Ian Lustick's position on the Arab-Israeli conflict: pro-PLO

This brief analysis establishes Ian Lustick's motive for wanting Francisco Gil-White fired


ANALYSIS by Francisco Gil-White

Ian Lustick is a professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania. He wanted me fired from the University of Pennsylvania psychology department, or else properly silenced. In order to see why, it will help to understand Ian Lustick's position on the Arab-Israeli conflict. First, therefore, a bit of context.

The Oslo ‘Peace’ Process between Israel and the PLO was officially jump-started in 1993. A Gazette (Montreal) article from September of that year explains that,

“recently published figures clearly indicate a Jewish majority in the eastern half [of Jerusalem] which was always regarded as the demographic bastion of the Arab residents.”[1]

But, as the same Gazette article explained, despite Jewish numerical superiority all over Jerusalem, and despite the fact that Jerusalem is the symbolic center of Judaism but only of secondary importance in Islam, the so-called 'peace' process had been set in motion without ruling out the possibility that Jerusalem might be divided. Although the issue was officially deferred rather than raised, the positions were well known. The PLO was for dividing the city and getting the eastern half for capital of a Palestinian state; by sharp contrast, explained the Gazette,

“Israeli and world Jewry of whatever hue are unanimous that Jerusalem remain the undivided capital of Israel.”

There was a biblical king, you may remember, who determined which of two women was the real mother of a baby by identifying the one who would be happy to divide it and keep half. That one wasn’t the mother.

Here is the position that Ian Lustick took with regard to Jerusalem, as explained in the same article:

“University of Pennsylvania political scientist Ian Lustick claims that Jerusalem has become a fetish, a political issue which has led to an unconvincing hegemonic status. He says all of Israel is not convinced of its current totality and boundaries. He thinks that some division is not to be discounted.”

Ian Lustick, in 1993, was advocating the PLO’s position on Jerusalem, which suggests that he is a PLO partisan. This point is made more poignant by the fact that, according to the Gazette, every single Jew in the world opposed the division of Jerusalem. And yet Ian Lustick says he is Jewish.

Here is another example, from 1995, reported in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune,

“Ian Lustick, a University of Pennsylvania social science professor, a specialist in Middle East affairs and a U.S. Jew sometimes critical of Israel, said the Israeli government should stop settlement construction and declare that a Palestinian state will exist at the end of the peace process. ‘There must be an end to the thickening of settlements as well as the expansion of settlements.’”[2]

Ian Lustick impatiently demanded a Palestinian state right between the Islamic Jihad terrorist attack at Beit Lid Junction (21 dead, 69 wounded), and the combined Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorist attack in Gaza (8 dead, 50 wounded).[3] Lustick might try to claim that there is no contradiction because these attacks were by Hamas and Islamic Jihad, whereas a future Palestinian state will be run by the PLO. But any such reply would immediately reveal why my work has become such a problem for Ian Lustick. I have pointed out, for example, that Islamic Jihad is not independent of the PLO.[4] Perhaps more decisively, I have documented that the PLO/Fatah is a descendant organization of Adolf Hitler’s Final Solution, which, it is worth reminding ourselves, had for purpose the total extermination of the Jewish people.[5]

Lustick, as we saw, has loudly and impatiently called for the creation of a Palestinian Arab state run by the PLO, and sharing a border with the Jewish state. But one cannot very well be publicly demanding a PLO state if its purpose will be the extermination of the Israeli Jews. Or at least one cannot do so if one is supposed to be an academically respectable Jewish professor. The thing to do, rather, is argue that the real genocidal maniacs are the supposed rivals of the PLO, Hamas et al., whereas the PLO will be represented as the relative ‘moderates’ (which here means that they are antisemitic terrorists but if given a piece of land they will perhaps allow a few Jews to live). And so the PLO is portrayed as a welcome contrast to Hamas, which highly popular organization everybody apparently agrees will try to kill all the Jews even if a Palestinian Arab state is created.

But even without appealing to the fact that Al Fatah -- which by 1970 had swallowed the PLO, keeping its name[6] -- was spawned by an architect of Hitler’s Final Solution,[6a] the recent facts make it quite clear that PLO/Fatah cannot be the relative moderates among the Palestinian Arabs.

Consider the case of Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, which, according to Newsday, is “the deadliest Palestinian militia.”[7] In ordinary English, the use of the word “deadliest” requires that the other ‘militias’ are less deadly. So Hamas, as bad as they are (and they are bad), are not the worst of the Palestinian Arab terrorists -- that ‘distinction’ goes to Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.

And who do these deadliest Palestinian Arab terrorists answer to? Here, for example, is what Time magazine wrote on 10 June 2002:

“Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, part of Arafat’s Fatah organization, has claimed responsibility for three of the nine fatal terrorist attacks on Israelis since Arafat was freed [from the Israeli siege on his headquarters]. Palestinian cabinet ministers say that Arafat has no incentive to stop paying the Brigades activists because they will only turn to new paymasters in the radical Islamic group Hamas, Fatah’s rival.”[8]

Let your mind steer clear of the argument that Arafat was paying terrorists who kill innocent Israeli men, women, and children in order to keep the same terrorists from joining the ‘real’ bad guys. Because if you let that absurdity distract you, you’ll miss the important stuff, which is this: the “deadliest Palestinian militia” was coming for its checks to Yasser Arafat, the leader of Fatah, the leader of the PLO, and ‘chairman’ of the Palestinian Authority. So, when Ian Lustick impatiently called for a PLO state between PLO murders of innocent Israelis (via Islamic Jihad), he was pushing for a state run by absolutely the worst terrorists among the West Bank and Gaza Arabs.

It may be possible for Lustick to squirm out of an embarrassment like the one above. I don’t know. But can he survive my demonstration that the PLO is an extension of Hitler’s Final Solution?[5] Could he still publicly call for a Palestinian Arab state neighboring the Jewish state and run by the PLO? Hasn’t he gone rather too far out on a limb to recover from that?

I pass to the third example.

On April 11, 2002, Alan Keyes invited Ian Lustick to his MS-NBC show “Making Sense.” I have not seen the transcripts of other shows but on this one Alan Keyes made a lot of sense. The same cannot be said for his guest.

According to Alan Keyes, the fact that Yasser Arafat’s PLO kept violating its agreements with Israel and always turned out to be training and launching terrorists meant that nobody should negotiate with the PLO. But Ian Lustick emphatically took issue with this reasoning.

ALAN KEYES: Wouldn’t they [the PLO] still be trying secretly to build their base of operations for the next time that Yasser Arafat wants to call on the use of violence and terror in the negotiating process? And wouldn’t the Israelis have to keep an eye on what Arafat is doing? And who is going to cooperate with them to prevent that kind of duplicity, which did occur in this case? I don’t see how this is going to be tenable. You simply don’t have enough trust in this relationship with leaders that have this pattern of behavior.

IAN LUSTICK, PROFESSOR OF POLITICAL SCIENCE, UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA: You speak of trust of Yasser Arafat. And I certainly don't trust him. There’s not a single politician I do trust. And I think that’s the key to understanding this problem.

The Palestinians have no reason to trust Sharon. They had no reason to trust Begin when he manipulated the Camp David negotiations to put thousands and hundreds of thousands of settlers in the West Bank and Gaza...

Lustick pretends to correct Alan Keyes for bringing up a supposedly irrelevant point. Of course one cannot trust Arafat, says Lustick, but neither can one trust Jewish politicians such as Ariel Sharon or Menachem Begin -- one cannot trust such people because they are all corrupt. Lustick pretends to be tarring all politicians, and he certainly drags the name of Menachem Begin through the gutter. But Yasser Arafat he is cleaning up, because Arafat was of course never a “politician.” Yasser Arafat was not in the business of finding land for desperate refugees who had fled persecution all over the Western world and the Middle East, as was Menachem Begin. He was in the business of prolonging that persecution, murdering innocent men, women, and children because they were Jewish. His method was to explode precious and tender human beings -- Palestinian Arab children -- in order to attack Jews. The words for Arafat are terrorist and monster, not “politician.”

Now we have enough context to appreciate how difficult Ian Lustick's position would become after the publication of my piece on the origins of the PLO. For you see, this piece documents that Yasser Arafat was mentored by Adolf Hitler’s right-hand man, Hajj Amin al Husseini, a top leader of the Nazi German extermination program in Europe during World War II.[5] This explains why the PLO Charter calls for the extermination of the Israeli Jews. So, in comparing Menachem Begin to Yasser Arafat, Lustick is saying that a victim of the German Nazis, who fought to defend other victims, is like the heir to the German Nazis, who wants to continue exterminating the Jews.

A bit of a problem, for him.

But to get a sense for just how compromised Ian Lustick’s position would become after the publication of my article on PLO origins, consider the immediate context in which I published it.

Just a few months before my piece was posted on Emperor’s Clothes (10 January 2003), the Christian Science Monitor reported, on 25 September 2002, that “two suicide bombings last week spoiled a relatively long month-and-a-half of calm in the Middle East.”[10] This renewed violence came at a time when the newspapers were saying that many Palestinian Arabs were thinking to themselves that it was better to stop all that suicide bombing, and there was even some talk about ousting Arafat.[11]

Now, to any expert on the Arab-Israeli conflict such as Ian Lustick, and in fact to any aware layperson who carefully scrutinized the news, it had to be obvious that Yasser Arafat himself had ordered the violence.

“The attacks came a week after Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat condemned terror attacks against civilians inside Israel, but failed to demand a halt to attacks in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. His call was ignored by the Fatah Tanzim and Aksa Martyrs’ Brigades, as well as by Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which vowed to continue attacks.”[12]

Yasser Arafat had not even called for an end to terrorism, but merely for being careful as to which places to attack: "Yasser Arafat condemned terror attacks against civilians inside Israel." And yet even this was duplicitous, because we learn that “his call [to halt attacks specifically in Israel] was ignored by the Fatah Tanzim and Aksa Martyrs’ Brigades.” But Yasser Arafat was not in the business of making suggestions to Fatah, of which he was the supreme, authoritarian, totalitarian, and life-long leader. Both Tanzim and Aqsa Martyrs Brigades are components of Fatah, and Arafat signed their checks, so whenever they attacked they did so at least on Arafat’s implicit authorization, and more likely on his express orders. And since Islamic Jihad and the PFLP are also linked to the PLO, it turns out that not one organization under Arafat's authority halted the killing of innocent Jews.

But Ian Lustick did not see fit to blame the Palestinian Authority ‘chairman.’ When the Israeli government reacted with reprisals to Yasser Arafat’s renewed terrorist violence, Ian Lustick produced the following analysis, as quoted in the pages of the Christian Science Monitor:

“There was a hope against hope in the [Bush] administration that you could have a war with Iraq and not have it aggravated by ... Israel, but this shows that’s not going to be possible,” says Ian Lustick, a Middle East expert at the University of Pennsylvania… “Sharon has used [the US invasion of] Afghanistan to justify his actions, saying ‘We’re doing to our terrorists what they [the US] are doing to theirs,’ says Lustick. He adds, “And we can expect Israel to continue with that.”[13]

So when Israel reacted to Arafat’s restarting of the explosions of innocent Palestinian children in order to murder innocent Israeli men, women, and children, Lustick went out of his way to blame the Israelis. Why were they to blame? They were guilty, he said, of “aggravating” things for Bush, who needed the Israelis not to defend themselves so as to keep Arab opinion more or less calm while Bush killed Iraqis. But the Israelis would not behave, invoking the Israeli right to self-defense against the terrorists in their midst -- the same principle that Bush had invoked against terrorists in far-away Central Asia. To Ian Lustick it was obviously beyond the pale that Israelis should think that they have a right to defend themselves: with disapproval, he closed with: “And we can expect Israel to continue with that.” In other words, Lustick reproachfully predicted that Israel would continue trying to protect its own civilians.

If your mind is spinning, that's because Ian Lustick’s simultaneous attack on Israel and defense of the PLO is perfectly incoherent (so there is nothing wrong with your mind). And yet, of course, Ian Lustick’s argument -- namely, that it is unacceptable for Jews to defend themselves -- answers to a carefully constructed, quite traditional, and well-known worldview.

Now that Ian Lustick's political orientation has been laid bare, you can more easily understand what happened after I began circulating in the Asch Center -- where Ian Lustick is a director -- the draft of my documentation on PLO origins, right around the time that Lustick stuck his neck way out with the above pro-PLO insanity.

Ian Lustick certainly had good reasons to wish me out of 'his' Asch Center, or else silenced. And that is precisely what he explained to my boss, the psychology department chairman, Robert DeRubeis, in a confidential letter that Lustick sent to DeRubeis, and which I have obtained.




[2] Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN), March 26, 1995, Metro Edition, News; Frank Wright; Pg. 9A, 2126 words, JERUSALEM; U.S. Christian and Jewish leaders bitterly dispute Israeli settlement policy, Frank Wright; Staff Writer

[3] "Major Palestinian Terror Attacks Since Oslo"; Jewish Virtual Library. [This is a list of "major" terrorist attacks since the Oslo agreement was signed on September 13, 1993. Victims include citizens from the United States, Israel (Jews and Arabs), Romania, Thailand, Norway, the Former Soviet Union, South Africa, Ethiopia. More than 100 suicide bombings have been carried out since September 2000.]

[4] That Islamic Jihad is not independent of the PLO is documented in:

Was the PLO directly behind the 'intifada'?; from "Is the US an ally of Israel?: A chronological look at the evidence"; Historical and Investigative Research; by Francisco Gil-White

[5] The most complete documentation on this is here:

 “HOW DID THE ‘PALESTINIAN MOVEMENT’ EMERGE? The British sponsored it. Then the German Nazis, and the US.”; Historical and Investigative Research; 13 June 2006; by Francisco Gil-White.

Some of this material was originally published here:

 “Anti-Semitism, Misinformation, And The Whitewashing Of The Palestinian Leadership”; Israel National News; May 26, '03 / 24 Iyar 5763; by Francisco J. Gil-White

[6] “By [1970]…the splinterization of the guerilla ranks largely dictated the altered nature of their offensive against Israel. Nominally, most of them belonged to an umbrella coordinating federation, the Palestine Liberation Organization. Yet this prewar, Egyptian-dominated group had been seriously crippled by the June debacle, and its leader, Ahmed Shukeiry, had been forced into retirement. Since then, the PLO had experienced less a revival than a total reincarnation of membership and purpose under the leadership of Yasser Arafat. Consisting ostensibly of representatives of all guerilla organizations, the PLO in its resurrected form was almost entirely Fatah-dominated, and Arafat himself served as president of its executive. In this capacity he was invited to attend meetings of the Arab League, and won extensive subsidies from the oil-rich governments of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the sheikhdoms of the Persian Gulf [emphases are mine].”

SOURCE: Sachar, Howard Morley. (1982) A history of Israel : from the rise of Zionism to our time, c1979. (p.698)

[6a] The most complete documentation on this is here:

“HOW DID THE ‘PALESTINIAN MOVEMENT’ EMERGE? The British sponsored it. Then the German Nazis, and the US.”; Historical and Investigative Research; 13 June 2006; by Francisco Gil-White.

Some of this material was originally published here:

“Anti-Semitism, Misinformation, And The Whitewashing Of The Palestinian Leadership”; Israel National News; May 26, '03 / 24 Iyar 5763; by Francisco J. Gil-White

[7] Newsday (New York, NY),  September 8, 2002 Sunday,  NASSAU AND SUFFOLK EDITION,  Pg. A05,  1333 words,  WEST BANK; Inside the Crucible; An occasional series on the Israel-Palestine conflict; Militia Goes More Quietly; Al-Aqsa changes tactics after losses,  By Matthew McAllester. MIDDLE EAST CORRESPONDENT

[8] Time Magazine,  June 10, 2002,  NOTEBOOK; Pg. 18,  323 words,  Arafat's "Zero" Motivation,  Matt Rees/Ramallah, With Jamil Hamad/Bethlehem and Aharon Klein/Jerusalem

[9] MSNBC, SHOW: ALAN KEYES IS MAKING SENSE 22:00, April 11, 2002 Thursday, NEWS; INTERNATIONAL, 7444 words, Making Sense of the Euro-Powell Diplomatic Mission, Alan Keyes; Jim Miklaszewski; GUESTS: Frank Gaffney; Mark Rosenblum; Joseph Nye; Ariel Cohen; Ian Lustick; Jed Babbin; Charles Lipson.

[10] Christian Science Monitor (Boston, MA), September 25, 2002, Wednesday, USA; Pg. 02, 887 words, Bush team wants world focus on Iraq, not Israel, By Howard LaFranchi Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor, WASHINGTON

[11] The New York Times, September 14, 2002 Saturday,  Late Edition - Final , Section A; Column 1; Foreign Desk; Pg. 4, 1031 words, Arafat's Last Hurrah? ,  By SERGE SCHMEMANN , JERUSALEM, Sept. 13

[12] The Jerusalem Post, September 19, 2002, Thursday, NEWS; Pg. 1, 810 words, 3 Israelis killed in 3 terror attacks. Suicide bomber kills policeman at Umm el-Fahm junction, Margot Dudkevitch, Tovah Lazaroff, And Gil Hoffman.

[13] Christian Science Monitor (Boston, MA), September 25, 2002, Wednesday, USA; Pg. 02, 887 words, Bush team wants world focus on Iraq, not Israel, By Howard LaFranchi Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor, WASHINGTON



If you arrived here directly (e.g. through a search engine) be advised that this piece is supporting documentation for the following main article, which you are welcome to consult:

The story behind Historical
and Investigative Research