After several years as an adviser and spokesman for the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Rashid Khalidi took up a professorship of history at the University of Chicago, and later moved to Columbia, where he succeeded Edward Said. In some of his earlier works, writes Benny Morris, Khalidi showed an ability to express “glimmerings” of criticism of the Palestinian national movement. But no sign of reflection or scholarly detachment can be found in his newest book, The Hundred Years’ War on Palestine: A History of Settler Colonialism and Resistance:
[T]he book turns out to be yet another somewhat turgid recitation of the traditional Palestinian narrative, its mantras being Western and Zionist guilt for everything that has befallen the Palestinians and a passionate, personal assertion of Palestinian innocence. . . . Khalidi’s bottom line is that Zionism is a “colonialist” enterprise, a doctrine enunciated in the Palestine National Charter of 1964. From this original sin stem all the evils of Zionism and all Palestinian suffering.
Colonialism is commonly defined as the policy and practice of an imperial power acquiring political control over another country, settling it with its sons, and exploiting it economically. By any objective standard, Zionism fails to fit this definition.
To fit the facts to his narrative, Khalidi employs “a number of misinterpretations and distortions.” For instance:
Khalidi stresses that “over 12,000” Palestine Arabs served in the British army in World War II—a figure that is probably double the true figure, with most serving as service personnel, not combatants, in bases inside Palestine. Khalidi produces this number to obfuscate the much larger truth—that, to judge by impressionistic evidence (in the absence of opinion polls), most Arabs, including most of Palestine’s Arabs, supported Germany and an Axis victory in World War II, if only because they hated the British, who had just crushed their revolt, and hated the Jews, who were their antagonists in Palestine.
Apart from misinterpretations and distortions, the book contains a series of whoppers, almost all of them politically tendentious. For instance, . . . Khalidi tells us that by running a slate of candidates in the parliamentary elections of 2006 Hamas implicitly “accepted . . . the two-state solution,” which is to say Israel’s existence. In fact, Hamas, the Palestinian Muslim fundamentalist party and terrorist organization that governs the Gaza Strip, has never gone back on its 1988 founding charter’s espousal of the destruction of Israel as its primary goal.
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More about: Edward Said, Israeli history, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, PLO, Rashid Khalidi