There’s an interview with me in the Jerusalem Post.
Richard Landes calls up a film clip onto the screen of his laptop to give an example of “Pallywood” – a term he invented as a take-off on “Bollywood.” The difference between the two, however, couldn’t be greater. Whereas the latter is the name now used for the Indian movie industry, the former refers to what Landes asserts are pernicious productions staged by the Palestinians, in front of (and often with cooperation from) Western camera crews, for the purpose of promoting anti-Israel propaganda by disguising it as news.
It’s a pretty harsh claim, and one that has earned the associate professor at Boston University – and co-founder and director of the Center for Millennial Studies – the reputation in certain circles as a right-wing conspiracy theorist. This perception of the French-born American, who divides his time between the United States and Israel, completely contradicts how he describes himself.
“I consider myself on the Left,” says Landes, during an hour-long interview earlier this month in Jerusalem. “I’ve always been a liberal. I’ve always been in favor of progressive projects.”
But, according to Landes, in the current global climate, a dangerous meeting of forces is taking place that must be fought: the blood-libels of pre-modernism and the post-modernist constructs of reality that allow for them. “It’s like a wedding of pre-modern sadists to post-modern masochists,” insists Landes. “It’s a match made in hell.”
Discussing breakthroughs in mass communications – comparing the advent of the printing press to that of cyberspace – Landes believes that there is an opportunity to combat misinformation on a large scale through the Internet. Indeed, Landes himself maintains two Web sites, Second Draft and Augean Stables.
Scientific discourse, he is convinced, is no longer exclusive to the universities. On the contrary, he says, “Academia is stuck.” It is the blogosphere, he concludes, where the real war of ideas can be won.
I don’t think I said “scientific” discourse. I think I talked about intellectual discourse. If there’s something “scientific” about it, it’s probably because it makes an attempt to ground in empirical reality. And as for the internet, it’s the place that the ideas and discourse that will enable the West to defend itself, and in the long run, reformulate the fabric of civil society will take place.
The full article is available here.