Palestinian-American Columbia University professor Rashid Khalidi addressed America’s role in the Arab-Israeli peace process on April 17, 2014, at Washington, DC’s Jerusalem Fund, a pro-Palestinian think tank. Describing Israel’s “entirely false narrative” into which “we have all been brainwashed,” Khalidi revealed his own myopia before an audience of about forty mostly likeminded, middle-aged people.
John Halaka’s “Portraits of Denial and Despair” photo exhibit currently displayed in Jerusalem Fund hallways set a worrying ambience for Khalidi. Amidst photo captions damning an Israeli “settler colonial state,” one photo montage shows Yasser Arafat’s former press secretary, Raeda Taha. She grew up “in the shadow of a martyr,” a caption declares, a “symbol of the national struggle,” namely her pictured terrorist father Ali Taha, “killed in a hijacking operation he commanded.”
Khalidi discussed how the United States has “systematically failed” to achieve Israeli-Palestinian peace given “structural reasons.” “Corrupt terms” such as “honest broker” expressed by Secretaries of State James Baker and Condoleezza Rice enabled America’s “myth” as a “disinterested mediatory.” Rather, “continuing complicity” and “virtually identity of views” with Israel since 1975 make America sometimes “more Israeli than the Israelis.” “Ceaseless colonization” of East Jerusalem and the West Bank has actually “made this conflict worse” despite 1991 Madrid Conference American assurances of no “prejudicial” actions during peace negotiations.
Secretary of State John Kerry’s current negotiations continue America’s “pusillanimous role” amidst “widespread skepticism.” The Palestinian Authority’s (PA) “position of weakness” faces Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s “uncompromising stand,” including Israel’s “brand new, never before revealed demand” for Jewish state recognition. Does this mean in Israel “everybody has to sing HaTikvah,” the national anthem, Khalidi joked.