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Saturday, January 1, 2011

[By Ben Cohen, crossposted from The Propagandist.]

arabic-newspaper.png
I normally don't respond to my critics because if I did, I'd scarcely have the time to do anything else. But, as I'll explain, I have to make an exception in the case of As'ad Abu Khalil, a Political Science Professor at California State University and the author of a rather sordid little blog called the Angry Arab News Service.

Abu Khalil, seen here in a picture which may serve as a warning about the misuse of hair restoration products, berates me for my latest piece - published here in The Propagandist and on The Huffington Post - about Al Akhbar, a Lebanese newspaper with a Strasserite editorial line: anti-American, anti-capitalist and viciously antisemitic.

Abu Khalil, whom I have never met and never corresponded with, wants his readers to believe that I have no knowledge of Marx's oeuvre (dude, don't get into that with me - I really do.) And he's also spitting rage that a "Zionist hoodlum" like me - don't you just love that deliciously retro, Soviet term of abuse? - should criticize an Arab newspaper when I don't read Arabic.

It's that last point which has triggered my decision to respond. Abu Khalil is right. I don't read Arabic and I'd like to explain why. In 1941, my father's family was ethnically cleansed from Iraq in the wake of the farhud, a pogrom against Baghdad's Jewish community instigated by similarly "angry Arabs," allied with the Nazis and spurred on by the notorious Mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin al-Husseini, which resulted in hundreds of deaths and injuries and destroyed homes. Had it not been for that event - painstakingly documented in Edwin Black's superb book on the subject - my mother tongue would have been Arabic.

Hence my desire to set the record straight. And now I'll move on.



1 Comment

OK, Cohen's point is well taken. But, on an unrelated subject, why would anyone name his or her site "Propagandist"? The term is an insult.

"Syme: It's a beautiful thing, the destruction of words. You wouldn't have seen the [Newspeak] Dictionary 10th edition, would you Smith? It's that thick. [illustrates thickness with fingers] The 11th Edition will be that [narrows fingers] thick. Winston Smith: So, The Revolution will be complete when the language is perfect? Syme: The secret is to move from translation, to direct thought, to automatic response. No need for self-discipline. Language coming from here [the larynx], not from here [the brain]" -1984 (film)


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