The Mimophant and the Middle East

Arthur Koestler, while watching the famous 1973 Rekjavic Chess Tournament between Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky, coined the term “Mimophant” to describe Fischer – a creature sensitive as a mimosa about his own feelings, and equipped with an elephant’s hide about everyone else’s.

(photo: The sensitive Mimosa Pudica folds its leaves when exposed to touch or heat, as shown in action.)

Stephen Koch discusses the term mimophant in a review of Arthur Koestler.

Alan Dershowitz sees a parallel for the mimophant with the Israel bashers whose underlying motif is Free Speech for Me but not for Thee.  As he states, “If you’re against Israel …then they want you to have complete freedom to speak against the Jewish state (as they certainly should and do). If, on the other hand, you’re perceived as pro-Israel (or pro-American, for that matter), then suddenly you have no right to free speech.”

While the Israel basher would like to have free reign, they reject any criticism of their ideas. 

In reply to one Israel critic, Dershowitz writes

“Freedom of speech to criticize Israel and the US is alive and well at Harvard and most other universities. Matory need not “tremble in fear” of anything except his pernicious opinions being rebutted in the marketplace of ideas.  Freedom of speech to criticize Palestinian extremism is however in short supply at many American and European universities.  Jewish students do actually “tremble in fear” of offending anti-Israel professors who have the power to downgrade and negatively recommend them.  This is an issue that deserves serious attention in the real world of academia, rather than in Matory’s ersatz world of topsy-turvy newspeak.”

Anyone for a cooler sort of mimosa?

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One thought on “The Mimophant and the Middle East

  1. I like it when an Israel-basher says that criticism of his comments is “trying to shut down debate” – when what it is actually doing is – having a debate. It must be part of a tactics manual somewhere.