Middle East studies in the News
Ayers, Obama and the Destabilization of Egypt [incl. Rashid Khalidi]
We know that Bill Ayers, Obama mentor and former terrorist, has been mucking about in Egypt, but we cannot know for sure what that portends.
What seems clear from the record is that Ayers and his circle – perhaps Obama himself – are less concerned with the future of Egypt than they are with the future of Israel, a country whose "story of itself" Ayers has denounced as " elaborate, self-aggrandizing and thoroughly dishonest."
From the hard left's perspective, Israel is the Mini-Me to America's Dr. Evil. For this crowd, Islam is little more than a tool with which to destroy both.
In the way of background, Ayers was among the 1,400 or so leftists from around the world who descended on Egypt a little more than a year ago with plans to march on Gaza.
The Mubarak government quickly disabused the would-be marchers of their fondness for Muslim governments by denying all but 100 of the international activists their promised trip to Gaza.
Still, the 1,300 left behind, including Ayers and his weatherbride, Bernardine Dohrn, made enough noise in Cairo to get everyone's attention.
"Our direct actions and demonstrations seem to be awaking Egypt, a little," wrote activist-journalist Philip Weiss of the group, "and getting a lot of publicity."
That much said, it is unlikely that Ayers et al. had any real role in stirring the Egyptian pot these last few weeks. Muslims have never much interested him. In his 2001 memoir, "Fugitive Days," for instance, Ayers never once mentions the words "Islam" or "Muslim."
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What does interest Ayers, of course, is Israel and its destruction. Although it seems a stretch to argue that the organizers of Egypt's recent "Day of Rage" took their cues from the Weathermen's notorious "Days of Rage" 40 years prior, the sentiments Ayers has expressed about those days would warm a jihadist heart.
One passage in "Fugitive Days" has particular resonance. "The streets became sparkling and treacherous with the jagged remains of our rampage," writes Ayers of his window-breaking spree through the streets of Chicago.
Then Ayers lovingly describes the scene, in a trope that has to chill the blood of any Jew, as "crystal chaos." Just 30 years prior, the Nazis had called their sparkling rampage through the streets of Germany "Kristallnacht," or "Crystal Night" in English. Ayers knew what he was saying.
Then, too, Ayers and pals dedicated their revolutionary tract "Prairie Fire" to, among others, Sirhan Sirhan, the proto-jihadist who admittedly killed U.S. Sen. Robert Kennedy because of his support for Israel.
In theory, one can be an anti-Zionist and not an anti-Semite. In practice, however, the two sentiments tend to track together. "Jews suck the blood of the nation," Sirhan told a friend in one of his many documented anti-Semitic rants, "and keep putting money in the banks."
To what degree President Obama shares Ayers' view on Israel is known to the editors of the Los Angeles Times, but they will not share the evidence.
In April of 2008, Peter Wallsten of the L.A. Times wrote a lengthy article titled "Allies of Palestinians see a friend in Obama." The article pulled some of its information from a video shot at a 2003 farewell dinner for Rashid Khalidi.
Once considered a spokesman for the Palestinian Liberation Organization, Khalidi had spent several years at the University of Chicago before leaving for New York.
At the dinner, reportedly attended by Ayers and Dohrn as well, Obama thanked Rashid and his wife for the many meals they had shared chez Khalidi and for reminding Obama of "my own blind spots and my own biases."
Obama hoped that "we continue that conversation – a conversation that is necessary not just around Mona and Rashid's dinner table ... [but around] this entire world."
Wallsten acknowledged that during this "celebration of Palestinian culture" some of the guests made hostile comments about Israel. One recited a poem accusing the Israeli government of terrorism with the implicit threat that Israel "will never see a day of peace."
Another compared "Zionist settlers on the West Bank" to Osama bin Laden. If worse had been said, or if Obama had applauded these comments, the world beyond the L.A. Times newsroom would not be allowed to know.
The Times, which endorsed Obama for president, steadfastly refused to share the videotape despite the demand by the McCain camp and others to release it.
"A major news organization is intentionally suppressing information that could provide a clearer link between Barack Obama and Rashid Khalidi," said McCain spokesman Michael Goldfarb. Times spokeswoman Nancy Sullivan blew Goldfarb off.
(Column continues below)
"As far as we're concerned, the story speaks for itself," she responded. The Times would add no details beyond what had appeared in Wallsten's article.
In researching my forthcoming book, "Deconstructing Obama," I was less interested in Khalidi's relationship with Obama than I was in his relationship with Ayers.
Khalidi does not shy from admitting the latter. He begins the acknowledgment section of his 2004 book, "Resurrecting Empire," with an eye-popping tribute to his own literary muse.
"First, chronologically and in other ways," writes Khalidi, "comes Bill Ayers." Unlike the calculating Obama, Khalidi had no reason to be coy about this relationship. He elaborates, "Bill was particularly generous in letting me use his family's dining room table to do some writing for the project."
Khalidi did not need the table. He had one of his own. He needed help from the one neighbor who obviously could and would provide high-level editorial assistance to neighborhood leftists, Barack Obama among them.
Ironically, in helping Obama craft his 1995 memoir, "Dreams from My Father," Ayers created a story line as "elaborate, self-aggrandizing and thoroughly dishonest" as the one he attributes to Israel.
Although his supporters still refuse to admit it, Bill Ayers crawled around the recesses of Obama's brain for years. What ideological detritus he left behind still remains to be seen.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.
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