Thursday, April 10, 2008

Palestinians See Obama as Close Ally

Obama in Philadelphia

Today's Los Angeles Times has a troubling story on the history of Barack Obama's personal relationship with a number of Palestinian activists, including the late Professor Edward Said.

While the Times piece bends over backwards to portray Obama's connections to Palestinian constituencies as the normal activities of a politically ambitious grass roots activist, in the context of Obama's other questionable relationships - to Antoin Rezko, the Weather Underground, and his pastor of hate, Jeremiah Wright - today's expose provides further support for claims that an Obama administration might not maintain rigorous fidelity to American's traditional security interests and partnerships:

It was a celebration of Palestinian culture -- a night of music, dancing and a dash of politics. Local Arab Americans were bidding farewell to Rashid Khalidi, an internationally known scholar, critic of Israel and advocate for Palestinian rights, who was leaving town for a job in New York.

A special tribute came from Khalidi's friend and frequent dinner companion, the young state Sen. Barack Obama. Speaking to the crowd, Obama reminisced about meals prepared by Khalidi's wife, Mona, and conversations that had challenged his thinking.

His many talks with the Khalidis, Obama said, had been "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."

Today, five years later, Obama is a U.S. senator from Illinois who expresses a firmly pro-Israel view of Middle East politics, pleasing many of the Jewish leaders and advocates for Israel whom he is courting in his presidential campaign. The dinner conversations he had envisioned with his Palestinian American friend have ended. He and Khalidi have seen each other only fleetingly in recent years.

And yet the warm embrace Obama gave to Khalidi, and words like those at the professor's going-away party, have left some Palestinian American leaders believing that Obama is more receptive to their viewpoint than he is willing to say.
The article goes to great lengths in painting Khalidi as a moderate on the Arab-Israeli conflict, but some passages raise flags over Khalidi's loyalties:

At Khalidi's 2003 farewell party, for example, a young Palestinian American recited a poem accusing the Israeli government of terrorism in its treatment of Palestinians and sharply criticizing U.S. support of Israel. If Palestinians cannot secure their own land, she said, "then you will never see a day of peace."

Even further:

In the 1970s, when Khalidi taught at a university in Beirut, he often spoke to reporters on behalf of Yasser Arafat's Palestine Liberation Organization. In the early 1990s, he advised the Palestinian delegation during peace negotiations. Khalidi now occupies a prestigious professorship of Arab studies at Columbia.

He is seen as a moderate in Palestinian circles, having decried suicide bombings against civilians as a "war crime" and criticized the conduct of Hamas and other Palestinian leaders. Still, many of Khalidi's opinions are troubling to pro-Israel activists, such as his defense of Palestinians' right to resist Israeli occupation and his critique of U.S. policy as biased toward Israel.

Other sources suggest Khalidi might not be so "moderate."

As FrontPageMagazine reports, Khalidi's been at the forefront of the post-911 movement among activists condeming the United States as the world's leading terrorist state:

As the radical activists of the 1960s have aged and moved on, in significant numbers, to prominent positions in the faculties and administrations of American universities, the political atmosphere in college classrooms from coast to coast has become palpably anti-American. Throughout academia, leftist professors with captive audiences of young adults seamlessly transmit their own political worldviews from one generation to the next.

Consider what is occurring at Columbia University, which recently appointed professor Rashid Khalidi – a longtime, outspoken critic of the United States – to the anonymously endowed Edward Said Chair in Middle Eastern Studies. Depicting a nation that can scarcely do anything right – either at home or abroad, Khalidi calls the US a land “where routine media abuse of Arab-Americans, violations of their rights, and racist stereotyping and caricatures have only grown more prevalent since September 11th of [2001].... ”

Khalidi blames the horrors of 9-11 on none other than the US. “[F]or decades the United States itself helped to foster some of the radical-extremist Islamic tendencies that gave rise to the horrific attacks on US cities,” he says. “[I]f there is . . . hatred for the United States in many countries in these [Middle Eastern] regions, it is not necessary to look at Islamic doctrine [or] the supposed centrality of the concept of jihad to Islam for the causes.

The Los Angeles Times also mentions Obama's relationship to Said, an outspoken Palestinian rights spokeman, who has been identified as openly supporting terrorism against the United States:

Obama in 1998 attended a speech by Edward Said, the late Columbia University professor and a leading intellectual in the Palestinian movement. According to a news account of the speech, Said called that day for a nonviolent campaign "against settlements, against Israeli apartheid."

The use of such language to describe Israel's policies has drawn vehement objection from Israel's defenders in the United States. A photo on the pro-Palestinian website the Electronic Intifada shows Obama and his wife, Michelle, engaged in conversation at the dinner table with Said, and later listening to Said's keynote address. Obama had taken an English class from Said as an undergraduate at Columbia University.

There's been a frustrating - even insidious - tendency in Barack Obama's career to associate with some of the greatest anti-American individuals and groups of recent years. Yet, we've heard, over and over by Obama defenders, throughout the Wright controversy, for example, that "guilt by association" is not a legitimate basis of criticism against the Illinois Senator.

Yet, it's clear that these associations with outspoken and radical critics of the United Sates are part of a pattern: Obama has gravitated to - and moved within - some very suspicious circles of America's underground subversives.

Note too, that while the Los Angeles Times strikes an overall balance in its account of Obama's Palestinian ties, the conclusion to the article is telling:

Nationally, Obama continues to face skepticism from some Jewish leaders who are wary of his long association with his pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., who had made racially incendiary comments during several sermons that recently became widely known. Questions have persisted about Wright in part because of the recent revelation that his church bulletin reprinted a Times op-ed written by a leader of Hamas.

One Jewish leader said he viewed Obama's outreach to Palestinian activists, such as Said, in the light of his relationship to Wright."

In the context of spending 20 years in a church where now it is clear the anti-Israel rhetoric was there, was repeated, . . . that's what makes his presence at an Arab American event with a Said a greater concern," said Abraham H. Foxman, national director for the Anti-Defamation League.

This story deserves wide attention and deep investigation.

The more I read about Barack Obama's relationships, the more I question this man's judgment.

Recall the old saying, "birds of a feather flock together?" Well, the associational plumage surrounding Obama's group ties is looking less pro-American all the time.

Photo Credit: New York Times, "Obama Says Real-Life Experience Trumps Rivals’ Foreign Policy Credits."


Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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