Deepa Kumar: hating Israel, loving Hamas

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Deepa Kumar

We’re on day three of our excursion into the career of Deepa Kumar – who, by the way, holds a B.A. from Bangalore University in India and an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh, and who teaches about media and the Middle East at Rutgers. We’ve seen how Kumar, after 9/11, was one of the louder voices decrying the West’s supposed Islamophobia. She doesn’t exactly whitewashing terrorism, but she rushes past it as quickly as possible in order to rail (a) that all this voice is a reaction to Western imperialism and oppression and (b) that the Western media and leaders have responded to it with a hysteria that has only intensified the general public’s irrational anti-Muslim bigotry.

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Hamas: a victim of bad PR?

We’ve already looked at a couple of pieces she wrote in 2006. Three years later came her essay “Behind the Myths about Hamas.” While containing a bit of mild criticism, it was essentially a love letter to that organization, which Kumar praised for rejecting the Oslo peace process and for “holding on to a vision of liberating all of historic Palestine.” She also defended Hamas from the charge of Jew-hatred, noting that “in 1990, it published a document stating that its struggle was against Zionists and Zionism, and not Jews and Judaism.” (Never mind the endless stream of anti-Semitic propaganda that Hamas has spewed out for decades, and the poisonous lies about Jews with which they fill their children’s heads from infancy onward.) Her main problem with Hamas: it’s insufficiently socialist, insufficiently concerned about the working class.

A gathering of Tea Party “lunatics in Lansing, April 2009

Then there was her 2010 essay, “Green Scare: The Making of the New Muslim Enemy,” in which she depicted 9/11 not as marking the start of a new phase of jihadist conquest but as laying “the basis for the emergence of a vicious form of Islamophobia that facilitated the U.S. goals of empire building in the 21st century.” Here as elsewhere, Kumar all but ignored jihad violence while focusing on the imperialist designs supposedly underlying the Western response to these acts. She also pushed the idea (popular among professors of her ilk) that there’s been a huge anti-Muslim “backlash” in the West, part of it taking the form of official probes of Muslims who are “charged with planning or being involved in terrorist activity.” (These authorities, Kumar proposed, should instead be policing “Tea Party lunatics.”) Her term “Green Scare” (green being the color of Islam) alludes, of course, to the post-World War II Red Scare, and in fact there’s a legitimate parallel: in the 1950s, there actually were Communists, on both sides of the Iron Curtain, who labored for world domination, just as today there are Muslims, both in the West and in the Islamic world, who seek to bring the whole of humanity into the House of God. But to Kumar, the Green Scare is, and the Red Scare was, utterly unfounded – products of pure paranoia and prejudice.

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Nidal Malik Hasan

What about such acts of terrorism as Major Nidal Hasan’s murder of 13 people at Fort Hood? Well, despite mountains of evidence that it was a jihadist act, Kumar insisted it was a reaction to racist harassment and overwork. Quoting media reports on a series of arrests of would-be “homegrown terrorists,” Kumar wrung her hands not over the terrorist plans themselves but over the media attention, which, she lamented, was laying the “groundwork…for the new ‘Green Scare.’” Her point, in sum: the problem isn’t Islamic terrorism but concern about it. Even President Obama’s constant readiness to praise Islam wasn’t good enough for Kumar: while he dropped some of Bush’s “worst Islamophobic rhetoric,” he “continued the project of imperial domination” – and exploited the public’s Islamophobia to pursue his imperial goals.

More tomorrow.

Putin’s Israeli “peacemaker”

On October 7, Vladimir Putin celebrated his sixty-third birthday. To commemorate this occasion, we’ve spent the last few days here at Useful Stooges looking at Putin – and at a few of his benighted fans around the world. Today: a former Israeli official.   

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Yossi Beilin

His name is Yossi Beilin. He held four ministerial positions in the Israeli government, was the guy who kicked off the process that culminated in the Oslo Accords, and is considered a major figure in the Israeli peace movement. Now, as James Kirchick reported on September 11, Beilin has a new job: he’s involved with something called the Ukrainian Institute of Strategies of Global Development and Adaptation, which was founded last December and is run by Viktor Levytskyy (sic), a former official in the pro-Kremlin government of Viktor Yanukovych. The institute’s goal, Kirchick explains, is to “promote…Ukraine’s neutrality as well as the idea that Russia’s assault on the country is a ‘civil war.’” In other words, it’s a propaganda outfit, designed to whitewash Putin.

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Viktor Levytskyy

And whatever they’re paying him, Beilin has apparently been earning his keep. In op-eds, he’s criticized arms shipments to the pro-Western Ukrainian government, demanded a promise that Ukraine won’t join NATO, opposed the idea of NATO arming the Baltics, condemned sanctions on Russia as “unproductive,” and even proposed that Ukraine be divided into two nations.

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Viktor Yanukovych

In other words, he’s been serving up arguments that are entirely predicated on a Big Lie – the lie that a brutal invasion of a sovereign country by a totalitarian power is, in fact, a domestic crisis, an internal struggle. Like many of Putin’s other international supporters, he acts as if Putin has some kind of natural right to annex Ukrainian territory and to veto decisions by Ukraine (or, for that matter, the Baltic states) to join NATO. This, by the way, from a man who – as Kirchick points out – had “shown absolutely no public interest” in Ukraine until he hooked up with Levytskyy a few months ago.

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Oleksandr Klymenko

And why did Levytskyy hire Beilin? Kirchick has the answer: “the institute clearly hopes to trade on his name as an internationally recognized peace-seeker, providing a gloss of legitimization to its agenda of discrediting Ukraine’ post-Yanukovych government.” Kirchick also raises the question: who exactly is behind this “institute”? The reigning theory appears to be that Levytskyy is a front for Oleksandr Klymenko, his thuggish ex-boss, who ran the government tax agency under Yanukovych and who in April, owing to charges of “massive tax fraud” (we’re talking billions), was sanctioned by the European Union, which froze his assets and denied him the right to enter the EU.

These, then, are the kinds of creeps with whom Yossi Beilin has now aligned himself. Back home in Israel, his name was once synonymous with efforts for peace; now, he’s signed on to defend a remorseless warmonger. Every prostitute has a price.