Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘taboo

Cornel West says Harvard donors establish ‘taboo’ on criticism of Israel (and NYT buries that angle)


You have surely heard the news from late February that Cornel West was denied tenure at Harvard and has attributed the rejection to his support for Palestinian freedom.

West, 67, a philosophy professor in the Divinity School who has gotten wide faculty and graduate-student support, made the allegation to scholar Tricia Rose on the Tight Rope podcast two weeks ago.

He said that “donors” and “elite” administrators at the school were his enemies for a number of reasons but especially on Palestine.

West also attributed the denial to Jews “in high places” but qualified that charge to say that anti-Palestinian prejudice is widespread in the elite regardless of ethnicity.


The New York Times has now covered the West story and left the Palestinian angle to the last couple of paragraphs, making the controversy entirely about the representation of black scholars at Harvard and other universities.

That was a real issue in West’s discussion–“massive forms of disrespecting black folks.” But it was not the crux of the matter; and in suppressing West’s critique the Times is merely reflecting the elite taboo West targets.

Middle East Eye also has the story but not in full.

Here’s what West said to Tricia Rose re Palestine on February 23.

West said generally that donors and elites set the ideological limits at Harvard and other “neoliberal” institutions, because the schools are “so tied to image and cash flow and consumer reputation.” Harvard states, “We believe in a robust conversation.” But not all the time, West said.

You got a consensus, you got an orthodoxy, you got a certain kind of dogmatism… on certain issues, and it is also I think possibly tied to the donors.”

When West was denied tenure, he looked over his political record and concluded that it was not his support of Bernie Sanders that got him in bad odor.

But considering two cases of scholars who he believes were denied tenure for their criticism of U.S. imperial policies led West to decide it was his criticism of the Israeli occupation.

Hmmm— I wonder whether it’s outspokenness for my precious Palestinian brothers and sisters under Israeli occupation. And I’ve said over and over again, if there is a Palestinian occupation of precious Jews I’m with the oppressed group and in that case my precious Jewish brothers– and the Israeli occupation of Palestinians I’m with my precious Palestinians because it’s a moral and spiritual issue.

But the problem is that it is a taboo issue among certain circles in high places. It’s hard to have a robust respectful conversation about Israel, the Israeli occupation, because you’re immediately viewed as an anti-Jewish hater, or you got anti-Jewish prejudices or you’re antisemitic, or what have you.

I said, That’s ridiculous. Yes, we’ve got to fight any hatred against our Jewish brothers, I say, yes we got to fight any attempt to degrade Jewish brothers and sisters, but Palestinians have exactly the same value as Jews.

People say, Well now you’re not just making it political but somehow you are trying to charge these Jewish elites with you not getting tenure. I said, Well, it’s true in this particular instance that you do have Jewish administrators. But that doesn’t mean that somehow– Every Jew doesn’t agree with them! You got a whole wave of Jewish comrades and Jewish brothers and sisters who are very critical of Israeli occupation, but not in high places!

Not in high places. Now again, this was my hypothesis. Because given the possibilities of why they would not even be interested in initiating a tenure process, What else could it be?

West returned to the question of money and image later in the discussion and said it’s not just Jews in those high places.

The handbook says these are the procedures and rules, but everyone knows that on the ground a whole host of things is taking place. And when you talk about Israeli occupation you’re not just talking about Jewish donors, at all.

We’re not talking first and foremost about Jewish money. You’re talking about the money elite, who are Jewish, non-Jewish, black, white, red, whatever, who do have a certain kind of tilt on that issue. And it’s an issue that cuts across a whole host of different groups in that regard…

The university is most afraid of their money, they’re most afraid about their image and reputation, and they’re most afraid of a legal lawsuit.

The New York Times covered West’s battle with Harvard on March 2. It interviewed West and left the Israel angle to the very end of a long article. It noted that when West left Harvard in 2002 for Princeton, he called Harvard President Larry Summers “a bully and ‘the Ariel Sharon of American higher education,’ a characterization criticized as having anti-Semitic overtones.”

Then having tarred West, the Times barely mentions the Palestinian angle.

He said he is mystified as to why he would not be given a tenure review, but offered some possibilities: a reluctance to grant a coveted position to someone of advancing age, whose best work might be assumed to be behind him, and concerns that his support for the Palestinian cause might offend the prevailing orthodoxy and donors.

“More than anything else, there’s a certain disrespect for Black scholars and taboo issues that don’t allow us to have a robust and respectful dialogue,” he said. “And both of those are very much tied to the way in which the university’s become commodified. It’s a money-driven institution, and it’s sad.”

The taboo subject here is obviously Jewish donors of my generation and older (post 60) who are conservative on Israel. West hedges the charge, saying it’s all administrators regardless of race. I don’t agree.

The issue here is Jewish donors who love Israel. I addressed this in an article about Jewish donors to Harvard in 2008. I quoted an anonymous friend: “What are the names on the buildings? Taubman, Rubenstein, Belfer, Weiner. Where do you think the money is coming from in academia?”

When Larry Summers was forced out of the Harvard presidency in 2007, Marty Peretz attributed it to anti-Israel bias, and threatened a donor rebellion at Harvard.

“I know of at least three gifts in the $100 million range that were very likely to materialize and now are dicey.” A donor rebellion was also threatened when Harvard Kennedy School dean Stephen Walt published his landmark paper on the power of the Israel lobby with Chicago colleague John Mearsheimer.

The Times itself acknowledged Jewish donors as the “elephant in the room” in a related area of giving, the Democratic Party, in Nathan Thrall’s landmark article on why Palestine continues to be a marginalized issue among Democrats.

In part, some Hill staff members and former White House officials say, this is because of the influence of mega-donors: Of the dozens of personal checks greater than $500,000 made out to the largest PAC for Democrats in 2018, the Senate Majority PAC, around three-fourths were written by Jewish donors.

This provides fodder for anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, and for some, it is the elephant in the room. Though the number of Jewish donors known to prioritize pro-Israel policies above all other issues is small, there are few if any pushing in the opposite direction…

Yes I am conflating Harvard donors and Democratic Party donors. Obviously it’s not the same pool. But they’re not unrelated. JJ Goldberg of the Forward and Stephanie Schriock of Emily’s List described the power of Jewish donors as “gigantic” and “shocking” in a 2016 J Street forum. 

Goldberg said,

You ask a Democratic fundraiser, where do you get the money from? “Well from trial lawyers, from toys, from generic drugs, from Hollywood. From Jews.” Those are all essentially Jewish industries

When you are raising  money, you need to find rich people who are not right wing, and there are not– pardon me for saying this, there are not many rich goyim who are not right wing. Forgive me for saying that.

West is surely right when he says that a new generation of Jews doesn’t buy into the Israel mythology. We champion such Jewish views at our site. But conservative views on Israel are the dead hand of the past when it comes to philanthropy, and still very influential.

Finally, it is interesting to consider that whatever Cornel West’s transgressions at Harvard, he’s not even talking about BDS, the nonviolent campaign for Palestinian human rights. Just the occupation!

Thanks to Linda G. Ford.

L’athéisme, ce tabou du monde musulman

Du Maghreb au Pakistan, en passant par l’Arabie saoudite, les athées sont de plus en plus nombreux. Enquête sur cet athéisme qui dérange et effraie le monde musulman.

Le Monde | Par Angeline Montoya (Londres, envoyée spéciale)


Bahous aimerait bien ne plus entendre parler de l’islam. Et même ne plus en parler du tout.

Mais quoi qu’il fasse, quoi qu’il dise, cet homme de 33 ans, vendeur à Voiron (Isère), y est toujours ramené.

Son athéisme intrigue, ou dérange, c’est selon.

Lorsque l’on est issu, comme lui, d’une famille et d’une culture musulmanes, le fait de ne pas croire en Dieu – et, surtout, de le dire – ouvre la voie à une vie d’incompréhensions, de renoncements, de ruptures.

« Je subis un double regard, explique Bahous. Pour les gens, de par mon apparence, mon nom, la couleur de ma peau, je suis de facto musulman. On ne peut pas concevoir que je sois juste Français.

Mais, pour ma famille, je suis le vilain petit canard. Ils me considèrent comme un “francisé” : être athée, c’est trahir ses origines, comme si être musulman était une origine.

Du coup, je me sens obligé de toujours me justifier, sur tous les fronts. »

Bahous avait écrit au Monde en février, en répondant à un appel à témoignages sur les musulmans ayant perdu la foi. Quand nous l’avons à nouveau sollicité, en novembre, rien n’avait changé pour lui : il avait toujours le sentiment de vivre dans cet « étrange entre-deux », où il se sent contraint de préciser sans cesse qu’il n’est « ni islamophobe ni islamophile ».

Le comble pour un athée : « Après les attentats, on m’a demandé de me désolidariser… »

Sa famille, elle, en particulier son frère aîné, n’a jamais accepté son renoncement à l’islam.

Depuis, les deux hommes ne se fréquentent plus. Bahous peut cependant s’estimer chanceux : sa mère, auprès de laquelle il s’est ouvert de ses doutes sur l’existence de Dieu dès l’adolescence, n’approuve pas ce choix mais le tolère.

« Dans certaines familles, annoncer son athéisme peut être encore plus compliqué qu’annoncer son homosexualité »« Dans certaines familles, annoncer son athéisme peut être encore plus compliqué..

En savoir plus sur

Note: I wonder why anyone feel obligated to come out on whether he believes or Not in any God. Religious belief is an individual choice, when adult, same as being atheist: It is none the concern of anyone.

Part 2. A life of a Pintade (guinea fowl) in Beirut” by Muriel Rozelio

“Une vie de Pintade a Beyrouth”

The 400-page book studies the customs of urban women and girls in Lebanon. You find addresses of sport clubs, spas, private expensive swimming beaches, restaurants, beauty shops, esthetic surgery clinics…

In Beirut, the girls and women have winds in their sails; they wear skyscraper high-heel shoes, their “claws” are manicured in all seasons…

To be beautiful is a duty of the highest priority.  The pintades or guinea fowl (of all confessional sects) converge to the Cornice on the seashore of Ras Beirut or the ABC shopping center in Achrafieh to be seen, to see, and compare.

The pintades in Beirut are as pudic as much as proud. To be a pintade is to be a modern women, who constantly is on the look-out of the latest trends, who can reconcile the triumvirate: Family life, professional life, and personal equilibrium.  They exist only to have eyes riveted on them.

Seemingly emancipated, though plagued with all sorts of taboos, feminists or militants, superficial or courageous, the inhabitants of Beirut are kneaded in contradictions.

Submitted women?  Maybe in a few remote villages, but generally managing the family with an iron grip.

(In a tiny country, in a de-facto Non-State political structure, barely standing in a precarious political equilibrium, the behavior of the pintades can be considered a declaration of war against simmering wars).

There are many versions of pintades living in Teheran, Paris, and many other Capitals. It is in Beirut that 50 year-old dance on tables at 5 am. The Lebanese women have a passion for Lebanon and they keep this non-State existing, refusing to vanish.

Muriel Rozelio is undaunted and wants to experience practices that the pintades have given up usage long time ago.  For example Muriel wants to epilate using caramel (boiled sugar).

The pintades tell Muriel “Do you want to revert to the stone age? Wax (la cire) is far more hygienic and practical. First, caramel burns your fingers, and second even three showers will not remove the stickiness…”

Muriel receives an anonymous phone calls: “If you insist on caramel note down this address”.  Murial used the map “Zawarib Beirut” of  Ashrafieh to locate the place.  The fat 50 year-old matrone said: “The advantage of caramel is that it pulls the hair deeper”.  That was correct, but Muriel felt she sacrificed portions of her skin.

Another example. Muriel wants to experience Turkish baths in Beirut.  The pintades told Muriel that there are none in Beirut; she should drive to Saida or Tripoli for these unsanitary and microbe-plagues places.  Why not use the Jacuzzi and sauna in our health clubs?

Undaunted, Muriel head to Haret Hreik, headquarter of Hezbollah, 3 kilometers away from Beirut center, but culturally a light year away of the pintades.

The veiled woman attendent in the bath of Haret Hreik make them purchase shorts: It is not acceptable to get nude, even among women.

The Lebanese pintade would never leave her house and cross the street to purchase anything in “as is” condition:  She has to first to be ready to appear in public as if heading to a gala party.

The young girl learn how to do their own “brushing” of their long hair.  A caption says: “Israeli bombs, Syrian bombs… As long as you know how to do the “brushing” and brush your hair before going out, you ‘ll well manage your life fine, habibaty (my little love)”

This is a very funny book. You have got the gist of it.

Love: Women in Islam (Part 9, April 26, 2009)


In the Arabic language there are over 60 terms to express love; from the simple inclination (mawada) to total transport (mutayyam) to violent passion (3ichk) to the agony in love (sababa). 

You have: I love you (bahibik, gharami, 3youni, albi, 7ayati…).

There are as many terms for love as there are names for snow in the Eskimo language

Not an aspect, a detail, a characteristic, a symptom, kind, state, and remedy of love were not studied in the Arabic language and in Islam.  Medieval Europe experienced the troubadour love poems or courteous poems via the Arab poetry of Andalusia in southern Spain.

Love has never been a taboo neither in the pre-Islamic period nor in Islam; love has never been an aversion

People and poets who died out of love were considered high in the tribal communities and martyrs in Islam.  That is why even when a love affair was denied because of tribal interest, the tribes cried the death of a love partner who suffered tribal rejection or his love mate.

Islam encourages marriage as constituting half the religious duties and magnifies the necessity that both partners reach sexual pleasure through the art of foreplay and taking time for the female to feel happy and ready for intercourse before entering.  In marriage, all exotic love-making and positions are permitted as long as both partners are willing. 

Being naked and contemplating nakedness is part of the game. For example Aicha, the beloved wife of the prophet said: “I would take a joint bath with the Prophet after a state of grand impurity”

Women would complain to the judge that her mate prefers exclusively one position to others, particularly the anus intercourse, and she would turn over her sandals (babouj) for the judge to comprehend her complaint.  In such cases of wives unsatisfied sexually then they have the right to divorce.

Islam had created licit love-making via temporary contracts called “zawaj al mut3a” (marriage of pleasure) or the marriage of the traveler “nika7 al misyar or moussafer”.  These temporary arrangements are true contracts with all the required clauses of financial retribution and obligations.

Adultery is ground for divorce but no where in the Koran does the wife or the husband is subjected to be lapidated (put to death by throwing stones at). 

In a previous post, “Women in Islam: Divorce“, I have stated the mechanism and type of divorce.  You may refer to post “Women in Islam: Essay”

Moslem women writers are making a comeback in emancipation literature. For example, in French you have Nedjma (Star), a pseudonym, publishing “The Almond” (L’Amande) of the crude sexual education of a Moroccan girl, and “The crossing of the senses” (La Traversee des sens); you have Salwa al Neimi with “The Proof by Honey”; you have Rajaa Alsanea with “The Daughters (or girls) of Riyadh”; you have Zaynab Hifni with “I will cry no more” and “Women at the Equator”


Note: It is no secret that man is at huge disadvantaged in matter of obtaining pleasure in sexual encounters.  Women must have known that man is doing his best to convey his attachment and appreciation by pleasuring his woman partner; all that he receives is tension relief after working so hard for his mate to get satisfaction.

Whether a man is having intercourse the procreation type or through anus is of no difference to him in pleasure. If in a few cultures man prefers women with large hips and round behind it is not because of a sign of higher fertility or easier pregnancy but because the naked body of the bent over woman is far lovelier and magnificent than in other positions.




May 2023

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