most dangerous regime in the world is that of the United States."

Sorry, I don't see any meaningful distinction. Obviously, anyone making the latter statement would not make it if their preferred leader, whoever that is, was in power. No country is inherently dangerous apart from its leadership.


Really? You see no distinction between someone claiming that Bush's (or Sharon's) regime is dangerous and another person claiming that the U.S.'s (or Israel's) regime is dangerous?

As for me, I think ATL's considered take is the correct one. There are circumstances in which the head of state is functionally inseparable from the country he or she leads (e.g., Saddam, Stalin); those circumstances, however, generally require one-party rule and/or a dictatorship. In a democratic republic -- like that practiced in the U.S. and Israel -- there is a considerable difference between the current head of state of a particular nation and the nation itself.

Incidentally, nothing in this comment is meant to endorse Cole's view that Sharon's regime is the most dangerous regime to U.S. interests in the Middle East, which is poppycock. I do think that Prof. Bernstein unintentionally misrepresents Cole's position, however.
4.26.2006 11:52am
jota:
Here we go again. More with this us or against us commentary about Israel. First of, Professor Bernstein, you perform as much obfuscation and semantic gymnastics as Prof. Cole. For example, the initial quote you condemn states:

"The most dangerous regime to United States interests in the Middle East is that of Ariel Sharon, not because he fights terrorists, but because he is stealing the land of another people and is brutalizing them in the process--and those are people with whom the rest of the Middle East and the Muslim world sympathizes. A US counter-insurgency fight against Muslim radical extremists requires winning hearts and minds, which is impossible as long as Sharon behaves the way he did Monday, since everyone in the region knows that the US coddles the Israeli Right. Israel once had a proper prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin, who knew how to make peace and how to be a good partner for America. Sharon is not good enough to shine his shoes."

Clearly, different import than your shortened, half-sentence quote. I don't see how inserting "an ellipsis" or parahprasing to ignore the bulk of the paragraph are accurate depictions of Prof. Cole's meaning, which is to indict the SHARON regime, not Israel. Sharon is not fungible with Israel or Jews last time I checked. Conflating the concepts into some monolithic entitity may be convenient as to permit condemndation of many more people as anti-semites, thus permitting dismissal of their views in the popular press and the public, where anti-semite carries a perjorative meaning strong enough that the underlying conemndation need not be examined critically, but it is dishonest and inaccurate.

Second, you may not agree with Prof. Cole's views, but he is entitled to speak them and contribute his two cents to the market-place of ideas, the same marketplace libertarians argue so vehemently for as a crucial element of our democracy. Again we come to the preposterous notion that free speech means my speech but not yours. Prof. Bernstein, how can you post approvingly about, for example, how important it is for students to be able to wear homophobic T-shirts saying homosexuality is evil,

"I didn't have time to blog this today, but I'm glad to see Eugene did, and said basically what I would have said, except perhaps that I would go further in endorsing that Tinker be limited. This would be a great case to go to the Supremes to (a) limit Tinker while also (b) making it clear that there is no "antidiscrimination" exception to the First Amendment," (http://volokh.com/posts/1145577196.shtml)

or how terrible it is that Penn State is making excuses for refusing to allow an artist's show critical of violence and possibly Arabs to go on display, See http://volokh.com/posts/1145889686.shtml, or http://volokh.com/posts/1145826487.shtml, yet when it comes to those that disagree with your vision of the world, their rights are secondary.

In short, you commit the very sins you excoriate those that disagree with you for: obfuscating the opposition's words and selective defense of the first amendment (a tinge of hypocrisy that one). Prof. Cole has every right to criticize Israel, the Sharon government, his own Government, or the WSJ editorial page. I don't see how this, alone, without more, makes him an anti-semite.

At the rate we're going, anti-semite will become the new communist, silencing any who dare to disagree with those who wield the term "anti-semite" as a cudgel to silence dissent. There but for the grace of god, Prof. Bernstein.
4.26.2006 11:52am
davidbernstein (mail):
I'm reading "is the most dangerous regime in the world" as "is [presently] the most dangerous regime in the world" which is the natural meaning of the word "is." (Hate to sound like Bill Clinton here.) It's possible that someone would take from Fund's quote that Cole is saying that Israel is "inherently" the most dangerous regime in the world, but that's not the most natural meaning of the phrase, nor would it make any sense given that, as noted previously, no regime can possibly be dangerous outside the context of its leadership. And as for the distinction between the people of the country and the government, by repeating the word "regime" Fund's quote of Cole clearly references the government.

If Fund wanted to distort Cole in the way some commentors are implying, he would have written that Cole thinks that "a Jewish state" or "a Zionist state" is...., not that the Israeli regime is.
4.26.2006 11:53am
sadandbeautiful:
Choosing Sides 2,

You got it exactly right, and this is the direct link to Juan Cole's relevant post, not the one included by Prof. Bernstein in his post.

Prof. Bernstein, truncating a quote and adding to it a confusing link in a post that's all about the accuracy behind quotes is just too many coincidences. I think you owe some people an excuse, including Prof. Volokh, for lowering the intellectual standard of the blog that includes his name.
4.26.2006 11:55am
davidbernstein (mail):
Jota: You can argue all you want about what the entire paragraph by Cole meant, but it's Cole, not me, who initally focused on the specific quote, which he claims he never said or implied anything like. The relevant quote I found is enough like it to have a debate about, though I agree that Fund was guilty of a misquote. I'm not attacking Cole here; but he'd make a better case if he focused on the fact that he was misquoted, and not make a more exaggerated claim that the quote was nothing like anything he ever said.

More to the point, whose rights am I threatening here? Did I say Cole should be silenced? Fund? I really don't get it.
4.26.2006 11:59am
Choosing Sides 2 (mail):
davidbernstein further adds:

"I'm reading "is the most dangerous regime in the world" as "is [presently] the most dangerous regime in the world" which is the natural meaning of the word "is." (Hate to sound like Bill Clinton here.) It's possible that someone would take from Fund's quote that Cole is saying that Israel is "inherently" the most dangerous regime in the world, but that's not the most natural meaning of the phrase, nor would it make any sense given that, as noted previously, no regime can possibly be dangerous outside the context of its leadership."

Are you intentionally distorting the quote further by repeatedly adding the new words "most dangerous regime in the world" or was this some hypothetical quote discussion that I've missed?
4.26.2006 12:02pm
srg (mail):
If writers like John Fund would simply quote people instead of paraphrasing them, this dispute would not have happened. The same thing applies to the news media in general, which frequently misquotes the President, among others, by inaccurately paraphrasing his statements.
4.26.2006 12:03pm
elliottg (mail):
Bernstein is lying in support of a liar.
4.26.2006 12:03pm
JosephSlater (mail):
A conservative in 1998 saying, "The Clinton administration is very dangerous to U.S. interests!" is very different than saying "The U.S. is very dangerous!", right?

So, saying "the Sharon regime is very dangerous to U.S. interests" is very different than saying "Israel is very dangerous," right?

I say all this as a Jewish Zionist, for whatever that's worth.
4.26.2006 12:04pm
Glenn Bridgman (mail):
Oh comeon, Professor Bernstein. Fund's "misquote" completely altered the content of Cole's statement. I think Cole is justified in a blanket denial of the statement.
4.26.2006 12:06pm
srg (mail):

"The most dangerous regime to United States interests in the Middle East is that of Ariel Sharon, not because he fights terrorists, but because he is stealing the land of another people and is brutalizing them in the process--and those are people with whom the rest of the Middle East and the Muslim world sympathizes."

It still sounds pretty dumb, even when quoted in full. Sharon's regime was more dangerous to our interests than Iran? More than Saudi Arabia, with its financing of Wahabbists and terrorists? And who would even think that Sharon might be dangerous because he fights terrorists? This is a ridiculous straw man argument. And what land was Sharon stealing? The occupation took place long ago, and in fact it turned out to be Sharon who pulled out of Gaza and began planning to pull out of the West Bank.
4.26.2006 12:07pm
davidbernstein (mail):
Boy, this comment thread is attracting trolls. Sad and beautiful, why would I intentionally link to the general archive page containing the post, where the quote can easily be found, instead of to the actual post. That's a devious plot on my part? I'll correct the link, but you should think about why you are so quick to assume bad faith. Choosing Sides 2: Yes, you did miss a hypo in the threads. How about reading the comments before making accusations?
4.26.2006 12:08pm
jota:
Prof. Bernstein,

Don't be such a literalist. You can't expect me to believe that you your only reason for this post was to showcase your semantic skills? To me, the take home message of your defending the rights of homophobes to wear clothing bearing incendiary messages of homosexuality to public schools, while explicitly accusing Prof. Cole of nit-picking over this massive mis-quotation of his by those attempting to paint him an anti-semite unworthy of the public's ear, is that you believe those advocating against gays should have a seat at the table, but those that advocate against Israel or its government, shouldn't. I.e., we can dismiss Cole's views, because he's anti-semitic. But we musn't dismiss gay-bashers views, because their hatred is rational. Please.
4.26.2006 12:11pm
Glenn Bridgman (mail):
"It still sounds pretty dumb, even when quoted in full. Sharon's regime was more dangerous to our interests than Iran? More than Saudi Arabia, with its financing of Wahabbists and terrorists? And who would even think that Sharon might be dangerous because he fights terrorists? This is a ridiculous straw man argument. And what land was Sharon stealing? The occupation took place long ago, and in fact it turned out to be Sharon who pulled out of Gaza and began planning to pull out of the West Bank."

Cole's actual statement is at least defensible though. (For example, OBL's attempt to latch onto the palestinian cause to brew up support) It might not neccesarily be *correct*, but there's a difference between plausible but wrong and completely nutso.
4.26.2006 12:13pm
Choosing Sides 2 (mail):
I don't appreciate being called a troll. I did read the comments thread. I saw a discussion about a hypothetical calling the U.S. the "most dangerous regime in the world," and I see Angus using an example that "Israel is the most dangerous regime in the world." It's not clear to whose post you were replying. You said:

"It's possible that someone would take from Fund's quote that Cole is saying that Israel is "inherently" the most dangerous regime in the world, but that's not the most natural meaning of the phrase, nor would it make any sense given that, as noted previously, no regime can possibly be dangerous outside the context of its leadership."

If that was just a typo on your part, let me know. Otherwise, why would someone ever take Fund's quote of Cole to mean Israel is "most dangerous regime in the world" when Fund quoted Cole as saying "in the Middle East?"
4.26.2006 12:17pm
sadandbeautiful:
Prof. Bernstein,

You call Choosing Sides 2 and me trolls because

(a) We exposed your inconsistencies (I'm being generous here);

(b) Because you aren't capable of explaining such incosistencies;

(c) Another reason that I'm unable (sorry, trolls have lower IQs) to grasp?
4.26.2006 12:17pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
You don't have a troll problem here... Definitely not a friendly audience, but they're raising legitimate arguments, not trolling.

Actually, while I think Juan Cole actually is one, charges of antisemitism probably have the same debate-silencing effect as homophobia.
4.26.2006 12:20pm
srg (mail):
It would be best to avoid charges of anti-semitism here. It is simply a fact that in some leftwing circles there is a double standard when it comes to Israel, and that applies to Jews as well as non-Jews, so there is no reason to assume that even a virulent critic of Israel is anti-Semitic without some evidence in addition to their attitude towards Israel. This anti-Israel bias among some is irrational, sometimes mindless, but not necessarily anti-Semitic.
4.26.2006 12:25pm
davidbernstein (mail):
Jota, you need to look into the distinction between First Amendment violations, which involve government suppression of speech, which is what's involved in the case you are referencing, and an individual criticizing someone's speech. This is not at all a semantic distinction, but the essential distinction on which freedom of expression rests in the U.S.: the government can't stop you from criticizing someone, and you are free to criticize whoever you want, even if that criticism discourages them from speaking. The idea that someone who believes in freedom of expression should refrain from criticizing others, even harshly, is not just silly, but self-contradictory--criticizing someone, even harshly, IS exercising freedom of expression.

Meanwhile, I don't see how my initial post was an attack on Cole at all. I noted both that Fund misquoted him, and that he, in my opinion exaggerated the degree of Fund's offense. If you consider THAT to be advocating that those who "advocate against Israel or its government, shouldn't have a seat at the table," you are a delicate flower indeed.
4.26.2006 12:26pm
David in DC:
It doesn't relate to this Fund-Cole feud, but it would be interesting to hear which regime, and which country for that matter, is the most dangerous in the mideast in Cole's mind.

Any bets? :-)
4.26.2006 12:27pm
eric:
There's no need to bite back at someone who implies that they read the comments but may have missed something. I did the same and had to go back, because the shift in the story is elided via a hypothetical comparison of America vs. Bush as regime into an potential real world interpretation of Fund's paraphrase, as CS2 quoted. I think it's subtle enough not to get all thin-skinned and snippy.

By the token of providing a more sensible statement for Mr. Cole by admonishing him not to say "the Israel," we could also say that paraphrasing Cole could be something like, "Ariel Sharon's policies are causing problems for the U.S. in the Middle East," which might be just as egregious a misquote as Fund's is, but I think it's closer to Cole's meaning than "Israel is the most dangerous regime in the Middle East."

P.S. Just because people disagree with you doesn't make them trolls.
4.26.2006 12:31pm
alcibiades (mail) (www):
Here is more of what Juan Cole thinks of "Israel" and "the dangerous regime of Ariel Sharon."

Watch him blame the horror of the killing of the 4 American contractors on a bridge on Sharon's decision to kill Hamas leader Yassin in Gaza.


Friday, April 02, 2004

Deaths of Americans in Fallujah: In revenge for Sharon's Murder of Sheikh Yassin?

There is increasing evidence that the brutal attack on the American security guards in Fallujah, and the desecration of their bodies, was the work of Islamists seeking vengeance for the Israeli murder of Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. Leaflets found at the scene said the operation was in the name of Yassin. al-Hayat reports in its Friday edition that responsibility for the attack has been taken by a group called Phalanges of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. The group said the deaths were a "gift to the Palestinian people."

You put yourself in the shoes of an American military commander in Fallujah. He treats with the local clan leaders and Sunni clergy. He tries to get them on the side of the US. He faces hostility, but he is making some progress. And then Ariel Sharon sends US-made helicopter gunships to Gaza and has them fire missiles at people coming out of a mosque, killing 8 and wounding 24. One of the dead is a half-blind paraplegic Islamist named Sheikh Yassin. He could have easily been arrested, and had been in the 1990s. But he was incinerated in a piece of state terror instead. And all of a sudden the people of Fallujah in Iraq are pointing their fingers at the American troops and saying, 'you did this. You gave Sharon the green light.' And all the commander's hard work in building bridges collapses over night. And four US security personnel are dead, and 5 US troops are dead, and the fighting flares up. Thanks, Prime Minister Sharon. Thank you very much.


Yeah. That's what we all think now, that Fallujah was ultimately Sharon's fault. Dangerous regime, that was, the most dangerous one in the ME.
[/irony]
4.26.2006 12:32pm
elliottg (mail):
I have no doubt he considers the US actions in the Middle East to be the most dangerous to US interests. He would probably classify George Bush as the most dangerous person.

Bernstein's intellectual dishonesty is amazing. He'll probably contend that Juan Cole said the above when it's just my speculation.
4.26.2006 12:32pm
davidbernstein (mail):
To be clear, and it's my fault for not being so, my troll comments was prompted by the "Bernstein is lying on behalf of a lier" post, and Sadandbeautiful's claim that I intentionally linked to the page where Cole's post can be found, but not the precise post, to somehow confuse and deceive readers.
4.26.2006 12:34pm
jota:
You would defend child's right to wear a shirt saying Israel = Murder, or some such analogue to the homosexuality = evil, with the same vigor as the homosexuality = evil shirt? I don't buy it. And yes, there is a distinction between government suppresion of speech and citizen exercise of speech to condemn other speech. But that's besides the point I'm making, which is your selective condemndation of some speech (anti-israel), coupled with your monolithic conflation of all degrees of that sort of speech into a neat little box labeled anti-semitic is disingenuous. I don't think debate on these sorts of issues benefits from invocation of some "jewish" version of Godbold's rule. Whenver you start waving the anti-semitic flag, or implicitly invoking it, you are saying that the speaker of the message you're labelling anti-semitic is not worthy of the same audience access because his message if animated by irrational hate, not logic. Why use these pejorative labels to water down the strength of a speaker's ideas? What do we have to fear by letting people speak without being labeled an irrational kook?
4.26.2006 12:34pm
jota:
You would defend a child's right to wear a shirt saying Israel = Murder, or some such analogue to the homosexuality = evil, with the same vigor as the homosexuality = evil shirt? I don't buy it. And yes, there is a distinction between government suppresion of speech and citizen exercise of speech to condemn other speech. But that's besides the point I'm making, which is your selective condemndation of some speech (anti-israel), coupled with your monolithic conflation of all degrees of that sort of speech into a neat little box labeled anti-semitic is disingenuous. I don't think debate on these sorts of issues benefits from invocation of some "jewish" version of Godbold's rule. Whenver you start waving the anti-semitic flag, or implicitly invoking it, you are saying that the speaker of the message you're labelling anti-semitic is not worthy of the same audience access because his message if animated by irrational hate, not logic. Why use these pejorative labels to water down the strength of a speaker's ideas? What do we have to fear by letting people speak without being labeled an irrational kook?
4.26.2006 12:35pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
"shameful"... the shirt said "shameful," Jota.

"Clearly, different import than your ... quote."

"In short, you commit the very sins you excoriate those that disagree with you for..."

Irony is funny.
4.26.2006 12:41pm
Blar (mail) (www):
I agree, David, that "I did not ... say or imply anything like it" was not the ideal way for Cole to defend himself, since he did use a combination of words that was similar to the ones that Fund accused him of saying. But Cole did not say anything with a similar meaning to what Fund accused him of claiming, and that is the important thing.

I agree with Von and ATL that saying "Sharon" instead of "Israel" is a much clearer and more accurate paraphrase of Cole's claim, since it makes the narrowness of Cole's claim unambiguous. There is also a problem with using David's reading of "is the most dangerous regime in the world" as "is [presently] the most dangerous regime in the world." Namely, Sharon is not the present ruler of Israel. Fund wrote in April 2006 that Cole 'calls Israel "the most dangerous regime in the Middle East"', when Cole actually made his claim about Sharon in 2004, and Sharon has not been in power since the beginning of 2006. Fund's use of the present tense "calls" in April 2006 certainly suggests that Cole is making a claim that is bigger than Sharon and Sharon's government.
4.26.2006 12:41pm
davidbernstein (mail):
"coupled with your monolithic conflation of all degrees of that sort of speech into a neat little box labeled anti-semitic is disingenuous."

Nonsense. For example, I have specifically written that I don't think either Mearsheimer and Walt's nor Cole's quite vapid views on Israel are motivated by anti-Semitism.

Some people wrongly try to counteract anti-Israel speech by labeling it is all anti-Semitic. Other people try to counteract criticism of anti-Israel speech by claiming that it's all based on false allegations of anti-Semitism.
4.26.2006 12:43pm
Bruce Wilder (www):
The most dangerous regime in the Middle East, to United States interests, is that of George W. Bush. Bush initiated an unprovoked war, completely bungled the reconstruction of Iraq to the extent that $20B later, the country's electric production (just one indicator, but they are all bad) is the same as it was before, and trashed the country's moral reputation with violations of our own constitution and laws, as well as the Geneva Conventions.

That Juan Cole would blame Israel and Ariel Sharon is clearly anti-semitism and myopia of the first degree.
4.26.2006 12:46pm
eeyn524:

Meanwhile, I don't see how my initial post was an attack on Cole at all.


At the end of the post you suggested a "correction" that was, like Fund's paraphrase, apparently intended to make Cole's remark sound broader and more extreme than it was. That's a form of attack.

People (including Cole) make plenty of statements that are plenty outrageous on their own. You only weaken your argument against them when you try to tweak them up for more dramatic effect. As you see here, the focus has of the comments has now ended up on your's and Fund's mischaracterizations, rather than where you wanted it, which was presumably Juan Cole being an anti-semite.

Very analagous to the Bush/Rather thing - there were some very valid criticisms to make of Bush's NG service, which was the real story, but then CBS had to push the envelope, and all of a sudden it was all about CBS.
4.26.2006 12:46pm
davidbernstein (mail):
Blar,

My correction is accurate, because it says "wrote." But you are right, Fund should have said "called", not calls.
4.26.2006 12:46pm
elliottg (mail):
Let's not forget that all this is in support of a misguided attempt to deny Juan Cole an appointment at Yale.
4.26.2006 12:47pm
davidbernstein (mail):
Eeyn, kind of funny plot for someone who wrote a post entitled: "Juan Cole: Not an Anti-Semite."
4.26.2006 12:48pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
He can teach the taliban kid... In Academia, this is what is known as the "Circle of Life."
4.26.2006 12:49pm
llamasex (mail) (www):

Nonsense. For example, I have specifically written that I don't think either Mearsheimer and Walt's nor Cole's quite vapid views on Israel are motivated by anti-Semitism.



David Bernstein, January 29, 2005 at 9:31am] 0 Trackbacks / Possibly More Trackbacks
Juan Cole, not an anti-Semite:
Just someone whose hatred of Israel in general, and more hawkish elements in Israel in particular, have driven him close to the edge of Lyndon Larouche territory


I honestly don't see how saying someone hates Israel in general and is close to LaRouche territory is all that much more constructive than calling people anti-semites.
4.26.2006 12:49pm
Steve:
It's possible that someone would take from Fund's quote that Cole is saying that Israel is "inherently" the most dangerous regime in the world, but that's not the most natural meaning of the phrase, nor would it make any sense given that, as noted previously, no regime can possibly be dangerous outside the context of its leadership.

And yet, that is precisely what Fund intended his misquote to imply. If I say "the U.S. is the most dangerous country in the world," it is certainly not clear to every listener whether I mean only that the U.S. is the most dangerous country right now, under present leadership, at 11:53 a.m. on April 26, or if I intend a broader critique of American military power and its history of foreign policy. Whereas if I say, "George Bush's administration is the most dangerous in the world," it's very clear what I mean. Fund altered Cole's quote to exploit this confusion.

If it's so clear that the quote and the misquote mean basically the same thing, then Fund should have simply left the quote intact.
4.26.2006 12:57pm
davidbernstein (mail):
I don't have any reason to believe that Justin Raimondo (whom Cole has quoted favorably) is an anti-Semite, but he certainly hates Israel, and is well into LaRouche territory on his theories regarding Israel and 9/11. That's only not constructive when it's not backed by any evidence. You may not think that saying that the number 3 man in the Pentagon can "never be trusted to put US interests over those of Ariel Sharon" is approaching LaRouche territory, but I do.
4.26.2006 12:59pm
David in DC:
For the record, some of Cole's dishonesty (ultimately, the root of this feud is whether or not he should be teaching this subject at one of our most prestigious universities, right?):


Much of the Arab world has a formal peace treaty with Israel (including Egypt, the largest Arab country and Jordan, Israel's closest neighbor).


From the same entry, the mischaracterization of the Saudi offer along with the palpable hatred:


Because the Sharon government intends to keep so much of the lands Israel took by military force, quite in violation of the UN Charter and international law, Sharon pissed all over the Saudi offer. Sharon thereby guaranteed continued political tension in the Middle East, tension that produces terrorism that may well come over here and bite Americans in the ass.


http://www.juancole.com/2004_02_01_juancole_archive.html

This guy is teaching our kids about the middle east??
4.26.2006 1:02pm
sadandbeautiful:
Prof. Bernstein,

I don't know if in the past you've been (or presently are, together with academic work) a trial lawyer, but you sure use one of the oldest tricks in the book: try to deflect attention from the real meaning behind the WHOLE of the argument -- misquoting is bad, especially when you're judging those who do so -- by condemning -- Sadandbeautiful is a troll -- just a PART of an argument -- Sadandbeautiful said that I referenced improperly on purpose.

And since I've been called a troll twice, please accept a little piece of advice: don't feed us, we keep coming back for more.

Bye, bye.
4.26.2006 1:03pm
Vovan:
As the last Elections plainly showed, LIKUD IS NOT Israel, given how much they polled,I think most Israeli's would agree.

I have read Cole's writings since the beginning of his blog, to label him an anti-semite, or anti-Israel is absurd. He is clearly against the Likud regime, he is for the retreat to the pre-1967 boundaries, and he is for the division of Jerusalem, these are all legitimate concerns that one can raise, without being an enemy of the jewish state.

John Fund is smearing Cole, even by mentioning him in the same article as the Taliban spokesperson. You can disagree with Cole's views, but such blatant attacks are out of line. If Cole's views will be the reason why he is denied position in Yale, it will be a disgrace, since it would have nothing to do with his academic credentials, and would rest solely on his personal views, the validity of which (from the right's or the left's perspective) should not play a part in the decision.
4.26.2006 1:04pm
K Ashford (mail):
Re: Bernstein's update

I guess I'm confused. Surely Bernstein can make a distinction between someone who criticizes America vs. someone who criticizes "George Bush's America" or "Bill Clinton's America". Is someone who criticizes President Bush or President Clinton an "anti-Americanite"? Of course not, and I'm not spliting hairs by suggesting that there is a huuuuge difference.

I don't understand this desire by some to conflate a particular leader's policies with the land and/or people they govern. Was criticism of Saddam (back in 2002) a slam on Iraq, the Iraqi people, or the Muslim world? I hope not.

Juan Cole was strongly opposing Ariel Sharon's policies (that's even clearer when you read the full context of the article), not a country, a religion, or a people. Disagree with that if you want, but I find it somewhat embarrassing that the meaning of Juan Cole's clear language is even debatable.
4.26.2006 1:04pm
frankcross (mail):

You may not think that saying that the number 3 man in the Pentagon can "never be trusted to put US interests over those of Ariel Sharon" is approaching LaRouche territory, but I do.


Not that I'm necessarily embracing this view, but I think there's reporting by Woodward and others that suggests that Colin Powell felt this way. Did we have a LaRouchian Secy' of State?
4.26.2006 1:10pm
Rational Actor (mail):
Here's a radical suggestion - why not have the journal give Juan Cole an opportunity to refute Fund, and elaborate on what he said at the time.
The sound-byte mentality in which we find ourselves is quite damaging and probably pits people whose ultimate ojbectives are quite similar against one another.
Regardless of whether Cole is right or wrong, it is much more instructive to try to understand his argument than it is to cite inflammatory pieces of his writing.
At times like this, people should be working to reduce the polarization of viewpoints, not incite them.
4.26.2006 1:12pm
Steve:
The WSJ should simply run a correction. I'd imagine their lawyers agree with me.
4.26.2006 1:13pm
David in DC:
More Juan Cole (from 4/14/2004):


Saddam Hussein never gave any real support to the Palestinian cause, and he did not pay suicide bombers to blow themselves up. It is alleged that he funneled money to the orphans of such suicide bombers, but I have never seen any documentation for the claim.

http://www.juancole.com/2004_04_01_juancole_archive.html

BBC (3/13/2003):

Palestinians get Saddam funds

Saddam Hussein has paid out thousands of dollars to families of Palestinians killed in fighting with Israel.
Relatives of at least one suicide attacker as well as other militants and civilians gathered in a hall in Gaza City to receive cheques.

"Iraq and Palestine are in one trench. Saddam is a hero," read a banner over a picture of the Iraqi leader and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat at the ceremony....

...One by one, at least 21 families came up to receive their cheques from the Palestinian Arab Liberation Front (PALF), a local pro-Iraq group.

A Hamas suicide bomber's family got $25,000 while the others - relatives of militants killed in fighting or civilians killed during Israeli military operations - all received $10,000 each.

Another banner in the hall described the cheques as the "blessings of Saddam Hussein" and PALF speakers extolled the Iraqi leader in fiery speeches.

"Saddam Hussein considers those who die in martyrdom attacks as people who have won the highest degree of martyrdom," said one.

The party estimated that Iraq had paid out $35m to Palestinian families since the current uprising began in September 2000.


PALF figures:
$10,000 per family
$25,000 for family of a suicide bomber
$35m paid since September 2000

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/2846365.stm
4.26.2006 1:16pm