The vile, Jew-hating, ingratiating weasel, Rashid Khalidi is not so much an educator as he is a dedicated propagandist for the PLO and its spurious Arab Palestinian so-called “cause”, something that did not exist before 1964 and is based on a conglomeration of lies the size of Jupiter about the history of the Middle East in general and of Israel in particular.
It has been said that George Washington couldn’t tell a lie and that Richard Nixon couldn’t tell the truth, but Rashid Khalidi deliberately refuses to tell the difference.
This puts him in good company with his log time friend Barack Obama as well as Harvard’s president, Claudine Gay, both of whom have a slippery foothold on the truth.
“The idea that Jews in the Arab countries have always been subject to persecution culminating in their being forced to flee from the Arab countries is fundamentally false,” stated Columbia University professor Rashid Khalidi in a December 14 webinar. Thus, this Edward Said Professor of Modern Arab Studies and former Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) propagandist whitewashed historic Islamic antisemitic doctrines that continue to threaten Jews to this day.
Khalidi spoke to the anti-Israel website Jadaliyya’s as part of its “Gaza in Context: Collaborative Teach-In Series” in an episode on “Colonial Narratives (Part 2).” Jadaliyya’s moderator was Bassam Haddad, director of George Mason University’s Middle East and Islamic Studies Program.
Khalidi propagated the well-worn trope, discredited as the “Happy Dhimmi” myth, that Jews, a subjugated non-Muslim minority, “lived in relative security and with relative prosperity” in Muslim countries across the centuries. Rather, “Europe was the source of antisemitism. Christian doctrine was the source of antisemitism,” he simplistically stated. Jews with backgrounds in the Mizrachi (Hebrew: Eastern) diaspora in the Muslim-majority countries of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) vigorously refute such one-sided assertions.
Nonetheless, Khalidi superficially claimed that the “situation of Jews in Europe was infinitely worse than in any other part of the world.” Therefore, Jews after 1492 “took refuge as a result when they were expelled in particular from Spain and Portugal in Morocco, in North Africa, in other parts of the Ottoman Empire,” he stated. Sultan Bayezid II’s supposed response to this influx of enterprising Jews into his empire prompted by Spanish royal intolerance has become historic. “Can such a king be called wise and intelligent—one who impoverishes his country and enriches my kingdom?” Bayezid II is recorded as saying.
Complicating Khalidi’s myopic thesis, however, other Iberian Jews fled to destinations in Europe such as Germany or Poland, while Ottoman rule also had its fair share of Jew persecution. Ultimately, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (1569-1648) became home to the majority of world Jewry and known as the Paradisus Judeaorum for the religious tolerance Jews enjoyed there. By 1860, 90 percent of world Jewry was in Europe, which raises the question why these Jews did not follow Khalidi’s analysis and move to a supposedly more tolerant Muslim world.
Europe remained a global Jewish center until before the Nazi genocide during World War II, with 57 percent of world Jewry, 9.5 million of 16.6 million Jews, living in Europe in 1939. When antisemitic persecution had arisen in Europe, the New World remained the preferred refuge of Jews, countries such as Argentina, home to about 200,000 Jews by the 1930s, and, above all, America. Accordingly, by the time the United States instituted immigration restrictions in 1924, American Jews numbered some 3.5 million, the world’s second-largest Jewish community after Eastern Europe.
While Jews throughout history have confronted bitter discrimination and oppression in Muslim societies, only in Western countries where citizenship has separated from religion have Jews ever experienced any sense of equality. Precisely for this reason, Jews and other non-Muslim communities in MENA often supported European colonialism, which eliminated Islam’s second-class sharia status for non-Muslims. Meanwhile in the West itself before World War II, for example, Jewish communities throughout Europe were increasingly assimilated while America has become the “golden land” for Jews alongside Israel, the “Promised Land.” Due to immigration from the former Soviet Union, even modern Germany saw its Jewish population by 2010 grow to over 230,000, slightly more than the 195,000 who lived in Nazi Germany in 1939 before the Holocaust’s ravages.
In contrast to the wildly varying historical experiences of Jews in the Western world, Khalidi bases his assessment on MENA Jews, who numbered only about one million in 1945. In the years following Israel’s establishment in 1948, brutal waves of repression against Jews spread across the MENA region, causing a long-term ethnic cleansing. Now only a few thousand Jews remain there in isolated, dying communities.
Such animosity, Khalidi suggested, arose merely because of modern Zionism, which “raised the specter of dual loyalty for Arab Jewish communities.” “There were never any conflicts between Arabs and Jews in Palestine before the rise of modern political Zionism,” he stated, notwithstanding the history of depredations and pogroms endured by Jews there in the nineteenth-century. Jews also “lived completely peacefully for centuries in Iraq,” he added, a ludicrously superficial assessment unsupported by centuries of history.
These views flow logically from Khalidi’s apparently key inspiration on Jewish-Muslim relations, namely Iraqi-born, British-Israeli historian Avi Schlaim, who has become a vociferous anti-Zionist. Khalidi seemed particularly enamored with Schlaim’s thesis that Israel through its Mossad intelligence service organized a bombing spree in Baghdad, Iraq, in 1950-1951 to scare Iraq’s supposedly otherwise content Jews into fleeing to Israel. Schlaim “discovered that the attacks that ultimately led the Jewish community to panic and flee were mounted, most of them, by the Mossad,” Khalidi claimed.
By contrast, all evidence indicates that 110,000 Jews who fled Iraq in these two years needed no incentive to flee an increasingly antisemitic, dangerous Iraq. These bombing incidents remained little-noticed and only claimed four deaths in one instance. While linkages between these bombings and Mossad is flimsy, most analysts think that Iraqi nationalists lay behind the bombings, as with previous anti-Jewish bombings in Iraqi history.
Yet Khalidi continues to suggest that Mizrachi Jews in Israel are just imagining the Islamic oppression they fled. In Israel, these Jews “became indoctrinated in Israel in ways have led them to become in some cases even more extreme in their views towards Arabs than other Israelis,” he stated. He could learn much from what Mizrachi Jews in the United States have felt after Hamas’ October 7 atrocious assault upon Israel from the Gaza Strip. As one Mizrachi Jewish activist noted, “violent imagery coming out of Israel has triggered a wave of anxiety and post-trauma among some of our elders who faced antisemitic mobs and ethnic cleansing” in MENA.
Similarly, Kibbutz Be’eri has become notorious as the October 7 “Ground Zero,” which cost this kibbutz 100 dead, a tenth of the community’s residents. The kibbutz’s founders include Iraqi Jews, who had trekked the desert to the outgoing British League of Nations Palestine Mandate in 1947 after having witnessed the horrors of Baghdad’s 1941 Farhud pogrom. Meanwhile Sderot, a town often targeted by Hamas rockets, developed from an Israeli transit camp (ma’abara) for North African and Iranian Jewish refugees.
Fantasizing about Jews at peace with Islam comports with Khalidi’s embrace of the longstanding trope that Zionism is not truly indigenous to the Middle East. “Zionism is a modern Eastern European nationalist movement transplanted to the Middle East,” he stated, which ignores Zionist traditions among Mizrachi Jews. He also asserted that “about 70 percent of the immigrants to Israel come from Europe and North America,” which might have been true during Israel’s pre-state settlement, but today over half of Israel’s Jews are from Mizrachi backgrounds.
Khalidi also found “questionable” whether Western diaspora Ashkenazi Jews “have any genetic connection to” the MENA region. This invoked the discredited thesis that Jews in the European diaspora merely descended from converts. Contrarily, modern genetics has demonstrated the connections of Jews from European and other diaspora backgrounds to one common Jewish nation.
Israel’s defenders, Khalidi complained, resort to the “last refuge of scoundrels, using power to prevent speech, using power to prevent organization, they have no arguments,” but merely call opponents “antisemitic” and “genocidal.” Yet his denial of Islam’s historically rampant Jew-hatred is not only substantially antisemitic, but only aids and abets the rhetoric supporting the modern genocidal jihad against Israel’s existence. Khalidi is just one more sickening example of how radical ideology has poisoned the Ivy League and wider academia.
EDITORS NOTE: This Geller Watch column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.