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The Middle East: Barak and Baraka

Barak and Baraka: what a difference that "a" makes! Both former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and "poet, conspiracy theorist" Amiri Baraka spoke at Stanford last week. Because of anti-Israel feeling on American campuses, President John Hennessy issued an appeal to students which proved effective. There was only minor trouble. Barak drew a large audience because of his political standing. As a Stanford alumnus, he was able to woo the audience with reminiscences of his years here. Barak is Israel's most decorated war hero. A report was headlined "Barak beats the drums of war", and his speech offered no solution to the Middle East problem which would satisfy the Arab world or indeed the world community. He supports construction of a fence around Israel proper, three main Jewish settlement areas and a strip along the River Jordan.

Amiri Baraka, aka LeRoy Jones, drew a smaller but enthusiastic audience, which gave him a standing ovation. His talk was sponsored by the Black Committee on Performing Arts. He read his notorious poem "Someone Blew Up America" in which lines 205-207 contain the wild charge that Jews were forewarned and escaped 9/11. The success of New Jersey's "poet laureate" shows how eager the intellectual establishment has been to placate Marxist Blacks. Baraka has been awarded many prizes, including fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, which recently distributed a booklet praising his soul-mate Burciaga, who, as related in a previous posting, used Stanford as a basis for his operations. To the posting on Condeleeszza Rice, add the note that, as Stanford Provost, she fired his wife, who was employed by the administration. Clearly the activities of Burciaga had incensed the administration.

The problem of Baraka and his likes is that they offer no informed criticism of Israel. One problem is that the Arabs who did not flee when Israel was created are legally second-rate citizens. A member of the Knesset can be expelled if he does not recognize that Israel is a Jewish and democratic state. I personally am pessimistic. I traveled all through North Africa when it was controlled by France and Spain. With very few exceptions, the Arabs respected the Jews. Following the creation of the state of Israel, most of them were forced to flee. I was in Israel before the present intifada, and the country seemed destined to prosper peacefully. All that has changed, and Sharon must bear his share of the responsibility. I have yet to see a plan for the area which seems to me viable. The two-state solution lacks details, which is where the devil is.

Ronald Hilton - 10/24/02