The Attacks on Walid Phares

by Nathaniel Botwinick

Mario Loyola aptly describes the concerted efforts against Walid Phares, Governor Romney’s choice for one of the members of his Middle East advisory committee, today on the homepage. Phares has also unfairly come under attack in Salon:

The appointment of Phares to a position in the Romney campaign is not surprising. In years past, such an appointment would have been considered extreme and cast doubt on the wisdom of the candidate — but no more. Middle East policymaking is now dominated by the Israel lobby and its affiliates. Advocacy of Israeli positions has replaced professional qualifications as the criteria for service.

It was ironic that the initial news reports about Romney’s foreign policy team referred to Phares as a “scholar.” Phares has not been seen in Middle East Studies conferences for many years. His writings are only relevant to Zionist discourse and polemics. But such is U.S. presidential politics: when the appointment of Israeli experts on terrorism is not possible, a man like Phares is the second best choice.

Whether Walid Phares is the best choice for Governor Romney’s team is a reasonable question; however, any article that attempts to disparage someone based on possible pro-Israeli sympathies should be considered suspect. Especially considering whom Salon considers the leading lights in Middle Eastern Studies. Juan Cole and Rashid Khalidi are prominent academics who are both frequent contributors to Salon. Professor Cole has accused Israel of being a “fascist” state, while Professor Khalidi has described America as a “neo-colonial” power. Apparently this rhetorical bomb-throwing constitutes scholarship in Salon’s circles. Salon has also supported former Professor Sami al-Arian, who was convicted of conspiracy to aid a terrorist organization, Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

The rest of Salon’s attack on Phares can be found here.