The Many Deceits of Edward Said

Few thinkers have had so enormous an impact on the humanities as Edward Said, an English professor whose 1978 book Orientalism argued that all Western scholarship of the Middle East—indeed, all European writing about the Islamic world—was inherently suspect, reflecting only stereotypes and fantasies. Accompanying this argument was vituperation against Israel, to which Said dedicated much of his subsequent public life, inspiring multiple generations of academic Israel-haters. William D. Rubinstein examines Said’s distortions and tortured logic:

[I]n films and popular culture, every identifiable group is depicted initially in stereotypical terms: upper-class Englishmen are depicted as plummy-voiced toffs, American army sergeants as martinets, Australians as beer-swilling ockers from the outback. So what? But Said presents only the most negative views of the Islamic world as representative of its depiction in the mainstream West, ignoring any more positive views.

[For instance], the academic and scholarly “orientalists” who wrote about the Islamic world between about 1750 and 1940 were seldom hostile to Islam or to Muslim culture; quite the opposite. Typical was Gottlieb Leitner (1840–99), born in Budapest to Jewish parents who became Protestants. Leitner lived in India and was a renowned linguist. . . . In 1889 he published a pamphlet, Muhammedism, which defended Islam against its critics, and, in the same year, established the Woking Mosque in Surrey, the first mosque in Britain.

Dozens of other scholars and anthropologists throughout the West, normally termed “orientalists,” were highly sympathetic to Islam and its culture. These scholars were ignored in Said’s works, as were modern scholars who studied the politics, economy, and religious culture of the Islamic world in a serious way.

It appears that Said became an ardent supporter of the Palestinian cause and, by extension, of the Islamic world, following the 1967 Six-Day War between Israel and the Arabs. At the time, Israel enjoyed the virtually unanimous support of the Western world’s left intelligentsia. . . . Said effectively—and, it seems, deliberately—provided scholarly backing for the reverse of this former consensus, and for whitewashing the culture and lifestyles of the Islamic world.

Read more at Quadrant

More about: Academic Boycotts, Anti-Zionism, Edward Said, Islam

Hizballah Is Learning Israel’s Weak Spots

On Tuesday, a Hizballah drone attack injured three people in northern Israel. The next day, another attack, targeting an IDF base, injured eighteen people, six of them seriously, in Arab al-Amshe, also in the north. This second attack involved the simultaneous use of drones carrying explosives and guided antitank missiles. In both cases, the defensive systems that performed so successfully last weekend failed to stop the drones and missiles. Ron Ben-Yishai has a straightforward explanation as to why: the Lebanon-backed terrorist group is getting better at evading Israel defenses. He explains the three basis systems used to pilot these unmanned aircraft, and their practical effects:

These systems allow drones to act similarly to fighter jets, using “dead zones”—areas not visible to radar or other optical detection—to approach targets. They fly low initially, then ascend just before crashing and detonating on the target. The terrain of southern Lebanon is particularly conducive to such attacks.

But this requires skills that the terror group has honed over months of fighting against Israel. The latest attacks involved a large drone capable of carrying over 50 kg (110 lbs.) of explosives. The terrorists have likely analyzed Israel’s alert and interception systems, recognizing that shooting down their drones requires early detection to allow sufficient time for launching interceptors.

The IDF tries to detect any incoming drones on its radar, as it had done prior to the war. Despite Hizballah’s learning curve, the IDF’s technological edge offers an advantage. However, the military must recognize that any measure it takes is quickly observed and analyzed, and even the most effective defenses can be incomplete. The terrain near the Lebanon-Israel border continues to pose a challenge, necessitating technological solutions and significant financial investment.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Hizballah, Iron Dome, Israeli Security