Rashid Khalidi

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Rashid Khalidi
رشيد إسماعيل خالدي
Khalidi speaking at the Brooklyn Law School in 2009
Rashid Ismail Khalidi

(1948-11-18) November 18, 1948 (age 75)[1]
New York City, U.S.
Alma mater
Known forHistories of nationalism and colonialism in Palestine and the Middle East
Scientific career

Rashid Ismail Khalidi (Arabic: رشيد خالدي; born 1948) is a Palestinian-American historian of the Middle East and the Edward Said Professor of Modern Arab Studies at Columbia University.[2] He served as editor of the Journal of Palestine Studies from 2002 until 2020, when he became co-editor with Sherene Seikaly.[3]

He has authored a number of books, including The Hundred Years' War on Palestine and Palestinian Identity: The Construction of Modern National Consciousness; has served as president of the Middle East Studies Association; and has taught at the Lebanese University, the American University of Beirut, Georgetown University, and the University of Chicago.[4]

Family, education and career

Khalidi was born in New York City. Khalidi is the son of Ismail Khalidi and the nephew of Husayin al-Khalidi.[5] He is the father of playwright Ismail Khalidi and activist/attorney, Dima Khalidi. He grew up in New York City, where his father, a Saudi citizen[5] of Palestinian origin who was born in Jerusalem,[6] worked for the United Nations.[5][7] Khalidi's mother, a Lebanese-American, was an interior decorator. Khalidi attended the United Nations International School.[6]

In 1970, Khalidi received a B.A. from Yale University,[8] where he was a member of the Wolf's Head Society.[9] He then received a D.Phil. from Oxford University in 1974.[2] Between 1976 and 1983, Khalidi "was teaching full time as an Assistant Professor in the Political Studies and Public Administration Dept. at the American University of Beirut, published two books and several articles, and also was a research fellow at the independent Institute for Palestine Studies".[10] He has also taught at the Lebanese University.[8]

Khalidi became politically active in Beirut, where he resided through the 1982 Lebanon War. "I was deeply involved in politics in Beirut" in the 1970s, he said in an interview.[11] Khalidi was cited in the media during this period, sometimes as an official with the Palestinian News Service, Wafa, or directly with the Palestinian Liberation Organization.[12] Khalidi has said that he was not a PLO spokesman,[13] and that he "often spoke to journalists in Beirut, who usually cited me without attribution as a well-informed Palestinian source. If some misidentified me at the time, I am not aware of it."[10] Subsequently, sources disagreed as to the nature or existence of Khalidi's official relationship with the organization.[14]

Returning to America, Khalidi spent two years teaching at Columbia University before joining the faculty of the University of Chicago in 1987, where he spent eight years as a professor and director of both the Center for Middle Eastern Studies and the Center for International Studies at the University of Chicago.[15] During the Gulf War, while teaching at Chicago, Khalidi emerged "as one of the most influential commentators from within Middle Eastern Studies".[16] In 2003 he joined the faculty of Columbia University, where he currently serves as the Edward Said Professor of Modern Arab Studies. He has also taught at Georgetown University.[8]

Khalidi is married to Mona Khalidi, who served as assistant dean of student affairs and the assistant director of graduate studies of the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University.[17] He is a member of the National Advisory Committee of the U.S. Interreligious Committee for Peace in the Middle East, which describes itself as "a national organization of Jews, Christians and Muslims dedicated to dialogue, education and advocacy for peace based on the deepest teachings of the three religious traditions".

He is member of the Board of Sponsors of The Palestine–Israel Journal, a publication founded by Ziad Abuzayyad and Victor Cygielman, prominent Palestinian and Israeli journalists.[18] He is founding trustee of The Center for Palestine Research and Studies.[19] He is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

In October 2010, Khalidi delivered the annual Edward Said memorial lecture at the Palestine Center in Washington.[20]

Academic work

Khalidi's research covers primarily the history of the modern Middle East. He focuses on the countries of the southern and eastern Mediterranean, with an eye to the emergence of various national identities and the role played by external powers in their development. He also researches the impact of the press on forming new senses of community, the role of education in the construction of political identity, and in the way narratives have developed over the past centuries in the region.[2][failed verification] Michael C. Hudson, director of the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies at Georgetown, describes Khalidi as "preeminent in his field".[21] He served as president of the Middle East Studies Association of North America in 1994 and is currently co-editor of the Journal of Palestine Studies with Sherene Seikaly.[3][22]

Much of Khalidi's scholarly work in the 1990s focused on the historical construction of nationalism in the Arab world. Drawing on the work of theorist Benedict Anderson who described nations as "imagined communities", he does not posit primordial national identities, but argues that these nations have legitimacy and rights. In Palestinian Identity: The Construction of Modern National Consciousness (1997), he places the emergence of Palestinian national identity in the context of Ottoman and British colonialism as well as the early Zionist effort in the Levant. Palestinian Identity won the Middle East Studies Association's top honor, the Albert Hourani Book Award as best book of 1997.[23]

His dating of the emergence of Palestinian nationalism to the early 20th century and his tracing of its contours provide a rejoinder to Israeli nationalist claims that Palestinians had no collective claims prior to the 1948 creation of Israel. His signature work, Palestinian Identity: The Construction of Modern National Consciousness (Columbia University Press, 1997), argues that Arabs living in Palestine began to regard themselves as a distinct people decades before 1948, "and that the struggle against Zionism does not by itself sufficiently explain Palestinian nationalism".[24]

In it, Khalidi also describes the late development, failings and internal divisions within the various elements of the Palestinian nationalist movement.

In Resurrecting Empire: Western Footprints and America's Perilous Path in the Middle East (2004), Khalidi takes readers on a historical tour of Western involvement in the Middle East, and argues that these interactions continue to have a colonialist nature that is both morally unacceptable and likely to backfire. Khalidi's book, Sowing Crisis, places the United States approach to the Middle East in historical context. He is sharply critical of U.S. policies during the Cold War, writing that Cold War policies "formulated to oppose the Soviets, consistently undermined democracy and exacerbated tensions in the Middle East".[25]

Khalidi has written, "It may seem hard to believe today, but for decades the United States was in fact a major patron, indeed in some respects the major patron, of earlier incarnations" of radical, militant Islam, in order to use all possible resources in waging the Cold War. He adds, "The Cold War was over, but its tragic sequels, its toxic debris, and its unexploded mines continued to cause great harm, in ways largely unrecognized in American discourse."[26]

Historian and Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren has stated that "Khalidi is mainstream" because "the stream itself has changed. The criteria for scholarship have become very political."[27]

Palestinian Identity

Palestinian Identity: The Construction of Modern National Consciousness (1997), is Khalidi's most influential and most widely cited book. In Palestinian Identity, Khalidi demonstrates that a Palestinian national consciousness had it origins near the beginning of the twentieth century. Khalidi describes the Arab population of British Mandatory Palestine as having "overlapping identities", with some or many expressing loyalties to villages, regions, a projected nation of Palestine, an alternative of inclusion in a Greater Syria, an Arab national project, as well as to Islam.[28] Nevertheless, Palestinian Identity was the first to demonstrate substantive Palestinian nationalism in the early Mandatory period. Khalidi writes, "Local patriotism could not yet be described as nation-state nationalism."[29]

Khalidi emphasized in his work that the Palestinian identity had been fundamentally fluid and changing, woven from multiple "narratives" due to individual and family experiences. He described the identity as organically developed due to the challenges of peasants forced from their homes due to Zionist immigrant pressure, but with Palestinian nationalism also being far more complex than merely an anti-Zionist reaction. Praise for his book appeared in the journal Foreign Affairs, with reviewer William B. Quandt viewing the work as "a major contribution to historical understanding of Palestinian nationalism."[30]

Khalidi also documents active opposition by the Arab press to Zionism in the 1880s.[31]

The Iron Cage: The Story of the Palestinian Struggle for Statehood

In 2006, Khalidi published The Iron Cage: The Story of the Palestinian Struggle for Statehood which critically examines the Palestinian struggle for statehood during the British Mandate. It highlights both the failures of Palestinian leadership and British and Zionist roles in hindering statehood for Palestine.[32][33][34][35][36][37]

Public life

Khalidi has written dozens of scholarly articles on Middle East history and politics, as well as op-ed pieces in many U.S. newspapers.[38] He has also been a guest on radio and TV shows including All Things Considered, Talk of the Nation, Morning Edition, Worldview, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, Charlie Rose, and Nightline, and has appeared on the BBC, the CBC, France Inter and the Voice of America. He served as president of the American Committee on Jerusalem, now known as the American Task Force on Palestine, and advised the Palestinian delegation at the Madrid Conference of 1991.[39]

Views on Israeli–Palestinian conflict

Khalidi has written that the establishment of the state of Israel resulted in "the uprooting of the world's oldest and most secure Jewish communities, which had found in the Arab lands a tolerance that, albeit imperfect, was nonexistent in the often genocidal, Jew-hating Christian West." Regarding the proposed two-state solution to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, Khalidi has written that "the now universally applauded two-state solution faces the juggernaut of Israel's actions in the occupied territories over more than forty years, actions that have been expressly designed to make its realization in any meaningful form impossible." However, Khalidi also noted that "there are also flaws in the alternatives, grouped under the rubric of the one-state solution".[40]

He supports the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.[41]

Regarding American support for Israel, Khalidi stated in an interview, "every other single place on the face of the earth is in support of the Palestinians, yet all of them together aren't a hill of beans compared to the United States and Israel, because the United States and Israel can basically do anything they please. They are the world superpower, they are the regional superpower."[42]

A New York Sun editorial criticized Khalidi for stating that there is a legal right under international law for Palestinians to resist Israeli occupation.[43] For example, in a speech given to the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Khalidi said, "[k]illing civilians is a war crime. It's a violation of international law. They are not soldiers. They're civilians, they're unarmed. The ones who are armed, the ones who are soldiers, the ones who are in occupation, that's different. That's resistance."[43][44] The Sun editorial argued that by failing to distinguish between Palestinian combatants and noncombatants, Khalidi implies that all Palestinians have this right to resist, which it claimed was incorrect under international law.[43] In an interview discussing this editorial, Khalidi objected to this characterization as incorrect and taken out of the context of his statements on international law.[45]

Khalidi has described discussions of Arab restitution for property confiscated from the Jewish refugees from Middle Eastern and North African countries after the creation of Israel as "insidious", "because the advocates of Jewish refugees are not working to get those legitimate assets back but are in fact trying to cancel out the debt of Israel toward Palestinian refugees".[46]

NYC teacher training program

In 2005 Khalidi's participation in a New York City teacher training program was ended by the city's Schools Chancellor.[47] Chancellor Joel I. Klein issued a statement that "Considering his past statements, Rashid Khalidi should not have been included in a program that provided professional development for Department of Education teachers and he won't be participating in the future."[48] Following the decision, Columbia University president Lee Bollinger spoke out on Khalidi's behalf, writing: "The department's decision to dismiss Professor Khalidi from the program was wrong and violates First Amendment principles... The decision was based solely on his purported political views and was made without any consultation and apparently without any review of the facts."[47]

2008 U.S. presidential campaign

Consequent to publication by the Los Angeles Times of an article about Obama's attendance at a 2003 farewell dinner for Khalidi, their relationship became an issue in the campaign.[49] Some opponents of Barack Obama claimed that the relationship between Obama and Khalidi was evidence that Obama would not maintain a pro-Israel foreign policy if elected.[49] When asked, Obama called his own commitment to Israel "unshakeable" and said he does not consult with Khalidi on foreign policy.[50] Opponents of Republican candidate John McCain pointed out that he had served as chairman of the International Republican Institute (IRI) during the 1990s which provided grants worth $500,000 to the Center for Palestine Research and Studies, which was co-founded by Khalidi, for the purpose of polling the views of the Palestinian people.[51]

WBEZ interview

In a January 2017 interview with public broadcaster WBEZ,[52] Khalidi said pro-Israel people would ‘infest’ the incoming Trump Administration.[53][54] Khalidi later referred to it as "infelicitous phrasing."[55]

Published works

  • British Policy towards Syria and Palestine, 1906–1914. Ithaca Press for St. Antony's College, 1980.
  • Palestine and the Gulf (Co-editor), Institute for Palestine Studies, 1982.
  • Under Siege: PLO Decision-making during the 1982 War. Columbia University Press, 1986.
  • The Origins of Arab Nationalism (Co-editor), Columbia University Press, 1991.
  • Palestinian Identity: The Construction of Modern National Consciousness, Columbia University Press, 1997.
  • Eugene L. Rogan & Avi Shlaim, ed. (2007) [1st ed. 2001]. "The Palestinians and 1948: the underlying causes of failure". The War for Palestine: Rewriting the History of 1948 (2nd ed.). Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-69934-1.
  • Resurrecting Empire: Western Footprints and America's Perilous Path in the Middle East, Beacon Press, 2004.
  • The Iron Cage: The Story of the Palestinian Struggle for Statehood. Beacon Press. 2006. ISBN 978-0-8070-0308-4.
  • Sowing Crisis: The Cold War and American Dominance in the Middle East, Beacon Press, 2009.
  • Brokers of Deceit: How the U.S. Has Undermined Peace in the Middle East, Beacon Press, 2013. ISBN 978-08070-4475-9
  • The Hundred Years War on Palestine: A History of Settler Colonialism and Resistance, 1917–2017, Metropolitan Books 2020 ISBN 978-1-627-79855-6


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  12. ^ * "Palestinians, People in Crisis, Are Scattered and Divided; The Palestinians First-of a Series", The New York Times, February 19, 1978, Sunday, Page 1, James M. Markham, [1]
    • "Ultimate Goals of the Attack are Assessed Differently from the Two Sides", News Analysis, Thomas Friedman, The New York Times, June 9, 1982
    • "Account of PLO Talks Questioned; Reagan Unaware of Such Contacts, His National Security Aide Declares" by Doyle McManus. Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, Calif.: February 20, 1984. p. A10
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  19. ^ "About CPRS: Board of Trustees". Archived from the original on December 9, 2000. Retrieved May 20, 2017.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
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  22. ^ University of California Archived October 11, 2007, at the Wayback Machine Journal of Palestine Studies current editorial staff. (retrieved January 25, 2009
  23. ^ Albert Hourani Book Award Recipients, 1991–2005 Archived August 15, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  24. ^ [6] or [7] Archived August 1, 2010, at the Wayback Machine Chronicle of Higher Education "Rashid Khalidi's Balancing Act: The Middle-East scholar courts controversy with his Palestinian advocacy" by Evan R. Goldstein March 6, 2009
  25. ^ [8] and [9] Archived August 1, 2010, at the Wayback Machine Chronicle of Higher Education "Rashid Khalidi's Balancing Act: The Middle-East scholar courts controversy with his Palestinian advocacy" by Evan R. Goldstein March 6, 2009
  26. ^ Khalidi, Rashid. Sowing crisis: the Cold War and American dominance in the Middle East. 2009, page 34
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  28. ^ The Great Syrian Revolt and the Rise of Arab Nationalism, Michael Provence, University of Texas Press, 2005, p. 158
  29. ^ Khalidi, Palestinian Identity. p. 32
  30. ^ Qu, William B. (January 28, 2009). "Palestinian Identity: The Construction of Modern National Consciousness". Foreign Affairs (May/June 1997).
  31. ^ Army of Shadows, Palestinian Collaboration with Zionism, 1917–1948, Hillel Cohen University of California Press, 2008, p. 275, n.2
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  40. ^ Palestine: Liberation Deferred by Rashid Khalidi, The Nation, May 8, 2008 (retrieved October 21, 2008
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  43. ^ a b c "Right of Resistance?". The New York Sun. March 14, 2005. Retrieved September 4, 2006.
  44. ^ Note: The ADC transcript of Khalidi's speech has been edited, and has sections missing. Thus, it cannot be used for verification.
  45. ^ "Interview with Joe Scarborough". Scarborough Country. MSNBC. August 8, 2003. Retrieved November 18, 2006.
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  50. ^ Obama on the Defensive Before Fla. Jewish Voters, ABC news, May 22, 2008. (retrieved on October 26, 2008.
  51. ^
  52. ^ "Scholars On Israel And The United Nations". WEBZ. Archived from the original on January 25, 2017. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  53. ^ "Columbia Professor Accuses Right-Wing Jews of 'Infesting' American Politics". January 19, 2017.
  54. ^ Roth, Daniel (January 19, 2017). "Columbia prof. says Israel advocates will 'infest' Trump administration". Jerusalem Post. Retrieved June 17, 2019.
  55. ^ "Columbia's Rashid Khalidi Hits Back at Charges of Anti-Semitism". January 19, 2017.

External links