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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

January 01, 2003

Kramer on MESA

President Beinin’s Farewell Address

On November 24, Professor Joel Beinin, Stanford University historian, delivered his presidential address to an audience of 800 members of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) at their annual conference. On the face of it, it’s a tedious read. Beinin belongs to the far-left, blame-America-first, Zionism-is-colonialism school, and much of his address just rehashes its key dogmas: we’re hated in the Middle East for what we do, not what we are; our civil liberties have gone down the tube since 9/11; Ariel Sharon should be put on trial for Sabra and Shatila (and may have had someone killed to keep himself out of a Belgian court), etcetera. This is followed by a none-too-accurate sketch of the history of Middle Eastern studies in America, and expressions of indignation over “scurrilous attacks that have been leveled against MESA collectively and several of our members individually.”

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But Beinin’s speech is more interesting than its agitprop style would suggest...