Powered by WebAds

Monday, March 20, 2006

Rashid Khalidi

A link at FrontPage Magazine.com took me to this profile of Columbia professor Rashid Khalidi. Khalidi was interviewed by the Beirut Daily Star on March 7 regarding his opinions about recent developments in the Israel - 'Palestinian' conflict.

Regarding Hamas' victory in the January 2006 Palestinian elections, Rashidi stated, "They [Hamas] have an interpretation of this [suicide bombings against Israelis] that is actually closer to the view of most Palestinians and most people in the Arab world than to the American or Israeli interpretation, which is that the overwhelming majority of the violence that goes on daily is the violence of the [Israeli] occupation, ...until that stops there's going to be resistance....Now, the Israelis want to be able to maintain their occupation and have the Palestinians abjure any form of violence. ... it means you can do anything you want as the most powerful party, and that what you do is not bad and that anything they do is unacceptable."

When observers advert to the problems of Middle East Studies programs at American universities—notorious for their rabidly polemical pedagogy and the pronouncedly anti-American and anti-Israeli dispensation of the professors tasked with their instruction—Rashid Khalidi's is a name that rarely escapes mention. Holding the lushly-subsidized Edward Said Chair in Arab Studies at Columbia University, and serving as the director of that university's government-funded Middle East Institute, Khalidi ranks among the most prominent members of the Middle Eastern studies community in the United States. Less well known is that he is also among its most radical.

It is a revealing commentary on Khalidi's approach to Middle Eastern studies that he has long cited Edward Said, the late radical professor of literature at Columbia and an untiring propagandist for the Palestinian cause, as his main influence. Following Said's death in 2003, Khalidi penned a revealing obituary that valorized Said's "eloquent espousal of the cause of Palestine." Khalidi acknowledged neither Said's long history of anti-Israel provocation—a tendency that found its most militant expression in Said's willingness to hurl rocks at Israeli defense forces—nor his unscrupulous anathematization of the Jewish state. Instead, he portrayed Said's career as one of "giving a voice to the voiceless." In this context, Khalidi likened Said to another of his idols: Noam Chomsky. Wrote Khalidi:

"Like Noam Chomsky and very few others, he [Said] managed not only to reshape his own field of scholarly endeavor, but to transcend it, influencing other fields and disciplines, and going well beyond the narrow boundaries of the American academy to become a true public intellectual, and a passionate voice for humanistic values and justice in an imperfect world."

As with Said before him, Khalidi's involvement with the Palestinian cause goes beyond mere support. Though Khalidi has consistently denied the charge, news reports, including a 1982 dispatch from Thomas Friedman of the New York Times, suggest that he once served as the director of the Palestinian press agency, Wikalat al-Anba al-Filastinija. Khalidi's wife, Mona, was reportedly the agency's main English-language editor between 1976 and 1982. Commentators have also noted that Khalidi so strongly identified with the aims of the PLO, designated a terrorist organization by the State Department during Khalidi's affiliation with the Yasser Arafat-run political entity in the 1980s, that he repeatedly referred to himself as "we" when expounding on the PLO's agenda.

Additional evidence of Khalidi's intimacy with the PLO can be seen in his involvement with a so-called PLO "guidance committee" in the early 1990s. Describing his appearance in the company of several PLO operatives at a 1991 conference, Khalidi related that "We had political decisions to make and diplomatic strategy to decide."

Khalidi's often aggressive cheerleading for the PLO has not escaped the notice of his employers in the academy. Upon luring Khalidi away from the University of Chicago in 2003, Columbia president Lee Bollinger conceded that has his hire "has a particular point of view, pro-Palestinian nationalism." It is also a prominent selling point for the financial backers of Khalidi's endowed chair, the total funds for which are estimated at between $3 and $4 million: Among the donors to the chair are the United Arab Emirates and the Hauser Foundation, a New York charity headed by Rita Hauser, a controversial philanthropist whose onetime law firm, Stroock & Stroock & Lavan, was registered with the Department of Justice as an agent for the Palestinian Authority until 2001. Yet another donor was the Olayan Charitable Trust, a New York-based charity with ties to the Olayan America Corporation, an arm of the Saudi organization the Olayan Group.

As many of you know, I graduated from Columbia College twenty-eight years ago. Not one cent....

Read the whole thing.


Post a Comment

<< Home