Juan Cole

American scholar

Juan R. I. Cole (born October 23, 1952) is a Professor of Modern Middle East and South Asian History in the History Department at the University of Michigan. Since 2002, he has become prominent as a pundit critical of U.S. and Israeli policy in the Middle East.

Juan Cole in 2007


  • “A second issue was the attitude of Shi‘i clerics, government officials, and laypersons toward Hindus. The clerical attitude can be easily summarized. Sayyid Dildar ‘Ali Nasirabadi harbored an almost violent animosity toward Hindus, arguing that the Awadh government should take stern measures against them. He divided unbelievers into three kinds, those (harbi) against whom Muslims must make war, those (dhimmi) who have accepted Muslim rule and pay a poll-tax, and those (musta’min) whom their Muslim rulers have temporarily granted security of life. He insisted that Imami Shi‘ism accepted only Jews and Christians as protected minorities (dhimmis), and even they could only achieve this status if they observed the ordinances governing it. He differed with Sunni schools that considered Hindus a protected minority... He wrote that Muslims could only grant infidels personal security (aman) in a country they ruled for one year, lamenting that the government had long treated as grantees of personal security the Hindus of northern India, who openly followed their idolatrous religion, drinking wine, and sometimes even mating with Sayyid women. He complained that the irreligious Sunni Mughal rulers of India neither made war against the Hindus nor forced them to accept Islam. Legally, nonetheless, the lives and property of Hindus could be licitly taken by Muslims.” (p. 225)
    • On the attitude of the Shia clergy. ‘Roots of North Indian Shiaism in Iran and Iraq; religion and state in Awadh, 1722-1859’ , Cole Juan Ricardo ,quoted in Kishore, Kunal (2016). Ayodhyā revisited.
  • A group of Israeli rabbis has issued a call for the Sharon government to cease its policy of cavalierly allowing the killing innocent civilians in the [Palestinian] Occupied Territories in the course of its military operations against radical groups. They say such actions are inconsistent with the essence of the Jewish religion. Too right! Judaism has given us so much that is noble in ethical religion, and what the Likud is doing is an insult to that long and glorious tradition. Likud's real roots lie not in the Bible but in Zionist Revisionism of the Jabotinsky sort, which is frankly a kind of fascism.[1]
  • The state of Israel is a project of Jewish nationalism that is as legitimate as any other national project. But Israel as a state is not perfect and cannot be above criticism in democratic societies, including practical criticism.[2]
  • The precise reason for Hitchens’ theft and publication of my private mail is that I object to the characterization of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as having “threatened to wipe Israel off the map.” I object to this translation of what he said on two grounds. First, it gives the impression that he wants to play Hitler to Israel’s Poland, mobilizing an armored corps to move in and kill people. But the actual quote, which comes from an old speech of Khomeini, does not imply military action, or killing anyone at all. The second reason is that it is just an inexact translation. The phrase is almost metaphysical. He quoted Khomeini that “the occupation regime over Jerusalem should vanish from the page of time.” It is in fact probably a reference to some phrase in a medieval Persian poem. It is not about tanks.
  • One of his charges is that I am accusing the Neoconservatives in the Pentagon of "dual loyalties." That is true, but not in the way Lake imagines. I believe that Doug Feith, for instance, has dual loyalties to the Israeli Likud Party and to the U. S. Republican Party. He thinks that their interests are completely congruent. And I also think that if he has to choose, he will put the interests of the Likud above the interests of the Republican Party.[3]
  • In his response, Foreign Minister Jack Straw said that September 11 had not come in response to any Western attack, and was itself in part responsible for the Iraq War. Straw seems unaware that according to the September 11 Commission report, al-Qaeda conceived 9/11 in some large part as a punishment on the US for supporting Ariel Sharon's iron fist policies toward the Palestinians. Bin Laden had wanted to move the operation up in response to Sharon's threatening visit to the Temple Mount, and again in response to the Israeli attack on the Jenin refugee camp, which left 4,000 persons homeless. Khalid Shaikh Muhammad argued in each case that the operation just was not ready. As for Straw's contention that September 11 caused the Iraq war, he should be reminded that Paul O'Neil reported that the very first Bush cabinet meeting he attended, in late January 2001, was "all about Iraq" and that the 9/11 Commission found no evidence for operational cooperation between Saddam's Iraq and al-Qaeda.[4]


  1. US 3rd Infantry Division has Enter Iraq, Juan Cole, Informed Comment Blog, March 21, 2003
  2. The Misuses of Anti-Semitism, Juan Cole, History News Network, September 30, 2002
  3. Dual Loyalties, Juan Cole, Informed Comment Blog, September 09, 2004
  4. [1], Juan Cole, Informed Comment Blog, July 08, 2005
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