Prof. Rashid Khalidi, in his recent Center for Liberal Arts & Society lecture appeared to be very hard on the Israelis. But when you look through the heavily-weighted rhetoric, a few facts appear from which one can draw conclusions.
As the professor admitted, wherever Palestinians have established any kind of political entity, it has been dictatorial, repressive and has engaged in acts of terror against Israeli civilians. This includes the PLO, Hamas and Fatah. The Palestinian Authority has been somewhat less repressive, but acts of terror have repeatedly been launched from Palestinian Authority territory.
The professor stated that Israel (as all states) has a right to defend itself. But this defense has to be "proportional."
Now, how should the Israeli government act "proportionally" to the bombing of a bus in Jerusalem? By randomly bombing buses in Ramallah? Instead, the Israeli government erected a defensive fence, causing considerable discomfort to Palestinians. And the result was a radical reduction in these types of terrorist attacks.
How is the Israeli government to respond "proportionally" to rockets sent from the midst of residential areas into residential areas in Israel? By shooting rockets at random into Gaza City? That would be barbaric and ineffective. In response, Israeli government dropped the hammer on Gaza; many civilians were killed. And the rockets, for the most part, have stopped.
Why does Israel allow and encourage the region previously known as Judea and now as "The West Bank" to be carved up into dispersed regions? To keep it from becoming a terrorist base like Gaza. Gaza is the perfect example of how a Palestinian state would act if were to be established.
The Palestinians have been extraordinarily bad neighbors, and the Israeli government has had to deal with this threat. As the professor pointed out, it used to be relatively simple to drive from the West Bank to Gaza. It is now extremely difficult, because of measures necessary for security.
The professor stated that there are Palestinian groups that are beginning to see violence as counterproductive. I certainly hope he is correct. When the Palestinians stop their aggressive behavior, Israeli defensive measures will become less necessary, and life will become much more pleasant for everybody.
Recent history has demonstrated repeatedly that pressuring the Israelis to drop defenses before the Palestinians are willing to be good neighbors will only encourage Palestinian aggression and prolong the vicious cycle.