The Hundred Years' War on Palestine: A History of Settler Colonialism and Resistance, 1917-2017
In 1899, the mayor of Jerusalem, Yusuf Diya al-Khalidi, wrote a letter to Theodor Herzl imploring the father of modern Zionism: "in the name of God, let Palestine be left alone." Al-Khalidi, unlike many of his contemporaries, understood that the foundation of a Jewish state in Palestine meant expropriation and domination, perhaps exile or worse, for the indigenous population. He warned that Palestinians would never accept this colonialist project. More than a century later, al-Khalidi's prescience continues to be borne out.
Palestinian American historian and director of the Middle East Institute of Columbia's School of International and Public Affairs Rashid Khalidi (Palestinian Identity, Brokers of Deceit and The Iron Cage) is Yusuf Diya al-Khalidi's great-great-nephew. His family was in the upper class of Palestinian society prior to Zionist colonization. The Khalidi family's history since then mirrors that of the Palestinian people--forcible displacement, imprisonment and international activism advocating for a Palestinian state.
In The Hundred Years' War on Palestine, Khalidi intertwines his family's fortunes with what he calls six declarations of war against the Palestinians: the Balfour Declaration in 1917, the 1948 expulsion of half the Palestinian population (the Nakba in Arabic, meaning the catastrophe), the Six-Day War in 1967, the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon, the First Intifada (1987-1993) and the Second Intifada (2000-05), with an analysis of recent events in Gaza. Khalidi is careful about assigning blame to ineffectual Palestinian leadership, and emphasizes the enormous role of first Britain, then the United States in supporting Israel politically, financially and above all militarily. The Hundred Years' War on Palestine presents a vital perspective on one of the planet's most intractable geopolitical and humanitarian crises. --Tobias Mutter, freelance reviewer