PalInfo – The Association of Student Activism for Palestine (ASAP) held a webinar on Friday 20th November, with Professor Rashid Khalidi, the Edward Said Professor of Modern Arab Studies at Columbia University. Professor Khalidi delved into the contents of his most recent book ‘The Hundred Years’ War on Palestine: Settler-Colonial Conquest and Resistance, 1917-2017 (2020)’.
Professor Khalidi commenced the event with an overview of his approach to writing the book, an alternative to his previous academic writings, incorporating first person accounts of his ancestors Yusuf Diya’ Khalidi and Dr. Husayn Khalidi as well as his own reflections as an advisor to the Palestinian delegation to the Madrid and Washington Arab-Israeli peace negotiations from October 1991 until June 1993.
In contextualising the Hundred Years’ War on Palestine, Professor Khalidi described the experience of the Palestinians as the “assault of an indigenous population that was the victim of an attack by a colonial project, backed at every stage by great powers,” a characterisation affirmed by early Zionist leaders, namely Ze’ev Jabotinsky.
In light of the 103-year anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, the discussion subsequently focused on the early years of the Palestinian National Movement, the British Empire and early 20th Century Zionism. This covered key considerations including: the relationship between the League of Nations, the British and French Empires and their expansion in the Middle East; the early agreements of the Hussein-McMahon Correspondence (1915), Sykes-Picot (1916), and the Balfour Declaration (1917); the early Palestinian reaction both amongst Palestinian urban elites and the grassroots.
Covering these dynamics and answering the question of early Zionism’s emergence and the early Palestinian reaction, Professor Khalidi stated “the Zionist movement was founded in Europe, led by Europeans and had its financial and political base in Europe and the United States. Palestinians did not have those kinds of advantages, neither in terms of a well organised institution or political structure.”