In these days of Occupy Wall Street demonstrations across the U.S., it’s important to see what motivates Obama administration policies here and abroad. Mr. Obama, as a candidate, had to bat away accusations that he was close, too close, to Rashid Khalidi, a radical Palestinian Arab intellectual. Candidate Obama then soothed worried friends of Israel, by minimizing his intellectual fealty to Khalidi, saying merely that “[Khalidi provides] consistent reminders to me of my own blind spots and my own biases” on matters related to the Arab-Israeli conflict. How humble. How becomingly modest.
Rashid Khalidi is a professor at Columbia University, Mr. Obama’s alma mater. Khalidi holds the Edward Said Chair in Modern Arab Studies at that distinguished Ivy League school. The late Edward Said (sigh-EED) gained respect among left-leaning intellectuals for his numerous writings on Orientalism, the notion that Western colonial powers viewed Arabs, Asians, Africans and Latin Americans as lesser peoples, as “others.” But Said was most famous—or infamous—for some direct action. He was photographed throwing stones at Israeli forces as they departed South Lebanon in 2000. Harmless, Said claimed, he was only practicing with his son. But deadly stoning was the weapon of choice for the intifadas engineered by Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas against Israeli soldiers. Arafat and Abbas knew that teenage boys throwing stones with lethal accuracy would play well in the Western media, including especially in the pro-PLO precincts of CNN.
At home, the Occupy Wall Street crowd quickly descended to anti-Semitism. They are protesting income inequality, they say, but their cry of 99% against the 1% is a veiled reference to American Jews, who constitute less than 2% of the U.S. population. More than a few anti-Semitic signs and demonstrators have been drawn to Zuccotti Park, in Lower Manhattan.
In Israel, author George Gilder points out, Arabs were wealthier on the West Bank of the Jordan River and in the Gaza Strip than any Arabs in the world. This, in territories administered by Jews that had no oil. From 1967, when Israel won the Six-Day War against four Arab enemies, until 1991, when Arafat instigated the first of his intifadas (stone-throwing riots by youths) and initiated suicide bombings as a terror tactic, Arabs working with the Israelis prospered and lived healthier longer lives.