The Iron Cage - A "Must Read" - on Palestine and Israel
Rashid Khalidi’s, The Iron Cage: The Story of the Palestinian Struggle for Statehood, seems most relevant and incredibly on target, 16 years after it was published. Khalidi’s book methodically discusses all the players in this most tragic story. He speaks of Great Britain, the Jewish Palestinian (and later Israeli) leadership, The United States, and countries like Egypt, Syria and Jordan. Khalidi carefully explains their relationship to the Palestinian leadership, and indirectly the Palestinian people, primarily over the period from the early 1900’s until the book was published in 2006/7.
The author is highly critical of all, explaining both the manipulations and the failures of the Palestinians, while acknowledging that they have faced and continue to face incredibly difficult challenges. Clearly Great Britain and since 1948 The United States have strongly supported the Jewish State formation and development, while resisting the Palestinian cause.
It is fascinating for me to feel sympathy for the Palestinian People, while having very mixed feelings about the failures of Palestinian leadership including The Grand Mufti in the earlier days, and Arafat in more recent times. While one can condemn the leadership, one must also recognize how they have often been made pawns by the “great manipulators” (my words), most recently being President George W. Bush, as the book was completed. It seems self-evident, that if Arafat and at the end Abbas had resisted the pressures “from above”, they would have been in an equally impossible position.
At a deeper level this book can be related to other issues that we face today in the United States including systemic racism and U.S. imperialism. Great Britain helped mold what would become an apartheid state. The United States is helping seal the fates of the Palestinians, as is most evident in the latest Israeli leadership, as this review is being written.
Khalidi recognizes the failure of the “Two State Solution” and the recent failures and likely future failure of a “One State Solution”. Tragically, while the Palestinians are The Victims, the Israelis have no real peace in their seeming triumph(s). There is no safety, nor feeling of it, as long as the Palestinian People are forced into a more and more oppressive existence in what should be their own country.
Khalidi does not primarily focus upon the Jewish residents of Greater Israel. He does, however, clearly show that he is Not At All Anti-Semitic! He wants a just peace, while recognizing that it can not move towards a possible reality without an awakening among the people and leadership of both The United States and eventually Israel. Israel is not South Africa, but it is an Apartheid State! It doesn’t need to continue this way, however it will take a lot of people doing a lot of difficult work to successfully build justice and through this a lasting peace!