JERUSALEM – The Los Angeles Times has no plan to ever release a video it stated it obtained of President Obama attending an anti-Israel event in which he delivered a glowing testimonial for Rashid Khalidi, a pro-Palestinian professor who excuses terrorism.
At the 2003 event, poetry reportedly was read comparing Israelis to Osama bin Laden and accusing the Jewish state of terrorism.
“The story ran in 2008 and we pretty much said everything we are going to say about that event,” Peter Wallsten, the Times reporter who claimed to have obtained the video, told WND yesterday.
Asked for details of the footage captured in the video, Wallsten replied, “I wrote an extensive article that described the event.”
Wallsten referred to a previous statement from the newspaper’s editor, Russ Stanton, explaining, “The Los Angeles Times did not publish the videotape because it was provided to us by a confidential source who did so on the condition that we not release it.”
“The Times keeps its promises to sources,” Stanton said.
But that explanation did not stop the camp of then–Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain from demanding the release of the video.
McCain spokesman Michael Goldfarb accused the Times of “intentionally suppressing information that could provide a clearer link between Barack Obama and Rashid Khalidi.”
“The election is one week away, and it’s unfortunate that the press so obviously favors Barack Obama that this campaign must publicly request that the Los Angeles Times do its job – make information public,” Goldfarb said at the time.
During the campaign, the blogosphere was abuzz with accusations alleging the Times was holding the video back because it contains embarrassing moments that would be damaging for Obama.
Andrew C. McCarthy, chairman of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies’ Center for Law & Counterterrorism, claimed in an October 2008 piece in National Review Online the Times would have jumped at the chance of making such images public if 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.
The video the Times said it obtained reportedly captures Obama delivering 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.
In a piece in April 2008, 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 Wallsten’s 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 October 2008, when the Gateway Pundit blog made an issue of the tape.
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 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 borrowed phrase from Khalidi?
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 bi-national, cantonal system should be set up in which Jews and Arabs reside.