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LA Times Holds Video of Obama Praising PLO’s Rashid Khalidi

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The Los Angeles Times, which endorsed Sen. Barack Obama for president, is refusing to release a video it says it has of Obama praising Rashid Khalidi.

Peter Wallsten of the Times wrote in April
that Obama was a “friend and frequent dinner companion” of Khalidi, who from 1976 to 1982 was reportedly a director of the official Palestinian press agency, WAFA, which was operating in exile from Beirut with the PLO.

In the article — based on the videotape obtained by the Times — Wallsten said Obama addressed an audience during a 2003 farewell dinner for Khalidi, who was Obama’s colleague at the University of Chicago, before his departure for Columbia University in New York. Obama said his many talks with Khalidi and his wife Mona stood as “consistent reminders to me of my own blind spots and my own biases.”

The headline for the article was “Allies of Palestinians see a friend in Barack Obama”.

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.

Their belief is not drawn from Obama’s speeches or campaign literature, but from comments that some say Obama made in private and from his association with the Palestinian American community in his hometown of Chicago, including his presence at events where anger at Israeli and U.S. Middle East policy was freely expressed.

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.”

One speaker likened “Zionist settlers on the West Bank” to Osama bin Laden, saying both had been “blinded by ideology.”

Obama adopted a different tone in his comments and called for finding common ground. But his presence at such events, as he worked to build a political base in Chicago, has led some Palestinian leaders to believe that he might deal differently with the Middle East than either of his opponents for the White House.

“I am confident that Barack Obama is more sympathetic to the position of ending the occupation than either of the other candidates,” said Hussein Ibish, a senior fellow for the American Task Force on Palestine, referring to the Israeli presence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip that began after the 1967 war. More than his rivals for the White House, Ibish said, Obama sees a “moral imperative” in resolving the conflict and is most likely to apply pressure to both sides to make concessions.

“That’s my personal opinion,” Ibish said, “and I think it for a very large number of circumstantial reasons, and what he’s said.”

Campaign officials for Sen. John McCain have jumped on this. “A major news organization is intentionally suppressing information that could provide a clearer link between Barack Obama and Rashid Khalidi,” said McCain 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.”

The Times offered this statement:

“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,” said the newspaper’s editor, Russ Stanton. “The Times keeps its promises to sources.”

Jamie Gold, the newspaper’s readers’ representative, said in a statement: “More than six months ago the Los Angeles Times published a detailed account of the events shown on the videotape. The Times is not suppressing anything. Just the opposite — the L.A. Times brought the matter to light.”

Of course, the obvious question from conservatives is if it had been McCain toasting a PLO mouthpiece, how fast do you think it would have been posted on YouTube? Newspapers treat their sources like gold, and if that was a stipulation placed by the source for this information, the paper isn’t going to disregard that. There isn’t a journalist on the planet who would release the tape under those circumstances.

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Written by newscycle

October 29, 2008 at 2:22 pm

Posted in Obama, PLO

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