I really find it hard to believe… even if the McCain campaign has no ethical compunctions about this sort of thing, you’d think they’d be tactically smarter by now.
But no: according to the L.A. Times, McCain’s people are now dredging up a months-old story and accusing the paper of “suppressing” a video showing Barack Obama at a years-old farewell party for Rashid Khalidi, in an attempt to connect Obama to another supposed “terrorist.” As The Atlantic‘s Marc Ambinder reports,
Prof. Rashid Khalidi [has been] accused without real evidence of being a former PLO spokesperson…
One strategist said: “Obama needs to understand he will own his friendships with individuals that are in some cases anti-American, anti-Semitic and pro-terrorist. The American people can decide whether Obama’s buddies reflect their values.”
What an absolute crock of shit. Haven’t they figured out yet that this pathetic “guilt by association” stuff just isn’t going to get traction in this campaign… and moreover that it only makes them look bad when it’s about someone so obviously reputable as Rashid Khalidi?
This is nothing but an attempt to peel off a few paranoid Jewish votes, probably in Florida… as if anyone likely to fall for this sort of rubbish isn’t already voting for McCain anyway.
I’ve written about Khalidi before, although not on this blog. He’s one of this country’s most distinguished and eminent scholars of Middle Eastern studies. He is not anything resembling a “terrorist,” and he has in fact repeatedly denounced terrorist violence as both morally wrong and strategically stupid… as anyone who’s actually read his work or heard him speak is well aware.
To offer a little background from Wikipedia:
Khalidi was born in New York. He received a B.A. from Yale University, where he was a member of Wolf’s Head Society, in 1970, and a D. Phil. from Oxford University in 1974[,] and spent many years as a professor and director of both the Center for Middle Eastern Studies and the Center for International Studies at the University of Chicago before joining the Columbia faculty. He has also taught at Georgetown University, Lebanese University, and the American University of Beirut.
Khalidi is married to Mona Khalidi, Assistant Dean, Student Affairs; Assistant Director of Graduate Studies, School of International and Public Affairs. He is a member of the National Advisory Committee of the U.S. Interreligious Committee for Peace in the Middle East, which describes itself as “a national organization of Jews, Christians and Muslims dedicated to dialogue, education and advocacy for peace based on the deepest teachings of the three religious traditions.”
He is member of the Board of Sponsors of The Palestine-Israel Journal, a publication founded by Ziad AbuZayyad and Victor Cygielman, prominent Palestinian and Israeli journalists.
Really sounds disreputable there, huh? How dare a fellow U of C faculty member like Obama associate with someone like that? 🙄
Khalidi has written dozens of scholarly articles on Middle East history and politics, as well as op-ed pieces in many U.S. newspapers. He has also been a guest on numerous radio and TV shows including All Things Considered, Talk of the Nation, Morning Edition, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, Charlie Rose, and Nightline, and has appeared on the BBC, the CBC, France Inter and the Voice of America. Khalidi had an advising role at the Madrid Conference of 1991 between the U.S., Israel, Palestinians and Arab states. He served as president of the American Committee on Jerusalem, now known as the American Task Force on Palestine. …
Khalidi has been accused of having ties to the Palestinian Liberation Organization, based on his work for Wafa in the late 1980s, and later serving as an advisor to the Palestinian delegation during the Madrid Conference of 1991. Khalidi denied the allegation that he served as a PLO spokesman. Khalidi explained that he often spoke to journalists in Beirut, and was usually cited, without attribution, as a well-informed Palestinian source. He also said that he was unaware of any misidentification as a PLO spokesman.
Khalidi does advocate for Palestinian rights, and of course opposed the Iraq invasion, as did most reasonable people. But there’s nothing wrong with that.
Even if someone imagines that there is, though, it still has nothing to do with Obama. Just to drive the point home in case anyone doesn’t get it, let me quote from yesterday’s Jerusalem Post:
Dennis Ross, former special US envoy to the Middle East… [in Virginia] holding one of the final forums to woo Jewish voters before Tuesday’s vote, stressed his strong belief in Obama as a supporter of Israel, a smart negotiator when it comes to Iran and someone who he thinks would reinvigorate America’s relationships with its allies.
…Ross described Khalidi as “a Palestinian-American who has a strong set of views” who doesn’t advise Obama or influence his views.
“He’s someone that he has known. I know him too. Because I know him does that somehow reflect on me?” he asked.
I myself chatted with Khalidi after the last time I saw him speak, on a visit to his old stomping grounds here in Chicago, and suggested to him that he himself should run for office. Heaven knows we could use more intelligent, well-informed people in D.C., especially where Middle Eastern policy is concerned. He quickly demurred, however, obviously more familiar than I with the extent to which anti-Arab bigotry still infects American politics.
The amazing coup de grâce here (emph. mine):
The latest guilt-by-association target that the McCain campaign is using to hit Barack Obama could carry some collateral damage for its own candidate. …
During the 1990s, while he served as chairman of the International Republican Institute (IRI), McCain distributed several grants to the Palestinian research center co-founded by Khalidi, including one worth half a million dollars.
A 1998 tax filing for the McCain-led group shows a $448,873 grant to Khalidi’s Center for Palestine Research and Studies for work in the West Bank. …
The relationship extends back as far as 1993, when John McCain joined IRI as chairman in January. Foreign Affairs noted in September of that year that IRI had helped fund several extensive studies in Palestine run by Khalidi’s group, including over 30 public opinion polls and a study of “sociopolitical attitudes.”
Apparently at one time McCain had a more balanced and principled perspective on Middle Eastern affairs. Of course, at one time he also used to have principles enough to denounce “agents of intolerance,” and scruples enough not to stoop this low. He should be ashamed.Tags: Election 2008, Iraq, McCain, Obama, Palestine, Rashid Khalidi