Middle East studies in the News
FBI Terror Probe Targets Group Funded By Obama [incl. Rashid Khalidi]
President Obama and Weather Underground terrorist group founder William Ayers provided funds in the 1990s to an Arab group whose executive director had his home raided last week in a terror probe by the FBI.
"The [search] warrants are seeking evidence in support of an ongoing Joint Terrorism Task Force investigation into activities concerning the material support of terrorism," Steve Warfield, spokesman for the FBI in Minneapolis, told reporters.
Warfield was referring to the FBI's raid of seven homes Friday, including that of Hatem Abudayyeh, the executive director of the Arab American Action Network, or AAAN.
WND was the first to report that Obama worked as a paid director of the Woods Fund, a Chicago nonprofit, from 1999 to Dec. 11, 2002. He served on the fund together with Ayers.
The fund, with Obama and Ayers on the board, provided a $40,000 grant to the AAAN in 2001. The fund provided a second grant to the AAAN for $35,000 in 2002.
The co-founder of the AAAN, Columbia University professor Rashid Khalidi, has been a close associate of Obama. A harsh critic of Israel, Khalidi has made statements supportive of Palestinian terror and reportedly did work 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. The AAAN president is Khalidi's wife, Mona.
The $40,000 grant from Obama's Woods Fund to the AAAN constituted about one-fifth of the Arab group's reported grants for 2001, according to tax filings obtained by WND. The $35,000 the Woods Fund grant in 2002 also constituted about one-fifth of AAAN's reported grants for that year.
The AAAN, headquartered in the heart of Chicago's Palestinian immigrant community, describes itself as working to "empower Chicago-area Arab immigrants and Arab Americans through the combined strategies of community organizing; advocacy; education and social services; leadership development; and forging productive relationships with other communities."
It reportedly has worked on projects with the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, which supports open borders and education for illegal aliens.
The AAAN in 2005 sent a letter to New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson in which it called a billboard opposing a North Carolina-New Mexico joint initiative to deny driver's licenses to illegal aliens a "bigoted attack on Arabs and Muslims."
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 some Palestinians call the "Nakba," or "catastrophe" of Israel's founding in 1948.
According to the widely discredited Nakba narrative, Jews in 1948 forcibly expelled hundreds of thousands of Arabs – some Palestinians claim over 1 million –from their homes and then took over the territory.
Historically, about 600,000 Arabs fled Israel after surrounding Arab countries warned they would destroy the Jewish state in 1948. Some Arabs also were driven out by Jewish forces while they were trying to push back invading Arab armies. At the same time, more than 800,000 Jews were expelled or left Arab countries under threat after Israel was founded.
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, titled "Al Nakba 1948 as experienced by Chicago Palestinians," seeks documents related to the "catastrophe" of Israel's founding.
A post on the AAAN site asked users: "Do you have photos, letters or other memories you could share about Al-Nakba-1948?"
That posting was recently removed. The AAAN website currently states the entire site is under construction.
Pro-PLO advocate held Obama fundraiser
AAAN co-founder Rashid Khalidi was reportedly a director of the official PLO press agency WAFA in Beirut from 1976 to 1982, while the PLO committed scores of anti-Western attacks and was labeled by the U.S. as a terror group. Khalidi's wife was reportedly WAFA's English translator during that period.
Rashid Khalidi at times has denied working directly for the PLO, but Palestinian diplomatic sources in Ramallah told WND he worked as a freelancer on behalf of WAFA. 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 destructive "racist" state.
He has multiple times expressed support for Palestinian terror, calling suicide bombings a response to "Israeli aggression." He dedicated his 1986 book "Under Siege" to "those who gave their lives ... in defense of the cause of Palestine and independence of Lebanon." Critics assailed the book as excusing Palestinian terrorism.
While the Woods Fund's contribution to Khalidi's AAAN might be perceived as a one-time encounter with Obama, the two had a deeper relationship.
According to a professor at the University of Chicago who said he has known Obama for 12 years, the Obama first befriended Khalidi when the two worked together at the university. The professor spoke with WND during the 2008 presidential campaign on condition of anonymity. Khalidi lectured at the University of Chicago until 2003 while Obama taught law there from 1993 until his election to the Senate in 2004.
Khalidi in 2000 held what was described as a successful fundraiser for Obama's failed bid for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, a fact not denied by Khalidi.
Speaking in February 2008 in a joint interview with WND and the nationally syndicated John Batchelor Show, Khalidi was asked about his 2000 fundraiser for Obama.
"I was just doing my duties as a Chicago resident to help my local politician," Khalidi stated.
Khalidi said he supported 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."
Asked about Obama's role funding the AAAN, Khalidi claimed he had "never heard of the Woods Fund until it popped up on a bunch of blogs" during the 2008 campaign.
He terminated the call when petitioned further about his links with Obama.
Contacted by phone, Mona Khalidi refused to answer WND's questions about the AAAN's involvement with Obama.
In 2003, the AAAN sponsored a farewell dinner for Rashid Khalidi, who at the time was departing the University of Chicago for a new teaching position at Columbia University in New York. The event was attended by Obama, who reportedly delivered a glowing testimonial for Khalidi.
At the 2003 event, poetry reportedly was read comparing Israelis to Osama bin Laden and accusing the Jewish state of terrorism.
During the 2008 campaign, the Los Angeles Times claimed to have obtained video of the event but has refused to release the purported footage.
The newspaper's editor, Russ Stanton, explained, "The Los Angeles Times did not publish the videotape because it was provided to us by a confidential source who did so on the condition that we not release it."
"The Times keeps its promises to sources," Stanton said.
In an April 2008 story, then-L.A. Times reporter Peter Wallsten reported that while praising Khalidi, Obama reminisced about conversations over meals prepared by the professor's wife.
According to Wallsten's account of the farewell dinner, Obama said his talks with the Khalidis served as "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."
Khalidi's farewell dinner was replete with anti-Israel speakers.
One, a young Palestinian American, recited a poem in Obama's presence that accused the Israeli government of terrorism in its treatment of Palestinians and sharply criticized U.S. support of Israel, the Times reported.
Another speaker, who reportedly talked while Obama was present, compared "Zionist settlers on the West Bank" to Osama bin Laden.
Wallsten wrote, "The event was videotaped, and a copy of the tape was obtained by The Times."Note: Articles listed under "Middle East studies in the News" provide information on current developments concerning Middle East studies on North American campuses. These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch and do not necessarily correspond to Campus Watch's critique.
Campus Watch contact e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org