The Knowledge Constituency Versus the Ignorance Lobby – Hussein Ibish
(dailyalert.org, Jun. 13, 2014)
Prof. Mohammed S. Dajani Daoudi, who runs the Al-Quds University Department of American Studies, has been allowed to resign his position following the uproar over a trip he led of Palestinian university students to Auschwitz-Birkenau. But the whole squalid affair is redolent with Palestinian, and broader Arab, collective neurotic symptoms about others. What, after all, do Palestinians have to gain by insisting their students remain ignorant of the Holocaust? Prof. Dajani argued from the outset that it is essential to understand the Israeli mentality and the Jewish experiences that inform it.
There is a broader conflict throughout Arab culture between those who want to embrace the world, in all its complexity and challenges, versus those who want to rely on nostalgic fantasies about former periods of greatness. For the past century at least, the majority trend in the Arab world has been to try to shut out knowledge of and engagement with outsiders, except for commercial purposes.
Prof. Dajani has done something noble and constructive. If the Arab world continues to allow the stupidity and ignorance lobby to insist on cultural insularity, chauvinism, and deafness to the outside world, it will remain utterly stuck and unable to successfully join and compete in a globalizing world. (Now-Lebanon)