Middle East studies in the News
Spotlighting Obama's Record on Israel [incl. Rashid Khalidi]
by Frank Salvato
There are many among us who believe President Barack Obama to be the most pro-Palestinian American President in the history of our nation, and with good reason. No other AmericanPresident, including President Jimmy Carter, has done more to distance the United States from its most dedicated ally in the Middle East: Israel. But to many who were paying attention to who Mr. Obama was before he became President of the United States, this is not a surprise.
If the name Rashid Khalidi rings familiar it is because of his relationship with President Obama, a relationship that started when Mr. Obama was lecturing on law at the University of Chicago.
Mr. Khalidi – or Professor Khalidi – taught for two years at Columbia University before joining the faculty of the University of Chicago in 1987. Khalidi spent eight years at the University of Chicago, serving as a professor and director of both the Center for Middle Eastern Studies and the Center for International Studies at the University of Chicago. He joined the faculty of Columbia University in 2003, where he continues to serve as the Edward Said Professor of Modern Arab Studies. He has also taught at Georgetown University.
During the time that Mr. Khalidi was seated at the University of Chicago, he struck up a friendship with then lecturer Obama; a law school graduate whose most prized resume entry – above that of being editor of the Harvard Law Review, where, incidentally, no writings authored by Mr. Obama can be found – was that of community organizer. It was accurately reported in February of 2008:
"According to a professor at the University of Chicago who said he has known Obama for 12 years, the Democrat presidential hopeful befriended Khalidi when the two worked together at the university. The professor spoke 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.
"Sources at the University [said] that Khalidi and Obama lived in nearby faculty residential zones and that the two families dined together a number of times. The sources said the Obama's even babysat the Khalidi children.
"Khalidi in 2000 held what was described as a successful fundraiser for Obama's failed bid for a seat in the US House of Representatives, a fact not denied by Khalidi..."
In fact, at a goodbye celebration for Mr. Khalidi, on the eve of taking his new position at Columbia University, Mr. Obama lent glowing praise to his departing friend, including references to the many meals they had shared. Mr. Obama even thanked Mr. Khalidi for "opening his eyes" about the problems of the Palestinians.
But even after offering him thanks for "opening his eyes" about the "problems of the Palestinians – and although Mr. Khalidi and Mr. Obama were close, by all manners of definition, Mr. Obama attempted to distance himself from the relationship in his successful 2008 election bid. When asked about his relationship with Khalidi, Mr. Obama answered:
"You mentioned Rashid Khalidi, who's a professor at Columbia...I do know him because I taught at the University of Chicago. And he is Palestinian. And I do know him and I have had conversations. He is not one of my advisors; he's not one of my foreign policy people. His kids went to the Lab school where my kids go as well. He is a respected scholar, although he vehemently disagrees with a lot of Israel's policy."
And then, if almost to defend what he just described as a non-relationship, Mr. Obama added:
"To pluck out one person who I know and who I've had a conversation with who has very different views than 900 of my friends and then to suggest that somehow that shows that maybe I'm not sufficiently pro-Israel, I think, is a very problematic stand to take...So we gotta be careful about guilt by association."
Indeed. We all must be careful about unjustly condemning someone based on their associations. Many times, nefarious political operatives and mainstream media Progressive agenda drivers will use guilt by association to "massacre" a public figure's reputation, sometimes to that person's professional demise. That said, a person's associations do matter...they matter a lot. Associations, in part, mold who we are, who see seek to be and who we become, and where Mr. Obama's "association" with Mr. Khalidi is concerned – where his relationship; his friendship with Khalidi is concerned – we have a lot to be concerned about.
While Professor Khlaidi's academic credentials, in and of themselves, mean very little with regard to concern over a relationship with now President Barack Obama, his activity connected to the Palestinian cause and, in particular, his advocacy for the Palestinian Liberation Organization do foment concern.
Between 1976 and 1983, Khalidi served as an Assistant Professor in the Political Studies & Public Administration Department at the American University of Beirut. While there, he published two books –British Policy towards Syria and Palestine, 1906-1914 and Palestine and the Gulf – as well as several articles on the "problems of the Palestinians." During this time, Mr. Khalidi also served as a research fellow at the independent Institute for Palestine Studies and taught at the Lebanese University.
Again, his academic credentials, in and of themselves, mean very little. At first blush Mr. Khalidi seemed just the typical academic advocate, advancing in the academic world as an "expert" on the "problems of the Palestinians." But residing in Beirut during the 1982 Lebanon War, he became politically active in Palestinian politics. "I was deeply involved in politics in Beirut" in the 1970s, he said in an interview with LogosJournal.com.
Rashid Khalidi, an academic turned activist who would become a close friend to future President of the United States, Barack Obama, was cited in the media during this period as an official with the Palestinian News Service, Wafa, and directly with the Palestinian Liberation Organization. And while failing to address his advocacy for the often violent Palestinian Movement, Khalidi denied he was a PLO spokesman. Mr. Khalidi said he "often spoke to journalists in Beirut, who usually cited me without attribution as a well-informed Palestinian source...[but] if some misidentified me at the time, I am not aware of it."
In April of 2008, Los Angeles Times staff writer Peter Wallsten brought the Khalidi-Obama relationship to light in an article titled, Allies of Palestinians see a friend in Obama, writing:
"A special tribute came from Khalidi's friend and frequent dinner companion, the young state Sen. Barack Obama. Speaking to the crowd, Obama reminisced about meals prepared by Khalidi's wife, Mona, and conversations that had challenged his thinking.
"His many talks with the Khalidis, Obama said, had been '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.'
"Today, five years later, Obama is a US Senator from Illinois who expresses a firmly pro-Israel view of Middle East politics, pleasing many of the Jewish leaders and advocates for Israel whom he is courting in his presidential campaign. The dinner conversations he had envisioned with his PalestinianAmerican friend have ended. He and Khalidi have seen each other only fleetingly in recent years."
Alas, it would seem that the influence Mr. Khalidi had on a young Barack Obama – lecturer, State Senator and US Senator – had already made its mark, and disturbingly so.
A new, documented and historically accurate short film from the Emergency Committee for Israel,titled, Daylight: The Story of Obama and Israel, painfully exposes President Barack Obama's pro-Palestinian bias, both in his actions and in his administration's policies pertaining to the Israeli-Palestinian issue and toward the nation and the leaders of Israel themselves.
In decision after decision, and action after action, President Obama has not only proven to be a devout friend of the Palestinian cause, he has gone out of his way to be contrarian to the concerns of the Israeli government and the Israeli people, and has even gone so far as to have refused having a simple meal with Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu even as Mr. Netanyahu was present insidethe White House; the Israeli contingent left to eat alone on an offering of non-kosher fare which most couldn't accept.
Today, as Mr. Obama panders to the pro-Israeli community for votes in an election year, falsely touting his pro-Israeli policies and his steadfastness to the commitment that has always existed between the United States and the nation of Israel, each and every one of us – both here in the United States and around the world, and especially every American Jew who made the genocidal mistake of voting for Mr. Obama – would be well served to take the thirty minutes it takes to watch Daylight: The Story of Obama and Israel.
In the end, after watching the recorded history of Mr. Obama's Janus face toward Israel – our most important and faithful ally in the Middle East – one can come to only one of two conclusions: 1) Either Mr. Khalidi's influence on Mr. Obama was much more potent than the two of them let on, or 2) Mr. Obama held these anti-Israeli; these pro-Palestinian sentiments long before he met Mr. Khalidi. Either way, anyone who believes that Mr. Obama is a friend of Israel after watching this documentary is either intellectually stunted or wholly disingenuous.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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