January 7, 2009

Stop Juan Cole

Juan Cole is decrying all the neocons he's forced to compete with in the 2008 Weblog Awards for Best Middle East or Africa Blog. He thinks Helena Cobban -- a deranged Hezbollah supporter -- should have been nominated instead of someone like me. He's worked his leftist readers into a tizzy, and they're putting him over the top. I don't really care if I win this award; I won it last year. But Juan Cole certainly doesn't deserve it.

You know what kind of abject nonsense he's peddling now? He's arguing that Israel's 1996 attack in Qana, Lebanon, inspired Mohammad Atta, who led the Al Qaeda cell on September 11, to write his "martyrdom will." But Atta's will, as Martin Kramer points out, was written before the attack in Qana. And it wasn't a martyrdom will. It was a standard will. But Cole won't let facts get in the way of blaming Israelis for just about anything, including violence committed by Al Qaeda.

Don't let Cole win. Go over there and vote for me. Alternately, My Marrakesh is a beautiful blog written by a woman who isn't a neoconservative. Go vote for her. Or if you want to vote for a professor, vote for Martin Kramer. He actually knows what he's talking about. Or there's always Aussie Dave at Israellycool. I've met him, he's a good guy, and he doesn't sit around in his office and hatch asinine conspiracy theories like Cole does.

UPDATE: This post was slightly edited for precision. I had originally stated that Cole blamed Israel's war in Lebanon on Atta's 9/11 attack, but I struck that sentence because, more precisely, he blamed it on the 1996 Israeli attack on Qana in Lebanon. Cole edits his posts without notifying his readers, and he shouldn't. So I won't.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at January 7, 2009 10:32 AM
Comments

I couldn't agree more, Michael. If I'm going to lose this thing, I would rather it was to a blogger of your caliber and integrity.

Good luck!

Posted by: Dave Author Profile Page at January 7, 2009 11:28 AM

Here I was, all excited to be nominated, and I'm not even on your radar! I'm crushed!

(Seriously, I agree and want to see Cole lose as well.)

Posted by: Elder of Ziyon Author Profile Page at January 7, 2009 12:32 PM

Done and done. I regret that I have but 1 vote to give. :)

Posted by: Lindsey Author Profile Page at January 7, 2009 1:50 PM

I'm torn. I can't decide who's been more wrong more often, Neocons, Juan Cole or Helena Cobban.
it reminds me of the famous Bob Dole comment. He saw Reagan, Carter and Nixon seated together at the funeral of some head of state. He pointed at them and said, see no evil, hear no evil and evil.

Posted by: ny nick Author Profile Page at January 7, 2009 2:12 PM

Look, I know that accuracy and lack of distortion is not a prerequisite for winning a blog popularity contest. But by that same token, awarding a blogger that goes out of his way to distort and post absolute silliness - re: Michael's point about Cole's silly Atta-Israel "theory" - is just plain crazy.

Or in other words, I know this isn't "The Most Accurate Middle Eastern Blogger" award. But it shouldn't be "The Most Distorted Account-giving Blogger" award either.

Vote Michael Totten. Or anyone else but Cole.

Posted by: ElMondo Author Profile Page at January 7, 2009 2:21 PM

Cole is an idiot, but he's right about Israel's war in Lebanon (Operation Grapes of Wrath) resulting in Atta writing his will, if not about Qana.

Posted by: Pat Curley Author Profile Page at January 7, 2009 2:26 PM

Cole makes one good point at least - Marc Lynch should have at least been nominated. I realize he has probably alienated the more neocon factions in the blogosphere by committing the heresy of actually learning to speak and read Arabic, but he usually offers good insight into the way the Arab world thinks. Worth a look at his new blog at fp.com.

Posted by: Dyadya Vanya Author Profile Page at January 7, 2009 2:41 PM

Pat,

Atta wrote his will before Qana was hit in Operation Grapes of Wrath.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at January 7, 2009 2:42 PM

Vanya: I realize he has probably alienated the more neocon factions in the blogosphere by committing the heresy of actually learning to speak and read Arabic

You can't be serious. I agree that Marc Lynch should have been nominated, but that's just stupid.

Hey, if you want to pay me to drop everything and study Arabic, I'll take you up on it. Otherwise, I have a mortgage to pay and will have to settle with learning it slowly.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at January 7, 2009 2:45 PM

Michael, what I'm trying to say is that your second paragraph would be stronger if you'd written that "He's arguing that Israel's attack in Qana in 1996 inspired Atta..." Then your example of Cole's nonsense would not be separated by a sentence that's reasonably in line with the facts.

The problem is that you indicate he's peddling nonsense and in your next sentence you cite something that Lawrence Wright established in The Looming Tower, that it was indeed the war in Lebanon that inspired Atta to make out his will.

I don't know if it was a martyrdom will or a standard will; it was certainly pretty weird with the exhortation that anybody washing his genitals had to be wearing gloves.

Posted by: Pat Curley Author Profile Page at January 7, 2009 3:14 PM

You got my vote. I just hope Al Franken isn't the one counting them.

Posted by: Barry Dauphin Author Profile Page at January 7, 2009 3:19 PM

All you have to do is discover that Andrew Sullivan is leading the Best Blog category to realize that the awards are meaningless.

Posted by: antimedia Author Profile Page at January 7, 2009 3:20 PM

Dang....

Theyw won't let me vote again.....yet.

You are up to 36.6% va. 23.6% for Informed Comment.

Good Luck

Posted by: Steamboat Jack Author Profile Page at January 7, 2009 3:25 PM

Didn't Cole once claim 9/11 was revenge for the 2002 Jenin "massacre," and later forced to make a public apology for this rank nonsense?

The fact Cole is in position to win anything is frankly disturbing.

As we say in Chicago, vote early and often.

BTW, did you notice Iraq was safer than Jamaica in 2008? Strange but true.

Posted by: TallDave Author Profile Page at January 7, 2009 3:48 PM

Hi, Michael. I just wanted to thank you for this post, which I found via Memeorandum, because until I saw it, I did not even know about this award, or that Juan Cole was up for it. I just got done voting for Prof. Cole, and will do so every 24 hours until the contest closes.

Posted by: Kathy Author Profile Page at January 7, 2009 4:18 PM

"I don't really care if I win this award"

Go back and check out yesterday's post where you plead with your readers to vote for you. Idiot.

Posted by: amiralmumineen Author Profile Page at January 7, 2009 4:54 PM

This post got Instalanched. Don't worry, Michael--Cole doesn't stand a chance.

Posted by: Ryan Author Profile Page at January 7, 2009 4:57 PM

Juan Cole has forgotten more than you and that ridiculous blogger Aussie Dave will ever know about the middle east. He was off by mere days on his statement and corrected it before you guys even noticed it in these comments. When was the last time you guys corrected your blogs obvious spurious claims prove false.

Posted by: Jon Author Profile Page at January 7, 2009 4:58 PM

Michael,
Paragraph 2, Line 5:
But Cole won't facts get in the way of

should be

But Cole won't let facts get in the way of

***
Cole should be ashamed!

Posted by: Karridine Author Profile Page at January 7, 2009 5:01 PM

As of my vote, you've got more than double the number that Cole has.

Posted by: Warhorse Author Profile Page at January 7, 2009 5:30 PM

Heh. Best post yet! You should think of getting into politics, MJT :D

Posted by: programmmer_craig Author Profile Page at January 7, 2009 6:47 PM

Maryam is hot, but her blog is all full of pictures of flowers and such stuff like that. How does she expect to stop a madman like Juan Cole that way?

Posted by: programmmer_craig Author Profile Page at January 7, 2009 6:50 PM

I had to vote for Sunshine, because she's emailed me. You never emailed me. But you're way out in front! Keep up the good work.

Posted by: programmmer_craig Author Profile Page at January 7, 2009 6:52 PM

Up to 44.7%!

I am a little puzzled by some of the vitriol above.

If you don't like the content here, why bother spending your time here?

It's OK; it's easy enough to skip over it, and it does increase the "hits" for Michael. (More hits, the more the ad revenue is.) But it would seem better for your mental health to go elsewhere.

Posted by: Steamboat Jack Author Profile Page at January 7, 2009 7:43 PM

Been coming here for over 6 years, and I just hope you realize you're winning because you're the best damn blogger out there, and not as a stopper for apologist loons like Cole
(non sequitur: my last name is Cole, and I've actually used the nickname Juan Cole on some games and websites. After reading this, never again)

Posted by: Kariz Author Profile Page at January 7, 2009 8:18 PM

Heh... what's awesome is that Cole's not even in second place. IsraellyCool is.

Posted by: ElMondo Author Profile Page at January 7, 2009 8:34 PM

I haven't voted in those awards in 2 years, but I will vote for you early and often.
Juan Cole is a despicable piece of... hubris.

Posted by: Veeshir Author Profile Page at January 8, 2009 8:02 AM

Juan Cole's academic reputation has already taken a nosedive, let's hope his blogger cred follows the same path.

Posted by: maryatexitzero Author Profile Page at January 8, 2009 9:23 AM

Well, what can you expect from a man whose website claims that he "commands" Arabic (among other languages).

Looks more to me like the Arabists "command" Cole.

Posted by: Pete (Alois) Author Profile Page at January 8, 2009 10:18 AM

Cole has now surged ahead of Israellycool on the back of a personal attack against you, Michael, claiming you used Neocon tactics.

Posted by: Dave Author Profile Page at January 8, 2009 11:44 AM

Juan Cole's point was that dropping bombs on a populated area and killing around 1000 unarmed civilians will lead to some blowback. Last time similar events happened on U.S. soil this was certainly the case. My best guess is that what Israel is currently doing in Gaza is counterproductive, unless you are an Arab or Jewish extremist, arms dealer or similar. Those groups will undoubtedly benefit. Care to explain why you reject that simple premise? What, in your opinion, is the benefit to the average U.S. citizen that comes from the current massacre in Gaza?

Posted by: Persephone Author Profile Page at January 8, 2009 12:15 PM

Here's a quote from Cole's 'sour grapes' post, where he says:

It isn't material who wins that little weblog award. It is illuminating for our politics to see how they are accomplishing it.

..tries to spin his Atta gaffe and compares you to Rove:

First, Totten demonized me and mobilized rightwingers in general and right-Zionists in particular to vote for him as a way of voting against Informed Comment.
One way he did this was to take a leaf from Karl Rove's campaign book.

Since we're all well acquainted with Cole's weasel ways, I did a few screen shots of Cole's post. Just let me know if you need them -

Posted by: maryatexitzero Author Profile Page at January 8, 2009 1:11 PM

Juan Cole's point was that dropping bombs on a populated area and killing around 1000 unarmed civilians will lead to some blowback.

Well, if Juan Cole thinks the 70% (UN estimates) to 80% (Israeli estimates) of the dead who are Hamas militants qualify as "unarmed civilians" then that's additional proof he's dangerously unhinged, isn't it? Well, isn't it? That doesn't even qualify as leftist propaganda... that's just plain crazy. Like, nuthouse crazy.

Posted by: programmmer_craig Author Profile Page at January 8, 2009 2:17 PM

Well, if Juan Cole thinks the 70% (UN estimates) to 80% (Israeli estimates) of the dead who are Hamas militants qualify as "unarmed civilians" then that's additional proof he's dangerously unhinged, isn't it? Well, isn't it?

No. I do not think so. As of this writing, the number of non-combatant deaths within the Gaza population due to the Israeli military offensive is estimated to be 700. Source. With more that 2000 wounded, some critically. Unfortunately the Israeli Government does not allow reporters to enter Gaza so these numbers may be on the low side. In my humble opinion this qualifies as a massacre.

So I ask again: Does anyone think this is a productive measure that will lead to mores stability in the region? Why do you not expect blowback from radicalized elements of the Palestinian population or their sympathizers for these atrocities? How does the average American citizen benefit from this massacre?

Posted by: Persephone Author Profile Page at January 8, 2009 3:35 PM

Persephone, this is from your article:

While the number of civilian casualties is obscured by the fog of war, aid agencies in Gaza put non-combatant deaths at 700.

Not only are they using numbers provided by an aid agency rather than from the UN, Hamas, Israel, or somebody else who might actually have an interest in trying to come up with actual precise numbers, they don't even specify WHICH agency. As far as anyone can tell, the author of that article made those numbers up. There's absolutely no way to ask for anyone to stand behind that claim, because we don't even know who is making it.

Posted by: programmmer_craig Author Profile Page at January 8, 2009 4:03 PM

I found your site through Juan Cole's. I knew Juan Cole via a completely non-political online group and have found him to be a decent intelligent man who has a passion for Middle Eastern culture. To engage in idiotic name calling demeans both of you.

For the record, here's Juan's own defense

"Pulitzer-prize winning author Lawrence Wright wrote in his Looming Tower, p. 307: "On April 11, 1996, when Atta was twenty-seven years old, he signed a standardized will he got from the al-Quds mosque.l It was the day Israel attacked Lebanon in Operation grapes of Wrath. According to one of his friends, Atta was enraged,and by filling out his last testament during the attack he was offering his life in response.

In my initial posting I had misremembered one detail, which is that the will was signed when Operation Grapes of Wrath began, not on the day of the Qana massacre. I corrected that within a few hours."

To deny Arab rage has any legitimacy defies common sense. They may be their own worst enemies, but Gazan's have as legitimate a claim on their ancestral homes as the ancient historical claims of the Isreali's. Very little mention is ever made of the ethnic cleansing by the Isreali's in 1948.

Posted by: Paul Hammond Author Profile Page at January 8, 2009 5:45 PM

Michael, As a new reader to your blog, what part of the Middle East have or do you live. How did you become an expert?

Posted by: Andy Signell Author Profile Page at January 8, 2009 7:07 PM

Paul Hammnd, since you took it upon yourself to defend Juan Cole, I'll take it upon myself to defend MJT. Fair, right?

To engage in idiotic name calling demeans both of you.

Excuse me, but didn't you just say that you've been oblivious to Juan Cole's political activities, all these years? So, you have no idea of all the offensive and outrageous things Juan Cole has been saying on these issues? How many people he has (deliberately) offended? MJT is not like Juan Cole. MJT goes out of his way to be nice to people. He sugarcoats things that he knows people don't really want to hear. He's the very opposite of Juan Cole, in every way that I can think of. Even in this post, he made Juan Cole look good by making it funny, instead of using dishonesty and biting sarcasm, the way Juan Cole would have.

To deny Arab rage has any legitimacy defies common sense.

Where exactly is that coming from? I get the distinct impression you've never even read anything MJT has written, before today.

Posted by: programmmer_craig Author Profile Page at January 8, 2009 7:15 PM

Andy Signell: Michael, As a new reader to your blog, what part of the Middle East have or do you live. How did you become an expert?

I'm not pompous enough to call myself an expert.

I don't live in the Middle East now, but I've been to Iraq seven times, to Israel three times, and I used to live in Beirut. I've also been to Libya Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Turkey, etc.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at January 8, 2009 7:37 PM

You know what's interesting? I don't see anyone who is a regular MJT commenter shitting all over Cole's site like his little fanboys are over here. I admit I only read the thread linked to this one and could only take so much of the asshattery being spouted, but still... Fairly telling.

Oh, and MJT is kicking Cole's ass in the vote. That's gotta hurt.

Posted by: Lindsey Author Profile Page at January 8, 2009 10:55 PM

Michael, Thanks for the update. It is a different Middle East from when I was there as part of a peace keeping force in the early 80's. I have a pretty good picture of Iraq from my son who spent a year and a half there with the Army. I guess the Juan Cole thing hit a nerve. I don't understand how a person can not see the correlation between fanaticals and the oppression of the Gaza people. Whether it be bombs or food shortage I think it fuels the extremist cause. I hope you don't mind my two cents.

Posted by: Andy Signell Author Profile Page at January 8, 2009 11:42 PM

Heh

Helena Cobban a "deranged Hezbollah supporter"?

That is too kind of her.

She is a reactionary post-colonial lefty Stalinist, activist and a liar to boot.

Posted by: HamidReza Author Profile Page at January 9, 2009 1:16 AM

Cole has now admitted to his mistake, that Michael had caught him on.

Funny how leftist liars are so full of themselves, and let their lies float, until they are exposed.

The disdain and contempt that the postcolonial leftists have for facts and empiricological reasoning is phenomenal.

Posted by: HamidReza Author Profile Page at January 9, 2009 1:28 AM

Did you know that unlike MJT, Juan Cole tightly censors and controls his comment section?

Unlike MJT, a comment submission on Juan Cole get pu in a moderation queue and does not show up, unless it perfectly fits the party line of Cole.

The slightest criticism of Juan Cole's often deranged writings and conspiracy theories, or Islam, Koran, Mohammad the douchebag con artist prophet, al Sadr (his love-fest Islamofascist idol), Hamas or Hezbolla means instant trash bin for your well crafted and factual comment.

Posted by: HamidReza Author Profile Page at January 9, 2009 2:50 AM

I met Dr. Cole elsewhere, but have been reading in blog for 3 years or more. Often I disagree with him and have been able to post comments there. You are right I am new to MJT and have just read several of his articles. I stand by my comments whether they resonate with you or not.

Posted by: Paul Hammond Author Profile Page at January 9, 2009 4:55 AM

It is impossible to get an accurate body count from Gaza at this time, due to the fact that any independent observer would run the risk of being killed by Israeli fire. Thus the U.N. and Red Cross have recently suspended all relief operations and are strongly protesting Israel’s inhuman policies. Yesterday the U.K. Guardian reports that
“As the negotiations continued, the death toll among Palestinians rose to around 700, with around 3,000 injured. Palestinian health officials were reported as saying that around one-third of the dead were civilians, with 219 children and 89 women killed. Ten Israelis, three of them civilians, have died.

I am sure that the pesky Palestinian health officials simply made these numbers up, right? But in any case, there is a growing perception in the West that Israel may be overdoing this Gaza thing just a little bit. Since nobody wants to answer my questions I am forced to ask them again…I’d really, really like some reasonable answers to them. Here goes:

Does anyone think this (Israeli massacre in Gaza) is a productive measure that will lead to mores stability in the region? Why do you not expect blowback from radicalized elements of the Palestinian population or their sympathizers for these atrocities? How does the average American citizen benefit from this massacre?

Posted by: Persephone Author Profile Page at January 9, 2009 7:13 AM

Paul Hammond - I have read about 100 comments in the past 3 months on Juan Cole's unfactual blog.

Not a single one was in disagreement with Cole's writings.

Can you provide a few links to your comments which you claim to be "often in disagreement"?

You claim Cole to be a "decent person". Since when lying, often shamelessly like calling Sadr the fascist warlord a "guerilla" makes you decent?

And then accusing MJT of "denying all Arab rage" does not make you truthful either.

Fact is that Omar, the lieutenant of the pedophile assassin prophet Mohammad invaded Jerusalem and the Levant in 638 and occupied and destroyed civilization in that place.

It is hypocritical for Arabs to decry Israel when Arabs were the invaders and occupiers to begin with.

Posted by: HamidReza Author Profile Page at January 9, 2009 12:20 PM

Persephone -- go google the pictures of the dead in Gaza.

They invariably are wearing blackshirts, the costum for Hamas torturers and secret police.

When you say 100% of those killed are civilians - you seem to ignore such evidence.

All parties are in agreement that 70 - 90% killed are the ultra rightwing security and torture forces of Hamas.

So pls. dont make things up.

Posted by: HamidReza Author Profile Page at January 9, 2009 12:22 PM
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