October 31, 2008

AFTER ALL, WHICH OF US DOESN'T WORK AND DINE WITH TERRORISTS?:

The PLO's Professor (Philip Klein, 10.31.08, American Spectator)

Liberals have defended Khalidi as a "respected academic," and amid all of the political noise and accusations flying back and forth between the two camps, it's easy to see how some voters would tune out when conservatives refer to him as a former "PLO spokesman." But without engaging in the semantic debate over what word should be applied to his complex and long-standing relationship with the terrorist group, a TAS analysis of contemporaneous news accounts dating back to the 1970s as well a look at Khalidi's own writings leave no doubt that a close relationship existed.

While living in Lebanon from the early 1970s through 1983 (where the PLO was based at the time), Khalidi was frequently cited in the press as being close to the organization, and he even used the word "we" while speaking on the group's behalf. He was described as a "director" of Wafa, the PLO's official news agency, and he thanked Arafat for research assistance in the preface of one of his books. In 1991, Khalidi was part of the Palestinian delegation to the Madrid peace talks with Israel -- by his own account, he did so at the request of the PLO.

Before delving into the details, it's worth entertaining the legitimate question of why Khalidi's background and writings should raise concerns about Obama himself.

The L.A. Times story from April about their relationship answers this question quite clearly. Not only did Obama know Khalidi, but the professor was his "friend and frequent dinner companion" who Obama was close enough to that he attended the 2003 going away party thrown when Khalidi was moving to New York.

In his toast, Obama went out of his way to thank Khalidi (and his wife Mona) for "consistent reminders of my own blind spots and own biases," and he added that the conversation they engaged in was necessary around "this entire world." Given that America is on the cusp of electing Obama, a man of little experience about whom very little is known, it is perfectly fair to learn more about Khalidi, whose viewpoints Obama thought the whole world needed to hear.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at October 31, 2008 6:46 AM
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