Friday, January 26, 2007

The Company You Keep

Steve Inskeep followed up yesterday's hostile interview of Jimmy Carter by hosting Emory University history professor Kenneth W. Stein, a critic of Carter's book. In some ways the interview proves the validity of Carter's stated goal - encouraging debate on Israel's land confiscation and human rights atrocities against the Palestinians. Stein is unable to refute the allegations made by Carter against the Israeli government, and when asked about the use of the term apartheid, he is reduced to claiming that just because Israeli policy is in every respect like apartheid it shouldn't be called that (he says just because it looks, walks, quacks and smells like a duck doesn't make it a duck!)

Inskeep instead continues quibbling about Carter's meeting with Assad of Syria in the 1980s and whether his account of it makes the Israelis appear less flexible than the Syrians (as if this is the heart of the book's argument). Stein's weak argument against the book is that it doesn't blame Palestinians enough for corrupt Palestinian leadership and for terrorist acts against Israel, however, he in no way can counter the assertion that Israel is a gross abuser of Palestinian rights and has illegally seized and annexed Palestinian land. In fact he admits that it is true.

What I find significant in this report how blandly it is mentioned that Stein has published a rebuttal to Carter's book in the Middle East Quarterly (and they provide this link to the article). This deserves far more attention. What NPR doesn't tell us is the nasty little organization of extremist Likudnik neocons that runs the Middle East Quarterly - The Middle East Forum. The director of this bunch of smear artists and bigots is the vitriolic Daniel Pipes. That a history professor would want his "work" to appear in such a disreputable forum is indicative of the lack of integrity of his attack on Carter's book - and NPR's neglect in identifying the bias of the Middle East Forum indicates where their sympathies lie.


BigMitch said...

I came to your site because I saw you on C-span today. Now I am totally confused.

I gathered that you were in business (as it were) to hold NPRs feet to the fire. NPR is notoriously pro-Palestinean. But I see you criticize them for having a critic of Carter's screed who is too weak to carry the argument.

Carter's book is deeply flawed, and it should not be hard to find an intelligent articulate critic. That NPR found a weak critic with baggage is their shame. But your defense of Carter is yours.

David Green said...

Check out this article by right-wing UIUC Professor Fred Gottheil on Pipes' rag. I don't think you'll find a more inferior article on economics anywhere. Yet, this guy teaches a course on the Israeli economy at UIUC. Gottheil was all to happy to speak to the Students for the Defense of America after 9/11.

Kevan Smith said...

Bigmitch, from my perspective, NPR unfailingly reports the Israeli side of things almost to the exclusion of Palestinian points of view.