Saturday, February 1, 2020

Who Is Rashid Khalidi?

Remember Rashid Khalidi? Maybe you don’t. He is a Palestinian activist, a supporter of terrorism against Israel, a professor at Columbia University, and, by the by, an old and dear friend of Barack Obama.

You see, Khalidi used to live in Chicago. Thus, he was tight with the anti-Semitic Chicago left, from Louis Farrakhan to Jeremiah Wright. When Khalidi left Chicago for the warmer climes of Columbia University, his pals threw a going away dinner. Among the speakers at that dinner was Barack Obama. 

Obama’s remarks were recorded. They exist on tape. They are currently in the vaults of the Los Angeles Times. Of course, we have not heard them. Some media outlets militated for their release during the Obama election campaigns. The LA Times, in the interest of minimum transparency, refused the requests. We can only imagine, with some reason, that the tapes will show us Barack Obama expressing his full throated support for the Palestinian cause. After all, his mentor Jeremiah Wright used to run Hamas propaganda in his church newsletter.

Anyway, if we want to know what Obama was thinking when he sold out Israel and the Gulf Arab states in favor of Iran, the Palestinian Authority, Hamas, Hezbollah and the Muslim Brotherhood, we can best do so by examining the thought of Rashid Khalidi.

Since the Obama presidency has ended, Obama’s Chicago pals are now freer to express their thinking. For Khalidi this means a new book about the Israeli-Palestinian cause and a long article in the Guardian. It is chock full of anti-Semitic innuendo and lavish praise for the Palestinian cause. Naturally, it declares the new Trump administration peace plan to be dead on arrival.

In that, of course, many Arab nations and a multitude of non-Arab nations beg to disagree. The Washington Examiner has the story about world reaction to the Trump peace plan:

Nearly two dozen world leaders have signaled their openness to President Trump’s sweeping new peace plan for Israel and Palestine, ignoring claims in the U.S. media that it was dead on arrival to focus on it as a beefy starting point.

A statement from Bahrain was typical of the reaction that has flooded into the White House since Trump unveiled the plan Wednesday. “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs commends the United States of America for its determined efforts to advance the peace process,” Bahrain said.

Qatar said in a statement that it “appreciates the endeavors of President Trump and the current U.S. administration to find solutions for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.”

Khalidi disagrees. The header of his Guardian piece offers his point of view:

US policy for the Middle East cannot work because it requires the Palestinians to accept they are a defeated people.

Fair enough, the Palestinian cause has been defeated. As I noted in a prior post the Trump peace plan deviates sharply from past administrations because it does not include the Palestnian Authority as a partner for peace. Rightly so. It poses terms for surrender. 

The Palestinians have already sacrificed three generations of their people to a lost cause. It is time for them and for Khalidi to swallow their false pride and work to build a nation.

Amazingly, and in defiance of conventional State Department thinking, the Trump policy did not even pay lip service to the Palestinian leadership. It did not accept terrorism and mindless rage as a qualification to be included in the negotiations. Terrorism is the Palestinian contribution to world history. It has failed miserably and spectacularly.

Given their ability to marshal impotent rage and to accomplish nothing beyond trying to destroy what Israel has built and to kill Jews, Palestinians have marginalized and excluded themselves. They do not have a divine right to a place at the negotiating table. Their own behavior and attitude has excluded them.

Khalidi misses the point:

The centre of the Palestinians’ history, identity, culture and worship was thus summarily disposed of without even the pretence of consulting their wishes. Then, in January 2020, the Trump administration finally unveiled its long awaited “deal” – once again without consultation with the Palestinians, the party most directly affected.

Rather than see Palestinians as engaged in madly self-destructive behavior, Khalidi romanticize them as leaders of the resistance. Where have we heard that term before?

The Palestinians’ resistance, their persistence and their challenge to Israel’s ambitions are among the most striking phenomena of the current era.

Of course, the Palestinians have never been capable of producing a functioning economy, one that would provide jobs for its people. Their solution: blame the Jews. Khalidi has the propaganda down:

With their essentially economic solution, this troika displayed remarkable ignorance of a solid, expert consensus that the Palestinian economy has been strangled primarily by the systematic interference of the Israeli military occupation that their plan meant to keep in place. The Trump administration exacerbated this economic stranglehold by cutting off US aid to the Palestinian Authority and to The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). The US also continued to support Israel’s blockade of Gaza, aided by Egypt, with its disastrous effects on 1.8 million people.

As for Palestinian terrorism, not a word. As for suicide bombings, weaponized kites, rocket attacks… not a word.

But, Khalidi does accept that the Palestinian terrorists have had no effective diplomatic strategy. And that economic realities are making them a burden to other Arab states. This must be coupled with the fact that they are an embarrassment to Islam and have been tarnishing the name of their religion:

The existing strategies of both of the leading Palestinian political factions, Fatah and Hamas, have come to nothing, evidenced by the acceleration of Israeli control over all of Palestine. Neither dependence on US mediation in fruitless negotiations as part of the sole resort to feeble diplomacy of the Abbas era (Mahmoud Abbas has been president of Palestine since 2005), nor a nominal strategy of armed resistance, has advanced Palestinian national aims over the past few decades. Nor is there much for the Palestinians to expect from Arab regimes such as those of Egypt and Jordan, which today have no shame in signing massive gas deals with Israel or Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which have purchased Israeli weapons and security systems through US cut-outs that only thinly disguise their origins.

As always, we read the tired oppression narrative-- larded with a colonialism narrative--  put forth to absolve the Palestinian leadership of any responsibility for their own destitution. Keep in mind that Bill Clinton offered the Palestinians a good peace plan. Yassir Arafat turned it down.

Of course, Khalidi is counting on the BDS movement and its offshoots in America and Western Europe to do for the Palestinians what they cannot do for themselves. Perhaps he should look to the defeat suffered by pro-Palestinian British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn before he becomes too optimistic:

A forgotten but essential element of the Palestinian political agenda is work inside Israel, specifically convincing Israelis that there is an alternative to the ongoing oppression of the Palestinians. This is a long-term process that cannot be dismissed as a form of “normalising” relations with Israel: neither the Algerians nor the Vietnamese shortsightedly denied themselves the opportunity to convince public opinion in the home country of their oppressor of the justice of their cause – efforts that contributed measurably to their victory. Nor should the Palestinians.

The Palestinian people, whose resistance to colonialism has involved an uphill battle, should not expect quick results. They have shown unusual patience, perseverance, and steadfastness in defending their rights, which is the main reason that their cause is still alive. It is now essential for all the elements in Palestinian society to adopt a considered, long-term strategy,which means rethinking much that has been done in the past, understanding how other liberation movements succeeded in altering an unfavourable balance of forces, and cultivating all possible allies in their struggle.

The Trump administration is the worst thing that could have happened to the Palestinian cause. It has repudiated Obama’s Middle Eastern policy and has produced a strategic regional realignment. And yet, Obamaphile intellectuals like Rashid Khalidi refuse to see the writing on the wall. They refuse to accept that they have lost both the battle and the war.

1 comment:

Sam L. said...

"Naturally, it declares the new Trump administration peace plan to be dead on arrival." Which is a given, as the Palis NEVER miss the chance to miss a chance. If they actually took the chance, their situation would improve, and THEN, where would they be? Why, still complaining.

The Arab nations are likely totally tired to the Palis' refusal to "shit or get off the pot", and are no doubt considering cutting the Palis loose from Arab money.