-The increasingly sleazy John McCain, who once promised to run a clean campaign, has now attacked my friend Rashid Khalidi and attempted to use him against Barack Obama. Khalidi is an American scholar of Palestinian heritage, born in New York and educated at Yale and Oxford, who now teaches at Columbia University. He directed the Middle East Center at the University of Chicago for some time, and he and his family came to know the Obamas at that time. Knowing someone and agreeing with him on everything are not the same thing..
I know it may seem a novel idea to people like McCain and Palin, but it would be worthwhile actually reading Khalidi’s book on the Palestinian struggle for statehood. (I urge bloggers interested in this issue to link to his book, which the American reading public should know)…
Far from being a knee-jerk nationalist, Khalidi has been critical of the decisions of the Palestinian leadership at key junctures in modern history.
McCain’s and Palin’s attacks on Khalidi are frankly racist. He is a distinguished scholar, and the only objectionable thing about him from a rightwing point of view is that he is a Palestinian. There are about 9 million Palestinians in the world (a million or so are Israeli citizens; 3.7 million are stateless and without rights under Israeli control in the West Bank and Gaza; and 4 million are refugees or exiled in the diaspora; there are about 200,000 Palestinian-Americans, and several million Arab-Americans, many living in swing vote states). Khalidi was not, as the schlock rightwing press charges, a spokesman for the Palestine Liberation Organization. He was an adviser at the Madrid peace talks, but would that not have been, like, a good thing?
Much of the assault on Khalidi comes from the American loony Zionist Right, which quietly supports illegal Zionist colonies in the West Bank and the ethnic cleansing of the remaining Palestinians. They have been tireless advocates of miring the US in wars in Iraq and Iran to ensure that their dreams of ethnic cleansing are unopposed. They are a tiny, cranky but well-funded group that has actively harassed anyone who disagrees with them (at one point, cued by Daniel Pipes, they cyberstalked Khalidi and clogged his email mailbox with spam for weeks at a time). All opinion polling shows that most American Jews are politically liberal, overwhelmingly vote Democrat, and support trading land for peace to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Khalidi is their political ally in any serious peace process, which many have recognized.
Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has repudiated the "Greater Israel" fantasy that drives the Middle East Forum, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Commentary, the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, the Hudson Institute, the American Enterprise Institute and other well-funded sites of far-right thinking on Israel-Palestine that have become, with the rise of the Neoconservatives, highly influential with the US Republican Party. Olmert’s current position is much closer to Khalidi’s than it is to the American ideologues.
That McCain should take his cues from people to the right of the Neoconservatives shows fatal lack of judgment and signals that if he is elected, he will likely pursue policies that are very bad for Israel, forestalling a genuine peace process (which would involve close relations with Palestinians!)..
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How Stupid Do They Think Jews Are?
I have been looking to see if the Jewish defense organizations put out statements condemning the vicious attacks on Professor Rashid Khalidi, the Palestinian-American academic.
I looked in vain. But then, these Jewish organizations tend not to get overly excited when the targets of bigotry are Palestinian or even Palestinian-American. And some of these organizations themselves play the guilt by [Palestinian] association game so they are in no position to criticize it.
Fortunately, the Washington Post (which happens to be a bastion of neo-conservatism) published a terrific editorial today that points out that Khalidi is nothing more, or less, than a respected Palestinian-American academic who holds views that are unsurprising although complex.
What are those views? He supports the two-state solution. He opposes terrorism. And he is strongly critical (like at least half of Israel’s population) of the occupation of the West Bank). He is neither anti-Jewish nor anti-Israeli. And he’s an American.
But even if he was a strident critic of Israel’s policies, so what? Is policy toward Israel the only issue about which an American is not allowed to hold opinions? Is it possible that it is acceptable to oppose, the US war in Iraq, President Bush and everything he stands for, and, say, social security, but you cannot oppose Israel’s policies in the West Bank? If it is, Walt, Mearsheimer, and Carter are not just right but guilty of understatement…