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by Steven Plaut


Joel Beinin, the Donald J. McLachlan Professor of History and Professor of Middle East History at Stanford University, has distinguished himself as a Jewish apologist for Islamist hatred of America and Israel.

Beinin may be best known within academia for his tour of duty as president of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA), a position generally reserved for haters of Israel and enablers of Islamofascism. Beinin's publication record [1] is largely a hodgepodge of books and articles smearing Israel or promoting Marxism [2], many of them appearing in pseudo-academic and in non-scholarly political magazines. (His book Workers and Peasants in the Modern Middle East, said one critic, "could have been written by a Soviet flunky back in the days of Comrade Brezhnev.") Many academics, including some of Beinin's colleagues at Stanford, have scoffed at his academic credentials. At least one Stanford professor has insisted [3] that Beinin never should have been granted tenure.

Beinin has denounced American "imperialism" [4] on Aljazeera, the network of choice for Osama bin Laden. Just weeks after the 9/11 attacks, he published an article [5] claiming that al-Qaeda's hatred of America was a justified and understandable reaction to America's oppressive policies. Beinin believes, in fact, that 9/11 was America's comeuppance for its alliance with Israel. "The American empire is going down," Beinin claims.

Beinin celebrates genocidal Middle East terrorists and suicide bombers as martyrs. About the mullahs of Iran he has found little that he does not like. His writing about the "history" of the Middle East is often laden with Islamist fictions [3], such as the contention that the Palestinians descend from the Canaanites. Much of his "research" is a sort of radical tape loop, which consists of citing the works other anti-Israel propagandists.

To understand Beinin's bizarre ideas, it is enough to note the dramatic contradiction between the two most notable items in his bio. As a young man he went to live for a time in the egalitarianism of an Israeli kibbutz. But rather than inspiring utopianism, that experience convinced him that Israel is an apartheid regime of barbarous evil. Later in life, he spent several years living in Egypt, with its brutish poverty, its open racial and religious discrimination, its oppressive dictatorship, and its oppression of women. Yet, that experience taught Beinin that there is nothing at all wrong with Arab regimes — other than their victimization by American "imperialism."

Beinin seems to enjoy spinning the yarn of his largely imaginary transition from being a "Zionist" in his youth to a maturity as an anti-Israel cheerleader for jihad. As he likes to tell it, he "recovered" from his early Zionism by morphing into a Trotskyite and, from there, into a Maoist. He says this was because Zionism (unlike Maoism) was not sufficiently devoted to "social justice." Appropriately, in this connection, Stanley Kurtz has compared Beinin's [6] political fanaticism to that of Noam Chomsky.

Here is how [7] Beinin explains his devotion to the principles of Chairman Mao:

"Theoretically (which is the part I was never too interested in) it meant to support China's line after the Sino-Soviet split of 1964. Practically speaking (which is what I was interested in) those who said they were Maoists went to work in industrial factories and other places where there were concentrations of the working class in order to create unions, radicalize existing unions, and to try to politicize workers. So after finishing my MA at Harvard I went to work in a Chrysler auto plant outside Detroit and also did organizing in the Arab community in Dearborn, a good percentage of whom were also auto workers."

Beinin is a great believer in conspiracy theories about a Zionist cabal that controls American [8] foreign policy. Israel is "the tail that wags the American dog," in his words [9]. He is highly critical of the "moderate" non-Hamas factions of the Palestinian movement for being insufficiently anti-American and anti-Israel, and for acting as puppets whose strings are pulled by the American "imperialists." He rejects any theory of 9/11 or of Islamist terror that does not hold American imperialism to be the ultimate cause. He has cheered Palestinian terrorism as a "strike for peace."

It would be hard to find a Hamas or Hezbollah terrorist that he does not insist [10] is actually a "moderate." Beinin has taken note in passing of "violent attacks against Israeli targets by Hamas," but failed to point out that these "targets" were children and other civilians. He considers accusations of anti-Semitism to be nothing more than a hoax used by Zionists to hide their own crimes. He has expressed the view that [11] terrorism should not be referred to as "terrorism" at all; it is just freedom fighting and peace seeking by other means.

The object of his affection: Beinin extols Hamas terrorists as freedom fighters.

Beinin opposes any act of self-defense [12] by Israel as being by definition "disproportionate" and constituting "war crimes [13]." He defends Hamas terrorists choosing to attack Israel while hiding among Palestinian civilians to cause maximum civilian casualties in these words [13]:

"Of course Hamas hides among civilians. Gaza's a very small, densely populated place. Where else are they going to hide?"

Beinin denies that Arab aggression [14] ever represented a serious threat to Israel, even in the 1967 Six Day War, because Israel has always been the Goliath oppressing the Arab David. He likes to denounce Israel as an apartheid regime and participates in "Apartheid Week" week events.

But, while living for years in the middle of Egyptian apartheid, he never managed to notice any inequality or discrimination there. Beinin spent 2006 to 2008 as a visiting professor at the American University of Cairo in Egypt. His main project during that visit was to whitewash Egyptian anti-Semitism, which includes Holocaust Denial and accusations that Jews commit ritual slaughter and drink the blood of gentiles. In his book on the fate of the Egyptian Jewish community, The Dispersion of Egyptian Jewry, Beinin claims that there is no anti Semitism to speak of in Egypt.

Like Norman Finkelstein [15], Tony Judt [16] and other Jewish Israel haters, Beinin likes to play the victim [17] of persecution by the evil Zionist Lobby [18]. He claims that a cabal of neo-conservatives [19]orchestrated from Tel Aviv [20] is conspiring to silence [21] Middle East Studies. He does not hesitate to use anti-Semitic images and smears [22] when attacking his Jewish critics, including Daniel Pipes and Martin Kramer. It is his Orwellian idea that such critics should be silenced in the name of academic freedom and the First Amendment.

Beinin [23] is a co-author (along with University of California at Santa Barbara professor Lisa Hajjar) of "Palestine, Israel and the Arab-Israeli Conflict: A Primer [24]," which has been is widely reprinted, including on anti-Israel pro-terror web sites [25] such as "From Occupied Palestine." The "primer" begins with the proclamation that religion plays no role in the Arab war against Israel and that it is all a "struggle over land." In fact, one of the few unchallengeable assumptions about the Middle East conflict is that it has virtually nothing to do with land. Arab countries already control 6,145,389 square miles [26] of land, almost twice the area of the United States. Israel, even when including all of the "occupied territories" retained from the 1967 war, controls less than 10,000 square miles. The West Bank and the Gaza Strip comprise about 2,300 square miles (a bit less when deducting Jerusalem and its suburbs from the account.) Beinin wants his readers to believe that with 6,145,389 square miles, the Arabs are justified in seeking genocide, but with just 2,300 more, they will want peace.

Beinin is so openly biased within his own classroom that the Stanford Review, the school's conservative student newspaper, has published a column called Beinin Watch [27] that regularly exposes his behavior. For instance, Beinin teaches a course on "Palestine, Zionism and the Arab-Israeli Conflict," in which no dissenting opinions are aired and in which class sessions are fraught with conspiracy theories about [28] Jews and Israel.

While demanding that Jewish Zionist professors be barred from [29] teaching on US campuses, Beinin has campaigned on behalf of Sami al-Arian [10], the Florida professor indicted for his ties to Hamas. As president of MESA, Beinin issued a blistering [29] denunciation of the University of South Florida for dismissing al-Arian.

"McCarthyism" seems to be Beinin's third favorite "m" word, after Marxism and Mao, and he applies it liberally to anyone who dares to criticize him. Beinin wrote a 2004 article called "The New McCarthyism: Policing Thought about the Middle East [30]." In it, Beinin denounced the Ford Foundation [31]'s decision to withdraw funding from any university grantee that finances the promotion of "violence, terrorism, or bigotry or the destruction of any state." What worried Beinin was that such restrictions could potentially hurt a "Palestinian student group [that] called for the replacement of the state of Israel with a secular, democratic state," meaning one seeking the extermination of Israel.

In February 2007, Beinin complained in the San Francisco Chronicle[32] that he himself had been a victim of "Zionist censorship." Here is his version, as presented in the paper (in which he also compares himself to fellow martyrs Jimmy Carter and Tony Judt):

"I was to give a talk about our Middle East policy to high school students at the Harker School in San Jose. With one day to go, my contact there called to say my appearance had been canceled. He was apologetic and upset. He expected the talk would be intellectually stimulating and intriguing for students. But, he said, 'a certain community of parents' complained to the headmaster. He added, without divulging details, that the Jewish Community Relations Council of Silicon Valley had played a role [in his disinvitation]...."

The Chronicle's reporter then called the Jewish Community Relations Council executive director Diane Fisher, its executive director. As it turns out, the organization had never actually spoken with anyone at the Harker School.

This was not the only Beinin lapse in remembering facts or getting a story wrong. In 2002 Beinin initiated a petition [33] together with other anti-Israel academics in Israel, which charged Israel with plotting the "ethnic cleansing" of Palestinians under cover of the approaching war in Iraq. When the war began and no atrocities against the Palestinians took place, some of Beinin's colleagues claimed, absurdly, that it was the petition itself that had prevented Israel from carrying out its genocidal intentions.

In another example of Beinin's troubled relationship with the truth, journalist Alyssa Lappen reports [4] that Beinin has obsessively insisted that he U.S. government "has given Israel nearly one trillion dollars." But this is a completely fictional sum: total aid to Israel since 1949 has actually come to just over $90 billion, including $15 billion in loans. Informed of his whopper, Beinin insisted incoherently, "The basic point still stands."

Beinin has repeatedly called for ending [6] all arms sales to Israel. When Israel is disarmed, the Arab states can implement the sort of "peace settlement" for which Beinin yearns. Whether any Jews would survive such a "peace" is a proposition that the radical professor seems all too willing to test.
















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Steven Plaut is an American-trained economist, a professor of business administration at Haifa University and author of "The Scout." He frequently comments — both seriously and satirically — on Israeli politics and the left wing academic community. Write him at His website address is

This article appeared October 16, 2009 in Front Page Magazine and is archived at against-israel-and-the-jews-joel-beinin-%e2%80%93-by-steven-plaut/


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