Middle East studies in the News
Columbia University Professor Rashid Khalidi's Double Standard on Grammar for Jews
by Jonathan Schwartz
According to a paper published this month in the Middle East Quarterly, Columbia University Professor Rashid Khalidi thinks different rules of grammar should apply to the Jews than to all the other nations. That's right , grammar.
We know that in Khalidi's opinion the Palestians and everybody else gets a state of their own, except the Jews.
But – grammar? Surely the Jews are as entitled as other peoples to use definite articles. Here's the passage.
Khalidi is also guilty of inconsistent methodology in applying rules of grammar. He often uses "a people" in the ordinary manner, as a near-synonym for nation, writing: "The Palestinians are a people with national rights." Or: "This remarkable book recounts how the Palestinians came to be constituted as a people." He justified the terrorism of the second intifada by arguing that the "violence, which has broken out, has been the natural result of a people desiring its independence" Khalidi misunderstands the phrase "a people" only when discussing the phrase "land without a people."
Khalidi does this in order to claim that those disingenuous early Zionists falsely claimed that Palestine was "empty."
Rashid Khalidi… writes that, "In the early days of the Zionist movement, many of its European supporters—and others—believed that Palestine was empty and sparsely cultivated. This view was widely propagated by some of the movement's leading thinkers and writers, such as Theodore Herzl, Chaim Nachman Bialik, and Max Mandelstamm, with Herzl never even mentioning the Arabs in his famous work, The Jewish State. It was summed up in the widely-propagated Zionist slogan, ‘A land without a people for a people without a land.'"
Khalidi's statement is factually wrong. Rather than check Der Judenstaat, he refers to an academic work that was inaccurate. Herzl mentions the resident population of Palestine, albeit in the context of discussing possible locations for his projected Jewish state. He was prescient in his analysis of the political impact that the inhabitants were likely to have on the Zionist project. Immigration, he explained, "continues till the inevitable moment when the native population feels itself threatened and forces the government to stop a further influx of Jews. Immigration is consequently futile unless we have the sovereign right to continue such immigration." To say that Herzl at the time he wrote Der Judenstaat had little interest in the existing population beyond assessing their probable impact on Zionism is fair. To state that he "never even mentioned" the Arabs of Palestine is untrue. Nor did the phrase "land without a people" ever appear in Herzl's books, letters, or diary.
There is more. It turns out that the phrase "A land without a people for a people without a land" was not a Zionist slogan after all. Just another "fact" invented by Edward Said and the PLO.
 Rashid Khalidi, "Observations on the Right of Return," Journal of Palestine Studies, Winter 1992, p. 30.
 Rashid Khalidi, jacket blurb for Baruch Kimmerling and Joel S. Migdal, The Palestinian People: A History ( Cambridge : Harvard University Press, 2003).
 Rashid Khalidi, "To End the Bloodshed," Christian Century, Nov. 22-29, 2000, p. 1206.
 Khalidi, Palestinian Identity, p. 101.
 Khalidi, Palestinian Identity, p. 101.
 Khalidi relies on Anita Shapira, Land and Power: The Zionist Recourse to Force, 1881-1948 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992), p. 41.
 Theodore Herzl, The Jewish State, Sylvie d'Avigdor, trans. (London: Nutt, 1896); idem, The Jewish State, Sylvie d'Avigdor, trans. (New York: Dover, 1988), p. 95.
 Garfinkle, "On the Origin, Meaning, Use and Abuse of a Phrase," p. 539.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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