A systematic history of Palestinian persecution and a fair-minded agenda for mutual dialogue and recognition with the Israelis going forward.
Khalidi (Modern Arab Studies/Columbia Univ.; Brokers of Deceit: How the U.S. Has Undermined Peace in the Middle East, 2013, etc.), the editor of the Journal of Palestine Studies, is the descendant of several illustrious early scholars and statesmen who attempted to navigate the first peace between the two peoples claiming ancient ties to the same land. The author begins this dogged chronicle of Palestinian injustices with a poignant letter he unearthed in a Jerusalem library, written in 1899 by his great-great-great uncle, the mayor of Jerusalem, to the “father of Zionism,” Theodor Herzl, reminding him respectfully of the folly of embarking on a Jewish nation within an already inhabited land and urging him “in the name of God, let Palestine be left alone.” Of course, that did not happen, and the Zionist vision gained momentum thanks to “international and imperial forces” such as the Balfour Declaration of Nov. 2, 1917, which, Khalidi notes, was “a declaration of war by the British Empire on the indigenous population.” The author also examines the declaration of the state of Israel in 1947; the Six-Day War of 1967; the invasion of Lebanon in 1982, directed at neutralizing the Palestinian Liberation Organization; the first Palestinian uprising, or intifada, which began in 1987 and shifted the locus of disaffection from outside to inside the country; and the massive Palestinian demonstrations that have taken place in Israel as Hamas and the PLO played out their power struggle. Khalidi is clear about the “ideologically bankrupt political movements” that have made up Palestinian leadership, and he recognizes the need for a better understanding of how to positively affect public opinion in the U.S. Yet he also presses for significant work inside Israel, namely “convincing Israelis that there is an alternative to the ongoing oppression of the Palestinians.”
A timely, cogent, patient history of a seemingly intractable conflict told from a learned Palestinian perspective.