Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Eight months since my last post, and it's going to be political

Inappropriate, I know, but I am rather cranky. Cross posted from my far *mumble*livejournal*scuff floor with foot*

I hadn't previously realized I'm anti-Israel

Please don't tell Israel, as I'd like to go back to Haifa someday.

So, there's now a flap about Obama and Rashid Khalidi, stemming from his going-away party when he left UChicago for Columbia. Apparently Rashid Khalidi, previously a highly-esteemed UChicago prof and current head of the Middle East Institute at Columbia, is like a neo-Nazi, at least according to John McCain. He is a dangerous man who hates Israel. Please don't ask McCain why he gave Khalidi's organization money in the 80s, thanks. Also, this means that Barack is a terrorist and hates Israel.

It just got personal for me, people.

Not many people know this, I didn't settle on math as a major until the summer after my first year of college. (Side story: I was walking home drunk from a party by myself, and all of a sudden I yelled out, "Oh fuck. I really like math!"; I had tried to avoid it after burning out in high school.) During my first year, I seriously contemplated an international studies major, and Rashid Khalidi is a major reason for that. I took his class on modern Middle Eastern history, along with a friend of mine who's now in the CIA, and it was the best class I took that quarter. I do recall he really liked Edward Said; I also remember that he took an entire class session to explain all the issues surrounging the Israeli prime ministerial election of 1999. It wasn't some biased rant about Israel; he explained the history of their political parties and the events that led to the election. He's an incredible teacher, and in class, at least, he was perfectly able to separate his personal beliefs and the opinions espoused in his scholarship from the teaching of history. I presume he is also capable of being friendly with people who might not share his beliefs on Palestine. I remember him being one of the most urbane, genteel professors I had. He actually encouraged me to apply for a Georgetown program that would have sent me to Turkey for a year; I was accepted, but eventually decided not to go because I was only going to receive a year of language credit for the entire program. I also would've landed the day of the Ankara earthquake, so perhaps it was for the best.

To summarize: Rashid Khalidi, he's not some scary radical. Despite what my dormmate Karen (direct quote: "Palestinians are exactly like dogs") and John McCain believe, people who have differing opinions on Israel and Palestine can interact. It doesn't make Barack Obama any more of a terrorist than I am. The fact that he was friends with such a wonderful guy makes me think more of him.

Also, Khalidi saying he's going to lay low until this "idiot wind" passes only makes me like him more.