Rashid Khalidi

JERUSALEM – The Los Angeles Times has been accused of deliberately suppressing a video it says it obtained of Sen. Barack Obama attending an anti-Israel event in which he delivered a glowing testimonial for an anti-Israel professor who excuses terrorism.

Andrew C. McCarthy, chairman of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies’ Center for Law & Counterterrorism, claimed in a piece today in National Review Online the Times would have jumped at the chance of making such images public if Sen. John McCain had been involved.

“Let’s try a thought experiment,” begins McCarthy. “Say John McCain attended a party at which known racists and terror mongers were in attendance. Say testimonials were given, including a glowing one by McCain for the benefit of the guest of honor … who happened to be a top apologist for terrorists. Say McCain not only gave a speech but stood by, in tacit approval and solidarity, while other racists and terror mongers gave speeches that reeked of hatred for an American ally and rationalizations of terror attacks.

“Now let’s say the Los Angeles Times obtained a videotape of the party.

“Question: Is there any chance – any chance – the Times would not release the tape and publish front-page story after story about the gory details, with the usual accompanying chorus of sanctimony from the oped commentariat? Is there any chance, if the Times was the least bit reluctant about publishing (remember, we’re pretending here), that the rest of the mainstream media (y’know, the guys who drove Trent Lott out of his leadership position over a birthday-party toast) would not be screaming for the release of the tape?” McCarthy asked.

McCarthy was referring to videotape the Times said it obtained of Obama delivering in-person testimonial in 2003 at the farewell party of anti-Israel professor Rashid Khalidi, who at the time was departing the University of Chicago for a new teaching position at Columbia University.

In a piece last April, L.A. Times writer Peter Wallsten reported that while praising Khalidi, Obama reminisced about conversations over meals prepared by the professor’s wife Mona Khalidi.

Unreported by Wallsten was that the event was sponsored by Mona Khalidi’s anti-Israel Arab American Action Network, which, as WND first reported, received large sums of money from the Woods Fund, an ultra-liberal Chicago nonprofit for which Obama served as a board member alongside Weather Underground radical William Ayers.

According to a Times account of the farewell dinner, Obama said his talks with the Khalidis served as “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.”

Khalidi’s farewell dinner was replete with anti-Israel speakers.

One, a young Palestinian American, recited a poem in Obama’s presence that accused the Israeli government of terrorism in its treatment of Palestinians and sharply criticized U.S. support of Israel, the Times reported.

Another speaker, who reportedly talked while Obama was present, compared “Zionist settlers on the West Bank” to Osama bin Laden.

In the kicker, Wallsten wrote, “The event was videotaped, and a copy of the tape was obtained by The Times.”

But that detail went largely unnoticed until this past weekend, when the Gateway Pundit blog made an issue of the tape.

Wallsten did not immediately return a WND e-mail and phone call seeking comment.

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, the Democratic presidential hopeful 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 supports 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.”

In 2001, the Woods Fund, which describes itself as a group helping the disadvantaged, provided a $40,000 grant to Mona Khalidi’s Arab American Action Network, or AAAN. The fund provided a second grant to the AAAN for $35,000 in 2002.

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,” that featured works related to what some Palestinians call the “Nakba” or “catastrophe” of Israel’s founding in 1948.

Obama hijacked phrase from Khalidi?

In May, 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 suggests Israel carried out “ethnic cleansing” of Palestinians; writes Western powers backed Israel’s establishment due to guilt of the Holocaust; laments the Palestinian Authority’s stated acceptance of a Palestinian state “only” in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and eastern sections of Jerusalem; and argues Israel should be dissolved and instead a bi-national, cantonal system should be set up in which Jews and Arabs reside.


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