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Good evening. I'd like to welcome you to this evening's program with Professor Rashid Khalidi. The event is sponsored, of course, by the World Affairs Council of Northern California, the center of Middle Eastern Studies at UC Berkeley, and Stacy's Independent Bookstore. I am Chuck Frankle, I am a former trustee of the World Affairs Council. The Council was established in 1947 to engage the public in the exploration of issues and opportunities that transcend borders. To learn more about the programs, about the organization, please visit our website at itsyourworld.org, or review the fliers that are in the lobby. If you miss a program, you can also subscribe to podcasts or find streaming audio online on the website audio archive. Let me also invite you to join the council if you've not already done so. Membership forms are available both online and at the registration table outside. Benefits include attending many of our events for free, and special invitations to member-only events. The council has a very exciting and very full fall schedule. I'd like to highlight just a few of our programs that are coming up very soon. Tomorrow. October 26th. We will host journalist Anatol Levin, of the Financial Times, as well as scholar John Hulsman of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Heritage Foundation. They will join forces in a program entitled "Ethical Realism: a New Way Forward." They will be discussing how the US can become both tough and principled in its foreign policy agenda and the event will be held here at 6pm. That's tomorrow evening. We're pleased to announce that we've just added a program with Ambassador Alexandros Mallias of Greece, who on Monday October 30th, next Monday, will discuss Southeast Europe and the European expansion, as well as cooperative efforts with the United States. The Ambassador will speak here at the council beginning at 6:30pm, and the event will be followed by a wine and cheese reception. On Wednesday November first at 6pm, we're pleased to be joined by Washington Post Reporter Anthony Shadid. Shadid will share with us his experiences in Iraq, from his new book Night Draws Near: Iraq's People in the Shadow of America's War. He will also discuss his recent experiences in Lebanon. Shadid's program was rescheduled from late September as he was reporting in Beruit during the conflict with Israel. Let me now call your attention cards that I hope were placed on your chair. They are for your use, please write your questions clearly and concisely for Professor Khalidi and council staff will collect those questions from you during the second half of our program. Professor Khalidi will also sign books after the program. As a courtesy to our speaker and the audience, I would appreciate it if you could turn off your cell phones and PDAs at this time. In just a few moments, our KQED sound engineer, Jim Bennet, will begin taping tonight's program. It will be re-broadcast on KQED radio 88.5FM. The World Affairs Council weekly one-hour radio show "It's Your World" airs Monday evenings at 8pm on KQED and is uplinked across the US by National Public Radio. Tonight, we're very pleased to welcome Rashid Khalidi, who holds the Edward Said chair in Arab Studies at Colombia University, and is director of the Middle East Institute. For more than 15 years, he was a professor at the University of Chicago, and he's also taught at the Lebanese University, the American University of Beruit, Georgetown, and Colombia. Professor Khalidi is American-born but has roots in one of Jerusalem's most distinguished families. A leading scholar of the Middle East, Professor Khalidi has written more than 80 articles on Middle Eastern history and politics, as well as op-ed pieces in the New York Times and other major newspapers. As well as magazines. He's also been a guest on many NPR programs, Nightline, and the BBC, among others. In his 2004 book, Resurrecting Empire, Mr. Khalidi dissected the failures of colonial policy in the Middle East, predicted the meltdown in Iraq, and offered alternatives for achieving peace in the region. His newest book, The Iron Cage, which he will discuss tonight, focuses on Palestinian politics and history, covering much of the last century. Without this perspective, one cannot possibly understand the complexity of the situation today in the Middle East. It's a great pleasure to introduce and I hope you will join me in welcoming Professor Rashid Khalidi. Well, thank you for that very kind introduction, and thank you all for coming. I'm sure they can do that. I'll try and turn up my voice as well. Thank you all for coming. It's a pleasure to be here. I love being in San Francisco in the sunshine. It's a glorious city you have, but it looks particularly nice in the sun. I'm going to talk about a topic that's not very sunny, unfortunately. My book examines the failure of the Palestinians to establish an independent state, mainly before 1948, which is of course the year of Israel's founding, and was also the year of the dissolution of Arab Palestine. As well as the impact of that failure in the years that followed, right down to the present. I spent over ten years working on this book, and I kept being bothered by nagging questions as I did so. The topic provoked in me a sequence of these questions relating to the present as much as to the past. What purpose, I kept asking myself, is served by such a study? When nearly six decades after 1948, an independent Palestine state in any real sense of the word independent, does not exist, and when its establishment continues to face formidable obstacles. I would argue that the obstacles to Palestinian statehood only appear to grow in recent years. Violence in Gaza is absolutely at a level almost unprecedented. There have been over 300 people killed there since the beginning of May. The violence in Lebanon, which of course is in a way related, is another indication of how far we are from any kind of a settlement. I won't go into further details about the present situation. Now, this book is not about the Arab-Israeli or the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. It is specifically and only about the Palestinian component in that conflict. Specifically, the effort of the Palestinians to achieve independence in their homeland, an effort which has been so far obviously unsuccessful. I think that what we have seen, in terms of the warfare in Gaza and Lebanon, starting this summer, illustrates, exactly I think, very clearly, how intimately this Palestinian effort is unsuccessful, how intimately intertwined, connected, this unsuccessful effort is, but with regional and international factors, stretching as far as Iran. I think that it illustrates as well what happened this summer, and I can't stress this enough. Obviously as a historian I'm pleading a special case. The crucial importance of a careful reading of Palestinian history to attain an understanding of the overall conflict. We were talking earlier, and I said that one of the problems with discussions of public affairs in this country, is they tend to be a little light on historical grounding, and I think this is a case where you can't be light on historical grounding, and it's not just the history of the conflict, it's the history of each of the parties to the conflict, and what I'm trying to do in this book is to illuminate some aspects of one component of that conflict. The book, I think, is a response to what I would argue is a one-dimensional and ahistorical approach to the conflict between Arabs and Israelis. Particularly the approach to it through the prism of terrorism that is particularly prevalent in this country. Terrorism is obviously important, but seeing everything through that lens I think is a distortion. Clearly, the Palestinian quest for independence is only one of many elements that have to be grasped to understand the causes of the conflict in this region, but because for nearly a century this Palestinian quest has been so central to events there, I think that willfully ignoring it leads us directly, non-stop, to the kind of reductive, partial, ahistorical and misguided American official thinking that has helped to produce the profound problems that afflict the region. And I am not one of those who say that these are their problems over there. Yes, they are their problems over there, but that's not the whole of it. Those are also our problems, not only because we're a world hegemony and the United States is everywhere, but because the United States has been deeply, deeply involved in the creation of this problem since 1947, just as Britain is deeply involved in the creation of this problem since 1917. The book goes into some of these things, obviously in detail. Today, the Palestinian authority that was set up in the West Bank in Gaza, in the wake of 1993, seems to be tottering, after the election of a Hamas government provoked a devastating international and Israeli response. The state that the Palestinians have never had, the state that many people would emerge from this authority, seems even farther away than ever. The book talks a little bit about these things, but it mainly asks why the Palestinians failed to establish an independent state before 48, and then how did that failure have a continuing impact on them in the years that followed, right down to the present. Now some people, including my brother and many others, had this question as well in Dearborn in a largely Arab audience. Many people ask, "Why do you describe this as a Palestinian failure?" Specifically, they say "Why do you focus on the role of the Palestinians and their own past defeats when they were the weakest of all the parties that were engaged in the struggle to determine the fate of Palestine that ended with the 1948 war?" Obviously these parties included the British Empire, which until World War II was the greatest power of its day, and which actively opposed Palestinian aspirations for statehood and independence from the beginning until the end of their presence in Palestine. These powers included the United States and the Soviet Union, other major states as well as Israel, obviously, as well as a number of Arab states. All of these were in fact more powerful than the Palestinians. So to re-phrase this question that people have directed at me, Why do I concentrate on the failures and incapacities of the Palestinians when the constellation of forces already against them was so powerful and in the end proved overwhelming? Why don't I focus, they say, on the external forces that played a predominate role in preventing the Palestinians from achieving self-determination? Now, the title of my book, The Iron Cage, is a reference to these external forces, is a reference to the constraints and limitations and uphill struggle that I would argue the Palestinians face. So I don't think I ignore these things. But I don't think that's where the focus should be, however much attention I put on it, and I'll come back to this in a second. Now there's another point of view, and the point of view expressed to me in Dearborn by my brother. This point of view is that the Palestinians, or at the very least their leaders, should bear responsibility, entire responsibility, for their own failures, and some would go even further than this and blame the victim entirely for the tragic history of the Palestinians of the 20th century, and for much that happened to everybody else as a result of the conflict. I would argue that other parties, certainly the great powers in the international order, that created the mandate for Palestine and that voted for the partition of Palestine in the United Nations and the League of Nations, all of these parties, the Arab states obviously Israel, bear a very large share of the responsibility for what has happened, and in light of those heavy responsibilities, I think the benefits of blaming the victim are obvious. If you blame the weakest party then you don't even have to pay any attention to whatever role you as a much stronger party may have played. Now leaving aside these two critiques of the approach I take in this book, other people have argued, and this is to a large extent my own approach, that even if the Palestinians cannot be fully blamed for their own misfortunes, even if the overwhelming balance of forces ranged against them has to be taken into account, they are nonetheless accountable for their actions and decisions. And to a large extent, this is what I try to focus on in this book. Whether external forces or internal Palestinian factors, weaknesses, if you will, as I believe, a combination of these two certainly, prevented the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. I think we are at least asking the right questions. And one final question remains. And it is this. Is statehood the destined outcome for people who since the beginning of the century at least, have had a clearly defined national identity but who have been unable to develop lasting, viable structural forms for this identity, specifically state forms, or to control a national terror train which this identity can work itself out. Is it not possible in other words, that the Palestinian people may continue to exist indefinitely into the future as they have since the Ottoman era ended in Palestine in 1918 in a sort of stateless limbo. This question applies to a number of Middle East peoples. It applied to a very long time to the Armenians, it still applies to the Kurds. Now I suggest in this book that these are not academic questions, these are not arcane questions that only specialists could love, that only historians or middle east experts could love. I would suggest, and I strongly suggest in this book, that these are important for three reasons. The first I've already alluded to this is because you have to understand Palestinian history. Because it has significance in its own right. Because it is the only way of understanding the Palestinian present, and because you can't understand this conflict, its other components, unless you understand Palestinian history. I make the same argument about Zionism and Israel and modern Jewish history, for an understanding of Palestinian history. You can't understand Palestinian history unless you understand those other things that intersect Palestinian history, and that's certainly true on the other side of the coin. It is important, also, I think, in this country in particular, in the West generally, because in the West, in America, this is a hidden history, the Palestinian history. It's a history that is often obscured by the riveting and tragic narrative of modern Jewish history. In a sense, the history of the Palestinians has disappeared under the powerful impact of the painful and amply accounted story of the catastrophic fate of the Jews of Europe in the mid-twentieth century culminating obviously in the Holocaust Now, in other parts of the world, where people also understand this overwhelmingly powerful and important narrative, they are capable of, as it were, walking and chewing gum at the same time. They can also understand that there is a tragic Palestinian narrative, which tragically intersects with this one, and which has to be understood independently and in its own right. In this country, unfortunately, this is much harder to do. And that's one of the things I think I try and do with the book. So that's the first reason I think this is important. The second reason I think this is important is because I think it's important to ascribe agency to the Palestinians. It's important to avoid seeing them as either no more then helpless victims of forces greater than themselves or alternatively, as driven solely by self-destructive, almost pathological tendencies and uncontrollable dissension. Now, certainly. The Palestinians were facing an uphill struggle from the beginning of the mandate in 1922, and until today. Certainly Palestinian politics, at least, were and are divided and faction-ridden, in ways that gave and give hostile forces many cleavages to exploit. But my argument, and one of the main points I try and make in this book, is that the Palestinians had assets. The Palestinians were far from helpless at every phase in their history. And the Palestinians often faced a range of choices, some of which were better, or at least less bad, than others. Quite frequently there were choices between bad, worse, and worst, but that is still a choice. And I talk in particular about the 1920s and the 1930s, I talk in particular about the 1990s, the time of the Oslo Accords and the Peace Process as periods when I think the Palestinians could and I think perhaps should have made better choices. I think that seeing these things will help us to understand better the choices that the Palestinians face today. Thirdly and finally, and this was the burden of the talk I gave today at Hastings, the unfortunate case of Palestine strikingly illustrates the long-term perils and pitfalls of great powers following short-sighted policies that are not based on their own professed principles, principles like national self-determination or democracy, and are not consistent with international law and legitimacy. I would argue that this was just as true during the many decades during which Britain dominated the Middle East, as it has been of the more than half century since then, during which time our country has been the pre-eminent power in this region. Now, some people have said what you are writing here is a parallel to what the so-called new historians in Israel are doing, and this is a sort of revisionist history, and I do attempt to deal with some of these issues in a fresh way. But I am not-- this book is not full of archival revelations. It was not primarily based on intensive archival research. On the contrary, even though I think I do deal with these issues in a new fashion, it is very different from what has emerged from Israel and the work of people like Tom Sega, and the work of people like Abi Shlame, and the work of people like Elan Pape, Benny Morris, Eroch Kimmerling, I could go on and on, there are a dozen of them. Revisionist history, properly described, requires as a foil an authoritative, established, master narrative that is fundamentally flawed in some way. This almost has to be a state-backed narrative. In the case of Israel, the so called revisionist works written by a number of Israeli historians argue against the nationalist mythology of the state of Israel as it has shaped accounts of Israel's history and as it thereafter became the backbone of the received history of the entire conflict as that is perceived in the West. And they did this on the basis of archival revelations. By contrast, I don't think this is revisionist history in the same sense because at the very least there is no established, authoritative, Palestinian master narrative, although there of course is a Palestinian national narrative that includes its share of myth. Some of those myths, in the Palestinian case, the Israeli revisionist historians I think have done a splendid job of debunking some of their own national myths. Some of the myths worth debunking in the Palestinian version of events are for example mistaken ideas relating to the Zionist movement in Israel on the one hand, and their connections with the Western powers. There are a lot of very wrong views on that, in my eyes, I see it in the way in which this is seen in the Palestinian national narrative. Another is the relation of Zionism to the course of modern Jewish history, and in particular a failure to appreciate and understand the central place of the Holocaust in this history. There's a failing there, on the Palestinian side, and it's a failing which affects most Palestinians' understanding of their own history, because if they don't understand Central European Jewish History, they don't understand Palestinian history. They can't understand what happened to them if they don't understand what happened in another place, to another people. I would argue that it's a different narrative that you have to understand, and this is another flaw. Finally, there is in my view in much of Palestinian history, a reductionist view of Zionism as no more than a colonial enterprise. Now. Having said that I hasten to add that that enterprise was and still is essentially colonial in the way in which it related and relates to the indigenous Arab population of Palestine. Just go to the West Bank and look at the settlements and you can see that. What many Palestinians fail to understand, however, is that Zionism, while it was doing this to them, was also serving as the national movement of a nascent policy in development which has developed into a nation-state, Israel. The fact that it was being constructed at their expense perhaps obscured this for them. Now the point I would make is that there is no particular reason why both of these positions cannot both be correct. There are multiple examples of national movements, multiple examples of nation-states, that were colonial in their origins. United States, for example, Canada, for example, I could list others, obviously. I would suggest that deconstructing these kinds of misconceived notions on the Palestinian side as well as the ones that the Israeli historians have addressed, the new historians have addressed, is going to be critically important to an eventual reconciliation between the two peoples whenever it is possible. I'm going to conclude more rapidly than I was otherwise planning to, to give time for answering questions. One of the reasons that I did not write an archivally based history, besides the fact that it took me ten years to do what I did...it would have taken another ten years...and my wife and my kids were impatient as it was for me to finish and get onto something else. They really got tired of this subject. And I have to live with them, even though my kids are far away now. They were young and at home when I started this. And they've all grown up and gone away since. But the reason I decided not to do an archivally-based history was that for one thing, there is no Palestinian central archive. There's no Palestinian there's no Palestinian national library. I researched as much as I could in private papers, I looked at the newspapers, I did a good bit of research for it, but I finally realized, essentially, the best you can do, I have graduate students who are digging away at some of this stuff that if I'd had another ten years I might've done myself, but I decided the best you could do was to look at the secondary stuff, as I've done, and look at a bit of primary stuff as I've done, a good bit, and come up with a new interpretation, to the extent to which I've done that. I think that it is, given what exists, given in particular what Israeli and European and American historians have dug up from Israeli and American and British archives and what is available already in terms of Palestinian sources, it is possible to ask the kind of questions that I'm asking, and I think it's important to do that. In terms of today, in terms of understanding why we are where we are. I think you can ask why the Palestinians were not more successful in their quest for independence before 1948 and after 1948, and specifically why they failed to create viable state structures in all this time. There is I think a lesson in this. I think there is something that tells us why we're having such problems in this region today. In my view, in the past, these are questions that if they were asked found answers that were too glib and in some cases unfair to the actors involved. Now I've been pretty rough I think, and some people who've read the book think I've been much too rough, in my handling of some Palestinian leaders, and some generations of leadership, certainly in the 20s and the 30s, and certainly the PLO leadership. But I think that many of the other accounts that I've seen are in fact grossly unfair. I think it's a tall order to explain why something did not happen, why the Palestinians did not establish a state. It's obviously harder to do still, when much of the evidence that you need to look at was scattered by the very events we're trying to explain. I nevertheless think, and I've tried to do it in this book, that explanations for some of these important questions can be offered and that they will illuminate not only the history of the Palestinians before and after 1948, but also the history of others. I do not think you can understand Israeli history, I don't think you can understand modern Arab history, or modern Middle East history, or the way in which the great powers have intersected with this region unless you understand this narrative that I'm trying to lay out for you. To understand how we are regarded in the Middle East, you have to understand, in my view, Palestinian history. Not American policy. The history of American policy. Palestinian history. How it is understood by the Palestinians, how it intersects with Israeli history, how it is seen by other people in this region. And how, I think, it should be objectively seen. I don't think, therefore, that these are minor or academic or arcane matters. They are essential to our understanding of whether the Palestinians can today create effective structures of state, in the face of fierce opposition. And this is a big question. The answer to it, in my view, will help to determine whether in the occupied West Bank in Gaza Strip, now in their 40th year of occupation, two generations and a half and counting, and in other areas where Palestinians live the people, the Palestinian people, will continue to live in instability, under extraordinary stress, in some cases in misery, or if their conditions will fundamentally change. And therefore whether they and their neighbors, Arab and Israeli, will finally be able to enjoy stability and peace after over 60 years of suffering. Thank you very much.