Ben Cohen (pictured), author of a critique of the Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar, responds bitingly to an Arab professor of political science berating him for not reading Arabic. Well, Ben’s mother tongue might well have been Arabic were it not for a certain anti-Jewish pogrom in Baghdad in 1941. A palpable hit, Ben.
From The Propagandist via Solomonia.
“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.”