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Phil Wilcox. You can find the full transcript of the talk, as well as participant bios, below:. Thank you all so much for joining us today. I cannot underscore enough what an honor it is to have Mr.
Khalidi here from Cambridge today to share his thoughts on the Arab-Israeli conflict and the general Middle East situation. As the preeminent scholar of Palestinian history, Mr. Khalidi has done more to record the rich culture and lives of the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who inhabited pre Palestine.
He has done so perhaps more than any other scholar. His books, such as Before Their Diaspora, which is a photographic history of the Palestinians from to , and All That Remains, a book which documents in great detail the destroyed and depopulated Palestinian villages of pre, really document and recall a vanished past — and remind us why finding a just and durable solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is so important to healing the scars of the past.
George has long been a big supporter of Palestinian causes and his commitment has enabled MEI to program a series of lectures on Palestinian-related events. In fact, next week we are hosting a panel, on October 23, about the political and economic implications of the fiscal crisis faced by the Palestinian Authority.
So please sign up for that one and join us next week as well. I also hope you can join us for our upcoming annual banquet and conference, on November We are hosting on the 13th three outstanding individuals from the region. We are awarding Hanan Ashrawi, who needs no description; Mohammed Abdul Latif Jameel, a Saudi philanthropist who has done extensive work in the area of poverty reduction and employment creation in the Arab world; and Naguib Sawiris, who is an Egyptian business leader who is the largest private-sector employer in Egypt and has done a lot to promote democracy and pluralism in Egypt.
That night we are also hosting a very fine American diplomat, Ambassador Ryan Crocker, who recently left Afghanistan. He has also been ambassador to Iraq, Lebanon and Syria.
It will be an exciting night. I hope you can join us for that. Wilcox served thirty-one years in the Foreign Service, with his last overseas assignment being as chief of mission and US consul-general of Jerusalem.
That undoubtedly has shaped his view of the conflict and in his retirement he has been very active in seeking to foster peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Phil, thank you so much for joining us today. Thank you for making possible this very special occasion, where we have the honor and pleasure of hearing Professor Walid Khalidi. It is a special occasion because of his preeminent place among historians of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This is a conflict which has often been clouded with propaganda, false history and partisanship.
He has helped promote the whole profession of Palestinian historiography and has helped to make it better understood in the United States and the Western world. He was born in Jerusalem in He was educated at Oxford, where he taught until he resigned in protest when the British invaded the Sinai in He then taught at the American University of Beirut and at Princeton, and for many years he has been a visiting professor and senior research fellow at the Harvard Institute for Middle East Affairs.
I think there is no one who has done more to nurture the field of Palestinian scholarship and Palestinian history.
One institution which he created is the Institute for Palestinian Studies, long ago in Beirut, in I think many of you are familiar with the Journal of Palestine Studies, which is published by the Institute, and based in Washington, four times a year. It is a very serious publication which I think is unmatched anywhere in the world.
He will address the events in the region but especially how he views the Israel-Palestine conflict and the possibility, about which there is growing skepticism, I have to admit, in the US and elsewhere, about the future of a two-state peace between Israel and Palestine.
Khalidi, it is great to have you with us. Thank you, Ambassador Wilcox, for your very kind, generous and effusive words. I have the great honor and privilege of addressing this very distinguished audience, which also happily contains so many friendly faces too.
Since its establishment in , the Middle East Institute devoted itself to the education of American public opinion in a balanced, nonpartisan, non-polemical mode, based on the field experience of generations of Americans from all walks of life, and on their extensive human relations with the peoples of the region, and on their understanding of the hopes and the flaws and the grievances of these peoples, all in the service of the national interest of the United States.
Ladies and gentlemen, to someone of my age, time seems to be in quite a hurry. But it is extraordinary what a begetter of facts it is in its speedy passage. I was born within seven years of the Balfour Declaration. Yet consider just how much has happened in the Middle East in this single lifetime. From my own perspective, shared by millions, three major watersheds in the 20th century created the Middle East of today: one, the Balfour Declaration of ; two, the Nakba in ; and three, the June war of The role of the United States in these three watersheds was one of increasing intrusiveness.
In there was the marginal benediction of Wilson. In there was the significant, relentless pressure of Truman on a war-weary and bankrupt Britain that led to the termination of its mandate in Palestine in the way that it happened, with the consequent Nakba.
As far as the Arab world is concerned, never has the Arab world been in the state of flux that it is in today. Much of this is to the good, particularly the revolutionary change in the relationship between ruler and ruled. May this spread farther afield. The Arab country with inherently vast spiritual potential, in addition to its affluence, has not and is not rising to the occasion, while its junior co-affluent mini-city-states continue their genuflection to the golden calf.
This is not bad in itself except that it is being replaced by a centrifugal reversion to the primordial, sectarian, ethnic constituent blocs of these societies, with all the attendant dangers.
This process in Syria is ongoing before our eyes and is fraught with horrors yet to come. Concurrently, irresponsible Arab leadership is fanning the flames of Sunnite-Shiite discord, the most explosive and destructive divide within the Arab Muslim world.
Overlapping with this flux, two regional phenomena predominate: one, the steady decline of secular pan-Arabism, which is fast approaching and may have already reached its terminal state; two, the steady rise of political Islam, hard on the heels of its predecessor. Secular pan-Arabism does not have many fans in the Western world because of its hostility to Israel and to Western colonialism. What is forgotten in the West is the major role that secular pan-Arabism had in blocking the tide of communism and preventing it from spreading throughout the Middle East, and via the Middle East into Africa.
Arab regimes which dealt with the Soviet Union, particularly in the arms field, brutally crushed their communist parties at home. The failure of pan-Arabism has many causes. I vividly remember how stunned we were at the collapse of the union. We started asking ourselves, why did this happen? Then it struck us: there was nothing in writing, nothing anywhere near the Federalist Papers. There was nothing of this sort in the Arab world.
Actually what happened is that we got together and looked at a massive comparative study of federation that had been compiled by Robert Bowie and Carl Friedrich, professors at Harvard. We translated this vast volume into three volumes in Arabic soon after the breakdown of the Egyptian-Syrian union. At the same time, some of you may know the much-lamented and great Jamal Ahad [phonetic], the Sudanese who actually translated the Federalist Papers in full into superb Arabic, just after the breakdown of the union.
Arab political theory concentrated and to a very large extent still concentrates on the objective at the expense of the means. There are voluminous writings on objectives. Writings on how you get there, what you do once you get there — writing on these aspects is very slender. The contrast with Zionist thought is absolutely remarkable. I spent hundreds of hours reading the resolutions of the Zionist Congresses, which started in with the First Zionist Congress at Basle and continue to this day the last congress was very recent.
These congresses took resolutions. These resolutions are to be found in at least 2, pages since , and probably more. In these resolutions you see the same thing: the exact opposite. The objective is very briefly stated and the bulk of the resolutions is on the instrumentality, the modality, the mechanics, how to get there.
Another reason for the failure of pan-Arabism is the super, Himalayan egos of the dictators. Of course the death blow to secular pan-Arabism was the brilliant, ruthless, humiliating, devastating Israeli victory in It is ironic that some Arab countries championing the downfall of Assad are doing it in the name of reform, which is not quite super-abundant in the departments of women and minorities within their own frontiers. Sadat used the Muslim Brotherhood as a counterweight to his Nasserist secular opponents.
Israel initially encouraged Hamas as a counterweight to Fatah. The Israeli conquest of the holy places in Jerusalem had profound reverberations within the three monotheistic religions, for different reasons: Judaism everywhere; Christian millenarianism, especially in the United States; and throughout the Muslim world.
In New York there seemed just a little more than usual people with black eyepatches. Of course the jubilation, the triumphalism, the Israeli songs, reverberated throughout the city. It was as if, as a historian, I recalled the jubilation in Christendom after the defeat of the Ottoman fleet in Lepanto, in , when church bells throughout Europe reached the highlands of Scotland in celebration.
For Islam, this was the first time since the Crusades that the Muslim holy places themselves were under non-Muslim military occupation. You may say, wait, what about the British Mandate? They were extremely scrupulous with regard to the holy places. In Jerusalem itself they were scrupulous in maintaining the religious status quo. For example, as you remember there was the rebellion, a big rebellion in Palestine against British rule, against the massive Jewish immigration, against the policy of the Balfour Declaration.
The Brits decided to dismantle the Arab Higher Committee, dismiss Hajj Amin from the supreme council, and had issued a warrant for his arrest and were determined to get him. They arrested his colleagues, sent them off to the Seychelles and were now trying to get Hajj Amin.
He lived in a house next door to the Haram al-Sharif. What he did was to slip into the Haram al-Sharif from his house. The British did not send a policeman to get him. Compare that with Sharon invading the Haram with 1, troops in , triggering the second intifada. Compare it with the furious digging of tunnels under the Haram al-Sharif by Bibi Netanyahu.
As far as Israel is concerned — this is my next stop — parallel to the decline of secular pan-Arabism, there has been a steady decline of Labor Zionism in Israel. It is as if Labor Zionism had a specific historical role — the establishment of the infrastructure of the Jewish state under the Mandate — and once that had been completed it had become superfluous.
This is particularly tragic because Labor Zionism seemed to be going through a learning process under the leadership of Rabin, the very personification of Sabra militarism. The assassination of Rabin was not an isolated event.
All That Remains: The Palestinian Villages Occupied and Depopulated by Israel in 1948
From haven to conquest : readings in Zionism and the Palestine problem until From haven to conquest; readings in Zionism and the Palestine problem until Seminar on violations of human rights in the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied by Israel. Palestinian children in the occupied Palestinian territory. Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, promoting impunity : the Israeli military's failure to investigate wrongdoing. Before their diaspora : a photographic history of the Palestinians,
All That Remains by Khalidi
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The culmination of nearly six years of research by more than thirty participants, this authoritative reference work describes in detail the more than Palestinian villages that were destroyed or depopulated during the war. Going beyond the scope of previously published accounts, All That Remains has relied extensively on field research to pinpoint the precise location of village sites through former residents and guides. The body of the text is devoted to the villages themselves; each village entry comprises statistical data and several narrative sections. These last include a section on the village before summarizing its history from a wide variety of Arab and Western sources and synthesizing information about the villages topography, architecture, institutions, and economic activity. Village entries also include a section, based on Israeli as well as Arab accounts, focusing on the military operations that led to the conquest of the village. Finally, entries contain a description of the current status of the site, including post Israeli settlements established on confiscated village lands.