Bostom sent this to me and writes,"The difference is that while I came away from these encounters convinced that Khalidi's purported moderation was a sham, and have said so, Obama went the other direction, maintaining their friendship right up to Khalidi's send-off from Chicago, to which he contributed an encomium. Which is why I'd really like to see that videotape. I'm just curious which of Rashid Khalidi's virtues I somehow missed, and Barack Obama saw."
"He has family literally all over the world. I feel a kindred spirit from that." —Rashid Khalidi on Barack Obama
The link between Palestinian-American agitprof Rashid Khalidi and Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has finally been picked up by the mainstream media. It's something they should have looked at long ago, and even now, they aren't really digging. They're simply reporting the demand of the McCain campaign that the Los Angeles Times release the video of Obama's praise of Khalidi, at a farewell gathering for Khalidi in 2003. Obama and Khalidi (and their wives) became friends in the 1990s, when Obama began to teach at the University of Chicago, where Khalidi also taught. In 2003, Khalidi accepted the Edward Said Professorship of Arab Studies at Columbia; the videotaped event was his Chicago farewell party. The Los Angeles Times, which refuses to release the tape (and which endorsed Obama on October 19) reported last spring that Obama praised Khalidi's "consistent reminders to me of my own blind spots and my own biases." Other speakers reportedly said incendiary things against Israel. Whether or how Obama reacted, only the videotape might tell.
That Obama spoke on this important occasion suggests that his attachment to Khalidi wasn't a superficial acquaintance. As Obama admits, the two had many "conversations" over dinner at the Khalidis' home, and these may well have constituted Obama's primer on the Middle East. Yet Obama has given no account of these conversations, even as he has repeatedly emphasized other ones which would seem far less significant.
For example, Obama, in an interview and in his spring AIPAC speech, recalled conversations with a Jewish-American camp counselor he encountered—when he was all of eleven years old. "During the course of this two-week camp he shared with me the idea of returning to a homeland and what that meant for people who had suffered from the Holocaust, and he talked about the idea of preserving a culture when a people had been uprooted with the view of eventually returning home. There was something so powerful and compelling for me, maybe because I was a kid who never entirely felt like he was rooted." (In the same interview, Obama said Israel "speaks to my history of being uprooted, it speaks to the African-American story of exodus.")
Of course, the story of someone like Khalidi could have just as readily spoken to Obama's history of uprootedness, exodus, preserving a culture, and longing to return home. (So too would the story of the late Edward Said, who was photographed seated at a dinner with Obama in 1998, and who entitled his memoir Out of Place. Obama has never said anything about the impact, if any, of that conversation.) And indeed, it stretches credulity to believe that a two-week childhood encounter at a summer camp was more significant to Obama that his decade-long association, as a mature adult, with his senior university colleague, Khalidi.
Obama's pal. Read it all
UPDATE: Yid opines: The LA Times believes that certain leaks are OK. Leaking secret grand jury proceedings that could defame the innocent is fine. Leaking national Security Secrets are OK. But "leaking" the tape of a meeting that points to the credibility of one of the Presidential candidates is taboo?
In May 2004, The Los Angeles Times reported Secret Grand Jury Information in the "Plame CIA leak case". They reported that reporters for Newsday were being asked for interviews In June 2006, both The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times published a story based on a leak regarding the government's pressure on SWIFT — a Brussels-based clearinghouse that exchanges transactional information between international banks — to give up information on private bank transactions as part of U.S. global anti-terror efforts.The stories drew immediate fire from the White House and Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y, then-chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, who called the leak and subsequent publishing of the program's details treasonous.
In 2003 The LA Times ran an Editorial about why leaks are important, What Leaks Are Good Leaks? By Jack Nelson, it says in part: