Monday, February 02, 2009

Khalidi's quote that never was

Remember the case of York University’s campus newspaper, which published a short co-ed full of lies and misrepresentations?

Well, the paper issued a retraction, eventually, once realizing that the allegations in the op-ed were false. I thought at the time that the author of the co-ed was a young, hot-headed student whose emotions were much stronger than his command of the facts and who relied on quotes that never were to prove his case.

It is one thing when a rather marginal paper publishes the ramblings of an inexperienced partisan writer full of passionate intensity. It is quite a different matter when a paper like the New York Times publishes a co-ed by the famous Columbia University Professor Rashid Khalidi, which turns out to be just as full of fiction and outright lies when it comes to the Middle East conflict.

One example, brought to our attention by Z-word blog, illustrates as the power of the quote that never was:

In his conclusion, Khalidi dismissed Israel’s stated motives in Gaza and offered his own interpretation, namely that Israel is hell-bent on destroying the Palestinian people:

The war on the people of Gaza isn’t really about rockets. Nor is it about “restoring Israel’s deterrence,” as the Israeli press might have you believe. Far more revealing are the words of Moshe Yaalon, then the Israeli Defenses Forces chief of staff, in 2002: “The Palestinians must be made to understand in the deepest recesses of their consciousness that they are a defeated people.”

...According to The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, Khalidi includes the same quote in his 2005 book Resurrecting Empire and he footnotes the source as a 2002 interview in Haaretz with Ari Shavit. When asked about Israel’s motives, here is what he really said:

I defined it from the beginning of the confrontation: the very deep internalization by the Palestinians that terrorism and violence will not defeat us, will not make us fold. If that deep internalization does not exist at the end of the confrontation, we will have a strategic problem with an existential threat to Israel. If that [lesson] is not burned into the Palestinian and Arab consciousness, there will be no end to their demands of us.

Yaalon is a sophisticated thinker and it is difficult to reduce him to simplistic sound bites, but in the interview he basically argues that many of the political movements which articulate the aspirations of the Palestinian people-including Fatah in 2002-have as their ultimate goal the liquidation of Israel as a Jewish state, and use terrorism as a means to weaken Israel’s resolve to fight and defend itself.

Nothing even close to Khalidi’s quotation appears in this interview.

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