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Palestinian Scholar and Activist Rashid Khalidi Undaunted by 2008 Campaign Smears

"Rashid Khalidi" ranked ninth among Google's most-serched political buzzwords in 2008—sandwiched between "hockey mom" and "that one." Khalidi holds the Edward Said Chair in Modern Arab Studies at Columbia and has bee no stranger to controversy since taking position in 2003. Last year Republicans tried to use Barack Obama's friendship with the Palestinian scholar and activist to dull the front-runner's shine. A Chronicle Review profile picks up some of that mud for examination and, more importantly, provides a sober history and assessment of the field of Middle Eastern Studies, which Khalidi has made his home for decades.

And in the middle of all of this-—actually at the very end-—Khalidi provides a few short sentences on the topic he has given his career to: Palestine.

"Sitting in his office last month, the professor looks back on his career ... 'It has long been considered an offense against good manners to say the word 'Palestine' in certain quarters. Israel was established in 1948, a source of great joy for some people. Fine, that is well and good. But for Palestinians, that was a disaster in terms of their own history.'

"The Palestinians' national trauma, Khalidi says, has been subordinated to another people's joy: 'I wouldn't ask an Israeli to feel misery at the establishment of his state, so I don't see why a Palestinian should be asked to feel joy about the destruction of his society.'"

Source: Chronicle Review