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Bruce Duthu’s state/State of Mind?

A thoughtful reader writes in:

Regarding Duthu’s email, clearly not a lot of thought was put into writing it, but one tidbit in particular caught my eye: “criticism of the state of Israel” (emphasis added).

Now, unless Duthu meant specifically criticism of the state in which Israel finds itself, he may have deliberately used wrong case to refer to the State of Israel, as the country is properly called. I’m not a therapist, but in this case I believe the devil is in the details. Does Duthu mean to imply that Israel is not really a state? He probably wouldn’t refer to the U.S. as the united states.

Here’s an example of the proper use of the case: ‘The state of affairs in the State of Israel is just fine. At Dartmouth — not so much these days.’

Duthu E-mail May 9 highlight.jpg

One has to believe that Duthu’s attempt at a justification/renunciation for his support of anti-Israel petitions was carefully vetted by the powers that be at the College. Could such an “error” have slipped though? Or is Duthu once again impugning Israel’s legitimacy?

The CIA seems to be in no doubt as to when to capitalize the word:

State of Israel CIA Comp.jpg

As is the official historian of the federal government:

State of Israel Historian Comp1.jpg

Maybe we should applaud Bruce Duthu for having some principles after all. He does not have the ability to say or do just anything to advance his cause, as we have seen from Jim Wright, Jim Kim and Carol Folt. Perhaps Duthu can’t honestly bring himself to acknowledge that Israel is a country. But I wonder if he feels the same conviction and solidarity with the oppressed minorities and trodden-upon women in all of the Arab states that surround the State of Israel? He has not yet shared his beliefs regarding conditions in those nations.

Addendum: An alumnus writes in (unhappily):

FWIW, and as an editor of more than four decades’ standing, I find this State vs. state bit distracting and not up to the standards to which I hold your blog, which are pretty high, admittedly.

I certainly get and share the problems with the whole Duthu thing and am not an apologist for him by any means, but it would seem that “state of Israel” is easily excusable if he was just just thinking of the “State of Israel” as “Israel.”

Merriam-Webster and numerous other dictionaries do not describe this use of “state” as often cap, as they do, for instance, with “church,” in the sense of the institutionalized body. It is perfectly OK to say “the state of Belgium” and have it mean the country, not the condition.

I think that to try to attach possible nefarious intent to an easily explainable (and totally understandable) occurrence is a questionable use of time, space, and credibility.

But he’s got to go, nonetheless.

P.S. Perhaps all this really shows is that he doesn’t know that the name of the state of Israel is the State of Israel.


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