In This Review

The Hundred Years’ War on Palestine: A History of Settler Colonialism and Resistance, 1917–2017
The Hundred Years’ War on Palestine: A History of Settler Colonialism and Resistance, 1917–2017
By Rashid Khalidi
336 pp, Henry Holt, 2020
Purchase

Khalidi, a colleague of mine at Columbia University, is one of today’s most influential historians of the Middle East, a participant in diplomatic efforts on behalf of the Palestinian cause, and a scion of a prominent Palestinian family. In this book, he combines these roles to remarkably good effect. Drawing on family archives and stories passed down through the generations, his own experience in negotiations among Palestinian factions and with the Israelis, and the more conventional tools of the professional historian, Khalidi constructs a powerful argument about the nature of the Zionist claim to Palestine, framing it as a late instance of the settler colonialism that characterized much of British and, later, American imperialism. Not every reader will be comfortable with all of Khalidi’s arguments: few of the protagonists, on any side, come off well, and many Americans would cringe at the idea that they were complicit in imperialist expropriation and domination. But no one who cares about the Middle East’s central conflict can afford to ignore this perspective, and all policymakers need to grapple with its implications. This book pre­sents the most cogent, comprehensive, and compelling account yet of this struggle from the Palestinian vantage point, and it deserves a wide audience.