Middle East studies in the News
On Luck, Earmarks, A Textbook To Hope For And More [incl. Rashid Khalidi]
The Pioneer Press (TwinCities.com)
Rashid Khalidi is a New Yorker, a Middle East expert and writer, and an outspoken voice on affairs affecting Israel and the Palestinians. And as someone who frequently takes on Israeli and American policies, he is in the center of an unending storm. Khalidi, professor of Modern Arab Studies at Columbia University, was in the Twin Cities promoting his new book about the Middle East during the Cold War.
We asked him about an earlier interview in which he noted that it was not until this decade that a French-German textbook appeared, detailing the two nations' common history, which included two wars that engulfed the world in the 20th century. He said in that interview: "One day that will be possible for the Israelis and Palestinians."
We asked when that day will be. He took a deep breath and pointed out that the French-German book arrived six decades after the end of the last war between France and Germany. But he added that there are hopeful signs in the Middle East: "The scholars are a lot closer to each other than the politicians are."
Currently, he said, the U.S. debate is so polarized that it is hard to have a full and open debate about such matters as Israel's invasion of the Gaza Strip. He said Israeli public officials are much freer in their criticism of their own nation than U.S. elected officials are of Israel.
Former President Jimmy Carter provoked a storm in the U.S. when he titled his book on Palestine "Peace Not Apartheid." Khalidi said that word, meant to criticize Israel's treatment of Palestinians, is heard often in debates in Israel. "Israeli politicians say 'apartheid' all the time," he said.
America has long been a place where the world's crises are fought through argument, scholarship and politics. We respect those who fight these tough ideological battles, like Rashid Khalidi, even if we don't agree with everything he says.
Khalidi's newest book is "Sowing Crisis: The Cold War and American Dominance in the Middle East."
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