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The State Of Scholarship At Columbia – And Of Book Reviewing At The New York Times


The fundamental responsibility for the Palestinian refugee problem obviously lies not with the Jews, but with those who began the fighting – those who attempted to wipe out the Jews instead of living with the UN resolution granting the Jews a sliver of a state, and those who in many cases advised and ordered the “noncombatants” (more than half the population) to get out of the way so the war against the Jews could proceed.

But you won’t find that basic point in either Khalidi’s book or Erlanger’s review.

The truth is that the Palestinians have not Struggled for Statehood. They have struggled to destroy another state. If they had wanted a state, they could have had one many times over by now. But they rejected formal offers of a two-state solution in 1937 (Peel Commission), 1947 (UN Resolution 181), 1978 (Attachment to Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty), 2000(Camp David), and 2001 (Clinton Parameters). Moreover, from 1949-1967 they did not revolt against an “occupation” when the “occupiers” were Egypt and Jordan.

In 2003, the Palestinians famously endorsed the Quartet’s road map “without reservations” and then failed to meet even their Phase One obligation to commence dismantling their terrorist infrastructure. In 2005, after Israel nevertheless unilaterally ceded all of Gaza to them, so they could demonstrate their willingness to live side by side in peace and security, they commenced firing more than a thousand rockets into Israel. In 2006, they elected the terrorists to run their government.

This is not the record of a people struggling for a state, but rather a people that has continually rejected one, in pursuit of a different objective.

The very title of Khalidi’s book is thus disingenuous – as is its cover, which shows a picture of the small portion of the Israeli security barrier (necessitated by Palestinian suicide bombers) that is a wall rather than a fence. The cover tacitly encourages readers to think that the Palestinians’ “Struggle for Statehood” is barred by an “iron cage” constructed by Israel.

But the “cage” turns out to be the “complex and unique legal and constitutional framework through which Britain managed its occupation of Palestine,” which according to Khalidi “constituted a kind of iron cage.”

Even assuming a British “framework” in the years before 1948 could be analogized to an “iron cage,” that is not what the image on Khalidi’s tendentious book conveys.

Apparently this is what passes for scholarship at Columbia. As for the New York Times review of this book, the Times’s compromised reviewer did not even knowledgeably discuss the well-worth-reading footnote

Rick Richman edits “Jewish Current Issues” at http://jpundit.typepad.com

. His front-page essay “Visiting Israel At War” appeared in the Aug. 23 issue of The Jewish Press.

About the Author: Rick Richman, whose work has appeared in The New York Sun, The Tower Magazine, and The Jewish Press, among other publications, is a prolific writer who appears regularly in Commentary magazine and its group Contentions blog, where this originally appeared. He also maintains the Jewish Current Issues blog (www.jpundit.typepad.com/jci/).


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