Rashid Khalidi, Obama’s Palestinian pal
By Martin Kramer
Rashid Khalidi, the Edward Said Professor at Columbia University, is much in the news these days, for his connection with Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama. The Los Angeles Times did some digging around the story last spring, and most of the facts are there. I don’t know anything about the connection that I haven’t read elsewhere, so I have nothing original to say about it.
But this seems like an opportune moment to flag my own writings on Khalidi, going back a number of years.
• “Dr. Rashid and Mr. Khalidi.” On how Khalidi has varied his pitch according to audience—and, when interviewed on Al Jazeera, turns into a firebrand.• “The Day the Rabbi Rescued Rashid.” Khalidi has always taken care to cultivate a few Jewish supporters, and the late Arthur Hertzberg was one of them. Shows how they haven’t a clue about what he really believes—and says.
• “Rashid Khalidi: Gaza blame-thrower.” Hamas took over Gaza, so who’s fault is that? Guess.
• “Unreal Rashid.” Dissects Khalidi’s 2005 interview with the Radical History Journal. “They are political,” he says of the right, “and we’re not political”—he tells his fellow radical historians.
• “Radical Rashid.” Khalidi finds the University of Chicago Law School faculty “extremely conservative”—even though the ratio of Democrats to Republicans there is 7 to 1.
• “Philistine at Columbia.” Considers a speech in which Khalidi indicted America’s universities—including disciplines he knows nothing about, such as medicine and agriculture—for failing to “challenge the reigning orthodoxies in their fields.”
• “The rise and fall of the third-rate.” Khalidi complains about “Uncle Toms” in Middle Eastern studies.
Khalidi and Obama: kindred spirits
October 20, 2008
“He has family literally all over the world. I feel a kindred spirit from that.” —Rashid Khalidi on Barack Obama
The link between Palestinian-American agitprof Rashid Khalidi and Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has finally been picked up by the mainstream media. It’s something they should have looked at long ago, and even now, they aren’t really digging. They’re simply reporting the demand of the McCain campaign that the Los Angeles Times release the video of Obama’s praise of Khalidi, at a farewell gathering for Khalidi in 2003. Obama and Khalidi (and their wives) became friends in the 1990s, when Obama began to teach at the University of Chicago, where Khalidi also taught. In 2003, Khalidi accepted the Edward Said Professorship of Arab Studies at Columbia; the videotaped event was his Chicago farewell party. The Los Angeles Times, which refuses to release the tape (and which endorsed Obama on October 19) reported last spring that Obama praised Khalidi’s “consistent reminders to me of my own blind spots and my own biases.” Other speakers reportedly said incendiary things against Israel. Whether or how Obama reacted, only the videotape might tell.
That Obama spoke on this important occasion suggests that his attachment to Khalidi wasn’t a superficial acquaintance. As Obama admits, the two had many “conversations” over dinner at the Khalidis’ home, and these may well have constituted Obama’s primer on the Middle East. Yet Obama has given no account of these conversations, even as he has repeatedly emphasized other ones which would seem far less significant.
For example, Obama, in an interview and in his spring AIPAC speech, recalled conversations with a Jewish-American camp counselor he encountered—when he was all of eleven years old. “During the course of this two-week camp he shared with me the idea of returning to a homeland and what that meant for people who had suffered from the Holocaust, and he talked about the idea of preserving a culture when a people had been uprooted with the view of eventually returning home. There was something so powerful and compelling for me, maybe because I was a kid who never entirely felt like he was rooted.” (In the same interview, Obama said Israel “speaks to my history of being uprooted, it speaks to the African-American story of exodus.”)
Of course, the story of someone like Khalidi could just as readily have spoken to Obama’s history of uprootedness, exodus, preserving a culture, and longing to return home. (So too would the story of the late Edward Said, who was photographed seated at a dinner with Obama in 1998, and who entitled his memoir Out of Place. Obama has never said anything about the impact, if any, of that conversation.) And indeed, it stretches credulity to believe that a two-week childhood encounter at a summer camp was more significant to Obama that his decade-long association, as a mature adult, with his senior university colleague, Khalidi.
Nor does it seem far-fetched that the sense of “kindred spirit” felt by Khalidi toward Obama was mutual. One particularly striking parallel deserves mention. Obama, it will be recalled, was born to a nominally Muslim father (a Kenyan bureaucat) and an American Christian mother, which has created some confusion as to the religious tradition in which he was raised. Khalidi’s father, a nominally Muslim Palestinian (and a bureaucrat who worked for the United Nations) married his mother, a Lebanese-American Christian, in a Unitarian Church in Brooklyn, where Khalidi would later attend Sunday school. For such people caught between traditions, Third Worldist sympathies often serve as ecumenical substitutes for religion. (Obama himself allows that as an undergraduate, “in the dorms, we discussed neocolonialism, Franz Fanon, Eurocentrism and patriarchy.” One wonders how Israel fared in those conversations.)
Were we to see the videotape, it might give us some sense of how far down the road Obama went in that direction—and not all that long ago. It would be interesting to know, for example, if there was reference to Iraq. In 2003, when Khalidi’s friends gave him his goodbye party, he was deep into propagandizing against the Iraq war. Among his arguments, he included this one:
This war will be fought because these neoconservatives desire to make the Middle East safe not for democracy, but for Israeli hegemony. They are convinced that the Middle East is irremediably hostile to both the United States and Israel; and they firmly hold the racist view that Middle Easterners understand only force. For these American Likudniks and their Israeli counterparts, sad to say, the tragedy of September 11 was a godsend: It enabled them to draft the United States to help fight Israel’s enemies.
This argument against the war was not at all unusual on the faculty of the University of Chicago at the time. Another professor of Middle East history, Fred Donner, gave it blatant expression on the pages of the Chicago Tribune, calling the Iraq war “a vision deriving from Likud-oriented members of the president’s team—particularly Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith.” So perhaps it is not surprising that Obama, in his October 2002 antiwar speech, declared: “What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other arm-chair, weekend warriors in this Administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne.” No mention of Cheney or Rumsfeld—and no need to mention them, to a constituency that knew who was really behind the push for war, and why. (Later, the same argument would figure prominently in The Israel Lobby, co-authored by another Chicago professor, John Mearsheimer.)
“The Woods Fund In 2001 Gave A $40,000 Grant To The Arab American Action Network (AAAN), A Group Co-Founded By Anti-Israel Columbia University Professor Rhashid Khalidi. The Fund Gave AAAN A Second Grant Of $35,000 In 2002.” (Editorial, “Obama’s Terror Ties,” Investor’s Business Daily, 4/15/08)
- At The Time Of The Grants, Khalidi’s Wife, Mona Khalidi, Directed The Arab American Action Network. (Christopher Wills, “People Who Might Complicate Obama’s Campaign,” The Associated Press, 6/5/08)
Obama Served On Board That Funded Pro-Palestinian Group
By Aaron Klein
Speakers at AAAN dinners and events routinely have taken an anti-Israel line. The group co-sponsored a Palestinian art exhibit, titled “The Subject of Palestine,” that featured works related to what Palestinians call the “nakba” or “catastrophe” of Israel’s founding in 1948.
The theme of AAAN’s Nakba art exhibit, held at DePaul University in 2005, was “the compelling and continuing tragedy of Palestinian life … under [Israeli] occupation … home demolition … statelessness … bereavement … martyrdom, and … the heroic struggle for life, for safety, and for freedom.”
Another AAAN initiative, “Al Nakba 1948 As Experienced by Chicago Palestinians,” seeks documents related to the “catastrophe” of Israel’s founding.
Although AAAN co-founder Rashid Khalidi has at times denied working directly for the PLO, he reportedly served as director of the official PLO press agency WAFA in Beirut from 1976 to 1982, a period during which the PLO committed scores of anti-Western attacks and was labeled by the U.S. as a terror group. Khalidi’s wife, Mona Khalidi, reportedly was WAFA’s English translator during that period.
Khalidi also advised the Palestinian delegation to the Madrid Conference in 1991. During documented speeches and public events, Khalidi has called Israel an “apartheid system in creation” and a “racist” state. Critics have accused him of excusing Palestinian terrorism, a charge he denies.
He dedicated his 1986 book, Under Siege, to “those who gave their lives … in defense of the cause of Palestine and independence of Lebanon.”
While the Woods Fund’s contribution to Khalidi’s AAAN might be perceived as a one-time contact with Obama, there is evidence of a deeper relationship between the presidential hopeful and Khalidi.
According to a professor at the University of Chicago who said he has known Obama for 12 years, the senator first befriended Khalidi when the two worked together at the university. The professor spoke on condition of anonymity. Khalidi lectured at the University of Chicago until 2003; Obama taught law there from 1993 until his election to the Senate in 2004.
Asked during a radio interview with this reporter on WABC’s John Batchelor program about his 2000 fundraiser for Obama, Khalidi said he “was just doing my duties as a Chicago resident to help my local politician.”
Khalidi said he supports Obama for president “because he is the only candidate who has expressed sympathy for the Palestinian cause.”
Khalidi also lauded Obama for “saying he supports talks with Iran. If the U.S. can talk with the Soviet Union during the Cold War, there is no reason it can’t talk with the Iranians.”
Concerning Obama’s role in funding AAAN, Khalidi claimed he “never heard of the Woods Fund until it popped up on a bunch of blogs a few months ago.” He terminated the interview when pressed further about his links with Obama.
Contacted by phone, Mona Khalidi refused to answer questions about AAAN’s involvement with Obama.
Anti Islamic terrorism campaigner David Horowitz, speaking at the University of California – San Diego.
A young woman from the Muslim Students Association confronts Horowitz.
When pressed by Horowitz to reveal her true sympathies she does.
Chilling.**Watch the ENTIRE VIDEO****
Hat tip to Trevor Loudon: http://www.newzeal.blogspot.com
Remember Samantha Power; a foreign policy advisor that was let go for calling Hillary Clinton
SHE’s BAAACCCKKKK………… After rejoining the Obama State Department transition team in late November 2008, she has been named to a position on the National Security Council.
In January 2009 President Obama appointed Power to the National Security Council staff, where she serves as Director for Multilateral Affairs
And to top it all off, Samantha Power is MARRIED to Cass Sunstein, Obama’s Regulatory CZAR. The one that wrote the book Nudge.
In January 2008, Power began dating the prominent law professor Cass Sunstein whom she met while working on the Obama campaign. On July 4, 2008, they married. On April 24, 2009, Sunstein and Power welcomed their first child, Declan Power-Sunstein
Samantha Power’s views of Palestinians and ANTI-Israel:
Mary Robinson and Samantha Powers:
James Besser has brought this high concept to the discussion of Obama’s nomination of Mary Robinson for the Presidential Medal of Honor. Besser ponders the “correct response” for Jewish leaders who think honoring Robinson legitimizes her anti-Israel views and the anti-Semitic Durban conference in which she was a key player.
Ed Lasky has marshaled a lot of evidence indicating that the person responsible for selecting and/or vetting Robinson was the president’s close friend and White House adviser Samantha Power, who would likely have been familiar with Robinson’s background.
Robinson’s record at Durban did not, in any event, need a background check; it was in the foreground of her public record (see Tom Lantos’s lengthy Durban report). It was not a hidden tax problem but a known quality deemed not disqualifying given the larger problem to be solved by the nomination.
What was that problem? In an important 7,345-word post (with a 1,700-word follow-up), Catherine Fitzpatrick—who was at Durban I and watched Robinson’s performance there, and who is both her defender and her critic—says the nomination was “an effort to deflect criticism of the United States coming furiously from some leftist groups for the U.S. decision not to participate in the follow-up conference in Durban in April.” She concludes that “at the end of the day, the Obama Administration chose Mary Robinson because they felt she was one of their own.”
Barack Obama served in a board that gave a $75,000 grant to Rashid Khalidi, Yasser Arafat’s toady in the PLO. This is the same Barack Obama who had Robert Malley as another of his advisers on the region — and who conducted meetings with Hamas. Obama’s church used its bulletins to give voice to Palestinian activists.
How much more clear can this get?
Yet, Obama proclaims he is Pro-Israel?
JUST NO LONGER SILENT.