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Reader comment on item: [Hamid Dabashi:] Columbia University's Hysterical Professor

Submitted by Sidney Klawansky, M.D., Ph.D. (United States), Dec 1, 2004 at 17:18

Dear Dr. Pipes

In his own attached comments, Prof. Dashabi makes reference to the military record of Victor Luria in forwarding Luria's email critique to several top Columbia officials. The implication of Dashabi's comments appeared to be that the tone in which Luria referred to his military service in the IDF constituted a thinly veiled threat. Would you kindly print Luria's entire critique so that it will be plain that Luria's reference to his military role did not imply any such veiled threat.

Thank you,
Sidney Klawansky, M.D., Ph.D.

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Daniel Pipes replies:

Here is the complete and exact text of the Luria note to Dabashi, dated Sep 27, 2004, at 10:24 PM.


At the mouth of the market, there were three Israeli soldiers guarding the gate—one white soldier in a position of obvious authority and two black soldiers beholden to him. I asked them, addressing no one in particular, just their constellation, if that gate led to the Dome of the Rock. No one answered me—as the gaze of the two black soldiers gradually diverted from me and my question towards their white superior. The white officer did not look at me and did not move his upright and determined neck, holding his steadfast gaze away from my face and pierced beyond my back towards an unspecified direction. He had no sunglasses on—but he looked as if he did. I waited for an answer, as did the two black soldiers, now circulating my gaze from one face to another—examining them under the surface of my un-answered question. These soldiers were slightly older than the ones I had seen at the airport and then near the hotel. They were perhaps in their early twenties—brandishing the same long machineguns from their necks. They looked tired—ready to go home and sleep. There was no answer. I could not move away because I had asked a question, the question was in the air, and I felt obliged to wait for even a hint, a suggestion, of an answer so I could just leave. But no answer was coming my way. Nothing. The two black soldiers threw a nervous look at me, and I at them—the three of us were now at the mercy of the white Israeli officer—determined not to look at or answer me.

We were like three mesmerized pigeons now under the spell of a cobra waiting for his move. He did not move. He would not move. This may have taken no more than a few seconds, but it lasted an eternity -- time had stood still, in a frozen frame: three frozen pigeons and one mighty cobra. The cobra finally moved, or did he, and his lips may have moved, or so I wished. I was not sure, but I took my chances, watched his lips, heard his voice—said, "thank you," to no one in particular, just at the constellation of the two remaining pigeons and the cobra, and left.


Mr. Dabashi,

This excerpt from your article in Al-Ahram implies racism in the Israeli army. Your accusations are lies. I know this for sure, as I served in the israeli army and I was under the command of a black officer (although the such racist terms and categories are entirely a product of your mind - we never refer in Israel to whites and blacks).

I have rarely seen such a revolting excerpt of antisemitism as your article in Al-Ahram.

Your article implies no right of Israel to exist. The film festival you organized similarly denied any right of Israel to exist - its flier featured a map with no Israel.

As an Israeli citizen, I welcome the right of Palestinians to have an independent state and a capital in East Jerusalem. At the same time, you clearly deny (and you are not even a Palestinian) my right to have a country and you lie about Israel as a state.

In Israel a Muslim like you may be a citizen, may vote and have representatives in the parliament.

In the Iran where you identify youself as being from, a Jew like me is fodder for demented theories of evil ayatollahs like Khomeini and prime target for street hangings. Perhaps that's where you learnt the antisemitism and the lies you wear on your sleeve. You are a racist and an antisemite.

Victor Luria

Columbia University

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