Khalidi appeared recently with Ralph Peters on PBS's NewsHour with Margaret Warner. Transcript and audio are here: President Declares Failed Mideast States Threat to U.S..
Khalidi performed according to script -- repeating the tired rhetoric that passes for analysis in the academy these days...the problems in the Middle East are America's, and particularly the Bush Administration's, fault...things were much better with Saddam in power, etc... As Peters points out, the Middle East's troubles began long before the Bush Administration came along, and demagogic strongmen like Saddam, who invaded his neighbors and murdered his people en masse, were part of what was holding the Middle East in the Dark Ages. In fact, what Saddam's removal has shown is two important things: First, that what's holding the development of the Middle East down is the intra-regional meddling and interference of neighbor on neighbor (in Iraq's case Syria and Iran doing their best to sabotage the reconstruction), and not the hand of the West which is in fact spending billions in treasure and gallons in blood to help people who have never done a thing for us, and second, removal of the murder regime has lain bare the bankruptcy of the Middle Eastern society it overlaid which has quickly devolved (with a bit of prodding from its neighbors) into a frenzy of tribal and religious murder and mayhem from almost the moment the chains were removed.
Oh, and by the way, Khalidi also criticizes Bush's recognition of the rise to power of Hamas and Hizballah as hypocritical, showing he's either disingenuous about what those groups are, or he doesn't understand democracy any better than they do. The terror groups have co-opted the democratic system, not proved it out. So much for the idea of Western-trained academics exporting Western values...they exist merely to excuse and exacerbate the grievance.
But let's leave that aside. A credentialled Orientalist expert wielding explanations long past their post-colonial expiration date is something to be written-off with a little preasure on the clicker...barely worth a blog post. On the other hand, this is Rashid Khalidi, and he does represent Columbia University, and a couple of things he said are worth picking up and holding to the light for a moment.
First, a couple of errors in fact that goes to build to what Khalidi's real motivation is:
"No, I'm not saying that. Hezbollah carried out attacks against Americans back in the '80s at a time when the United States had invaded, had landed troops in Lebanon and was trying to do something that was against the will of most Lebanese. But since then whatever danger they've posed has been to Israeli occupation forces inside Lebanon."
The US was part of "peacekeeping" force, not an invasion. Hizballah hasn't only been a danger to "occupation forces," they crossed the border to attack Israel, then launched hundreds of rockets against Israeli civilians in Israel, not Israeli armed forces in Lebanon.
"Hamas, as far as I know, and as far as I've seen, has never attacked America, the United States, or Americans. So I don't think either of them pose a direct threat to the United States."
Well, there's a rather major lawsuit against them for doing just that. Here is an extensive list of Americans killed by Palestinian terror, most by Hamas, and apparently not updated since September, '04. Palestinian terror attacks are always a threat to Americans, as the death of young Daniel Wultz at the hands of the Al Aqsa brigades demonstrates:
"...Abu Nasser, a senior leader of the Al Aqsa Brigades in the West Bank, rejoiced in Wultz's death. Abu Nasser is part of the Brigades leadership in the Balata refugee camp suspected of plotting the attack.
"'This is a gift from Allah. We wish this young dog will go directly with no transit to hell,' Abu Nasser said..."
Here, though, is Khalidi revealing himself, and demonstrating the ulterior motive behind all this rotten analysis:
"...I'm suggesting that, if you try and talk about Palestine, which is a country, a people, a nation that's never had sovereignty, never had statehood, that has been under occupation by Israel ever since 1948, then you are -- and you ignore that -- you are trying to blame the victim, in essence..."
There are two unwitting confessions here from Khalidi. First is that he admits there never has been a country called Palestine. Second, and this is Khalidi's true agenda, is his most straightforward admission that he believes Israel has no right to exist -- "occupation by Israel ever since 1948." So a country that never existed is under occupation by a country that shouldn't. This is very revealing stuff, and explains why Khalidi is trying to push so hard to an American audience that genocidal groups dedicated to the destruction of Israel and opposition to the West and things Western ought not concern Americans. This is an argument that has sold well in Europe but has so far gained no traction with Americans who aren't buying it.
This is the sales job and agenda that Columbia's endowment is subsidizing and its name is legitimizing -- the Middle East's screams of Death to Israel and Death to America behind the soft, measured tones of a PhD.