From The New York Times:
It’s difficult to overestimate the virtues of secular history, especially in such a God-smacked region as the Middle East. You could argue that the peoples of the region would benefit from a little less attention and devotion; their struggles become both magnified and abstracted by exiles and co-religionists whose own passions sometimes seem to have little relationship to life on the ground.
Rashid Khalidi, American-born, comes from one of Jerusalem’s most distinguished families, which has also provided another distinguished historian, Walid Khalidi. Together they have done much to provide a Palestinian narrative rooted in their personal histories but disciplined by the standards of Western scholarship. Rashid Khalidi’s latest book, “The Iron Cage,” is at heart a historical essay, an effort to decide why the Palestinians, unlike so many other peoples and tribes, have failed to achieve an independent state. To Mr. Khalidi’s credit, the answers are not very comforting to Palestinians, whose leaders have often made the wrong choices and have not yet built the institutional structures for statehood.