Hiding Behind History
An interview with a leading Palestinian historian demonstrates the impossibility of progress
Last month I wrote a piece arguing that, as I put it, “Sometimes a fairer future means swallowing past injustice. Those who forget their history are those best-placed to overcome it”. This, I suggested, was the best lesson to be drawn from Northern Ireland’s tentative, imperfect, often provisional but still-much-better-than-the-alternatives, peace process. I do not pretend that the parallels with the Israeli-Palestinian problem are either exact or complete but, nevertheless, I do think there is something to be said for approaching the problem from this direction.
This week The New Statesman publishes an interview with Rashid Khalidi, Edward Said professor of modern Arab studies at Columbia University in New York. The magazine describes Khalidi, with reason, as “perhaps the leading academic on Palestine in the US”. It is worth reading in full, though I should warn you that doing so is a depressing business.
Harry Lambert, the interviewer, starts with a key question: “Do y…