MIM: Discover the Networks description of Rashid Khalidi. Excerpted from: page: www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/3602
Professor of Middle East Studies at Columbia University
Former PLO operative
Has justified as legitimate Palestinian "resistance" that results in death of armed Israelis
Rejects the possibility of a two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
Born in 1950, Rashid Khalidi is the Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University, and Director of the Middle East Institute (MEI) at Columbia's School of International and Public Affairs. In his role as MEI Director, Khalidi presides over a $300,000 annual grant from the federal government. He ranks among the most prominent members of the Middle Eastern studies community in the United States. His books are among the most frequently assigned works on the Middle East in American college syllabi. Arab and American media outlets alike seek him out regularly as a leading authority on the Middle East.
Prior to joining the Columbia faculty, Khalidi worked as a professor at the University of Chicago, where he served as Director of both the Center for Middle Eastern Studies and the Center for International Studies. Khalidi earned a B.A. from Yale University in 1970, and a Ph.D. from Oxford in 1974.
Khalidi has long cited Edward Said, the late professor of literature at Columbia and an untiring propagandist for the Palestinian cause, as his major academic influence. Following Said's death in 2003, Khalidi penned an obituary that valorized Said's "eloquent espousal of the cause of Palestine." In this piece, Khalidi acknowledged neither Said's long history of anti-Israel provocation—a tendency that found its most militant expression in Said's willingness to hurl rocks at Israeli defense forces—nor his unscrupulous anathematization of the Jewish state. Instead, he portrayed Said's career as one of "giving a voice to the voiceless." In this context, Khalidi likened Said to another of his idols: Noam Chomsky. Wrote Khalidi:
"Like Noam Chomsky and very few others, he [Said] managed not only to reshape his own field of scholarly endeavor, but to transcend it, influencing other fields and disciplines, and going well beyond the narrow boundaries of the American academy to become a true public intellectual, and a passionate voice for humanistic values and justice in an imperfect world."
As with Said before him, Khalidi's involvement with the Palestinian cause goes beyond mere support. Though Khalidi has consistently denied the charge, news reports -- including a 1982 dispatch from Thomas Friedman of the New York Times -- suggest that he once served as Director of the Palestinian press agency, Wikalat al-Anba al-Filastinija. Khalidi's wife, Mona, was reportedly the agency's main English-language editor between 1976 and 1982. Commentators have also noted that Khalidi so strongly identified with the aims of the Palestine Liberation Organization, designated a terrorist organization by the State Department during Khalidi's affiliation with the Yasser Arafat-run political entity in the 1980s, that he repeatedly referred to himself as "we" when expounding on the PLO's agenda.
Additional evidence of Khalidi's intimacy with the PLO can be seen in his involvement with a so-called PLO "guidance committee" in the early 1990s. Describing his appearance in the company of several PLO operatives at a 1991 conference, Khalidi related that "We had political decisions to make and diplomatic strategy to decide."
Khalidi's often aggressive cheerleading for the PLO has not escaped the notice of his employers in the academy. Upon luring Khalidi away from the University of Chicago in 2003, Columbia President Lee Bollinger conceded that his hire "has a particular point of view, pro-Palestinian nationalism."
That point of view is a prominent selling point for the financial backers of Khalidi's endowed chair, the total funds for which are estimated at between $3 million and $4 million: Among the donors to the chair are the United Arab Emirates and the Hauser Foundation, a New York charity headed by Rita Hauser, a controversial philanthropist whose onetime law firm, Stroock & Stroock & Lavan, was registered with the Department of Justice as an agent for the Palestinian Authority until 2001. Another donor was the Olayan Charitable Trust, a New York-based charity with ties to the Olayan America Corporation, an arm of the Saudi organization the Olayan Group.
Khalidi's 1986 book about the PLO, Under Siege: P.L.O. Decision-making During the 1982 War, was essentially an extended advertisement for the organization. Dedicated to PLO terror chieftain Arafat and opening with a glowing tribute to anti-Israel fighters ("to those who gave their lives during the summer of 1982 … in defense of the cause of Palestine and the independence of Lebanon"), the book offered an airbrushed account of PLO-instigated violence against Israelis and Lebanese. In the interest of celebrating the PLO, the book also retailed a number of falsehoods, including Khalidi's trumped-up charge that, in 1982, the organization was under siege by "the full might of the U.S. and Israel." In actuality, the U.S. fielded not a single soldier against the PLO; Israel, for its part, deployed only a minor percentage of its military forces. Far more forgiving was Khalidi's treatment of dictatorial Syria, whose brutal occupation of Lebanon elicited no criticism from the author.
Khalidi has claimed that the Israeli army is in possession of "awful weapons of mass destruction (many supplied by the U.S.) that it has used in cities, villages and refugee camps." He characterizes Israel as a "racist" state and "basically an apartheid system in creation."
Khalidi rejects a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Formerly, he had paid lip service to the notion of an Israeli state alongside a Palestinian one. In recent years, however, Khalidi has taken to dismissing such a solution as hopelessly unrealizable. At a February 2005 conference at Columbia called "One State or Two? Alternative Proposals for the Middle East," Khalidi agreed with his Columbia colleague, Joseph Massad, in declaring that the two-state solution was an impractical "utopian vision." Khalidi further assailed Israel's very legitimacy, proclaiming that Israel is "a state that exists today at the expense of the Palestinians." Israel's existence, according to Khalidi, generated an "inherently unstable" status-quo and "fails to meet the most important requirement: justice."
The February 2005 conference was not the first time that Khalidi had dismissed the possibility of a two-state solution. In March 2004, when Israeli forces assassinated Hamas leader Sheik Ahmed Yassin, Khalidi told Newsweek that "I really think that the killing of this individual may well be the last nail in the coffin of the two-state solution."
Khalidi deceptively styles himself a "severe critic of Hamas." But mere days after the terrorist attacks of September 11, he rebuked the news media for what he termed their exaggerated "hysteria about suicide bombers."
During a June 2002 speech before the conference of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Khalidi offered a justification for the murder of armed Israelis: "Killing civilians is a war crime. It's a violation of international law. They are not soldiers. They're civilians, they're unarmed. The ones who are armed, the ones who are soldiers, the ones who are in occupation, that's different. That's resistance." (Emphasis added)
In one 2000 interview, Khalidi scoffed at American supporters of Israel as "brainwashed" backers of the Israeli Army and its "utter and absolute control over 90 percent of the West Bank."
Khalidi reserves his most pointed disdain for Jewish members of the Bush administration, most notably the former Deputy Secretary of Defense, Paul Wolfowitz. In 2001, Khalidi smeared Wolfowitz as "a fanatical, extreme right-wing Zionist." (Challenged about his more radical remarks by television host Joe Scarborough during a 2003 interview, Khalidi retreated from his record, explaining, "I have to tell you, Joe, I don't recognize any one of those quotes.")
Scholarly institutions that do not deal in anti-Israel propaganda have also incurred Khalidi's wrath. Appearing on Al-Jazeera TV in 2004, for instance, Khalidi took aim at the prominent Middle Eastern Studies think-tank, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. That the non-partisan center is headed by Dennis Ross (a respected diplomat and a former Middle East envoy in the Bill Clinton and George H.W Bush administrations), and that it regularly hosts speakers from the Middle East critical of Israel, did not prevent Khalidi from baselessly execrating the center as "the most important Zionist propaganda tool in the United States."
Khalidi is an eager merchant of conspiracy theories. Nowhere was this more evident than in his opposition to the U.S.-led war against Iraq. In an illuminating polemic he penned for the January 2003 issue of the far-left journal In These Times, Khalidi, even as he conceded that "international terrorism has been sponsored by Iraq," dismissed the notion that the case for war could have any legitimate justification. Instead, he put forward a farrago of conspiracy theories that he described as the "real reasons" for the impending war:
First, it will be fought because of an aggressive, ideological vision of America's place in the world, propagated by the neo-conservatives who dominate the commanding heights of the American bureaucracy. Their vision proposes unfettered world hegemony for the United States, to be consecrated by the demonstration of U.S. power crushing a weak Iraq.
Second, this war will be fought because of an obsession with control of the strategic resources (read: oil) and geography offered by the Middle East, with the view of neutralizing potential challengers to American hegemony in the 21st century [meaning primarily China].
As Khalidi saw it, the looming war against Iraq was the brainchild of "racist" neo-conservatives doing the bidding of the Israeli Likud party to which they paid an undeclared allegiance; aiming "to make the Middle East safe not for democracy, but for Israeli hegemony"; and acting upon their "racist view that Middle Easterners understand only force." "For these American Likudniks and their Israeli counterparts," wrote Khalidi, "sad to say, the tragedy of September 11 was a godsend: It enabled them to draft the United States to help fight Israel's enemies."
Khalidi had been similarly opposed to the first Gulf War in 1991. Following Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait, he called the widespread opposition to Saddam Hussein's act of aggression an "idiots' consensus" and urged his fellow academicians to resist it. At the time, Khalidi had also weighed in with several erroneous predictions about the war. "They're [the Iraqis] in concrete bunkers," he said, "and it won't be easy to force them out without resorting to bloody hand-to-hand combat. It's my guess they'll fight and fight hard, even if you bomb them with B-52s."
Khalidi is a Board of Trustees member of the anti-Israel NGO MIFTAH. A notable fellow Board member is Khalil Jahshan, President of the Washington, DC-based National Association of the Arab Americans.
On March 7, 2007, the Lebanese publication Daily Star interviewed Khalidi about recent developments in the Arab-Israeli conflict. Regarding Hamas' victory in the January 2006 Palestinian elections, Khalidi stated, "They [Hamas] have an interpretation of this [suicide bombings against Israelis] that is actually closer to the view of most Palestinians and most people in the Arab world than to the American or Israeli interpretation, which is that the overwhelming majority of the violence that goes on daily is the violence of the [Israeli] occupation, ... until that stops there's going to be resistance.... Now, the Israelis want to be able to maintain their occupation and have the Palestinians abjure any form of violence.... [I]t means you can do anything you want as the most powerful party, and that what you do is not bad and that anything they do is unacceptable." http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/individualProfile.asp?indid=1347
MIM: Aaron Klein exposes Obama's ties to Rashid Khalidi.
Obama worked with terrorist
Senator helped fund organization that rejects 'racist' Israel's existence
Posted: February 24, 2008
5:44 pm Eastern
By Aaron Klein
JERUSALEM – The board of a nonprofit organization on which Sen. Barack Obama served as a paid director alongside a confessed domestic terrorist granted funding to a controversial Arab group that mourns the establishment of Israel as a "catastrophe" and supports intense immigration reform, including providing drivers licenses and education to illegal aliens.
The co-founder of the Arab group in question, Columbia University professor Rashid Khalidi, also has held a fundraiser for Obama. Khalidi is a harsh critic of Israel, 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.
In 2001, the Woods Fund, a Chicago-based nonprofit that describes itself as a group helping the disadvantaged, provided a $40,000 grant to the Arab American Action Network, or AAAN, for which Khalidi's wife, Mona, serves as president. The Fund provided a second grant to the AAAN for $35,000 in 2002.
Obama was a director of the Woods Fund board from 1999 to Dec. 11, 2002, according to the Fund's website. According to tax filings, Obama received compensation of $6,000 per year for his service in 1999 and 2000.
Obama served on the Wood's Fund board alongside William C. Ayers, a member of the Weathermen terrorist group which sought to overthrow of the U.S. government and took responsibility for bombing the U.S. Capitol in 1971.
Ayers, who still serves on the Woods Fund board, contributed $200 to Obama's senatorial campaign fund and has served on panels with Obama at numerous public speaking engagements. Ayers admitted to involvement in the bombings of U.S. governmental buildings in the 1970s. He is a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
The $40,000 grant from Obama's Woods Fund to the AAAN constituted about a fifth of the Arab group's reported grants for 2001, according to tax filings obtained by WND. The $35,000 Woods Fund grant in 2002 also constituted about one-fifth of AAAN's reported grants for that year.
The AAAN, headquartered in the heart of Chicago's Palestinian immigrant community, describes itself as working to "empower Chicago-area Arab immigrants and Arab Americans through the combined strategies of community organizing, advocacy, education and social services, leadership development, and forging productive relationships with other communities."
It reportedly has worked on projects with the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, which supports open boarders and education for illegal aliens.
The AAAN in 2005 sent a letter to New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson in which it called a billboard opposing a North Carolina-New Mexico joint initiative to deny driver's licenses to illegal aliens a "bigoted attack on Arabs and Muslims."
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.
According to the widely discredited Nakba narrative, Jews in 1948 forcibly expelled hundreds of thousands - some Palestinians claim over one million - Arabs from their homes and then took over the territory.
Historically, about 600,000 Arabs fled Israel after surrounding Arab countries warned they would destroy the Jewish state in 1948. Some Arabs also were driven out by Jewish forces while they were trying to push back invading Arab armies. At the same time, over 800,000 Jews were expelled or left Arab countries under threat after Israel was founded.
The theme of AAAN's Nakba art exhibit, held at DePaul University in 2005, was "the compelling and continuing tragedy of Palestinian life ... under [Israeli] occupation ... home demolition ... statelessness ... bereavement ... martyrdom, and ... the heroic struggle for life, for safety, and for freedom."
Another AAAN initiative, titled, "Al Nakba 1948 as experienced by Chicago Palestinians," seeks documents related to the "catastrophe" of Israel's founding.
A post on the AAAN site asked users: "Do you have photos, letters or other memories you could share about Al-Nakba-1948?"
That posting was recently removed. The AAAN website currently states the entire site is under construction.
Pro-PLO advocate held Obama fundraiser, describes Obama as 'sympathetic'
AAAN co-founder Rashid Khalidi was reportedly a director of the official PLO press agency WAFA in Beirut from 1976 to 1982, while the PLO committed scores of anti-Western attacks and was labeled by the U.S. as a terror group. Khalidi's wife, AAAN President Mona Khalidi, was reportedly WAFA's English translator during that period.
Rashid Khalidi at times has denied working directly for the PLO but Palestinian diplomatic sources in Ramallah told WND he indeed worked on behalf of WAFA. Khalidi also advised the Palestinian delegation to the Madrid Conference in 1991.
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 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.
While the Woods Fund's contribution to Khalidi's AAAN might be perceived as a one-time run in with Obama, the presidential hopeful and Khalidi evidence a deeper relationship.
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 Show of New York's WABC Radio and Los Angeles' KFI Radio, 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."
Asked about Obama's role funding the AAAN, Khalidi claimed he had "never heard of the Woods Fund until it popped up on a bunch of blogs a few months ago."
He terminated the call when petitioned further about his links with Obama.
Contacted by phone, Mona Khalidi refused to answer WND's questions about the AAAN's involvement with Obama.
Obama's campaign headquarters did not reply to a list of WND questions sent by e-mail to the senator's press office.
Obama, American terrorist in same circles
Obama served on the board with Ayers, who was a Weathermen leader and has written about his involvement with the group's bombings of the New York City Police headquarters in 1970, the Capitol in 1971 and the Pentagon in 1972.
"I don't regret setting bombs. I feel we didn't do enough," Ayers told the New York Times in an interview released on Sept. 11, 2001
"Everything was absolutely ideal on the day I bombed the Pentagon," Ayers wrote in his memoirs, titled "Fugitive Days." He continued with a disclaimer that he didn't personally set the bombs, but his group set the explosives and planned the attack.
A $200 campaign contribution is listed on April 2, 2001 by the "Friends of Barack Obama" campaign fund. The two taught appeared speaking together at several public events, including a 1997 University of Chicago panel entitled, "Should a child ever be called a 'super predator?'" and another panel for the University of Illinois in April 2002, entitled, "Intellectuals: Who Needs Them?"
The charges against Ayers were dropped in 1974 because of prosecutorial misconduct, including illegal surveillance.
Ayers is married to another notorious Weathermen terrorist, Bernadine Dohrn, who has also served on panels with Obama. Dohrn was once on the FBI's Top 10 Most Wanted List and was described by J. Edgar Hoover as the "most dangerous woman in America." Ayers and Dohrn raised the son of Weathermen terrorist Kathy Boudin, who was serving a sentence for participating in a 1981 murder and robbery that left 4 people dead.
Obama advisor wants talks with terrorists
The revelations about Obama's relationship with Khalidi follows a recent WND article quoting Israeli security officials who expressed "concern" about Robert Malley, an adviser to Obama who has advocated negotiations with Hamas and providing international assistance to the terrorist group.
Malley, a principal Obama foreign policy adviser, has penned numerous opinion articles, many of them co-written with a former adviser to the late Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat, petitioning for dialogue with Hamas and blasting Israel for numerous policies he says harm the Palestinian cause.
Malley also previously penned a well-circulated New York Review of Books piece largely blaming Israel for the collapse of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations at Camp David in 2000 when Arafat turned down a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza and eastern sections of Jerusalem and instead returned to the Middle East to launch an intifada, or terrorist campaign, against the Jewish state.
Malley's contentions have been strongly refuted by key participants at Camp David, including President Bill Clinton, then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and primary U.S. envoy to the Middle East Dennis Ross, all of whom squarely blamed Arafat's refusal to make peace for the talks' failure.
To interview Aaron Klein, contact M. Sliwa Public Relations by e-mail, or call 973-272-2861 or 212-202-4453.
MIM: For more on the connection between Obama and Rashid Khalidi see: "The Real Barack Obama- Another Terrorist In Obamaland | Rashid Khalidi - Anti-Israel Agenda?"with Sean Hannity and Daniel Pipes.
MIM: Arabs in the Hamas stronghold of Gaza are phoning Americans urging them to vote for Obama.
Gazan phone squad champions Obama
Aug. 31, 2008
Felice Friedson/The Media Line News Agency , THE JERUSALEM POST
"Hello, I'm calling from Gaza. I want some of your time. We are supporting Barack Obama..."
For the past seven months, a group of 24 students and young professionals have gathered in the Gaza Strip nightly to phone random telephone numbers in the United States, urging the voices at the other end to "vote for Barack Obama."
Although only American citizens can actually cast a ballot in the election, this Gaza-based effort is a forceful demonstration of how Internet technology opens the door for anyone, anywhere to take an active role in US politics. Even if they have never even been to the USA.
Far from utilizing a state-ofthe art call-center of the sort that have become a mainstay of American political marketing, the Gaza callers are amateur volunteers who meet in a local Internet café or in a stark room at a local youth center equipped with little more than desks, chairs and outlets for the personal computers through which they will make their calls. That - and the desire to see Barack Obama become president of the United States.
The bare-bones décor belies the fervor with which the callers go about their task. Organized and led by Ibrahim Abu Jayyeb, a 23-year old student of media at Al Aqsa University, the group's effort has taken on the flavor of a wellorganized campaign - complete with title: "All This for Peace."
Ibrahim is a self-described political junkie who says he has been following events closely and hopes that Obama will win the presidency. He says he finds the Illinois senator "the kind of person who, when he says 'I will change America,' will do what he says."
Ibrahim relies on his colleagues and friends to make the actual phone calls because he feels his own command of English is not up to the task. His knowledge of technology, however, very much is. Utilizing Voip (voice over internet protocol) and Skype, Ibrahim has crafted a system of politicking that runs at almost no cost in dollars (or shekels), but requires a great deal of patience and persistence. According to Ibrahim, 19 out every 20 calls his group makes ends with an unceremonious "hang-up."
Ibrahim told The Media Line that during the past seven months his group had reached between 5,000 and 6,000 Americans.
If his assertion of 1-out-of-20 completed calls is accurate, 120,000 calls have been placed. Asked how he could weather such mass rejection, he replied, "It's worth it."
When pressed about how a politician five thousand miles away who was relatively unknown to his own constituency before the campaign began is able to evoke such monumental dedication among people who can't even vote in the election, Ibrahim replies simply that, "I believe that Barack Obama will achieve peace in the area, in the Middle East and Palestine, between us, the Palestinian people, and the Jewish people."
Without exception, the Gaza phone-callers insisted that their efforts were "independent, without ties to any organization or government."
Ibrahim insists that "Barack Obama is definitely not a Muslim. It had never even crossed my mind to support him because of his Muslim background - which I doubt even exists."
The callers said the Obama campaign has never contacted them, and they have not contacted the Obama organization. Sources in the Obama campaign confirmed to The Media Line that the group is unknown to them and that "no such group has been authorized to solicit on behalf of the campaign."
Adv. Sheldon Schorer, who is counsel to Democrats Abroad, Israel, said, "The fact that Obama is acceptable to people on both the Israeli and Palestinian sides should be seen as a positive sign to vote for him. I think that's good."
Schorer stressed that he was speaking as an individual Democrat because he is not authorized to speak on behalf of the Obama campaign.
Moatz Twael, a Gaza pharmacist who makes phone calls with Ibrahim's group says that although he had never visited America, he had "visited Israel many times before 2001," and harbors no optimism on reconciliation between the two sides in the conflict.
"Some people don't believe in peace," Twael contends. "But these are the same people who are preventing it."
He says that listening to Obama persuaded him to encourage Americans to vote for the Senator. "He's a good man to achieve the goal [of bringing peace between Israelis and Palestinians]."
Like all of Ibrahim's telephone volunteers, Moatz claims no affiliation with any Palestinian faction in Gaza. "We don't want to live in war, in siege. Many want peace," he said. "I think people in the world don't understand Gaza very well. They think that all the people here are terrorists; not educated. We want to persuade them that we can live like any other people in the world."
Twael claims that listening to English channels and watching American films is the basis of his love of the English language. It's also the reason that he is involved in Ibrahim's campaign to enlist voter support for Senator Obama. "From television and film, I learned to love democratic life," he said
Despite Twael's own involvement with American culture and democracy, he doubts there are many others like him who are able or inclined to become involved in the American campaign on either side. When asked whether there are Gazans who would do the same for Republican John McCain, Twael was quick to reply that, "If Gazans don't know about Barack Obama - and most Gazans don't know - how would they know about McCain?"
Asked whether he believed race was an issue in the American campaign, Twael was upfront about what attracted him to Obama. "He's black. And he's better than [President George W.] Bush."
Ibrahim also sees a historic imperative inherent in American politics. He said, "Historically, it was the Democrats who achieved peace between [Palestinians] and the Israelis," citing the Oslo Accords as his proof.
Despite the group's exercise in democracy, the specter of Hamas - which the US considers to be a terrorist organization and which rules the Gaza Strip with an iron fist - hangs over the callers' activities.
Asked whether he worries that Hamas might put a stop to his efforts on behalf of Obama, Ibrahim replied, "Personally, I fear some about this."
From www.danielpipes.org | Original article available at: www.danielpipes.org/article/5845
Barack Obama through Muslim Eyes
by Daniel Pipes
August 25, 2008
How do Muslims see Barack Hussein Obama? They have three choices: either as he presents himself – someone who has "never been a Muslim" and has "always been a Christian"; or as a fellow Muslim; or as an apostate from Islam.
Reports suggests that while Americans generally view the Democratic candidate having had no religion before converting at Reverend Jeremiah Wrights's hands at age 27, Muslims the world over rarely see him as Christian but usually as either Muslim or ex-Muslim.
Lee Smith of the Hudson Institute explains why: "Barack Obama's father was Muslim and therefore, according to Islamic law, so is the candidate. In spite of the Quranic verses explaining that there is no compulsion in religion, a Muslim child takes the religion of his or her father. … for Muslims around the world, non-American Muslims at any rate, they can only ever see Barack Hussein Obama as a Muslim." In addition, his school record from Indonesia lists him as a Muslim
Thus, an Egyptian newspaper, Al-Masri al-Youm, refers to his "Muslim origins." Libyan ruler Mu‘ammar al-Qaddafi referred to Obama as "a Muslim" and a person with an "African and Islamic identity." One Al-Jazeera analysis calls him a "non-Christian man," a second refers to his "Muslim Kenyan" father, and a third, by Naseem Jamali, notes that "Obama may not want to be counted as a Muslim but Muslims are eager to count him as one of their own."
A conversation in Beirut, quoted in the Christian Science Monitor, captures the puzzlement. "He has to be good for Arabs because he is a Muslim," observed a grocer. "He's not a Muslim, he's a Christian," replied a customer. Retorted the grocer: "He can't be a Christian. His middle name is Hussein." Arabic discussions of Obama sometimes mention his middle name as a code, with no further comment needed.
"The symbolism of a major American presidential candidate with the middle name of Hussein, who went to elementary school in Indonesia," reports Tamara Cofman Wittes of the Brookings Institution from a U.S.-Muslim conference in Qatar, "that certainly speaks to Muslims abroad." Thomas L. Friedman of the New York Times found that Egyptians "don't really understand Obama's family tree, but what they do know is that if America — despite being attacked by Muslim militants on 9/11 — were to elect as its president some guy with the middle name ‘Hussein,' it would mark a sea change in America-Muslim world relations."
Some American Muslim leaders also perceive Obama as Muslim. The president of the Islamic Society of North America, Sayyid M. Syeed, told Muslims at a conference in Houston that whether Obama wins or loses, his candidacy will reinforce that Muslim children can "become the presidents of this country." The Nation of Islam's Louis Farrakhan called Obama "the hope of the entire world" and compared him to his religion's founder, Fard Muhammad.
But this excitement also has a dark side – suspicions that Obama is a traitor to his birth religion, an apostate (murtadd) from Islam. Al-Qaeda has prominently featured Obama's stating "I am not a Muslim" and one analyst, Shireen K. Burki of the University of Mary Washington, sees Obama as "bin Laden's dream candidate." Should he become U.S. commander in chief, she believes, Al-Qaeda would likely "exploit his background to argue that an apostate is leading the global war on terror … to galvanize sympathizers into action."
Mainstream Muslims tend to tiptoe around this topic. An Egyptian supporter of Obama, Yasser Khalil, reports that many Muslims react "with bewilderment and curiosity" when Obama is described as a Muslim apostate; Josie Delap and Robert Lane Greene of the Economist even claim that the Obama-as-apostate theme "has been notably absent" among Arabic-language columnists and editorialists.
That latter claim is inaccurate, for the topic is indeed discussed. At least one Arabic-language newspaper published Burki's article. Kuwait's Al-Watan referred to Obama as "a born Muslim, an apostate, a convert to Christianity." Writing in the Arab Times, Syrian liberal Nidal Na‘isa repeatedly called Obama an "apostate Muslim."
In sum, Muslims puzzle over Obama's present religious status. They resist his self-identification as a Christian while they assume a baby born to a Muslim father and named "Hussein" began life a Muslim. Should Obama become president, differences in Muslim and American views of religious affiliation will create problems.
Aug. 25, 2008 update: This is the fourth in a series of articles I have published on Barack Obama's ties to Islam. The prior three:
"Was Barack Obama a Muslim?" FrontPageMag.com, December 24, 2007. Raises questions about Obama's childhood religion and considers some implications.
"Confirmed: Barack Obama Practiced Islam." FrontPageMag.com, January 7, 2008. Replies to a critique of the prevous article by "Media Matters for America."
Rashid Khalidi Referred to Arafat's PLO as 'We'
CNS News ^ | 10/29/08 | Patrick Goodenough
Posted on Wednesday, October 29, 2008 7:21:27 PM by truthandlife
Rashid Khalidi, the Columbia University professor whose friendship with Sen. Barack Obama is raising questions, says he was never a spokesman for the PLO, but his strong PLO leanings were evident at a time when Yasser Arafat’s group was mounting terror attacks in Israel and causing mayhem in Lebanon.
And while Khalidi may not have been speaking on behalf of the PLO, during interviews he occasionally used the word “we” when speaking of the organization.
In one 1981 interview, Khalidi referred to the exiled PLO’s growing standing among Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, saying “we have built up tremendous links with the Palestinians ‘on the inside’ in different ways. We can render them services … we’ve never been stronger there, and the trend is continuing.”
Sen. John McCain’s campaign has urged the Los Angeles Times to release a video reportedly showing Obama speaking at an event in Chicago about his friendship with Khalidi.
The newspaper last April reported on the 2003 event, which took place when Khalidi was leaving Chicago for a new job, a professorship of Arab studies, at Columbia University.
“Speaking to the crowd, Obama reminisced about meals prepared by Khalidi’s wife, Mona, and conversations that had challenged his thinking,” the LA Times said.
“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.’”
The newspaper said Khalidi had praised Obama, “telling the mostly Palestinian American crowd that the state senator deserved their help in winning a U.S. Senate seat.”
The report also mentioned that the event had been filmed and said that “a copy of the tape was obtained by The Times.”
After conservative bloggers raised questions about the unaired videotape, the McCain campaign issued a statement Tuesday.
“A major news organization is intentionally suppressing information that could provide a clearer link between Barack Obama and Rashid Khalidi,” said campaign spokesman Michael Goldfarb.
“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.”
LA Times editor Russ Stanton in a statement said that paper had not published the video “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.”
Obama’s relationship with Khalidi has become an issue because during his campaign for president, the Illinois senator has portrayed himself as strongly pro-Israel.
Khalidi has denied being a spokesman for the PLO during his years in Lebanon, when he taught political studies at the American University of Beirut in the second half of the 1970s and the early 1980s.
During that period, the PLO was based in the Lebanese capital, having been expelled from Jordan after an abortive attempt to topple King Hussein. In Beirut Arafat’s group established a “state within a state” taking over entire residential areas, setting up roadblocks, and extorting protection taxes. The PLO became a party to Lebanon’s civil war, backing Muslims against Maronite Christians.
PLO atrocities against Christians reached a climax in early 1976, when PLO fighters killed 582 inhabitants of the Christian town of Damour, south of Beirut, before turning it into a stronghold. According to published accounts, the terrorists pillaged and ransacked the town and its churches, desecrated a Maronite cemetery by digging up and robbing corpses, and used the interior of the St. Elias Church for a shooting range and a garage for PLO vehicles.
From its Lebanon stronghold, the PLO mounted cross-border terrorist attacks against Israel, culminating in a deadly assault that cost the lives of 35 Israeli civilians. Israel retaliated by sending in the army in 1978, pushing the PLO out of southern Lebanon. PLO shelling of northern Israel continued until Israel’s invasion in 1982 led to the PLO’s final expulsion from Lebanon, and it relocated to Tunisia.
Khalidi began teaching in Beirut in 1976, the year of the Damour massacre.
Excerpt from New York Times report published on June 11, 1979. Over the following years, he was quoted a number of times in media reports, giving a Palestinian perspective on events.
On June 11, 1979, a New York Times report assessed Palestinian views of the Israel-Egypt peace treaty signed that March, following the Camp David accord the previous year.
Egyptian leader Anwar Sadat was the first of Israel’s enemies to sign a peace deal with the Jewish state, officially recognizing Israel, and many Palestinians worried about the implications for the PLO’s armed campaign.
The New York Times story, by Youssef Ibrahim quoted Khalidi – whom it called “a professor of political science who is close to [Arafat’s faction] Fatah” – as saying, “We are in a make-it-or-break-it period.”
“If we don’t turn the tide, if what Sadat is doing is not decisively repudiated, if the idea that Sadat has brought peace is allowed to stick without regard to Palestinian rights, then we are done in,” Khalidi said.
‘We’ve never been stronger’
On January 6, 1981 the Christian Science Monitor quoted Khalidi – a professor of political science “with good access to the PLO leadership” – in a report examining the incoming Reagan administration’s Mideast options.
If a “hard-line anti-Palestinian view” dominated the Reagan administration, he said, then “[t]he PLO will probably perceive the new administration as basically hostile – possibly more hostile than the Carter administration.”
Khalidi in the story appeared at least highly supportive of the PLO, if not actually speaking on its behalf. He also seemed to refer to the PLO as “we” on occasion.
“All you’ll see during the coming period of stalemate, which is all you can attain without the PLO, is the PLO getting stronger and stronger internally,” he said.
“It is already happening. When was the last time people inside the Palestinian movement solved their differences with guns? A long time ago – apart from executing traitors. We are much more mature these days – the most sophisticated political constituency in the Arab world.”
Arguing that the PLO’s standing among Arabs in the West Bank and Gaza had grown, he said, “Quite apart from the politics of it, we have built up tremendous links with the Palestinians ‘on the inside’ in different ways. We can render them services, often through our compatriots in the West, that King Hussein, for example, could never match. We’ve never been stronger there, and the trend is continuing.”
Another Christian Science Monitor story, on June 2, 1981, referred to “Rashid Khalidi of the Institute of Palestinian Studies” (apparently a reference to the Institute for Palestine Studies, an institution set up in Lebanon in the 1960s. In 1971 it launched its Journal of Palestine Studies, a publication Khalidi has written for on occasion since then. He is its current editor.)
Khalidi was quoted again by the New York Times in April 26, 1982 – two months before Israel invaded Lebanon – when a report by Thomas L. Friedman described him as “a Palestinian professor at the American University of Beirut.”
At the time the PLO was under pressure from the Lebanese government not to provoke an Israeli reaction to its attacks. Khalidi commented on PLO strategies, again using the word “we.”
“If we break the cease-fire now it would not only play into Israel’s hands but would also divert world attention away from the popular uprising on the West Bank, which is equally important to the PLO’s long-term objectives,” Khalidi said.
On June 9, 1982, three days after Israel invaded, another Friedman report for the New York Times described Khalidi as “a director of the Palestinian press agency, Wafa,” and quoted him as saying the Israelis were out to “crush the PLO.”
Wafa was a PLO-owned and PLO-funded news agency. Khalidi’s wife, Mona, worked for Wafa when they lived in Beirut. She currently works for Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.
Wafa remains today the news agency of the Palestinian National Authority, the self-rule administration set up by Arafat after the Oslo Accords enabled him to return to the disputed territories.