Middle East studies in the News
A Conciliatory Scandal and the Public's Right to Know [incl. Rashid Khalidi]
by William Hallowell
Back in April 2008, Los Angeles Times staff writer Peter Wallsten penned a piece entitled, "Allies of Palestinians See an Ally in Barack Obama." While it appears as though the vast majority of the American electorate overlooked the article in the days following its release, its contents are creating a stir months later and just days before the 2008 presidential election.
The title of the Times piece alone should raise concern for anyone who believes in the importance of America's continued devotion to the Israeli people. But it is the contents as they relate to Obama's associations and the handling of related video footage that raise additional concerns about the future state of America's national security under an Obama administration.
Let's start with the basics. According to the Times, Barack Obama attended a going away party for a man named Rashid Khalidi back in 2003. Most Americans are probably unfamiliar with Khalidi. Wallsten described him as, "...an internationally known scholar, critic of Israel and advocate for Palestinian rights..." Compared to some of the other descriptions I've read, the former is complementary. CampusWatch had this to say:
"…Columbia University professor Rashid Khalidi…has held a fundraiser for Obama. Khalidi is a harsh critic of Israel, has made statements supportive of Palestinian terror and reportedly has worked on behalf of the Palestine Liberation Organization while it was involved in anti-Western terrorism and was labeled by the State Department as a terror group."
This marks yet another questionable association for Barack Obama. Researchers and journalists have also noted, not surprisingly, that former domestic-terrorist Bill Ayers is very good friends with the Khalidi family. But don't take my word for it. The National Review points out Khalidi's acknowledgment of Ayers in his 2004 book, Resurrecting Empire:
"There are many people without whose support and assistance I could not have written this book or written it the way that it was written. First, chronologically and in other ways, comes Bill Ayers. He persuaded me a little over a year ago that I should write this book… Bill was particularly generous in letting me use his family's dining room table to do some of the writing for the project..."
The primary issue, of course, is Obama's troubling relationships with individuals who have proven themselves devoted to anti-American causes. In recent months, Obama has attempted to distance himself from both Ayers and Khalidi but as time forges on, the undeniable social interconnections are becoming more difficult for Obama to ignore.
According to Wallsten's piece, Obama was more than an event attendee hoping to say a distant goodbye to a less-than acquaintance; he also spoke at the event. Wallsten wrote that aside from praising Khalidi, Obama hinted at frequent dinner-table discussions with Khalidi and his wife among other more social activities This is yet another clear indication that the two families have been closely associated outside of strictly professional settings. And guess who else was at the party – Bill Ayers. So, the first problem is very clearly the associations at hand. The second? Overt media bias.
By the LA Times' own admission, a video tape of the event exists. The following line is buried in the middle of Wallsten's article: "The event was videotaped, and a copy of the tape was obtained by The Times." To date, the Times has not released nor shared this tape with the American public. So, even in the spirit of ignoring Obama's less than stellar character associations, the bias in this situation is impossible to ignore.
If McCain or Palin attended such an event, I would just as quickly advocate that associated video content be released. Fortunately for me, if such an event had been captured on film, the media would have played the footage on rabid repeat until the Electoral College officially voiced its choice. In this case, the Times is remaining mum. But, the plot thickens. On October 18th, Editor and Publisher reported that, "The Los Angeles Times, breaking a decades-long policy of not endorsing any candidate for president, threw its support behind Barack Obama today." Might there be a connection between the withholding of important information and the Times' endorsement?
Americans want the truth. One of the most important elections of our time is less than one week away and there is still so much being left unsaid. The National Review's Andrew C. McCarthy rightfully asks, "Why is the Los Angeles Times sitting on a videotape of the 2003 farewell bash in Chicago at which Barack Obama lavished praise on the guest of honor, Rashid Khalidi – former mouthpiece for master terrorist Yasser Arafat?"
Obama needs to be forthright with the American people. If the public finance debacle didn't prove his penchant for waffling, I'm not sure what can. Does Barack Obama support Israel? While his words often point to a supportive nature, his associations showcase an aura of extreme opposition. From Rev. Wright's anti-Israeli rants to Obama's associations with Ayers and Khalidi, there are serious character issues to consider (and this is being said without delving into the ACORN or Tony Rezko scandals).
As commander-in-chief, Barack Obama's associations would obviously matter. And if Obama shares in any of his associates' damaging perspectives, the fate of Israel as the Middle East's most brilliant beacon of light could be in jeopardy. If we, as Americans, have any hope of seeing democracy survive and flourish in the Middle East it is in our best interests to ensure the continued safety and sustainability of the state of Israel. The LA Times' conciliatory nature causes me to believe that there may be something of substance on that video that would compromise Obama's perceived support of the aforementioned value.
Only time will tell what an Obama presidency will bring – pending a potential victory on Tuesday, of course. I am more than happy to give him the benefit of the doubt, but only after I see the video that the LA Times seems so reluctant to air. This is a historic election with the potential to profoundly impact the safety of Americans both domestically and abroad. Full disclosure and incessant sunlight are key.
To combat this overt bias, I have set up a petition that is quickly gaining support. Be sure to sign it and share the link with your friends and family. The LA Times has a journalistic responsibility to share this footage with voters.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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