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Jewish World Review April 13, 2001 / 20 Nissan, 5761

Jaime Sneider

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A Columbia U prof's self-destruction -- THE Freud Society of Vienna recently canceled a lecture by University Professor Edward Said after the group saw the famous photograph of the Columbia professor heaving a rock across the Lebanese border at Israeli soldiers manning a watchtower. His bizarre response to the decision by the group and his contradictory claims about the rock-throwing itself demonstrate that Said more suitably belongs on a psychiatrist's couch than behind a podium.

Let's take a look at the sequence of published accounts Said has given regarding the rock-throwing. Despite being caught red-handed by the photographer, the distance between Said and the Israeli watchtower has grown by leaps and bounds.

Last August, he told Ha'aretz newspaper he was ''about 200 meters'' (or roughly .124 miles) from the watchtower. In a March 10, 2001 story, he told The New York Times ''the guardhouse was at least half a mile away.'' And by the March 15, 2001 edition of the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram, the watchtower (and the contingent of soldiers manning it) vanished. Said claimed, ''The area was empty for miles and miles.''

Curiously, an eyewitness of the July 3, 2000 rock-throwing cited in the Lebanese newspaper As-Safir observed, ''Said had positioned himself less than 30 feet from Israeli soldiers before throwing the rock.'' On July 13, 2001 The Washington Post cited with approval the As-Safir account, adding, ''the two-story watchtower [was] decked out with blue-and-white Israeli flags.''


At the same time that the distance between Said and his Israeli targets grew, the jagged object in his hand shrunk. What Said initially called a ''stone'' in his statement early in July underwent a mysterious process of shrinkage. By his March 10, 2001 interview with The New York Times, it turned into a ''pebble'' and by his March 15, 2001 column for Al-Ahram, it transformed into ''a tiny pebble.'' Yet, one look at the photograph reveals him clutching a large rock that filled his entire hand.

Conveniently, in all of Said's discussion and writings about his stone throwing, he neglects to mention that perhaps the most succinct indictment of his gratuitous violence appeared in the Beirut Daily Star on July 18, 2000: ''It certainly does not help matters when no less a figure than Edward Said, the eminent Palestinian-American writer who has labored throughout his career to dispel stereotypes about Arabs being 'violent,' allows himself to be swayed by a crowd into picking up a stone and lofting it across the international border.'' The Arab newspaper continued, ''It is the duty of people like him to lead so that others might choose a wiser route.''

And while he has used every opportunity since the photograph first surfaced to remind people of his ''35 years [of work] on behalf of justice and peace,'' he has yet to explain his appalling decision to meet with Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the terrorist organization Hezbollah. Even more devastating than the meeting itself were his remarks in Ha'aretz, describing Nasrallah as ''a remarkably impressive man,'' praising this ringleader of suicide bombers, assassins, and kidnappers for ''mak[ing] them feel it in body bags.''

Writing in Al-Ahram on March 15, 2001, Professor Said attributed the criticism following the rock-throwing to a conspiracy of ''Zionist propaganda,'' ''Zionist pressure,'' ''Israeli propaganda,'' ''Zionism's bankruptcy,'' and ''a corrupt Western Media.'' He is, as always, the innocent victim of persecution, in this case by two notorious Zionist rags: The Beirut Daily Star and As-Safir.

Without citing or quoting a single source, Said now reports in the March 15, 2001 Al-Ahram that the Freud Institute canceled his speech after being threatened by ''potential funders'' of an exhibition of Freud's papers in Tel Aviv. Extending the conspiracy back in time, Said took a swipe at Commentary, the magazine that published the exposť discrediting Said's imaginary childhood in Jerusalem and exile from Palestine by Zionists, when in fact he grew up under circumstances of remarkable privilege and affluence in Cairo (

Ever keen to play the victim, repeatedly playing fast and loose with the facts, Said's recent claims in The New York Times make an additional preposterous suggestion, comparing the cancellation of his lecture to Freud's hasty departure from his native Austria just prior to the Holocaust. Said told the Times, ''Freud was hounded out of Vienna because he was a Jew. Now I am hounded out because I'm a Palestinian.'' So now Said, caught in a web of his own lies, trivializes the Holocaust.

Alas, one more episode to affirm his paranoid suspicions of a Zionist plot. My advice to the boogeymen out to get Professor Said at any cost: you might consider relaxing a bit, as Said has a knack for self-destruction.

Jaime Sneider is a Columbia College junior majoring in history. Comment by clicking here.


© 2001, Jaime Sneider