Settlers from Brooklyn

Here is a quick aside about a passage in Christopher Hitchens’s overwrought and over-written defense of Rashid Khalidi. Hitchens announces that the Khalidi family “hold[s] a celebrated house and position in the city [of Jerusalem] since approximately the time of the Crusades. I have had the honor of being invited to this very house. If Rashid chooses to state that he doesn’t care to be evicted from his ancestral home in order to make way for some settler from Brooklyn who claims to have God on his side, I think he has a perfect right to say so.”

Let us leave aside the typically English schoolboy enchantment with assumed Arab aristocracy (please, don’t get me started). Rashid Khalidi was himself born and raised in… Brooklyn. Here is testimony from a witness: “I lived in Brooklyn and watched young Rashid and his brothers grow, even held him as an infant while listening to his father, Ismail, talk about Palestine and the diplomatic issues he dealt with.” On the maternal side, Rashid’s roots in Brooklyn go back a good ways: “His grandmother,” he is reported to have told an audience, “who immigrated to America from Lebanon was a member of First Unitarian Church in Brooklyn.” His mother and father married in that church, and he attended Sunday school there.

So were Khalidi to forgo the familiar pleasures and privileges of Columbia University for the rigors of Jerusalem, wouldn’t he also be a settler from Brooklyn?