The People Who Surround Barack Obama – Part 6

In part 6 of this installment, we look at: Rashid Khalidi.

How close is Barack “The Nazarine” Obama to Rashid Khalidi?  Well:

A special tribute came from Khalidi’s friend and frequent dinner companion, the young state Sen. Barack Obama. Speaking to the crowd, Obama reminisced about meals prepared by Khalidi’s wife, Mona, and conversations that had challenged his thinking.

His many talks with the Khalidis, Obama said, had been “consistent reminders to me of my own blind spots and my own biases. . . . It’s for that reason that I’m hoping that, for many years to come, we continue that conversation — a conversation that is necessary not just around Mona and Rashid’s dinner table,” but around “this entire world.”

Today, five years later, Obamais a U.S. senator from Illinois who expresses a firmly pro-Israel view of Middle East politics, pleasing many of the Jewish leaders and advocates for Israel whom he is courting in his presidential campaign. The dinner conversations he had envisioned with his Palestinian American friend have ended. He and Khalidi have seen each other only fleetingly in recent years.

And yet the warm embrace Obama gave to Khalidi, and words like those at the professor’s going-away party, have left some Palestinian American leaders believing that Obama is more receptive to their viewpoint than he is willing to say.

While teaching at the University of Chicago, Khalidi and his wife lived in the Hyde Park neighborhood near the Obamas. The families became friends and dinner companions.

In 2000, the Khalidis held a fundraiser for Obama’sunsuccessful congressionalbid. The next year, a social service group whose board was headed by Mona Khalidireceived a $40,000 grant from a local charity, the Woods Fund of Chicago, when Obama served on the fund’s board of directors.

At Khalidi’s going-away party in 2003, the scholar lavished praise on Obama, telling the mostly Palestinian American crowd that the state senator deserved their help in winning a U.S. Senate seat. “You will not have a better senator under any circumstances,” Khalidi said.

The event was videotaped, and a copy of the tape was obtained by The Times.

Though Khalidi has seen little of Sen. Obama in recent years, Michelle Obama attended a party several months ago celebrating the marriage of the Khalidis’ daughter.

So, the Los Angeles Times makes it pretty clear that the Obamas – specifically Barack Obama – and the Khalidis are close.  Want more?  Salon.com also adds a small note about Khalidi:

In 2000, when Khalidi was a professor at U. of C., he held a coffee for Obama’s congressional campaign. I was at the event, which Obama attended with his wife, Michelle, and their toddler Malia. Khalidi’s wife, Mona, set out pita and hummus and Khalidi, a Christian Arab born in New York to a Palestinian father and a Lebanese mother, praised Obama in unaccented English. Khalidiwas head of the Center of International Studies, so his support suggested Obama was a faculty darling. There was talk that year that Obama was backed by a “Hyde Park Project” — a group of well-funded, mostly white intellectuals aiming to push him up the political ladder.

Khalidi is a proponent of a Palestinian state, and has represented Palestine at international conferences, but he also recognizes Israel’s right to exist.

Like Ayers and Obama, Khalidi was a member of the Woods Fund board, where he granted $75,000 to the Arab American Action Network, which was run by his wife. The AAANis a social service agency aiding Southwest Side Arabs, but the right-wing Web site World Net Daily nonetheless has insisted it is anti-Israeli. That wasn’t radicalism, it was nepotism, Chicago style.

And what does Rashid Khalidi believe?  Well, Front Page Magazine has a nice little summary of some of Khalidi’s public stances:

A glance at Khalidi’s work shows why this is a step in the wrong direction for Columbia University.  His writings and statements routinely cross the line from education into a political advocacy that is not just extremist but often factually wrong. Four examples:

On American foreign policy. Following Saddam’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait, Khalidi called the widespread resistance to this act of aggression an “idiots’ consensus” and called on his colleagues to combat it. After 9/11, he admonished Washington to drop what he called its “hysteria about suicide bombers.”

Khalidi asserts that the U.S. government has “yet to support the independence of Arab Palestine,” despite open endorsement by President George W. Bush of a Palestinian state, and nearly $1 billion in direct U.S. aid to the West Bank and Gaza since 1993.

And beware anyone who disagrees with Khalidi! He throws reckless accusations out against them, such as calling Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz “a fanatical, extreme right-wing Zionist.”

On Palestinian violence. Khalidi glorifies anti-Israel violence as contributing to “political enlightenment” and unsurprisingly admires those who carry it out. His loyalty to Palestinian terrorist groups run so deep that he actually dedicated his 1986 valentine to the PLO, Under Siege, to “those who gave their lives . . . in defense of the cause of Palestine and independence of Lebanon.” The book whitewashes PLO violence against Israelis and Lebanese, as well as the Syrian occupation.

On media coverage. When Palestinian violence garners unfavorable publicity, Khalidi’s response it to blame the messenger, not the murderers. Thus, in response to Palestinians lynched two off-duty Israeli officers on October 12, 2000, Khalidi did not critique the perpetrators of this crime, but railed against the “prostitute” and “cynical” media that dared to show Palestinians triumphantly displaying bloodied hands after the killings.  In like spirit, he faults not those Palestinians who erupted in joyous street celebrations at the murders of 3,000 Americans on 9/11, but the media for having the temerity to report these occurrences.

On Israel as a U.S. ally. In Khalidi’s fevered imagination, Israel is not a democratic ally but an “apartheid system in creation” and a destructive “racist” state. In his efforts to indict the Jewish state, Khalidi is quite prepared to make up accusations, such as his claim that Israel’s army has “awful weapons of mass destruction (many supplied by the U.S.) that it has used in cities, villages and refugee camps.” This is a plain lie. That so few Americans agree with his bizarre reading of Israel’s democracy as a menacing enemy state causes him to dismiss them as “brainwashed.”

In short, Khalidi’s scholarship is laced with a vicious political radicalism. That Khalidi holds such views is, of course, his right. What is worrisome is that Khalidi advocates his political views at a leading research university under the auspices of scholarship. “He is a dangerously powerful academic,” says a former student of his, Talia Magnas, speaking to “hundreds at a time of his virulently anti-Israel sentiments.”

To make matters worse, Khalidi is joining at Columbia a university already brimming with politicized scholarship by Middle East specialists, including Nadia Abu El-Haj, Hamid Dabashi, Joseph Massad, Edward Said, and George Saliba. 

In short, Khalidi’s move to Columbia involves a biased scholar accepting an anonymously endowed chair named for a biased scholar to head a biased department. It’s fair to say that the arrival of Khalidi at Columbia will give this university the largest, most politicized Middle East studies roster in North America.

Even the Salon article points out:

Obama has also benefited from the district’s leftist, academic bent. In Hyde Park, he ran with a crowd that harshly opposed this country’s policies in the Middle East. Khalidi has gone so far as to say “we owe reparations to the Iraqi people.” When Obamaspoke against the Iraq war in 2002, it was hardly a gutsy stand. (He didn’t have to take a stand at all, since the Illinois General Assembly can’t declare war on foreign countries.) But it looks good now next to Hillary Clinton’s “aye” vote. Obamacomes off as a principled progressive because he represented a district that demanded clean government and liberal social policies — values cherished by activist Democrats.

To Obama’s credit, he hasn’t repudiated anyone from his past. His campaign strategist, David Axelrod, admits that Obama and Ayers are “friendly.” And Obama denounced Wright’s comments without rejecting the man himself. How can he? Wright played an important role in shaping him as a politician. Ayers and Khalidinudged him along the way. To apologize for knowing them would be to apologize for who he is: an African-American, a Christian, a city dweller, an academic, a liberal. Most of those would be exotic qualities in a president. And maybe that’s the real problem.

Frank Gaffney at the Washington Times also notes:

Then, there is the case of Rashid Khalidi, a former colleague of Mr. Obama’s at the University of Chicago and now a professor at Columbia. Mr. Khalidi is an enthusiastic supporter of the Palestinians, fervent critic of Israel (which he calls a destructive “racist” state), an admirer of suicide bombers and a driving force behind the Arab American Action Network (AAAN). This so-called pro-Palestinian “community organization” in Chicago is another beneficiary of the largess of the Obama-Ayers team at the Woods Fund and promotes an agenda that would horrify many of Mr. Obama’s Jewish supporters.

As I’ve also detailed previously – Barack Obama, Khalidi, Ayers, and Dorn  – were also involved a 2005, blatantly anti-Israel symposium at Columbia University, as the following New York Sun article notes:

In bringing professor Khalidi to Morningside Heights from the University of Chicago, Columbia also got itself a twofer of Palestinian activism and advocacy. Mr. Khalidi’s wife, Mona, who also served in Beirut as chief editor of the English section of the WAFA press agency, was hired as dean of foreign students at Columbia’s SIPA, working under Dean Anderson. In Chicago, the Khalidis founded the Arab American Action Network, and Mona Khalidi served as its president. A big farewell dinner was held in their honor by AAAN witha commemorative book filled with testimonials from their friends and political allies. These included the left wing anti-war group Not In My Name, the Electronic Intifada, and the ex-Weatherman domestic terrorists Bernadine Dohrn and Bill Ayers. (There were also testimonials from then-state Senator Barack Obama and the mayor of Chicago.)

But what’s slightly more disturbing is that Khalidi, and perhaps his wife, were affiliated with a terrorist organization: PLO.  Indeed, another Washington Times article makes the connection:

Rashid Khalidi, the Edward Said professor of Arab studies at Columbia University, has gained notice for his extremist views on Israel, including recent profiles in both the New York Times and The Washington Post. That extremism comes out when he calls Israel an “apartheid system in creation” and a “racist state” that “brainwashed” Americans do not understand. Jerusalem, with its Jewish majority since the 1880s, he deems “an Arab city” whose control by Israeli “foreigners” is “unacceptable.” And so on.

These statements bear more than passing resemblance to the hyperbole that a Palestinian press hack might spout. And it’s no accident, actually, for Rashid Khalidi in fact once was a Palestinian press hack.

According to Thomas L. Friedman of the New York Times, writing on June 9, 1982, Mr. Khalidi was at that time “a director of the Palestinian press agency.” That would be Wikalat al-Anba al-Filastinija, or WAFA, the PLO press agency, where Mr. Khalidi’s wife, Mona, was chief English-language editor in 1976-82. Mr. Friedman quotes Mr. Khalidiin his official capacity saying that the Israelis are out to “crush the P.L.O.”

There is other evidence that Mr. Khalidi worked for the PLO. In a Jan. 6, 1981, article in the Christian Science Monitor, Mr. Khalidiused the word “we” referring to the PLO. In 1991, he served on the PLO “guidance committee” at the Madrid conference, along with such figures as Faisal Husseini, Hanan Ashrawi and Sari Nusseibeh. Mr. Khalidi stated, “We had political decisions to make and diplomatic strategy to decide.” On another occasion at Madrid, he told the press “We want this process to succeed and if doesn’t we don’t want it to be our fault.”(Emphases added.)

In 1985, Mr. Khalidi published an adulatory book on the PLO in which he personally thanked Yasser Arafat: “Permission to utilize the P.L.O. archives … was generously given by the Chairman of the P.L.O. Executive Committee, Yasir Arafat. To him and to the dedicated individuals working in the office of the Chairman, the P.L.O. archive and the Palestine News Agency (WAFA), who extended every possible assistance to me on three trips to Tunis, I owe deep thanks.”

So, here we have Barack Obama connected to another terrorist organization, as well as another radical.  Lovely.

It does make you wonder how well this is going to go over with Jews, who are largly affiliated with the Democrat party.  I know I was done with The Nazarine after Rev. Wright, Father Pfleger, and William Ayers.  But then again, I was turned off by the whole “socialist” vibe I was getting from Obama in the first place.

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