Bulletin N 93


6 October 2003
Grenoble, France

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

The death of Columbia University professor Edward Sad on September 25 is a terrible loss to progressive people around the world. The Grenoble Center
for the Advanced Study of American Institutions and Social Movements joins the voices of lament and of renewed commitment in the spirit of Professor
Said, who never ceased to seek the truth in these dark days of deceit and disinformation. . . .  (For a complete list of articles on the life of Edward Sad, please visit :
http://www.edwardsaid.org/ )

Below (item A.) is a memorial article on Professor Sad by Phil Gasper, which was published in The Socialist Worker.

Next (item B.) is an article by Gore Vidal, published as the Foreword to the late Israel Shahak's critical history of the Jewish people, Jewish History,
Jewish Religion (Pluto Press, 3rd edition, 2002). Items C. and D. are Internet addresses which will contribute to a greater understanding of the
relationships between Zionism, Anti-Semitism, and American foreign policy under the Bush administration.

Finally, our student Ben Monange has sent us two articles from the New York Times that documents war profiteering in war-torn Iraq by friends of the
Bush administration. (Please visit our Research Center web site Artelier N15, and read Article N32, "Washington Insiders' New Firm Consults on
Contracts in Iraq ," by Douglas Jehl and Article N33, "Who's Sordid Now?", by Paul Krugman at:
Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies/
Director of Research


Paying tribute to Edward Said

by Phil Gasper

October 3, 2003

EDWARD SAID, the brilliant Palestinian intellectual and activist, died last week at the age of 67 after a 12-year battle against leukemia. He was a man of incredibly broad learning and ability--a literary andcultural critic, a political writer, an opera lover who served as music editor of The Nation magazine, an accomplished pianist, but above all the most eloquent and persuasive spokesperson for the Palestinian people. It was this latter role that earned him, according to the Al Jazeera news service, "public enemy number one status among America 's Jewish establishment."

Said was born in British-occupied Palestine in 1935. In 1948, after the newly formed state of Israel expelled hundreds of thousands of Palestinians
and confiscated their property, Said began a life of permanent exile. In the 1950s, he came to the U.S. as a student. He taught at Columbia University
from the mid-1960s, eventually becoming a University Professor, the highest academic position.

Books such as Joseph Conrad and the Fiction of Autobiography and The World, the Text, and the Critic established aid as one of the world's leading
literary theorists. He demonstrated that literature can only be understood in the broader historical and social context in which it is written.

In one famous essay on "Jane Austen and Empire," for example, he showed how Mansfield Park reflects the assumptions of early 19th century British imperialism. Perhaps Said's most important intellectual contribution was his 1978 study Orientalism, which analyzes the set of racist ideas which the West  has used to characterize and dominate the Middle East and Asia since the 19th century.

But Said refused to be an armchair intellectual. He did not just theorize about the ideology of imperialism, he became one of its most articulate
public opponents. In the 1970s, Said became the most prominent voice in the U.S. defending the Palestinian struggle for justice and self-determination.
The Israel-Palestinian conflict, he pointed out, "isn't a battle between two states. It's a battle between a state [ Israel ] with basically a colonial army
attacking a colonized population, using all forms of collective punishment."

Said argued the Palestinian case with clarity and forcefulness in a stream of articles, opinion pieces and books, including The Question of Palestine,
which remains the best short introduction to the whole issue. He also made hundreds of appearances on college campuses. As a result, Said became a
major target of pro-Israel extremists. He and his family received numerous death threats and his office at Columbia was set on fire.

But he refused to be silenced. In 1977, he was appointed to the Palestine National Council (PNC), a parliament-in-exile established by the Palestine
Liberation Organization (PLO). Said recognized the PLO as the Palestinian people's only legitimate representative, but he grew increasingly critical of its
strategy and tactics, and of the autocratic style of its leader, Yasser Arafat.

Rather than futile appeals to the major world powers and Arab governments for support, Said advocated an international campaign against Israeli
repression, similar to the one that helped defeat South African apartheid. The gap with the PLO's leadership widened after Said resigned
from the PNC in 1991. Two years later, when Arafat signed the Oslo accords with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Said became the
agreement's sharpest critic.

While the U.S. media praised Oslo as a giant step towards peace, Said called it "a Palestinian Versailles"--a reference to Germany 's harsh terms of
surrender at the end of the First World War. At best, Oslo offered the newly formed Palestinian Authority (PA) eventual control over a small
portion of historic Palestine, broken into hundreds of tiny fragments that would remain under Israeli military and economic domination. At the same
time, it ignored the rights of Palestinian refugees outside the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Said attacked the PA's corruption and abuses of power. The PLO leadership had "become willing collaborators with the [Israeli] military occupation."
Arafat was so outraged that he banned Said's books from the Palestinian territories.

But Said was right that Oslo's goal was for the PA to police the Palestinian population on behalf of Israeli interests. While some PLO leaders and
wealthy Palestinians benefited from the deal, it offered nothing to ordinary Palestinians, and it provided Israel with cover to expropriate more Palestinian land and  expand illegal settlements in the West Bank.

In the 1980s, Said accepted the PLO's call for a Palestinian state to exist side-by-side with Israel , but he came to realize that this "two-state solution" would never offer Palestinians genuine autonomy, and that the only alternative was a single democratic state with equal rights for all its citizens, Jews and Arabs. As one small example that the divide could be bridged, in the last years of his life Said worked with the distinguished Israeli conductor and pianist Daniel Barenboim to bring concerts and musical opportunities to Palestinian children.

As the 1990s progressed, Said also became a more outspoken critic of U.S. foreign policy. He denounced the wars against Kosovo and Afghanistan , and
the invasion and occupation of Iraq , which epitomized what he called the "brutal imperial arrogance" of the U.S. ruling class.

It will be hard to come to terms with the fact that Said's powerful voice is no longer with us. But his enormous achievements will of course survive him,
and we can honor him best by continuing the struggles to which he contributed so much.


From: Israel Shahak's Jewish History, Jewish Religion

Foreword by Gore Vidal

Sometime in the late 1950s, that world-class gossip and occasional historian, John F. Kennedy, told me how, in 1948, Harry S Truman had been
pretty much abandoned by everyone when he came to run for president. Then an American Zionist brought him two million dollars in cash, in a suitcase,
aboard his whistle-stop campaign train. 'That's why our recognition of Israel was rushed through so fast.' As neither Jack nor I was an antisemite (unlike his father and my grandfather) we took this to be just another funny story about Truman and the serene corruption of American politics.

Unfortunately, the hurried recognition of Israel as a state has resulted in forty-five years of murderous confusion, and the destruction of what Zionist
fellow travellers thought would be a pluralistic state - home to its native population of Muslims, Christians and Jews, as well as a future home to peaceful European and American Jewish immigrants, even the ones who affected to believe that the great realtor in the sky had given them, in perpetuity, the lands of Judea and Sameria. Since many of the immigrants were good socialists in Europe, we assumed that they would not allow the new state to become a theocracy, and that the native Palestinians could live with them as equals. This was not meant to be. I shall not rehearse the wars and alarms of that unhappy region. But I will say that the hasty invention of Israel has poisoned the political and intellectual life of the USA , Israel 's unlikely patron.

Unlikely, because no other minority in American history has ever hijacked so much money from the American taxpayers in order to invest in a 'homeland'.
It is as if the American taxpayer had been obliged to support the Pope in his reconquest of the Papal States simply because one third of our people are Roman Catholic. Had this been attempted, there would have been a great uproar and Congress would have said no. But a religious minority of less than two per cent has bought or intimidated seventy senators (the necessary two thirds to overcome an unlikely presidential veto) while enjoying support of the media.

In a sense, I rather admire the way that the Israel lobby has gone about its business of seeing that billions of dollars, year after year, go to make Israel a 'bulwark against communism'. Actually, neither the USSR nor communism was ever much of a presence in the region. What America did manage to do was to turn the once friendly Arab world against us. Meanwhile, the misinformation about what is going on in the Middle East has got even greater and the principal victim of these gaudy lies - the American taxpayer to one side - is American Jewry, as it is constantly bullied by such professional terrorists as Begin and Shamir. Worse, with a few onorable exceptions, Jewish-American intellectuals abandoned liberalism for a series of demented alliances with the Christian (antisemtic) right and with the Pentagon-industrial complex. In 1985 one of them blithely wrote that when Jews arrived on the American scene they 'found liberal opinion and liberal politicians more congenial in their attitudes, more sensitive to Jewish concerns' but now it is in the Jewish interest to ally with the Protestant fundamentalists because, after all, "is there any point in Jews hanging on dogmatically, hypocritically, to their opinions of yesteryear?' At this point the American left split and those of us who criticised our onetime Jewish allies for misguided opportunism, were promptly rewarded with the ritual epithet 'antisemite' or 'self-hating Jew'.

Fortunately, the voice of reason is alive and well, and in Israel , of all places. From Jerusalem, Israel Shahak never ceases to analyse not only the dismal politics of Israel today but the Talmud itself, and the effect of the entire rabbinical tradition on a small state that the right-wing rabbinate means to turn into a theocracy for Jews only. I have been reading Shahak for years. He has a satirist's eye for the confusions to be found in any religion that tries to rationalise the irrational. He has a scholar's sharp eye for textual contradictions. He is a joy to read on the great Gentile-hating Dr Maimonides.

Needless to say, Israel 's authorities deplore Shahak. But there is not much to be done with a retired professor of chemistry who was born in Warsaw in
1933 and spent his childhood in the concetration camp at Belsen. In 1945, he came to Israel ; served in the Israeli military; did not become a Marxist in
the years when it was fashionable. He was - and still is -a humanist who detests imperialism whether in the names of the God of Abraham or of George Bush. Equally, he opposes with great wit and learning the totalitarian strain in Judaism. Like a highly learned Thomas Paine, Shahak illustrates the prospect before us, as well as the long history behind us, and thus he continues to reason, year after year. Those who heed him will certainly be wiser and - dare I say? -better. He is the latest, if not the last, of the great prophets.

Israel Shahak




Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies
Director of Research at CEIMSA
Center for the Advanced Study of American
Institutions and Social Movements
University of Grenoble-3