Juan Cole’s “Engaging the Muslim World”

Muhammad Idrees Ahmad, The Electronic Intifada, 19 October 2009

Stereotypes, ignorance and misrepresentation have long pervaded US media coverage of Islam. In his 1981 book Covering Islam, the late Edward Said analyzed these distortions in the light of the relationship between knowledge and power and found that hostile representations are often informed by the particular circumstances of the engagement between the US and the Muslim world and the asymmetry of power between them. Little has improved in the years since, even as the focus on the region has intensified. Many of the misrepresentations that Said observed still abound, but the increased attention since the end of the Cold War, and especially since 11 September 2001, has inflamed suspicions and reinforced resentments making it easier for demagogic politicians to exploit. In his timely and insightful new book, Engaging the Muslim World, University of Michigan professor Juan Cole debunks prevailing myths and presents a set of compelling policy prescriptions that aim to encourage dialogue and defuse hostilities. However, while he convincingly addresses the questions of knowledge, unlike Said, he leaves issues of power largely unexamined.

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Al-Fakhoura School Bombed, 42 Killed, Including Children

From Juan Cole who later asks, why, if militants were firing from the school, would refugees be taking shelter there?  It is such an obvious, propaganda based, lie, a lie that has become a knee-jerk reaction from Israel.

In 1996, Israeli jets bombed a UN building where civilians had taken refuge at Qana in south Lebanon, killing 102 persons; in the place where Jesus is said to have made water into wine, Israeli bombs made children into blood. In the distant, picturesque port of Hamburg, a young graduate student studying traditional architecture of Aleppo saw footage like this on the news [graphic]. He was consumed with anguish and the desire for revenge. He immediately wrote out a martyrdom will, pledging to die avenging the innocent victims, killed with airplanes and bombs that were a free gift from the United States. His name was Muhammad Atta. Five years later he piloted American Airlines 11 into the World Trade Center.

On Tuesday, the Israeli military shelled a United Nations school to which terrified Gazans had fled for refuge, killing at least 42 persons and wounding 55, virtually all of them civilians, and many of them children. The Palestinian death toll rose to 660. The Israelis say they took fire from one of the schools. Was it tank fire?

You wonder if someone somewhere is writing out a will today.  Continue…