Alexander H. Joffe writes in Middle East Quarterly, brought to us via Front Page, with thanks to Gary.
When the Middle East Studies Association’s annual conference ends on November 22, 2005, University of Michigan history professor Juan Cole is scheduled to become the organization’s president. The association describes itself as:
A non-political association that fosters the study of the Middle East, promotes high standards of scholarship and teaching, and encourages public understanding of the region and its peoples through programs, publications, and services that enhance education, further intellectual exchange, recognize professional distinction, and defend academic freedom. 
As president, Cole is the public face of Middle Eastern studies. His election marks an endorsement of his work by hundreds of professors in various fields of Middle Eastern studies in American universities. Cole has written four academic books but his prominence comes not from scholarship but from his commentary on history and current events.  As such, this commentary provides a mirror into the state of Middle Eastern studies and the widespread urge of its practioners to promote polemic over scholarship.
Israel as a Fascist Society
Juan Cole: The Likud coalition in Israel does contest elections. But it isn’t morally superior in most respects to the Syrian Baath. The Likud brutally occupies 3 million Palestinians (who don’t get to vote for their occupier) and is aggressively taking over their land. That is, it treats at least 3 million people no better than and possibly worse than the Syrian Baath treats its 17 million.””September 9, 2004 
Middle East Quarterly: Freedom House gives Syria its lowest rating of “not free” for both political rights and civil liberties.  In contrast, Israel has a rating of “free.”  The analogy between Likud and the Syrian Baath misunderstands the nature of comparative politics. The Likud has an active membership and contested leadership; the Baath is subordinate to Bashar al-Assad. Cole ignores the Syrian occupation of Lebanon, its massacres of perhaps 20,000 in Hama in 1982, and the imprisonment of at least 17,000 political prisoners. 
Cole: No American media will report the demonstrations in Israel  as fascist in nature, and no American politicians will dare criticize the Likud. But the fact is that the Israeli predations in the West Bank and Gaza are a key source of rage in the Muslim world against the United States (which toadies unbearably to whatever garbage comes out of Tel Aviv’s political establishment), something that the 9-11 commission report stupidly denies.””July 26, 2004 
MEQ: Cole’s characterization of peaceful demonstrations as “fascist” is inaccurate. Fascism suggests an autocratic system that seeks to regiment and control every aspect of social, political, and economic life. This cannot apply to Israel, which has from its independence been fully democratic. Israelis often demonstrate against their government’s policies. Cole also fails to acknowledge U.S. political criticism of various Israeli governments. In 1991, Secretary of State James Baker declared Sharon persona non grata in Washington  and President H.W. Bush opposed issuing loan guarantees to Israel.  More recently, the Pentagon blacklisted Israeli Defense Ministry director-general Amos Yaron because of a dispute over Israel’s military relationship with China.  Lastly, Jerusalem””not Tel Aviv””is the capital of Israel.
Cole: 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.””March 21, 2003….
Read it all.