Building up the Iron Cage

by Henry Farrell on October 31, 2008

Ezra Klein has a “suggestion”:

Tim Fernholz analyzes the controversy and concludes, “no one knows who Khalidi is outside of the media and high information voters, and an even smaller universe of people cares. The attacks by McCain are reprehensible…but ultimately this is not an election about small stuff. This is a big stuff election.” If you want a one-line summary of why John McCain’s Distract-O-Tron 3000 strategy has failed to connect, you can’t do much better than that. Meanwhile, Khalidi is, as everyone keeps telling you, a well-respected and incisive scholar of the Middle East in general, and the Palestinian struggle for nationhood in particular. …

Presumably, this experience has not been a pleasant one for Khalidi. But it would be nice if some good emerged from it in the form of broader familiarity with his important works. So next time you hear Hannity explain how Rashid Khalidi urinates on a Haggadah during full moons, head over to Amazon and pick up a copy of The Iron Cage: The Story of the Palestinian Struggle for Statehood. Its an important book on its own terms, and its purchase is a worthy counter-statement to this type of anti-Arab fearmongering.

Background “here”:, for those who haven’t been following; it’s worth noting that even Martin bloody Peretz “is defending Khalidi”: I’ve already bought my copy. Those who want to do likewise at Amazon and, with a bit of luck and solidarity, see his sales ranking increase, can “do so here”: (nb that I am using my own standard Amazon ID here, but if someone can nominate a worthwhile organization with an Amazon ID which is really likely to _annoy_ Sean Hannity, Michael Goldfarb etc, let me know, and I will amend accordingly). Those who prefer to shop at a union-friendly store like Powells can find it “here”: It doesn’t take much in the way of prophetic insight to predict that we are going to be seeing _a lot more_ of this kind of innuendo from disgusting slime-purveyors like Daniel Pipes if Obama wins – one of the lessons of the Clinton years is that when the nastier elements of the right are losing elections, they start trying to turn the culture war back up to 11. It would be nice to get a head start on the pushback.



noen 10.31.08 at 6:36 pm

Daily Kos diary An ‘Idiot Wind’ quotes a Washington Post editorial:

Which reminds us: We did ask Mr. Khalidi whether he wanted to respond to the campaign charges against him. He answered, via e-mail, that “I will stick to my policy of letting this idiot wind blow over.” That’s good advice for anyone still listening to the McCain campaign’s increasingly reckless ad hominem attacks. Sadly, that wind is likely to keep blowing for four more days.

Teacherken is one of the better diarists at Kos. I always try to read what he has to say. Amping up the culture wars is really all they have left. I have to wonder if it will keep working for them or if they aren’t pursuing diminishing returns. Maybe I am mistaken but it feels to me like we’ve turned a corner and that returning to the culture wars will only alienate them further. I hope.


Righteous Bubba 10.31.08 at 6:42 pm

Amping up the culture wars is really all they have left.

“Culture war” seems way too complex for this. If Khalidi’s name was John Smith he would not be an issue.


Hogan 10.31.08 at 9:24 pm

Like a schmuck, I went to Borders last night and paid retail. Fine book.


Watson Aname 10.31.08 at 9:25 pm

On the contrary, Righteous Bubba, I think that’s pretty much exactly the level of complexity and understanding exhibited by many pushing the “Culture War” from the right, these days.


Peter H 10.31.08 at 10:13 pm

Also, there’s a new Facebook group in support of Rashid Khalidi:


banned commenter 10.31.08 at 10:26 pm

[more nasty snivelling from Dan Simon]

Dan – you know you are banned from commenting on my posts, This is a final warning – one more offense and I move for a sitewide ban.


Righteous Bubba 10.31.08 at 10:35 pm

I couldn’t detect the anti-Semitism in Dan Simon’s excerpt, but it did make me look at the old thread he referenced and notice that in the site redesign paragraph breaks appear to have been lost, making everyone look just that little bit crazier.


Stuart 10.31.08 at 10:36 pm

I can’t see how that is an anti-Semitic statement, it seems a reasonable way of interpreting the chain of events mentioned, whether it is accurate or not is another question that requires knowledge of the motives the people in question, which is always going to be speculative at some level.


Watson Aname 10.31.08 at 11:01 pm

Now Dan, surely you don’t believe the commenters and posters, here are so stupid as to confuse themselves into thinking that critique of US and/or Israeli policy and objectives in the middle east as necessarily anti-Semitic do you? There is more than enough of that nonsense being propagated without your shoveling it here.

I don’t know whether Khalidi has actually stated any anti-Semitic views. Your quote, particularly without context, shows nothing of the sort, rendering your attempt at sarcasm embarrassingly inept. I haven’t enough information to form an opinion on his views of Jewish people, but do note that any Palestinian has plenty of call for sentiments against the state of Israel and of US middle east policy quite separable from sentiments against the Jewish peoples. Also, he is being attacked from quite a number or disreputable sources, which proves nothing but is usually a good sign the the claims are at best, distorted if not groundless.

I suspect you don’t believe a word of what you wrote, but on the off chance that you really are as illiterate as your misrepresentation of the quote suggests, I’ll note for yourself then, or any other trying to work in a misreading of what I’ve said, that everything I point out above holds regardless of how much of the balance of blame for Israel and Palestine’s relationship lies on the part of the Palestinians. I wouldn’t want to leave any opening for libeling me myself as anti-Semitic which , though laughable, seems to be the first resort in so many related discussions.

Which is really the point of this reply. It annoys me that it’s become almost impossible to have a reasonable discussion about these and related topics without it being nearly immediately drowned out by moronic claims and counter-claims of anti-Semitism. Not, of course, that such positions don’t really exist. You’d never know it from the discourse, though.


desperate dan 10.31.08 at 11:25 pm

snivel. slur. smear. innuendo. distortion. snivel. slime.



Watson Aname 10.31.08 at 11:49 pm

Dan, are you intentionally being obtuse? Claiming someone was opportunistic isn’t remotely close to claiming they aid or exert “sinister control over the US government”.

Khaladi may well be wrong in the analysis, and he may be exhibiting bias, but it’s witless to claim that statement only bears interpretation as anti-Semitic. Again, critique of US and/or Israeli policy is not inherently anti-Semitic. Do you have difficult with this basic fact? Is it possible in your mind that someone might decry Israels place in US foreign policy without being an anti-semite? There is nothing difficult about this, really

Perhaps I’m only feeding a troll here, in which case, apologies to all.


Neil 11.01.08 at 12:11 am

Unfortunately, Dan Simon’s idiocy is not all that unusual. The Australian Jewish News has actually partially institutionalized it: there are jews (ie, Likudniks and their supporters) and the ‘jewish-born’. I am proudly the latter. That makes me anti-semitic, in the parallel universe of Simon.


Jay 11.01.08 at 12:20 am

Dan Simon sez
If there’s one thing that’s completely beyond the pale here at Crooked Timber, it’s intolerance of anti-Semitism.

So I take that to mean that those of us who’re not in love with Netanyahuism (and American neo-conservatism) either, are, like, anti-Self or something?



noen 11.01.08 at 2:56 am

Wow, this election is bringing all the crazies out.


Otto Pohl 11.01.08 at 11:38 am

Only in the US where both political parties are committed to unconditional support of Israel could a man like Khalidi be viewed by anybody as a “Radical” rather than a moderate. I suppose the gulit by association means I can not run for president since Khalidi was the supervisor of my supervisor. But, I have criticized Israeli ethnic cleansing, apartheid and other crimes against humanity enough on my own that I do not think it matters.


Laleh 11.01.08 at 8:43 pm

Rashid was my PhD supervisor, and he is -if anything- annoyingly “moderate”. I hate that word, but hey.


Laleh 11.01.08 at 8:52 pm

That came out wrong. He is very moderate – which can be annoying. But he is also brilliant. And eloquent. And open-minded. And very very funny. And self-deprecating.


Kalkin 11.03.08 at 5:01 am

Well, I already own Khalidi’s book, though I haven’t yet got around to reading it so I can’t honestly recommend it one way or the other. I do, however, have a suggestion here:

I am using my own standard Amazon ID here, but if someone can nominate a worthwhile organization with an Amazon ID which is really likely to annoy Sean Hannity, Michael Goldfarb etc, let me know, and I will amend accordingly.

One can make Amazon purchases via a link on Socialist Worker‘s website which will benefit the International Socialist Organization, a Trotskyist group (of which, full disclosure, I am a member). The Amazon link is this, though I’m not sure it will work correctly outside the context of the SW website.

David Horowitz’ endorsement:
“The International Socialist Organization is a group of Marxist loonies who hate America and are deluded into thinking they can set up a dictatorship of the proletariat in this country, destroying its freedoms and making it vulnerable to the Islamo-fascists they admire. I have personally been the target of their violent attacks and disruptions on numerous occasions.”

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