Middle East studies in the News
Israel and Obama's Radical Past [incl. Rashid Khalidi]
by Stanley Kurtz
Does President Obama's radical past tell us anything significant about his stance on Israel today? Perhaps more important, do the radical alliances of Obama's Chicago days raise a warning flag about what the president's position on Israel may be in 2013, should he safely secure reelection? Many will deny it, but I believe Obama's radical history speaks volumes about the past, present, and likely future course of his policy on Israel.
The Los Angeles Times has long refused to release a videotape in its possession of a farewell dinner, attended by Obama, for scholar and Palestinian activist Rashid Khalidi. Obama spoke warmly of his friendship for Khalidi at that event. Unfortunately, the continuing mystery of that video tape has obscured the rather remarkable article that the LA Times did publish about the dinner — and about Obama's broader views on the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. In light of the controversy over Obama's remarks on Israel in his address yesterday on the Middle East, it is worth revisiting that 2008 article from the LA Times.
The extraordinary thing about "Allies of Palestinians see a friend in Obama" is that in it, Obama's supporters say that in claiming to be pro-Israel, he is hiding his true views from the public. Having observed his personal associations, his open political alliances, his public statements, and his private remarks, Obama's Palestinian allies steadfastly maintain that Obama's private views are far more pro-Palestinian than he lets on.
Having pieced together Obama's history, I make much the same argument about Obama's broader political stance in my book, Radical-in-Chief. Obama's true views are far to the left of what he lets on in public. Yet it's striking to see Palestinian activists making essentially the same point — not in criticism of Obama, but in praise.
Notice also that, in this article, Rashid Khalidi himself claims that Obama's family ties to Kenya and Indonesia have inclined him to be more sympathetic to Palestinians than other American politicians are. That sort of claim often gets ridiculed when conservatives make it.
The point of all this is not that, as president, Obama is going to make policy exactly as Rashid Khalidi might. Obviously, no American president could take such a position and survive politically. Rather, the point is that Obama's stance is going to tilt more heavily toward the Palestinians than any other likely American president, Republican or Democrat — just as Obama's Palestinian allies argued in that LA Times piece.
The entire article is worth a read, but here are some choice excerpts:
In Radical-in-Chief, I show how Obama generally resorts to obfuscation to hide his radical past, saving outright false denial for those few cases where it is absolutely necessary. Is this another such case?
Radical-in-Chief also shows in some detail, with new information, that Obama had to know about Reverend Jeremiah Wright's intensely anti-Israel views. I also discuss the triangular relationship between Obama, Khalidi, and Bill Ayers. Ayers and Khalidi were extremely close friends and allies, and both were close political allies of Obama as well.
For further evidence that Obama's early views tell us more about his actions in the present — and future — than his current "pragmatic" statements, see "Obama's Past Tells the Truth."
There is also the question of Samantha Power, Obama's most important foreign policy advisor during his Senate years, and a guiding force behind our current intervention in Libya. I surveyed her views in "Samantha Power's Power." Although Power now disavows it, there is persuasive evidence that she once advocated an American military intervention against Israel to impose a two-state solution. It is extraordinary that someone holding that view should have been Obama's closest foreign-policy adviser for years, and a continuing influence within his administration today.
It is true, of course, that Obama has long maintained close ties to the Jewish community. Yet the depth of his ties to the pro-Palestinian Left is unmatched among major American politicians. It is reasonable to conclude that this is having an effect on Obama's policies — more than he admits — and will continue to do so, especially should the president secure reelection.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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