Efraim Karsh: Difference between revisions

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==Criticism==
 
==Criticism==
Karsh's work on the Middle East has received criticism. In a review of ''Empires of the Sand'', Dr. Anthony Toth (D.Phil, Oxford) says,
+
Karsh's work on the Middle East has received criticism. As well it should, the dude just makes stuff up. In a review of ''Empires of the Sand'', Dr. Anthony Toth (D.Phil, Oxford) says,
   
 
{{quotation|This is a polemical book whose authors have extended the intemperate and unbalanced rhetoric customarily employed by dogmatic partisans of the Arab Israeli conflict to the normally sedate and measured arena of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Ottoman history.
 
{{quotation|This is a polemical book whose authors have extended the intemperate and unbalanced rhetoric customarily employed by dogmatic partisans of the Arab Israeli conflict to the normally sedate and measured arena of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Ottoman history.
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Professor of Middle East Studies in the Department of War Studies at [[King's College London]] Yezid Sayigh<ref>[http://www.kcl.ac.uk/schools/sspp/ws/staff/ys.html Staff Profile for Yezid Sayigh]</ref> has commented of Karsh that, "He is simply not what he makes himself out to be, a trained historian (nor political/social scientist)," and encouraged "robust responses [that] make sure that any self-respecting scholar will be too embarrassed to even try to incorporate the Karsh books in his/her teaching or research because they can't pretend they didn't know how flimsy their foundations are."<ref name=Karsh2002>[http://www.meforum.org/article/207 Karsh, Efraim. "The Unbearable Lightness of My Critics," ''[[Middle East Quarterly]]'', Summer 2002.</ref> Citing his doctorate in political science and international relations and his undergraduate training in modern Middle Eastern history and Arabic language and literature, Karsh wrote that Sayigh's criticism were "not a scholarly debate on facts and theses but a character assassination couched in high pseudo-academic rhetoric".<ref name=Karsh2002/>
 
Professor of Middle East Studies in the Department of War Studies at [[King's College London]] Yezid Sayigh<ref>[http://www.kcl.ac.uk/schools/sspp/ws/staff/ys.html Staff Profile for Yezid Sayigh]</ref> has commented of Karsh that, "He is simply not what he makes himself out to be, a trained historian (nor political/social scientist)," and encouraged "robust responses [that] make sure that any self-respecting scholar will be too embarrassed to even try to incorporate the Karsh books in his/her teaching or research because they can't pretend they didn't know how flimsy their foundations are."<ref name=Karsh2002>[http://www.meforum.org/article/207 Karsh, Efraim. "The Unbearable Lightness of My Critics," ''[[Middle East Quarterly]]'', Summer 2002.</ref> Citing his doctorate in political science and international relations and his undergraduate training in modern Middle Eastern history and Arabic language and literature, Karsh wrote that Sayigh's criticism were "not a scholarly debate on facts and theses but a character assassination couched in high pseudo-academic rhetoric".<ref name=Karsh2002/>
   
Professor of History at the Middle East Institute of Columbia University [[Richard Bulliet]], in an academic review, describes the Karshs ''Empires of the Sand'' as {{quotation|"a tendentious and unreliable piece of scholarship that should have been vetted more thoroughly by the publisher" and asserts that the authors failed to "contribute a dimension of sense and scholarship that raises the debate[s in question] to a higher level."<ref name=Bulliett>Richard W Bulliett. ''The [[Middle East Journal]]''. Washington: Autumn 2000. Vol. 54, Iss. 4; p. 667-8</ref> Karsh in response wondered "what credential did Bulliet possess, that a leading journal in the field should ask him to review our book? He is a medievalist who has done no research or writing on the subject. But in his spare time, he propagates the view of the Middle East and its nations as hapless victims of Western imperialism"."<ref name=Karsh2002/>}}
+
Professor of History at the Middle East Institute of Columbia University [[Richard Bulliet]], in an academic review, describes the Karshs ''Empires of the Sand'' as {{quotation|"a tendentious and retarded unreliable piece of crap that should have been vetted more thoroughly by the publisher" and asserts that the authors failed to "contribute a dimension of sense and scholarship that raises the debate[s in question] to a higher level."<ref name=Bulliett>Richard W Bulliett. ''The [[Middle East Journal]]''. Washington: Autumn 2000. Vol. 54, Iss. 4; p. 667-8</ref> Karsh in response wondered "what credential did Bulliet possess, that a leading journal in the field should ask him to review our book? He is a medievalist who has done no research or writing on the subject. But in his spare time, he propagates the view of the Middle East and its nations as hapless victims of Western imperialism"."<ref name=Karsh2002/>}}
   
 
==Books==
 
==Books==

Revision as of 19:55, 23 November 2009

Efraim Karsh (Hebrew: אפרים קארש‎; born 1953) is professor and head of Middle East and Mediterranean Studies[1] at King's College London. An historian of the Middle East, and a best-selling author, he is regarded as the most vocal critic of the New Historians, a group of Israeli scholars who have questioned the conventional history of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

File:Efraim Karsh.gif
Efraim Karsh

Background

Born and raised in Israel, Karsh graduated in Arabic and Modern Middle East History from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and obtained an MA and PhD in International Relations from Tel Aviv University.

After acquiring his first academic degree in modern Middle Eastern history, he was a research analyst for the Israel Defence Forces (IDF), where he attained the rank of major.

Academic career

He has held various academic posts at Harvard and Columbia universities, the Sorbonne, the London School of Economics, Helsinki University, the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, the Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies in Washington D.C., and the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University.

He has published extensively on Middle Eastern affairs, Soviet foreign policy, and European neutrality, and is a founding editor of the scholarly journal Israel Affairs. He is a regular media commentator, has appeared on all the main radio and television networks in the United Kingdom and the United States, and has contributed articles to leading newspapers, including The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times,The Wall Street Journal, The Times (London) and The Daily Telegraph.

Praise

Karsh's work on the Middle East has received praise. Richard Bernstein of The New York Times, reviewed Empires of the Sand (authored by Karsch and his wife Inari Karsh):

A readable, scholarly re-examination of a long and complicated Middle Eastern history [...] The Karshes provide useful historical backgrounds to the emergence of independent countries in Egypt, Greece, the Balkans and former Danube principalities like Serbia and Romania. But the main purpose of this very detailed and broad-shouldered history is to revise many of the standard interpretations that have been given to Middle Eastern history over the last two centuries. Most generally the Karshes dispute the idea that the main events and developments in the region stem from the machinations of the great powers, especially Britain and France. The ‘main impetus behind regional developments,’ they write, was ‘the local actors’ [...] The authors write clearly and authoritatively and with great geographical sweep. Those who do not know much of these events will learn a great deal from this book, while specialists with views differing from the Karshes’ will face a robust challenge to their interpretations.[2]

Itamar Rabinovich writing in The International History Review, and former Israel ambassador to the United States commented on Fabricating Israeli History :

Whatever the future holds for the New Historians, nobody interested in their views can afford to bypass Karsh’s insightful work.[3]

Amir Taheri, journalist in the Sunday Telegraph praised Islamic Imperialism:

“Anyone interested in the debate about the place of Islam in the modern world should read this book … Karsh offers a new approach. He rejects the condescending approach of the apologists and the hateful passion of the Islamophobes. Instead he presents Islam as a rival for Western civilization in what is, after all, a contest for shaping of mankind.[3].

Robert Fulford of the National Post says of Islamic Imperialism

“Only a shrewd and talented revisionist, a professor with curiosity and nerve, could take on the clichés of Middle East scholarship and insist that they be reconsidered. That describes Efraim Karsh, a much-published and much-admired professor at the University of London. His new book, Islamic Imperialism: A History (Yale University Press), deserves serious consideration by anyone who cares about this debate. He challenges not only our favorite ideas about the Middle East but even our notions of imperialism… Muslims should respect Karsh, if only because he respects them. He sees them as subjects in history, not objects; they are actors on the world stage making their own decisions about their future."[3]

Professor J. C. Hurewitz, who was once director of the Columbia University's Middle East Institute said of Fabricating Israeli History:

“The first serious, comprehensive analysis of the revisionist school of national historians in Israel in the State’s fifth decade of sovereignty. A frontal, no-holds barred assault that cannot fail to sharpen the debate between the established school and its opponents. It is required reading for the inquisitive no less than the engaged professional historians.” [3]

Haaretz's Yoram Bronowski says of Fabricating Israeli History:

“The impact of Norman Cohn’s ‘Warrant for Genocide’, which exposes the ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion’ forgery, is dwarfed in comparison to Karsh’s book, which rips the veneer off certain respectable-looking scholars ... Not only are they empty vessels, Karsh shows in this astonishing book, but they are something much worse: vessels overflowing with deadly dynamite”.[3]

On Saddam Hussein: A Political Biography, Mohammad Ja’afar Mahallati, former Iranian deputy foreign minister and ambassador to the UN, said “...

All such events have unequivocally proved the very scrupulous, accurate, and lucid explanations and elaborations that Efraim Karsh and Inari Rautsi have masterfully provided in this in-depth political biography of Saddam Hussein ... This is a first-rate biography of Saddam Hussein on many accounts ... This book gives the reader as sense that he is living in the mind of Saddam Hussein and in his surrounding atmosphere ... This is an authoritative biography, which should be read by every scholar interested in the contemporary history of Iraq and its role in shaping the geopolitical equation in the whole Middle Eastern region. The fluent, lucid, and colourful language in which the book is written must be commended.”[3]

Criticism

Karsh's work on the Middle East has received criticism. As well it should, the dude just makes stuff up. In a review of Empires of the Sand, Dr. Anthony Toth (D.Phil, Oxford) says,

This is a polemical book whose authors have extended the intemperate and unbalanced rhetoric customarily employed by dogmatic partisans of the Arab Israeli conflict to the normally sedate and measured arena of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Ottoman history.

The book relies mainly on Western published sources and official British documents. But their use of even these sources is limited, since they actually ignore most of nineteenth-century history. Instead, the authors emphasize those episodes they feel support their interpretations.[4]

In an answer to Karsh's criticism on the New Historians, Morris responded in four lines:

Efraim Karsh's article (...) is a mélange of distortions, half-truths, and plain lies that vividly demonstrates his profound ignorance of both the source material (...) and the history of the Zionist-Arab conflict. It does not deserve serious attention or reply.[5]

Morris later gave more extensive criticism in a review of Fabricating Israeli History

But this is Karsh's way, to belabor minor points while completely ignoring, and hiding from his readers, the main pieces of evidence. It is a measure of Karsh's ignorance of what actually went on in the Middle East in 1948 that he writes (p. 97) of "the Arab attack on the newly-established State of Israel, in which Transjordan's Arab Legion participated." Quite simply, it did not. Karsh employs his usual method of focusing on the one document that seems to uphold his argument-often while twisting its real purport-while simply ignoring the mas of documents that undercut it.[6]

Political scientist Ian Lustick describes Karsh's writing in Fabricating Israeli History as malevolent and the nature of his analysis as erratic and sloppy. The book, he wrote, is ripe with 'howlers, contradictions and distortions'.[7] Lustick points to six instances in which Karsh gives quotes that say the very opposite of what Karsh tells his readers they say. One example he gives is of a statement made by Golda Meir that Karsh alludes to in support of his argument that there was never an agreement between Abdullah of Transjordan and the Zionist leadership. In the quote itself, according to the interpretation of Lustick, Meir explicitly writes about an agreement: 'The meeting [in November 1947] was conducted on the basis that there was an arrangement and an understanding as to what both of us wanted and that our interests did not collide'.[8]

Professor of Middle East Studies in the Department of War Studies at King's College London Yezid Sayigh[9] has commented of Karsh that, "He is simply not what he makes himself out to be, a trained historian (nor political/social scientist)," and encouraged "robust responses [that] make sure that any self-respecting scholar will be too embarrassed to even try to incorporate the Karsh books in his/her teaching or research because they can't pretend they didn't know how flimsy their foundations are."[10] Citing his doctorate in political science and international relations and his undergraduate training in modern Middle Eastern history and Arabic language and literature, Karsh wrote that Sayigh's criticism were "not a scholarly debate on facts and theses but a character assassination couched in high pseudo-academic rhetoric".[10]

Professor of History at the Middle East Institute of Columbia University Richard Bulliet, in an academic review, describes the Karshs Empires of the Sand as

"a tendentious and retarded unreliable piece of crap that should have been vetted more thoroughly by the publisher" and asserts that the authors failed to "contribute a dimension of sense and scholarship that raises the debate[s in question] to a higher level."[11] Karsh in response wondered "what credential did Bulliet possess, that a leading journal in the field should ask him to review our book? He is a medievalist who has done no research or writing on the subject. But in his spare time, he propagates the view of the Middle East and its nations as hapless victims of Western imperialism"."[10]

Books

  • Islamic Imperialism: A History (Yale University Press, 2006);
  • La Guerre D'Oslo (Les Editions de Passy, 2005; with Yoel Fishman);
  • Arafat’s War (Grove, 2003);
  • Rethinking the Middle East (Cass, 2003);
  • The Arab-Israeli Conflict. The Palestine 1948 War (Oxford, Osprey, 2002);
  • The Iran-Iraq War (Oxford, Osprey, 2002);
  • Empires of the Sand: The Struggle for Mastery in the Middle East, 1789-1922 (Harvard University Press, 1999; with *Inari Karsh);
  • Fabricating Israeli History: The "New Historians" (Cass, 1997; second edition 1999);
  • The Gulf Conflict 1990-1991: Diplomacy and War in The New World Order (Princeton University Press, 1993; with *Lawrence Freedman);
  • Saddam Hussein: A Political Biography (The Free Press, 1991; with Inari Rautsi-Karsh);
  • Soviet Policy towards Syria Since 1970 (Macmillan & St. Martin's Press, 1991);
  • Neutrality and Small States (Routledge, 1988);
  • The Soviet Union and Syria: The Asad Years (Routledge for the Royal Institute of International Affairs, 1988);
  • The Cautious Bear: Soviet Military Engagement in Middle East Wars in the Post 1967 Era (Westview, 1985).

Further reading

Articles by Karsh

Interview

  • Sky News, Efraim Karsh debates 1948 with Ilan Pappe on Sky News

References

  1. ^ http://www.kcl.ac.uk/schools/humanities/depts/med/
  2. ^ New York Times, 1 December 1999, p8.
  3. ^ a b c d e f http://www.kcl.ac.uk/content/1/c6/02/19/22/ekbksrevs1.pdf
  4. ^ Anthony B. Toth, "History as Ideology", a review of Empires of the Sand: The Struggle for Mastery in the Middle East, 1789-1923 by Efraim and Inari Karsh, Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 31, No. 2. (Winter, 2002), pp. 85-86.
  5. ^ Morris, 1996, "Undeserving of a Reply", The Middle East Quarterly
  6. ^ Benny Morris, "Refabricating 1948", review of Fabricating Israeli History: The "New Historians." by Efraim Karsh, Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 27, No. 2. (Winter, 1998), pp. 81-95.
  7. ^ I. Lustick, 1997, 'Israeli History: Who is Fabricating What?', Survival, 39(3), p.156-166
  8. ^ I. Lustick, 1997, Survival, 39(4), p.197-198
  9. ^ Staff Profile for Yezid Sayigh
  10. ^ a b c [http://www.meforum.org/article/207 Karsh, Efraim. "The Unbearable Lightness of My Critics," Middle East Quarterly, Summer 2002.
  11. ^ Richard W Bulliett. The Middle East Journal. Washington: Autumn 2000. Vol. 54, Iss. 4; p. 667-8