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Iran's Propaganda inside the United States: The Case of As'ad AbuKhalil

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Message Zeina Hamadeh

The case for Palestine weakens from one generation to another. Less than a decade ago, remarkable Columbia professor Edward Said spearheaded the Palestinian intellectual movement.

Today, this task has fallen to third-rate academics, the likes of a certain California professor/blogger As'ad AbuKhalil.But this AbuKhalil is a shadowy character, to say the least, even if he posts his phone conversations with his mom, who for some reason knows and tells him that the head of the Syrian propaganda network in Lebanon, former Lebanese Minister Michel Samaha, likes him. AbuKhalil is also selective on reporting on his activity as he sometimes leaves out some of the paid consulting work that he does for unidentified parties.On Jan. 21, 08, AbuKhalil made a trip to Washington, DC, and returned to Stanislaus on the 24th. Yet this all-transparent anti-American government professor speaks little, in his blog, about what he did in DC on that trip.
AbuKhalil, a Lebanese-American, believes the world rotates around him and whatever he thinks is true, with no or minimum ability to offer sound arguments or to accept different opinion, which he often attacks in a sarcastic manner, but rarely offers smart and sound counter arguments, let alone verifiable facts that would substantiate his arguments.One of the biggest fallacies that this so-called professor commits is his constant argument of justifying what is wrong, by citing what is wrong elsewhere.

So according to AbuKhalil, justice in Lebanon (the tribunal for the Hariri assassination), should not be served only because Israel always gets away with its killings of Palestinians. In a similar fashion, AbuKhalil argues against the International Criminal Court's summon of Sudanese President Omar El-Bashir by also pointing out to Israeli behavior. According to AbuKhalil, unless justice is served in every corner of the world, crimes such as that which targeted Hariri of Lebanon or the ones El-Bashir committed against his Sudanese people should remain without punishment!  In another spate of arguments with an American professor at the American University of Beirut (AUB), Sean Lee, who has been active against censorship in the Lebanon, AbuKhalil accuses him of being the "White Man," who has moved to Beirut to "educate the natives."And what's AbuKhalil's take against Lee's anti-censorship position? Yes, you guessed right, that there exists censorship in the United States against some media outlets such as Hezbollah's satellite channel Al-Manar. So instead of advocating the removal of censorship everywhere, the Lebanese-American professor argues that censorship in Lebanon on whatever is deemed sympathetic to Jews should remain!

AbuKhalil is a tenured professor at the California State University of Stanislaus (CSUS). He is best known for his blog, Angry Arab, where he offers English readers what he calls an alternative view of the Middle East. But how objective is his alternative?AbuKhalil, is a Shiite-born from south Lebanon, a stronghold of Iran's proxy militia, Hezbollah.His political stances seem to be in sync with that of his boss, CSUS president Hamid Shirvani, who advocates the normalization of relations between the United States and Iran, a lobbyist for the Tehran regime in Washington's jargon.Against this background, it becomes understandable why this professor blogger, who writes ill of every talking and walking journalist, politician and activist in the Middle East and the United States, spares only one group: Iran and its allies, Qatar, Hezbollah and Hamas.AbuKhalil uses, however, some shy criticism of Iran and Qatar. On January 15, he wrote against supporters of the Iranian and Syrian regimes, arguing the two should have sent their armies to the rescue of Palestinians during the Israeli war on Gaza.Yet AbuKhalil's talk against Iran or Qatar pales in front of his all-out hate propaganda against the Saudi establishment, which he accuses of being fanatic religious Wahabi, and the Lebanese March 14 movement, which he touts as rightwing and racist or sectarian, often accusing its supporters of standing against women's rights.And being the leftist secular that he is, AbuKhalil fails to see any religious fundamentalism, racism or sectarianism in Hezbollah or Hamas. And while he teaches Gender and Sexuality in the Middle East, the status of women under Hezbollah or Hamas does not seem to bother him to merit blogging.The only consistent criticism AbuKhalil offers is that against Lebanon's Christians and all of their politicians, even those who turned coat like MP Michel Aoun, a Hezbollah ally who visited Tehran and often makes trips to Doha.AbuKhalil's stances caught the attention of Al-Jazeera, the satellite channel funded by Qatar's autocrat, and in no time, he became their star. AbuKhalil then grew to be a regular guest on all Iran-funded channels, such as Al-Alam TV. Also due to his stances, AbuKhalil was awarded the job of a columnist with the Al-Akhbar, a Lebanese daily of 48 pages with rare or no advertisement. He often uses his column as a smear campaign against journalists with Saudi-owned media, accusing them of being slaves for Saudi petro-dollars. Yet AbuKhalil fails to notice that his Arabic column is in a newspaper funded by Iranian petro-dollars.

While partisanship might be justifiable, the dissemination of inaccurate information about a region as volatile as the Middle East, whether intentional or not, spells a hidden agenda. In an appearance on News Hour on PBS in 2005, AbuKhalil said "the Shiites (in Lebanon) constitute something like 40 to 50 percent of the population." The last population census in Lebanon, showing the Christians a majority, was held in 1932, so where did AbuKhalil get his numbers from? For an expert, toying with politically sensitive Middle Eastern demographics on TV, AbuKhalil should have known that according to lists of eligible voters, updated every four years prior to parliamentary elections since 1992, Shiites were the second largest group in Lebanon in 2005, with 26.3 percent of the population, behind the Sunnis with 26.8. In 2009, the Sunnis grew to 27.1 percent, while the Shiites maintained their numbers.Factual mistakes from a university professor, coupled with embarrassing misspelling on his blog such as "hart" instead of heart, certainly undermine the credibility of this not-so-objective and often inaccurate tenured professor.Then again, the end justifies the means for AbuKhalil, who sees tiny woods in the eyes of people, but fails to see the log in his own eye.

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I am a Lebanese engineer. I follow on Middle Eastern politics daily. If you are a news junky like me, please drop me a line.
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Iran's Propaganda inside the United States: The Case of As'ad AbuKhalil

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