First published in Forward
Palestinian historian Rashid Khalidi is bemoaning that right-wing Jews are “infesting” the American government and influencing policy toward Israel.
“There are a group of people, a lot of them in Israel, some of them in the United States, who live in a world of their own,” he told WBEZ’s Jerome McDonnell, criticizing President-elect Donald Trump for a possible move of the American embassy to Jerusalem and appearing to be more favorable to settlements and occupation than his predecessor.
He added, “These people in fact infest the Trump transition team, these people are going to infest our government as of January 20, and they are hand in glove with a similar group within the Israeli government.”
Eugene Kontorovich, a right-leaning Israel advocate and Northwestern University law professor, appeared on the program after Khalidi and criticized him for his remarks. “That’s a very manifestly Semitic rhetoric — Jews as vermin — for a supposedly refined albeit pro-Palestinian Columbia prof and Pres. Obama’s former mentor. This kind of statement deserves attention,” he wrote in an e-mailed statement to the Forward.
Born to a father of Palestinian descent, Khalidi is a prominent intellectual backer of their national cause, writing a number of works as a post-colonial historian that reflect those sympathies. His beliefs have sometimes ignited controversy both on campus and in the wider world, as when his relationship to President Barack Obama surfaced in the latter’s first run for the White House.