Saturday, July 18, 2009

Walid Khalidi on partition

I learned a lot from Walid Khalidi as an undergraduate at AUB. I remember when once a Husayni member of the class cited the repugnant Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Walid stopped the class and lectured to us about the protocols as a forgery and that we should never ever invoke them in a discussion of the Palestinian question. That stayed with me. His knowledge of the birth of the Palestinian question is umatched: this while I was fiercely opposed to his political orientastions at the time. He was tasked by Arafat to engage in secret negotiations with the right-wing camp in the Lebanese civil war, while we in the Left were advocating "isolating the Phalanges" as our slogan. I remember I clashed with him once (and he yelled at me although he probably does not remember that) when discussing with him my paper on the Popular Front for the Liberation of Oman. But what I like about Khalidi (and about Edward Said) is that they became less moderate with age. We should all become less moderate with age. Albert Hourani would always urge Walid to sit down and write a definitive history of the birth of the Palestinian problem. I really hope that he manages to do that. All this introduction is to recommend that you read this study of the Partition Plan by Walid Khalidi.