The PJ Tatler

The Arab (and Academic) Silent Springs

Writing in the Chronicle of Higher Education,   Jacques Berlinerblau notes how those who demonize every defensive move by Israel suddenly are struck silent as the barbaric rulers of the Middle East massacre their own citizens:

I am struck, however, by the relative calm on American campuses as each day brings forth fresh and repulsive evidence of civilian massacres in the Arab world. No demonstrations. No “teach-ins.” No “die-ins.” And there is less calling out of professors who support(ed) these regimes than I would ever have imagined possible.

This is not to say that faculty and students are unconcerned. It’s more as if they are speechless, unworded. They are not protesting, as much as they are trying to puzzle this catastrophe through (and let me be the first say that this is precisely what people on college campuses should be doing).

Their speechlessness confirms a truism: the old dominant paradigm for explaining Mideast dysfunction is not working. It is hard to understand what the Israeli/Palestinian conflict has to do with Muammar el-Qaddafi strafing his own citizens or Bashar Assad unleashing his goons on protesters (though whether all of those protesters are offering more democratic alternatives is a conversation I will leave for another day).