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Khalidi: Two-state solution is ‘Wizard of Oz stuff’ and Palestinians live in a ‘gussied-up prison’

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The other night in Brooklyn, Rashid Khalidi gave a talk on the U.S. role in the peace process, and a friend leaned over to me and said she had never seen the scholar so impassioned. It was quite a performance, as you can see from the video excerpt above.

Anybody who is talking about a Palestinian state is talking about Wizard of Oz stuff. It’s not a reality… There is one state between the river and the sea. The Palestinians have a fife-and-drum corps, and control over nothing.

Khalidi recently published a book called Brokers of Deceit on how the US has continually set back Palestinian freedom throughout the peace process. The Columbia University historian served on the Palestinian team during the Madrid process and in 2008 was described as a confidante of his former Chicago neighbor, Barack Obama– till the neocons began smearing him and any hope we had that Khalidi might guide policy went out the window.

Below are some of Khalidi’s other comments, in an appearance at Brooklyn for Peace (sponsored by a wide array of organizations from Adalah to Jews Say No to Kolot Chayeinu). If you’re tired of looking at the screen, go to his Martin Indyk story at the bottom. Crushing.

The occupied territories should be understood as “bantustans,” Khalidi said, in which Israel controls all Palestinian life, and even birth registries and citizen registries are held by Israel. His most passionate bit is at 3:30 in the video, about the West Bank:

The overwhelming majority of the population is hemmed up in the less than 10 percent of the West Bank that is Area A. So that’s not a state. It is inconceivable to talk about that as a state. It does inordinate violence to language to allow THAT travesty to be called a state. Leave alone the violence done to the people. Anyone who respects what they say should not allow themselves to call that a Palestinian state. That is a gussied up Palestinian prison forever– you can use any terms you want.


On Arab popular opinion:

This [American] policy can only continue as long as undemocratic governments continue to dominate the Arab world, governments like Saudi Arabia…. People in the Arab world are overwhelmingly sympathetic to the Palestinians and completely baffled as to why the United States should follow the policies that it does. If you want to understand anti-Americanism in the Arab world, look first and foremost to  the Palestine issue. It poisons everything else. And anybody who looks at the region with an unbiased eye knows this. This has been completely blotted out of our consciousness. “They don’t care about Palestine,” we’re told. Of course they do. Every poll tells us this. Everybody who goes there will tell you that they do…. Israel is a huge albatross around the neck of the United States…

On why Obama’s peace process has gone nowhere:

You may remember that when the president came into office back in the heady days of 2009… everyone was thinking everything was going to change…. He named Senator Mitchell as mediator and he took a number of positions which looked as if they marked a change in US policy. He insisted that there be a settlement freeze before negotiations begin, he insisted that the 1967 lines be the basis for future borders, and he insisted that there should be rapid movement toward a Palestinian state. At one point he said this should be solved in one year.
Over this period throughout his first term, the president faced relentless pressure on the issue of Palestine. Not just from the Israeli prime minister, Netanyahu, but also from the Republican leadership in Congress, who as you can remember in 2010 took over the House, as well as of course from the Israeli lobby. This tripartite pressure, from the Israeli government and from their allies in Congress and in the lobby– you may remember the time that Netanyahu spoke before Congress and got 35 standing ovations. The president obviously was not in a position in those days to get 35 standing ovations from the Congress
Netanyahu was in effect in a stronger position in Washington than the president himself.
This pressure forced the president into humiliating retreats from every one of his positions. He gave them up. He has not insisted on a settlement freeze since then, he has not insisted on the 67 lines, and obviously we are five years into his presidency and there is no Palestinian state. So he has given up all his positions.
And incidentally these are not new positions. They are positions taken by previous American presidents that President Obama was simply reiterating. He was forced to back down on all of them.
These moments of clarity illuminate policies which I think are obfuscated in most of what we see in the media and in what passes for scholarly writing, obscured by corrupt deceitful language of the sort that Orwell was telling us about. This mantra about a peace process has obscured the reality, that the process the U.S. was championing in fact wasn’t directed at achieving peace between the Palestinians and Israelis on the basis of two fully-independent viable contiguous states living side by side in some way that would bring peace and justice. That’s what the U.S. said it was doing. If it were really doing it would have had to insist on a complete immediate and unconditional dismantling of the military occupation and the settlements. We never did that. And without a quid pro quo: settlements are illegal, there should be no compensation… But in fact what we’re bargaining over is the quid pro quo…

There should be acceptance of Palestinian self determination within political borders. And there should be a just resolution for the majority of Palestinians, most of whom don’t live in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Most Palestinians are refugees and descendants of Palestinian refugees living outside of historical Palestine… They need a resolution of their problem, and any– any solution that does not address that is not a solution at all. Those are not the things the U.S. has been doing. In fact most of what the U.S. has been doing is trying to bully the Palestinians to conform to the positions of Israel over many many decades.

Khalidi also told a story about Martin Indyk, the special envoy for the U.S. State Department on the issue. He noted that Indyk founded the Washington Institute for Near East Policy in 1985, after a rich sponsor, Barbi Weinberg, figured out that Israel would be much more effective in Washington if AIPAC had as an echo chamber a thinktank– “and that’s what the Washington Institute is.”

But my favorite Indyk story has to do with when President Bush lost the 1992 elections, and we were in the middle of negotiations in Washington, and we were told– I think this might have been January 1993– that somebody from the Clinton transition team would be coming to speak to us and give us an idea of where the new administration would go. And we were eagerly anticipating the arrival of whoever the Clinton administration was going to send. And in the door walked someone who to our knowledge was an Israel lobbyist. I said, Oh my god, we thought it couldn’t get any worse than Dennis Ross. It’s just gotten worse.

And Indyk is only the most egregious example. Dennis Ross is another one. And there are several others. Some I think have been better than others. All of them have a deep sympathy of some sort of another for Israel. This has really been true going back to the Bush administration, the Reagan administration, way way back. Today it’s exceptional if you find anybody who has a deep sympathy for the Palestinians anywhere in our government. There are a couple of them, but they’re probably kept as far away as possible from the issue. And they’re certainly not visible if they’re there.

It’s just another example of how absolutely biased the thing is. The sad truth however is that the Palestinian side of these negotiations has been egging to have Indyk involved [lately], where the Israeli side wants to keep him out. That says more I think about the Palestinian Authority than about anything else.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of

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14 Responses

  1. just on November 11, 2013, 4:06 pm

    “That is a gussied up Palestinian prison forever, you can use any terms you want.”

    It’s not that “gussied up”, but I wholeheartedly agree with Khalidi.

    Khalidi tells the truth! He should be our point person and envoy– no one else! Thanks so much for this Phil– hope this makes it to the MSM.

    (btw– he brings up the charitable donations that sustain the illegal occupation violating international and US laws– what about the terrible sentences handed down to the HL5 and Shukri Abu-Baker? More shameful hypocrisy!)

    • Nevada Ned on November 11, 2013, 5:09 pm

      “Just” hopes that this makes the MSM. I wish!

      Occasionally Khalidi is a guest on Fareed Zakaria GPS on CNN, but only occasionally.

      Khalidi knows the score, and opposes US/Israeli policy towards the Palestinians. Not surprisingly, he rarely makes the MSM.

      But those pundits who swarm through the MSM are often Israeli propagandists, or ignorant blowhards whose advice has proven disastrous.

      How often do you see Noam Chomsky on the MSM? How often does Terry Gross interview Chomsky? You get the picture.

      • just on November 11, 2013, 5:29 pm

        I do get the picture. I agree with much of what you wrote, but MW is a powerful force to be reckoned with, imho.

        Phil’s (and crew’s) coverage of Adelson and his fawning fellow warmongers @ Yeshiva U. did make it into the MSM.

      • American on November 11, 2013, 6:25 pm

        Want to get the USA-Isr and the Zios into the msm in a big way?
        Get the anti zionist to put up billboards as ‘Wanted’ Posters for our congressional I-Firsters and Zio bigwig Traitors to the US like those Wanted posters the Zios put up on US academics and professors in the US.
        It would be good for at least a weeks worth of prime time 24/7 Israel and Anti Semitism hysteria, lawsuits, threats, zios reminding Americans they caused the German holocaust, politicians being outraged and other ear splitting, spittle flying screaming and melt downs.
        The scandal of it all would sure attract the public to ask what it was all about.

      • Philip Munger on November 11, 2013, 10:31 pm

        I’m sure most of those responsible for showing or linking to Phil’s video in the MSM have been to reconditioning meetings, or have had chilling calls or one-on-one talks, to assure this does not happen again.

  2. Stephen Shenfield on November 11, 2013, 4:45 pm

    I think that the parallels with the Pale of Settlement in Tsarist Russia and the Jewish ghettoes under Nazi occupation (except, so far at least, for their function as a station on the path to the gas chambers and execution pits) are closer than the parallel with the Bantustans. The Bantustans were mostly rural and never held the bulk of the native population. The West Bank cities resemble the Jewish ghettoes as urban concentration areas for farmers ethnically cleansed from the land (like Tevye the dairyman and his family and neighbors at the end of Sholom Aleichem’s Fiddler on the Roof). Pobedonostsev said that one third of the Jews of Russia would convert to Christianity, one third would emigrate, and one third would perish. The Nazis and Zionists have been more inhumane than their tsarist predecessors in closing off conversion as a possible escape, leaving forced emigration (“transfer”) and genocide as the only options.

  3. Justpassingby on November 11, 2013, 5:24 pm

    Strange, Khalidi that rejected Mearsheimer and Walt’s book. But now he changed his mind?

    • Marco on November 12, 2013, 1:15 am

      Khalidi should apologize to Mersheimer and Walt.

      Will he? I doubt it very much.

      He will probably still maintain his typical leftist position that American grand strategy is driven by imperialist and capitalist interests, and that the Israel lobby’s influence is ultimately narrow in nature.

  4. HarryLaw on November 11, 2013, 6:21 pm

    Khalidi’s frustration is entirely justified, and puts some of the blame quite rightly [in his last sentence on the Palestinian Leadership] Unfortunately the Israelis have the superior power, militarily, economically and most importantly the ability to influence the US Government and Congress into backing Israel in the erroneous belief that whatever it does benefit’s the US and helps win elections in the US. It cannot help that the Palestinians have allowed themselves to be split politically and physically, now it is far easier for Israel to implement the solution it wants, outside International Law [when did they ever observe it] of course and with the connivance of the US and EU. Who can push back against this formidable combination? Certainly not the Arab Nations at this time, some of whom are fighting for their own survival, the most populous, Egypt are acting against the Palestinians in Gaza, just as the Israelis have done, in fact have threatened to go to war against them because they backed Morsi. The resistance front [or as the West likes to call it the arc of extremism ] Hezbollah, Syria and Iran are in fact the only ones actually supporting the Palestinians, they also are under attack from the West who call incessantly for regime change, that’s when they are not threatening to bomb them into submission. A bleak outlook for the Palestinians, but when the present round of negotiations fail early next year, and Abbas does what he has long promised to do, that is to return to the UN and separately, pursue Israel through the ICC, and ask that International law be applied, only on the outcome of the decisions at the UN and after Palestine has had it’s day in court can the Palestinians decide the next steps, of course those options too could fail, but at least everyone would know that all legal means had been tried, then all other options become applicable.

    • just on November 11, 2013, 10:22 pm

      A cogent post.

      “A bleak outlook for the Palestinians, but when the present round of negotiations fail early next year, and Abbas does what he has long promised to do, that is to return to the UN and separately, pursue Israel through the ICC, and ask that International law be applied, only on the outcome of the decisions at the UN and after Palestine has had it’s day in court can the Palestinians decide the next steps, of course those options too could fail, but at least everyone would know that all legal means had been tried, then all other options become applicable.”

      If the ICC and the world do not grant the Palestinians their rights for freedom and justice, then it is the US, the EU, some Gulf States and Israel that are at fault.

      It is strange to claim anytime that there will come a time when “all legal means ha(ve) been tried” wrt I/P. Israel has violated international law endlessly, with our help and money and weaponry. What recourse do the Palestinians have, really. I want them to go running to the ICC, but with us enabling the Israelis and refusing to sign on to the ICC while still holding on to our eternal veto with Power… well, that’s no way forward toward a just resolution, is it?

  5. bintbiba on November 12, 2013, 11:00 am

    Thank you Harry Law and Just… excellent truthtelling.

  6. Linda J on November 12, 2013, 12:24 pm

    Is Khalidi protecting the Zionist Democrats? It is true the Republicans took over in 2010 but the Dems were in control of all branches for the prior year (the amount of time Obama claimed he needed to fix things).

    The Senate is crawling with powerful Zionist Dems. He needs to acknowledge we have a bipartisan problem here.

    • annie on November 12, 2013, 1:09 pm

      Is Khalidi protecting the Zionist Democrats?

      i doubt it.

      Khalidi: You actually have to go and look at the archaeology of all the deals that have been signed including what President Clinton worked on. All of these things really go back to ideas that are generated by Menachem Begin back in 1978. We are still within a framework of the autonomy agreement that President Carter, in 1978, made as part of the Israel- Egypt peace treaty. That is the framework in which Prime Minister Rabin negotiated, that is the framework in which President Clinton negotiated, and that is designed to prevent Palestinian statehood and sovereignty.

      Ben Ami: But that’s not the American policy.

      Khalidi: It has become American policy.

      Ben Ami: It isn’t.

      Khalidi: Under people like Dennis Ross who also worked for President Clinton.

      • Linda J on November 12, 2013, 1:46 pm

        That’s g0od news. Thanks, Annie.

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