Columbia Professor Warns Israel Supporters Will 'Infest' Trump Administration

February 2, 2017

A Columbia University professor of Arab studies warned earlier this month that supporters of Israel would "infest" President Trump's administration, using a verb that calls to mind anti-Jewish stereotypes of vermin.

According to National Review, Professor Rashid Khalidi, a longtime critic of Israel, told WBEZ Chicago's "Worldview" show on Jan. 17 that sympathizers of the Jewish state live in an alternate reality.

"There are a group of people, a lot of them in Israel and some of them in the United States, who live in a world of their own," he said. "That is to say, they think that whatever they want, and whatever cockamamie schemes they can cook up, can be substituted for reality."

He said they had a vision that included the absence of international law and that there was no Israeli "occupation" of Palestinian territories.

"Unfortunately, these people infest the Trump transition team," Khalidi said. "These people infest—are going to infest our government, as of January 20. And they are hand-in-glove with a similar group of people in the Israeli government and in Israeli political life, who think that whatever they think can be imposed on reality."

He added the two-state solution has been "killed" by American enabling of Israeli behavior with regard to the Palestinians.

Khalidi is a supporter of the "Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions" movement, or BDS. The Anti-Defamation League has described BDS as one of "the most visible and dangerous manifestations" of efforts to delegitimize the Jewish state.

The Trump administration has signaled a dramatic turn from the Obama administration's tense relationship with Israel, which reached a nadir when the U.S. failed to veto a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements in December. In addition to the U.N.'s typically disproportionate focus on Israeli settlements being a barrier to peace, the resolution effectively claimed that Israel's presence in the Old City of Jerusalem is illegal.

Obama received criticism from both sides of the aisle for allowing the abstention on the U.N. vote. Trump, who encouraged Obama to stop the resolution, tweeted that "things will be different" at the U.N. once he became president.