Middle East studies in the News
Former Obama Associate Rashid Khalidi: Trump's White House Will be 'Infested' With Pro-Israel Figures
The incoming Trump administration will be "infested" with figures who "live in a world of their own" when it comes to supporting Israel, Palestinian-American academic and former Barack Obama associate Rashid Khalidi said this week.
During an interview aired by Chicago's WBEZ 91.5 public radio station, which was transcribed by the Algemeiner, Khalidi said, "There are a group of people, a lot of them in Israel and some of them in the United States, who live in a world of their own."
"That is to say, they think that whatever they want and whatever cockamamie schemes they can cook up can be substituted for reality. So they have a vision whereby the occupied territories aren't occupied. They have a vision whereby there is no such thing as the Palestinians. They have a vision whereby international law doesn't exist. They have a vision whereby the United States can unilaterally cancel a decision of the United Nations," Khalidi added.
"Unfortunately," he continued, "these people infest the Trump transition team, these people are going to infest our government as of January 20th. And they are hand in glove with a similar group of people in the Israeli government and in Israeli political life who think that whatever they think can be imposed on reality."
Khalidi claimed that these purported members of Trump's transition team "will live in that little bubble for as long as the Trump administration is here, but there's going to be a rude shock awaiting them, because most Americans don't feel that way."
Responding to recent comments by President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry that the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is in jeopardy, Khalidi said every US administration in previous decades helped prevent a viable two-state solution by its "acquiescence" to Israel's "colonialist" actions. The process of killing the two-state solution, he said, started "way back in the sixties."
Khalidi also expressed his opposition to the incoming Trump administration's plan to move the US embassy to Jerusalem. Citing the 1947 partition plan (opposed by the Arabs who then launched the war that came to be known as Israel's War of Independence), Khalidi said it stated that Jerusalem – both eastern and western Jerusalem – should remain under international authority.
"By moving its embassy to Jerusalem, the United States is violating Israel's birth certificate," Khalidi said. He asserted that Israel's "entire legitimacy" relies on UN Resolution 181 from 1949. Khalidi argued that moving the embassy would be a self-defeating move since the US would be "driving a stake through the heart" of Israel's international legitimacy.
Commenting on the incoming administration's plans to clamp down on proponents of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, Khalidi defended boycotts as a "time-honored American tradition," noting that the establishment of the US started with a boycott of British tea.
Khalidi said "attempts to make illegal this means of free speech" were "nauseating" and predicted that courts would strike down efforts to silence the staunchly anti-Israel movement.
The professor of Arab Studies said he believed a growing number of Americans are aware of the "injustice" in "Palestine" but lamented that "you don't see it in the major political parties."
In the major parties, he said, leaders "have their heads in another reality." They have "drunk the untruth serum," are beholden to "big money," and have "AIPAC over their shoulders."
Khalidi expressed hope that a younger generation of Americans will be more receptive to the Palestinian narrative. He noted the support for Democratic contender Bernie Sanders during the campaign and said that the base of the Democratic party is moving "surprisingly quickly" toward a position he described as "more evenhanded."
Breitbart's Aaron Klein previously reported on the Obama-Khalidi relationship:
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