Professor Juan Cole has produced another offensive quote, which appears in an article about the academic boycott of Israel: “If Israelis want to be a state, they, both genders, should take the criticism like men and stop being crybabies about ‘anti-Semitism.'”
Here is news for Cole: Israel has been a state for nearly sixty years. Its founders included victims of the worst antisemitism. But Israelis of both genders earned their statehood not by whining like crybabies, but by fighting “like men” and women against neighbors bent on their destruction. Because Israel is a Jewish state, it remains a lightning rod for genuine antisemites, who do exist outside scare quotes, and who also lurk in the darker recesses of academe. When they make criticisms of Israel that invoke antisemitic themes (such as Jewish mind-control of America), they deserve to be denounced for what they are.
Juan Cole is garnering credit as an opponent of the academic boycott of Israel. Unfortunately, this overlooks the fact that Cole is a supporter of divestment: “I could support the divestment campaign at some American campuses, aimed at university investments in Israeli firms, because the business elite in Israel is both more powerful and more entangled in government policy than the academics.” Cole knows nothing about the business elite in Israel (it’s been a consistent source of enthusiasm for “peace” parties), but ignorance has never stopped him. So just for the record, he’s a backer of divestment, and he denounced Harvard president Larry Summers for telling the truth about it.
Cole won’t be signing any divestment petition at Yale, where he had been the leading candidate for a new professorship on the contemporary Middle East. According to a report yesterday, Yale’s senior appointments committee has rejected him. Back in February, I wrote that “I would be surprised, and even shocked, if Yale appointed Juan Cole.” That Yale has rejected him neither shocks nor surprises me. The university measured him against its standards and refused to compromise them. One of Cole’s boosters has claimed that “conservative ideologues sullied the decision-making process by their ideologically-motivated public campaign against Cole’s appointment at Yale.” This is a serious charge against the university, and one that its maker cannot possibly substantiate.