Middle East studies in the News
Smeared by Obama-hacks [ref. Rashid Khalidi]
by Aaron Klein
I was surprised to read an article yesterday attempting to smear my factual reporting on Sen. Barack Hussein Obama, which informed readers the presidential candidate served on the board of a nonprofit as a paid director alongside a confessed domestic terrorist and granted funding to a controversial Arab group that mourns the establishment of Israel as a "catastrophe" and supports intense immigration reform.
The angry smear came from The Nation, which I understand is a small-circulation extreme leftist magazine popular with philosophy majors and owners of vegan restaurants in Manhattan's East Village. The Nation has reportedly lost money in all but three or four years of its operation and is said to be sustained in large part by donations.
The article, which reads more like a drunken tirade, was written by 20-something former blogger Ari Berman, who lists jokester Seymour Hersch as among his inspirations and once basically apologized to a local Iowa media outlet for making a comment that may have seemed mildly friendly toward Republican John McCain.
Berman targeted me because I, along with my colleagues, dared to bring to public attention the fact that the man who might become the next leader of the free world has relationships with extremely questionable, terrorist-supporting, anti-American elements.
In his piece, ironically titled "Smearing Obama," Berman writes that I penned two articles "wildly distorting Obama's links ... to pro-Palestinian activists like Rashid Khalidi."
Blathered Berman: "Klein's story goes something like this: Obama sat on the board of a foundation in Chicago that gave a grant to the Arab American Action Network (AAAN), run by Khalidi's wife, which supposedly rejects Israel's existence; and Khalidi directed the PLO's Beirut press office and is a supporter 'for Palestinian terror.'"
Berman tries to clarify for his dozens of readers: "In fact, the AAAN focuses solely on social service work in Chicago and takes no position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Khalidi says he was never employed by the PLO; he has been a harsh critic of Palestinian suicide bombings and a longtime supporter of a two-state solution, and he has never been an adviser to Obama."
Obama-hack Berman is dead wrong.
The AAAN, which received crucial funding from the Woods Fund, a Chicago nonprofit on which Obama sat from 1999 to 2002, takes a very public position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
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," which 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 – some Palestinians claim over 1 million – Arabs 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, over 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.
Khalidi, a Columbia University professor who held a successful fundraiser for Obama in 2000 and whose wife's anti-Israel AAAN was funded by the nonprofit on which Obama sat, is indeed a harsh critic of Israel and has made statements seemingly supportive of Palestinian terror. Khalidi's pro-terror statements are so legion anyone with Internet search capabilities can verify exactly where his alliances fall. No need for me to reiterate here.
I never reported Khalidi was an Obama adviser. I also never stated anywhere as fact that Khalidi was employed by the PLO, but that he reportedly worked for the official PLO press agency WAFA in Beirut while the PLO committed scores of anti-Western attacks and was labeled by the U.S. as a terror group. Khalidi's wife, AAAN President Mona Khalidi, was reportedly WAFA's English translator during that period.
I fairly note Rashid Khalidi has denied working for the PLO.
Some reports of Khalidi working for WAFA and his associations with the PLO include a New York Times account by columnist Thomas L. Friedman who wrote on June 9, 1982, Khalidi was at that time "a director of the Palestinian press agency" – Wikalat al-Anba al-Filastinija, or WAFA.
In a Jan. 6, 1981, article in the Christian Science Monitor, Khalidi reportedly used the word "we" referring to the PLO.
A Washington Times report also alleged Khalidi worked for the PLO.
Back to Berman, the leftist activist labels me an "Orthodox Jew" as if it were some disease, and falsely depicts my public relations representative, Maria Sliwa, as a "Christian publicist," when she is no such thing.
Berman continues calling my reports questionably sourced and "scandalous" without offering an iota of proof.
Indeed – and this is the most telling piece of the puzzle – in trying to disprove the existence of my sources, Berman not only verified them in calls I am aware he made but then ignored information indicating another contention of mine, that terrorists favor Obama, is indeed accurate.
Among the phone calls he made in a furious attempt to slander me, Berman talked with an Arab reporter for a major Israeli daily who is known for penning articles that are routinely sympathetic to the Palestinian cause and who has, incredibly, interviewed more terrorist leaders than I have.
The Arab reporter informed Berman the terrorists he talks to, as well, are rooting for Obama.
"I explained to him how Al-Jazeera has been reporting the Zionists and conservatives are trying to destroy Obama's campaign, so therefore the fighters in the West Bank think Obama must be good for the Palestinians," the reporter told me.
But Berman ignored this information and instead belted out his lying rant.
The hysterical Berman is but a symptom of a malignant messianic infatuation with Obama evidenced by the drive-by media for whom Obama can do no wrong.
That was brought home to me earlier this month when I sent my Obama piece to a friend who happens to run the newsroom at one of America's top three television networks.
The friend conceded I had "important information," but admitted outright that "right now, we are treating Obama with kid gloves."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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