Despite everything Edward Said has written about the Jews and Judaism, and in spite of all the things Hezbollah, Hamas, the far left in the UK and Europe, American academia, the media generally, etc. have said about Jews and Judaism, Said still had the audacity to say that
Said was a trendy post-Marxist, neo-Marxist, post-structuralist or whatever academic. So what really got his goat, obscurely enough, was that other academics had the audacity to write on
‘Islamic history and society… blithely [ignorant of] every major advance in interpretative theory since Nietzsche, Marx, and Freud’. (pg. 148)
So that’s what I and many others are doing wrong. We aren't studying Islam correctly. In order to study Islam correctly we must read Nietzsche, Marx, Freud and the numerous post-Nietzscheans, post-Marxists and post-Freudians. No wonder I was getting it all wrong. God knows what academics did before Marx. God knows what academics have been doing without Marx, Freud and the post-Marxists and post-Freudians. At least now Said has told us through which prism he saw the Islamic world – the Marxist or post-Marxist prism (no doubt, with little other bits and bobs thrown in for padding).
Ed Said on the State of Israel
Edward Said seemed to dispute that Israel is ‘the Middle East’s only democracy’. Either that or it has ‘been used as a foil for Islam’ (4). If he did dispute it, then he was wrong. If he didn’t dispute it, then a state’s being ‘the only democracy in the Middle East’ is a very good reason to use it as a ‘foil against Islam’ or even a foil against Islamic or Muslim states. Democracy is a very good thing to have when you are surrounded by Muslim countries and are the endless victim of countless Hamas, Fatah and Hezbollah attacks and suicide bombs.
Thus Said might well have preferred various Arab states to the Israeli state. After all, many far-leftists once preferred communist Russia to the US or UK. Why can’t Said have preferred Egyptian or even Pakistani 'democracy' to Israel’s democracy? In fact one likely candidate for a better regime, and even a better democracy (though not a parliamentary democracy) for Said was Iran in the early days of the revolutionary regime (perhaps also later). Perhaps he preferred Iran’s system to Israel’s when writing this (in 1982 and 1996). Chomsky, for example, thinks that the US is a ‘Nazi state’ which needs to be ‘denazified’. It will not be surprising, then, that Said too thought that Israel was a Nazi state which needs denazifying. In fact he did. He saw Israel as being in many ways fascistic or Nazi in nature (as do virtually all Leftists today).
Which system or state did Said actually prefer? Come to think of it, I can ask the same question of Chomsky. Since Chomsky rejected the UK, US and European systems of democracy, which did he prefer, if not completely endorse? Well, he praised Maoist China, the Soviet Union, Cuba and even Pol Pot’s Cambodia. (And to think that anarchists admire Chomsky!)
Which states floated Said’s boat or did he see as at least being superior to Israel – even if he was not completely happy with any non-Israeli regime?
These are the possibilities or realities we have to understand if we are to make sense of Said’s position on Israel and his position on ‘Western capitalist states’. This must be an important component of any explanation of Said’s attitude to Israel vis-à-vis Iran, Palestine and possibly all Arab and/or Muslim state. Said could of course have rejected every system or state on the planet and thus his expectation that Israel should be perfect would have made at least some sense. Yet he didn’t out rightly reject all states, even if he did criticise all of them. He preferred and supported particular Islamic or Arabic regimes against the US and the West. Trotskyist groups also argue than no state is ‘a true socialist or communist state’. But they too take sides in wars or non-violent ideological confrontations, as I just said in the case of the SWP supporting Iran against the West. (This is just a bad as Bradford Pakistani Muslims preferring Pakistan or Afghanistan to the UK’s system and setup.) Said too took sides. He obviously took the sides of the Arab nations against the West. He even supported Saddam Hussein in the Second Gulf War and the Iraqi regime's attempts to nuke Israel in the 1990s.
Edward Said, Covering Islam, 1982/97, Vintage Books, London