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Another Ed Said?

Reader comment on item: May an American Comment on Israel?

Submitted by Archimedes2 (Canada), Jul 28, 2008 at 13:43

I'm sure Scheitzer believes he's speakiing in defence of his beleaguered nation, but perhaps, from his limited perspective he does not see the obvious: that he is repeating, almost verbatim, Edward Said's argument (or rather, polemic) against Orientalism -- that, not being Arabs/muslim/middle eastern, westerners are not qualified to analyse that region of the world.

Well then, not being a horse or coconut tree disqualifies biologists from studying them and writing about them, I suppose, and not being a supernova disqualities astronomers from commenting about supernovas, etc. Unmitigated rot. In politics, medicine, social work and Law, there is a bit of wisdom called "conflict of interest": if you are "too close" to something or someone with whom you have a professional relationship, your necessary distance from your subject is highly likely to be compromised.

Seen in this light we have to admit that, while as a citizen Schweitzer has every right (and responsibility) to participate in the process and to have opinions about it, he is LESS qualified than an informed outsider to make dispassionate appraisals about how it is going and what prescriptions have objective value or not. He has, in a very real sense, a conflict of interest in the matter that Pipes does not.

I believe one of the reasons Israel has had such a remarkable resiliency in the face of extremely hostile political and sociological conditions is precisely because of the participation of the diasporia in its affairs -- at least as interested, and non-hostile, observers. If Schweitzer really thinks that it is in his nation's interests to cut off this vital link to "greater Israel" then perhaps he ought to try to imagine Israel's future over, say, the next decade or two, completely isolated from its friends. Pipes and his like are not a threat to the internal processes of Israel -- they are an essential component, valuable precisely because of the perspective their physical distance permits.

Submitting....

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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