Middle East studies in the News
Khalidi Gets Second Shot at Princeton
by Jacob Gershman
Columbia University's Rashid Khalidi is getting a second shot at a job at Princeton University.
A historian of Arab nationalism and a public intellectual known for his scathing assessments of American foreign policy, Mr. Khalidi is a top contender to fill an endowed chair in the history department that is being vacated by a retiring scholar.
Mr. Khalidi, who directs Columbia's Middle East Institute, was a candidate earlier in the year for another Princeton chair, endowed by businessman Robert Niehaus, but did not receive an offer, sources said. Columbia recruited Mr. Khalidi from the University of Chicago in 2003 and offered him an endowed professorship named after Edward Said, a literature scholar who was the author of "Orientalism." He died in 2003.
The possible hiring of Mr. Khalidi comes as Princeton is expected to announce today the appointment of Daniel Kurtzer, who stepped down as America's ambassador to Israel this year, to a professorship endowed by the founder of diet-drink company Slim-Fast, Daniel Abraham. He will serve up to five years in Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, university officials said.
In the field of Middle Eastern studies, Mr. Khalidi has gained a reputation as a rigorous chronicler of the modern Middle East, following in the footsteps of Oxford historian Albert Hourani, who died in 1993. Critics of Mr. Khalidi have described his writing as polemical and have said he represents a worrisome drift in Middle Eastern studies toward anti-Americanism.
In his most recent book, "Resurrecting Empire," Mr. Khalidi argued that America's strategy in the war in Iraq has little to do with promoting democracy and a lot to do with gaining "hegemony over the region, in collaboration with Israel." Mr. Khalidi, an advocate for Palestinian statehood, has spoken out against what he views as Israel's subjugation of the Palestinians and has expressed doubt over the possibility of a two-state solution to the Middle East conflict.
Mr. Khalidi's time at Columbia has been marked by turmoil. In the spring, the New York City Department of Education dismissed Mr. Khalidi as a lecturer to public school teachers enrolled in a professional development program. The department made the decision after The New York Sun reported that Mr. Khalidi, in public comments, had described Israel's policies as "racist" and accused the Jewish state of establishing an "apartheid system in creation."
Last spring, as Columbia looked into charges that Middle Eastern studies professors at the school bullied Jewish students in the classroom, Mr. Khalidi defended those scholars and voiced concern about threats to academic freedom.
Mr. Khalidi, who is part of a visiting professorship program at Princeton that invites scholars to come to the school for one- to two-week intervals, is scheduled to deliver a guest lecture today before the history department. The lecture is titled "The Iron Cage: The Palestinian Failure To Achieve Statehood Before and After 1948."
The chairman of Princeton's history department, Jeremy Adelman, praised Mr. Khalidi, saying he "has immense range." He said the department would make a decision on the academic appointment in the winter. "This is an academic appointment," Mr. Adelman said.Note: Articles listed under "Middle East studies in the News" provide information on current developments concerning Middle East studies on North American campuses. These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch and do not necessarily correspond to Campus Watch's critique.
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