Phi Beta Cons

Rattling Khalidi’s Cage

Efraim Karsh, a professor at King’s College in London and author of the impressive Islamic Imperialism: A History, scathingly reviews Rashid Khalidi’s new book, The Iron Cage: The Story of the Palestinian Struggle for Statehood.
Karsh writes that the book is riddled with underlying condescension” for the Palestinians, portrayed as “mere objects” driven into “’iron cage’” by Zionists and powerful nations. He characterizes Khalidi as “intellectually lazy” – so dismissive of historical truth as to ignore “the millions of documents declassified during the past decades by Israeli, Western, and United Nations archives” as well as “the wealth of Arab and Palestinian documentation on the 1948 war.” But worse, Karsh accuses Khalidi of “profound dishonesty,” because of the book’s failure to recount the genuine opportunities for statehood offered to the Palestinians during the past three-quarters of a century and the numerous Zionist efforts at reconciliation in the years preceding the 1948 war.
Khalidi’s surely deliberate omissions, which Karsh discusses in detail, constitute a travesty of scholarship. It makes one wonder how – through what processes of peer and administrative review – Khalidi came to be awarded the Edward Said Chair of Arab Studies at Columbia University.

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