Middle East studies in the News
White House 'Gatecrashers' Tied to Terror Sympathizer [incl. Rashid Khalidi]
The Virginia couple who allegedly crashed a White House state dinner is tied to Rashid Khalidi, a pro-Palestinian professor who excuses terrorism and has been a close associate to President Obama.
Michaele and Tareq Salahi met Obama in a receiving line at last week's event, with a "deeply concerned and embarrassed" Secret Service stating it never checked whether the two were on the White House guest list.
Tareq Salahi served on the board of the American Task Force for Palestine, where Columbia University Professor Khalidi served as vice president. The American Power blog noticed both Salahi's and Khalidi's names have been scrubbed from the Task Force website, although Salahi's bio still comes up on a Google cache search of the site.
The Task Force lobbies for a Palestinian state and demands the so-called right of return for Palestinian "refugees" – a formula Israeli officials across the political spectrum have warned could destroy Israel by population genocide, with the Jewish state forced to accept millions of Arabs, thus diluting its Jewish majority.
Khalidi is a harsh critic of Israel. He 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.
During documented speeches and public events, Khalidi has called Israel an "apartheid system in creation" and a destructive "racist" state. He has multiple times expressed support for Palestinian terror, calling suicide bombings a response to "Israeli aggression."
He dedicated his 1986 book, "Under Siege," to "those who gave their lives ... in defense of the cause of Palestine and independence of Lebanon." Critics assailed the book as excusing Palestinian terrorism.
Obama, Khalidi closely tied
According to a professor at the University of Chicago who said he has known Obama for 12 years, Obama first 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.
Khalidi in 2000 held what was described as a successful fundraiser for Obama's failed bid for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, a fact not denied by Khalidi.
Speaking in a joint interview with WND and the John Batchelor radio show, Khalidi was asked about his 2000 fundraiser for Obama.
"I was just doing my duties as a Chicago resident to help my local politician," Khalidi stated.
Khalidi said he supported Obama for president "because he is the only candidate who has expressed sympathy for the Palestinian cause."
Khalidi also lauded Obama for "saying he supports talks with Iran. If the U.S. can talk with the Soviet Union during the Cold War, there is no reason it can't talk with the Iranians."
Obama also sat on the board of the Woods Fund, which in 2001 provided a $40,000 grant to Mona Khalidi's Arab American Action Network. The fund provided a second grant to the network for $35,000 in 2002.
Speakers at network dinners and events routinely have taken an anti-Israel line. The group co-sponsored a Palestinian art exhibit titled "The Subject of Palestine" that featured works related to what some Palestinians call the "Nakba," or "catastrophe" of Israel's founding in 1948.
In 2003, Obama delivered an in-person testimonial for Khalidi, who at the time was departing the University of Chicago for a new teaching position at Columbia University in New York. At the 2003 event, poetry reportedly was read comparing Israelis to Osama bin Laden and accusing the Jewish state of terrorism.
In May 2008, WND noted, Obama termed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict a "constant sore" in an interview just five days after Khalidi wrote an opinion piece in the Nation magazine in which he called the "Palestinian question" a "running sore."
In his piece, "Palestine: Liberation Deferred," Khalidi suggested Israel carried out "ethnic cleansing" of Palestinians and Western powers backed Israel's establishment due to guilt of the Holocaust. He lamented the Palestinian Authority's stated acceptance of a Palestinian state "only" in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and eastern sections of Jerusalem, and he argued Israel should be dissolved and instead a binational, cantonal system should be set up in which Jews and Arabs reside.
White House 'gatecrashers' posed with Obama in 2005
Meanwhile, a statement issued by Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan said the agency was "deeply concerned and embarrassed by the circumstances surrounding the State Dinner" and added that "the preliminary findings of our internal investigation have determined established protocols were not followed at an initial checkpoint, verifying that two individuals were on the guest list."
Sullivan suggested that the couple had been screened for weapons, but should not have gained entry. "That failing is ours," he said.
Reached by telephone Friday evening, the couple's attorney, Paul W. Gardner, declined to comment. In an e-mail to Bloomberg News, Gardner added, "My clients were cleared by the White House to be there."
Yet, a June 2005 photo from Polo Contacts Worldwide shows the Salahis with Obama at a pre-event to America's Polo Cup. Others in the photo include American Idol's Randy Jackson and members of the rock group Black Eyed Peas.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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