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October 29, 2008

Flashback: "Allies of Palestinians See a Friend in Obama"

Here's that LAT story, from April 10, wherein they describe some of the contents of that videotape, and claim that a brief mention of the party, without providing details or whom Barack Obama might have been sharing a table with, is sufficient reportage.

Allies of Palestinians see a friend in Barack Obama

They consider him receptive despite his clear support of Israel.

By Peter Wallsten, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

by Peter Wallsten, substantially regurgitating an article written by Debbie Schlussel without providing credit

April 10, 2008

CHICAGO -- 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.

Challenged his thinking? He was always on the Palestinian's side -- until he decided to run for President.

By his own admission he sought out "Marxist professors" and foreign students and radicals to associate with. His spiritual mentor, his pastor for twenty years, the man who married him and baptised his children, is an avowed "anti-Zionist" and unavowed, but quite evident, Jew-hater.

When, precisely, was he hanging out with Israel supporters and being indoctrinated with Zionism?

For one's views to be "challenged," one must first hold views contrary to the challenge.

Can Obama note a single on-the-record statement of support for Israel before he began running for Senate?

Obama was "challenged" by PLO spokesman Khalidi's anti-Israel views in much the same way I am "challenged" by an offer of a cheesesteak with a side of handjob.


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."

Indeed.

Thanks to CJ.


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posted by Ace at 02:46 PM

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