Middle East studies in the News
The Khalidi Gambit, Part II: The IRI Confirms, Tries to Distance Self, from Khalidi [on Rashid Khalidi]
by Jake Trapper
"Now, interesting what we are finding out in the last couple days about this assortment of friends from Chicago...that Barack Obama has," Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin said today at a rally at Bowling Green University, per ABC News' Imtiyaz Delawala. "It seems that there is yet another radical professor from the neighborhood who spent a lot of time with Barack Obama going back several years. This is important because his associate, Rashid Khalidi, he in addition to being a political ally of Barack Obama, he's a former spokesperson for the Palestinian Liberation Organization."
An uncomfortable glitch in this attack: Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., chairs an organization that gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to a group Khalidi founded and for which he served on the board (more on that HERE).
The IRI has now issued a statement, confirming that it gave money to Khalidi's group (though IRI officials are going through their records trying to determine how much, exactly) and also trying to distance the organization from Khalidi himself.
"Questions have arisen regarding the International Republican Institute's (IRI) work with Palestinians in the 1990s," a statement from the group reads. "In the 1990s, IRI gave grants to the Center for Palestinian Research and Studies (CPRS) for polling in the West Bank/Gaza. The polls measured support for the peace process, for various Palestinian political groups, and for efforts to enhance governance in the West Bank/Gaza. At that time no other organization could credibly conduct polling in the West Bank/Gaza.
"We understand that Rashid Khalidi was one of the many founders of CPRS, and we understand that he was for some (unclear) amount of time a board member. IRI did not in the 1990s conduct background checks of grantees' founders or board members. IRI did on a number of occasions vet CPRS as an organization, including, as was our custom, with the Israeli government, and we were given no cause for concern. We do not recall any contact between Mr. Khalidi and IRI, and there is no evidence that Mr. Khalidi benefited (sic) in any way from IRI's grants.
"Other organizations that reportedly gave funding to CPRS include the National Endowment for Democracy, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Center for International Private Enterprise, the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations, the Japanese Embassy, and Germany's Friedrich Naumann Stiftung. IRI's relationship with CPRS ended in 2000, and we understand that it no longer exists."
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