(January 16, 2023 / JNS) If it didn’t have such a damaging impact on Israel’s image and give comfort to antisemites, it would be comical how far The New York Times has strayed from journalism into propaganda. Story after story and op-ed after op-ed, the “newspaper of record” vilifies Israel. When you might think (though why would you?) the editors can’t stoop any lower, they find another Israel-hater (antisemite?) to bloviate on the publication’s pages.
The latest example of bottom-feeding is the publication of an op-ed by Rashid Khalidi, who is identified as a professor of modern Middle Eastern history at Columbia University, omitting his earlier role as spokesperson for the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Khalidi is an example of the decline of academic standards, which allows someone who traffics in falsehoods and rewriting history to indoctrinate students with the Middle East studies equivalent of the flat Earth theory.
Khalidi repeats myths he and others have propagated for decades. Proving that he believes the Palestinian issue has nothing to do with the West Bank or “occupation,” he invokes the “nakba.” Palestinians consider the creation of Israel the original sin, and their focus on that event is indicative of a refusal to reconcile with the existence of a Jewish state.
He claims Israel took over “more than three-quarters of Palestine.” If Khalidi was a serious historian and not a transmitter of disinformation, he would acknowledge that it is Israel, including the disputed territories, that is only 22% of “Palestine.” As he knows, historic Palestine included not only Israel and the West Bank but all of Jordan.
Continuing with his version of the big lie, Khalidi repeats the evergreen myth that “hundreds of thousands” of Palestinians were forced to flee. The record is clear that thousands of wealthy Palestinians left before the war began. A small number of Palestinians who endangered Israeli forces were expelled. Most fled to avoid being caught in the crossfire after five Arab armies invaded to drive the Jews into the sea. Many left at the behest of their leaders, who promised they could return to their homes and those that used to belong to Jews.
Had the Arabs won the war, there would have been few Jewish refugees because most Jews would have been slaughtered as they were by the Arab Legion in Kfar Etzion.
No Palestinian state would have existed either. The Arab leaders planned to divide Palestine among themselves. Even after losing, Egypt occupied Gaza, and Jordan the West Bank and east Jerusalem (when no one cared about freedom of religion for Jews or Christians). Neither offered the Palestinians a state, and the Palestinians never demanded one during the 19-year occupation. The international community didn’t pass any U.N. resolutions or seek to end the Arab occupation. No one in the U.S. or elsewhere proposed a two-state solution. A right of self-determination was only discovered in 1967.
Khalidi cites non-existent international law and U.N. resolutions as requiring Israel to allow the refugees’ return. He doesn’t mention that the Arab states voted against the U.N. resolution on refugees in 1948 because they still expected to win the war. They only changed their tune after they lost.
Not a single Palestinian would have become a refugee if the Arabs had accepted partition, and instead of bemoaning the nakba, Palestinians would be celebrating the 75th anniversary of statehood.
Let Khalidi name another country that allowed a population dedicated to its destruction to be welcomed back with open arms. Germans expelled from Poland and Czechoslovakia were not allowed to return to their homes. Hindus and Muslims displaced by the partition of India and Pakistan were forced to stay where they were. Benjamin Franklin rejected the British demand that colonists loyal to England who fled to Canada should be allowed to return to claim their property.
Oh, and by the way, 76% of Palestinians already live in “Palestine.” By comparison, fewer than half of all Jews live in Israel.
Khalidi throws in the “A word” to try to link Israel to Afrikaner South Africa, knowing the comparison is bogus but is now a required element of the antisemitic mantra of demonizers.
Not missing a myth from his youth, Khalidi claims that much of the military aid the U.S. provides to Israel “is used to oppress Palestinians.” Most aid, however, is spent in the U.S., which creates jobs for Americans and helps provide Israel with the military hardware it needs primarily to defend itself against threats from its neighbors and only secondarily to protect citizens from Palestinian terror.
The thrust of Khalidi’s article is that the U.S. should not build its embassy on land m that he claims belongs to his family. If he has a legal leg to stand on, he can go to court, just as other Palestinians have in land disputes. The U.S. should not concede to the Palestinians; it must follow the law.
Khalidi doesn’t care about the land; otherwise, we would have heard about this property long ago. Ultimately, he admits his real agenda is undermining, if not sabotaging, U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. “Building a U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, on this site or any other,” he says, “constitutes a legal and moral offense.”
What offends him is that “his land” belonged to the Jewish people long before he was born and that the people have returned (many never left) to their homeland. A homeland to which the Palestinians have no legal or moral right, having never been sovereign in Palestine.
By giving Khalidi a platform, the Times once again sacrificed truth to promote those seeking the isolation and dismemberment of Israel. This will fail to make the Jews disappear, just as its blinkered coverage of the Holocaust.
As for Khalidi, an Ivy League salary does not make him any less of a sophist than when he was a mouthpiece for the PLO.
Mitchell Bard is a foreign policy analyst and an authority on U.S.-Israel relations who has written and edited 22 books, including The Arab Lobby, Death to the Infidels: Radical Islam’s War Against the Jews and After Anatevka: Tevye in Palestine.
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