Tuesday, October 16, 2007

They do not exist

Joseph Massad, candidate for tenure at Columbia University, taught his students that "Zion" is a Hebrew word for "penis". Certainly, the man has a sexual turn of mind, if we judge by his latest book, in which he explains, that homosexuality, per se, does not exist in the Arab world. It is a Western-construct, a colonizing plot, hatched by Americans and Zionists, meant to weaken the moral fibre of Arab society in order to better rule it.

There is a new article reviewing Massad's extraordinary thesis in "The New Republic". Here are some selections:

"..Yet while the audience in the Roone Arledge Auditorium and millions of television viewers laughed and booed at the Islamist rube, there was one man--ensconced at Columbia University, no less--who was likely nodding along in agreement. His name is Joseph Massad, Associate Professor of Modern Arab Politics and Intellectual History, and he legitimizes, with a complex academic posture, the deservedly reviled views on homosexuality espoused by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

According to Massad, a Palestinian Christian ... the case for gay rights in the Middle East is an elaborate scheme hatched by activists in the West. ... such activists constitute the "Gay International" whose "discourse ... produces homosexuals as well as gays and lesbians, where they do not exist." The "missionary tasks" of this worldwide conspiracy are part of a broader attempt to legitimize American and Israeli global conquest by undermining the very moral basis of Muslim societies, ...

.... What's worse, he says, is that the attempt to "universalize" this supposedly provincial Western homosexual identity onto Arabs is used as a tool to distinguish between the "civilized" West and the "barbaric" Middle East.

... As one illustration of his thesis, Massad chooses the "Queen Boat" incident of May 11, 2001, when a horde of truncheon-wielding Egyptian police officers boarded a Nile River cruise known as the Queen Boat, a floating disco for gay men. Fifty-two men were arrested, and many of them were tortured and sexually humiliated in prison. In a sensational, months-long ordeal, they were paraded in public, and images of them shielding their faces were blared on state television and printed in government newspapers. Most of the men were eventually acquitted, but 23 received convictions for either the "habitual debauchery," "contempt for religion" or both.
State repression against gay people happens on a frequent basis across the Middle East.

Massad, however, who claims to be a supporter of sexual freedom per se, is oddly impassive when confronted with the vast catalogue of anti-gay state violence in the Muslim world. Massad, unlike Ahmadinejad, does acknowledge that "gay-identified" people exist in the Middle East, but he views them with derision. Take, for instance, his description of the Queen Boat victims as "westernized, Egyptian, gay-identified men" who consort with European and American tourists. A simple "gay" would have sufficed. He smears efforts to free the men by writing of the "openly gay and anti-Palestinian Massachusetts congressman Barney Frank" and the "anti-Arab and anti-Egyptian [Congressman] Tom Lantos" who circulated a petition amongst their colleagues to cut off U.S. funding to Egypt unless the men were released. He then goes on to belittle not just gay activists ... but the persecuted men themselves. The Queen Boat cannot be Stonewall, Massad insists, because the "drag Queens at the Stonewall bar" embraced their homosexual identity, whereas the Egyptian men "not only" did "not seek publicity for their alleged homosexuality, they resisted the very publicity of the events by the media by covering their faces in order to hide from the cameras and from hysterical public scrutiny." Massad does not pause to consider that perhaps the reason why these men covered their faces was because of the brutal consequences they would endure if their identities became public, repercussions far worse than anything the rioters at Stonewall experienced. "These are hardly manifestations of gay pride or gay liberation," Massad sneers.

...It becomes clear why Massad views gay-identifying Arab men with such scorn. In his mind, they have become willing victims of colonization. That's why Massad tacitly supports Middle Eastern governments' crackdown on organized gay political activity: He sees this repression as a legitimate expression of anti-colonialism. "It is not the same-sex sexual practices that are being repressed by the Egyptian police but rather the sociopolitical identification of these practices with the Western identity of gayness and the publicness that these gay-identified men seek." Thus, Arab gays (or, to use Massad's terminology, "so-called 'gays' ") should not identify as such, because to do so is accepting Western cultural hegemony. Massad even throws in a swipe at the "U.S.-based anti-Arab British Iraqi writer Kanan Makiya," a strong supporter of the Iraq war, for his alleged attempt to include protections in the new Iraqi constitution for homosexuals. How dare these men fight for their dignity as homosexuals!

...Five years ago, a few months after Massad's article exposing the "Gay International" appeared, Yossi Klein Halevi
wrote a piece for The New Republic about the condition of Palestinian gay men living illegally in Israel. Halevi interviewed young men (who, Massad should note, all identified as homosexual) who had formed an unlikely subculture on the streets of Tel Aviv, fleeing their own families out of fear for how they'd be treated if they came out of the closet. Some had been the victims of torture by Palestinian Authority officials. One 21-year-old man given the pseudonym "Tayseer" was implicated in a sex sting devised by Palestinian police. Halevi reported:

Tayseer refused to implicate others. He was arrested and hung by his arms from the ceiling. A high-ranking officer he didn't know arranged for his release and then demanded sex as payback. Tayseer fled Gaza to Tulkarem on the West Bank, but there too he was eventually arrested. He was forced to stand in sewage water up to his neck, his head covered by a sack filled with feces, and then he was thrown into a dark cell infested with insects and other creatures he could feel but not see. ("You slap one part of your body, and then you have to slap another," he recounts.) During one interrogation, police stripped him and forced him to sit on a Coke bottle. Through the entire ordeal he was taunted by interrogators, jailers, and fellow prisoners for being a homosexual.

We in the West may scoff at Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's views on homosexuality in Iran, but while we laugh, a Columbia University professor--currently up for tenure--carries forth an insidious attempt to convince the world that men like Tayseer are somehow figments of the Western world's imagination. And who are we to complain about the murders of people who "do not exist"?


The "people who do not exist" is the thesis of another Palestinian intellectual up for tenure at Columbia, Nadia Abu el-Haj, who wrote one book in which she attempts to deny Jewish history in Palestine and a second book in the making in which she denies that there is such a people as Jews*. Both she and Massad are the intellectual descendants of Edward Said who, in the twilight of his life, wrote a hateful Little book in which he claims that there is no such thing as a Jewish Identity. He purported to prove, by psychoanalytical theory, that the Hebrews of the Exodus were not at all proto-Jews but rather freed Egyptian slaves. The linchpin of his theory was that Moses was actually an Egyptian prince.

An interesting way of "resisting" Western Imperialism. I can't wait to hear what or who else do not really exist...


More on this subject, here


* if this information is any indication, el-Haj will have to invent some new theories and genetic research results:

..."The researchers suggested that the approximately 12.7 percent of Ashkenazic Jews who have the Eu 19 chromosomes ...descend paternally from eastern Europeans (such as Slavs) or Khazars. But the majority of Ashkenazic Jews, who possess Eu 9 and other chromosomes, descend paternally from Judeans who lived in Israel two thousand years ago. ....new study revealed that Jews have a closer genetic relationship to populations in the northern Mediterranean (Kurds, Anatolian Turks, and Armenians) than to populations in the southern Mediterranean (Arabs and Bedouins).

A previous study ... showed that about 70 percent of Jewish paternal ancestries and about 82 percent of Palestinian Arabs share the same chromosomal pool. The geneticists asserted that this might support the claim that Palestinian Arabs descend in part from Judeans who converted to Islam."

What a mess. Imagine that, most male Palestinians are actually descendants of converted Jews. My, my. Speaking of identities and all that.


At 6:49 PM EST, Blogger V-47 said...

That little book of Said (Freud and the non-European)is based on this little book of this guy called Sigmund Freud by many, and Schlomo by his father. Of course, your unlearned approach should not really surprise, but again the thesis that Moses was an Egyptian prince, was expressed by this little book which is called Moses and Monotheism.

But how would you know? You don't really read these little books do you?


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