Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Hitchens' Said Khalidi

I've been suffering from blogging burnout for over a week now. I can't seem to work up enough energy to write or respond. For example, I can't even bring myself to do the necessary legwork in order to answer Hitchens' most recent piece about Rashid Khalidi which tenor and bile can best be summed up in this statement:

"If Rashid chooses to state that he doesn't care to be evicted from his ancestral home in order to make way for some settler from Brooklyn who claims to have God on his side, I think he has a perfect right to say so."

Was Rashid Khalidi evicted from his ancestral home?



Is there "some settler from Brooklyn who claims to have God on his side" now residing in Rashid's ancestral home in Jerusalem?

Seems like Hitchens confused Edward Said with Rashid Khalidi (who was born in Brooklyn, New York, according to wikipedia). It was Edward Said who was not living in his ancestral home in Jerusalem, and who noted in one of his heart-rending memoirs that it was the Austrian-Jewish anti-Zionist philosopher, Martin Buber, who was occupying his ancestral home in Talbieh:

"Once again, the truth involves a very different story. The house at 10 Brenner Street was built in the early 1930s and its registered owners were Said's grandfather and later his aunt and her five children. There is no record in the Land Registry of Edward Said's parents ever owning any interest in the house. The building was initially divided into two apartments which were rented out from 1936 onwards. After 1938, one apartment (and a downstairs storeroom) was leased to Martin Buber and his extended family, all of them recent refugees from Nazi Germany. The Bubers, relying on the long-term nature of their lease, made major improvements in the apartment and landscaped the garden.

In early 1942, Edward Said's aunt broke the lease and reclaimed the premises for her family's personal use, winning a judge's ruling in favor of eviction, and forcing Buber to vacate together with his library of some 15,000 books. Given the shortage of housing in Palestine during World War II, their eviction could not have come at a worse time. Curiously, this event occurred during the very period when Edward Said was himself allegedly growing up in the same house, and long before Israel's War of Independence in 1948, but Said never mentioned the presence of Martin Buber or his library in "my beautiful old house" during those years. "

Back to Khalidi:

Khalidi's scandal in my eyes is not whether he is affiliated with the PLO, or was a spokesman for the PLO. Israel negotiated with the PLO and even signed what was to be the preamble for a peace agreement with it in Oslo, 1993.

His ignominy resides in mitigating for terrorists when terrorists were detonating themselves daily and sometimes hourly in Israeli restaurants, shooting at cars and even a baby in her stroller, during the height of the Intifada in 2002-3.

In those years of suicide bombings and terror campaign against Israelis, I remember seeing Khalidi a few times on Canadian TV (in such programs as "Counterspin"). It was a time of furious talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, in which Israel insisted that the Palestinian administration arrest the terrorists and put them in prison. In ostensible compliance, the Palestinian police would arrest those criminals only to let them out of the backdoor a few days later. It was known as "the revolving door" policy. Khalidi regarded Israel's demand as irrational, why should the Palestinian police its own people to secure Israeli civilians?

Commenting on the RoadMap in The Nation in 2003, Khalidi says:

... For in failing to focus on the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem... and on Israeli settlements, which underpin that occupation, the road map... concentrates on Palestinian violence and how to combat it... This is ...also a sign of why it will probably fail, for official Washington is obsessively fixated on Palestinian violence as the root cause of all the problems between Palestinians and Israelis.

… By this interpretation, before Israel is required to do anything, the Palestinian security services... must wage a relentless war against the Palestinian factions that attack Israeli occupation forces and settlers in the occupied territories as well as civilians inside Israel. Palestinians complain that this means starting a Palestinian civil war before there is any indication that the Sharon government.. will do any of the things that are required of it.

… In the long run, it will not be possible to oblige Palestinians to protect the expansion of settlements and the continuation of occupation, which is what the Oslo accords did;"

The gist of it is vintage Khalidi: Any attempt by the Palestinians to clamp down on their terrorists is tantamount to collaborationism, the treason of doing Israel's bidding. Thus he makes sure that the terrorists not only continue unabated and unhindered, but also enjoy the prestige of serving their people's best interests.

This approach I find repulsive, dangerous and irresponsible. He cannot pretend to reject the violence of Palestinians on the one hand while advocating that nothing be done to curb it.


At 11:29 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Khalidi, like his father, is most culpable for distorting the history of the 1948 war and the events that preceded and followed it. In this endeavour he has many collaborators among the Anglo-Saxon imperialists and their successors. For it was British and American government officials who were most vigorous in trying to prevent the Palestine Jews from achieving self-determination and attaining sovereign power. It should be remembered that everyone except some Jews believed that the Arabs would have an easy victory in the 1948 conflict; and everything that happened then and since to the Palestine Arabs is a direct consequence of that mistaken belief.


Post a Comment

<< Home