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Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Who Is Rashid Khalidi?

I mentioned earlier that the McCain camp is complaining about the LA Times' refusal to release a videotape of Obama praising Rashid Khalidi.

Who is Rashid Khalidi? He's currently the Hate Israel Chair--err, make that the Edward Said Chair at Columbia University. He's not very fond of Israel:

The co-founder of the Arab group in question, Columbia University professor Rashid Khalidi, also has held a fundraiser for Obama. Khalidi is a harsh critic of Israel, has made statements supportive of Palestinian terror and reportedly has worked on behalf of the Palestine Liberation Organization while it was involved in anti-Western terrorism and was labeled by the State Department as a terror group.

This is not surprising. Although he was born in the US, he spent some time working for the PLO:

But when Columbia academic officials made this choice they knew they were getting a Palestinian political activist. From 1976 to 1982, Mr. Khalidi was a director in Beirut of the official Palestinian press agency, WAFA. Later he served on the PLO "guidance committee" at the Madrid peace conference.

Yep, that PLO:

And as Mona Charen notes, this is not "just some guy" in Obama's neighborhood.

The Khalidis and Obamas were good friends. In his capacity as a director of the Woods Fund, Obama in 2001 and 2002 steered $75,000 to the Arab American Action Network, the brainchild of Rashid and Mona Khalidi. According to an L.A. Times account of the dinner, Obama mentioned that he and Michelle had been frequent dinner guests at the Khalidi home (just another guy in the neighborhood?) and that the Khalidis had even baby-sat for the Obama girls.

Like William Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn, the Khalidis held a fundraiser for Obama in their living room when he unsuccessfully sought a House seat. At the farewell dinner, according to the L.A. Times, Obama apparently related fondly his “many talks” with the Khalidis. Perhaps that’s where he learned, as he told the Des Moines Register, that “Nobody is suffering more than the Palestinian people.” Obama told the crowd that those talks with the Khalidis had been “consistent reminders to me of my own blind spots. . . . 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.”

Of course, this only matters in as far as Obama has adopted Khalidi's attitudes towards Israel. According to some accounts, Barack has done this:

"A Local Palestinian Activist Said Obama Attended The Fundraiser And Expressed Sympathy For The Palestinian Cause And Criticism For U.S. Support Of Israel. "In 2000, [Ali] Abunimah [a Hyde Park Palestinian-American activist] recalled, Professor Rashid Khalidi, a leading Palestinian American advocate for a two-state solution and harsh critic of Israel, held a fundraiser in his home for Obama, embarked then on an ultimately unsuccessful bid for the House of Representatives. 'He came with his wife,' Abunimah said. 'That's where I had a chance to really talk to him. It was an intimate setting. He convinced me he was very aware of the issues [and] critical of U.S. bias toward Israel and lack of sensitivity to Arabs. ... He was very supportive of U.S. pressure on Israel.'" (Larry Cohler-Esses, "Obama Pivots Away From Dovish Past," The New York Jewish Week, 3/9/07)

Talk Left covered the Khalidi connection in April:

For the past few weeks, however, I have been concerned about a totally different issue with respect to Prof. Ayers: his political views concerning Palestine and Israel. The LA Times recently explored Obama's connection to those politics through his and Ayers' service on the board of the Woods Fund, during which time he and Ayers voted to award a grant of $70,000 to an organization created by Rashid Khalidi. The article raises questions about the depth and sincerity of Obama's expressed support for Israel.
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