Friday, February 25, 2011

Rashid Khalidi: The Guy Can't Help It

Why fix it if it ain't broken: Columbia Professor Rashid Khalidi cannot depart
from the party line even in the midst of historic upheaval

Rashid Khalidi in Foreign Policy works his way into his Reflections on the Revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt accurately:

"One of the worst things about this pan-Arab patchwork of authoritarian regimes was the contempt the rulers showed for their peoples. In their view, the people were too immature to make decisions, to choose their own representatives, or to allocate societal surpluses or foreign aid. These things and much else were done for them by their betters, their rulers. Anyone who challenged the lines drawn by those with power, whether by the ruler or by the policeman in the street, risked being subjected to unlimited brutality. This was the lesson of the fate of Khalid Said, the young Alexandrian blogger who videotaped police corruption in June 2010, and was beaten to death in broad daylight by the crooked cops he had reported on (ironically, the Facebook page "We are all Khaled Said" was one of the many triggers of the Egyptian Revolution). These incessant infringements on the common dignity of nearly every Arab citizen, and the constant affirmations of their worthlessness, were eventually internalized and produced a pervasive self-loathing and an ulcerous social malaise. This manifested itself, among other things, in sectarian tensions, frequent sexual harassment of women, criminality, drug use, and a corrosive incivility and lack of public spirit. All of these phenomena appeared to confirm the dim view held by those in power of their subjects."

But ends here:

"In any case, this new moment in the Middle East will make the old business as usual approach in Washington much harder. The dictators and absolute monarchs, even if they stay in power, have been placed on notice that they cannot any longer ignore their peoples, as they have done before in making policy. Whether this meant submissively following Washington's lead in its Cold War against Iran, or in protecting Israel from any pressure as it colonized Palestinian land and entrenched its occupation, these highly unpopular policies of most Arab governments are no longer tenable. Much remains to be decided in the Arab world, and a real input of public opinion into the making of foreign policy there is still in the future. But the day when a Sadat or a King Hussein could ignore domestic and Arab public opinion and make peace with Israel while it brutalized the Palestinians may well be past."

In between Khalidi pretzelizes his argument to show that 'The West will have alot to answer for.' Read it for yourself. There is no departing whatsoever from the predictable Saidist party line.

I think these analyses are far more convincing:
Martin Peretz in The New Republic: The Peace Process Fallacy
Ami Isseroff: The Message of the Arab Revolts for Progressives (H/T: Noga1)

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