Start the revolution without me.
I came across a blog from a former co-worker of Obama during the mid 80’s. Please do yourself the favor of reading his short post about what he thought of Obama’s book, as well as the introduction to his blog. The guy is not a hater. He concludes the following:
Barack’s story may be true, but many of the facts are not. His larger narrative purpose requires him to embellish his role. I don’t buy it. Just as I can’t be inspired by Steve Jobs now that I know how dishonest he is, I can’t listen uncritically to Barack Obama now that I know he’s willing to bend the facts to his purpose.
That was written in 2005. Look, I understand that Obama will likely be elected on Nov 4th. I really wish him well, it is our country after all. Unfortunately, while he seems like a reasonable and intelligent person, I now know that he feels he needs to lie and cover up a number of things about his past. The best case scenario is that his past alliances and influences don’t really reflect what he believes and intends to do as president. OK, let’s hope so. But it sure seems like quite a risk for our country.
So on Nov 5th, I see my ‘citizen job’ as requiring that I am well-informed about about his past lies as a way of not missing potential future lies. Past is prologue, no? I intend to be ready with names, facts, and a searchable on-line database, this blog–most of my linked articles are copied in full at end of post. So let’s continue; Who is Rashid Khalidi?
Rashid Khalidi is Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University, and director of the Middle East Institute of Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs. He is a supporter of the PLO and a friend of Barack Obama. It was reported by the LA Times that Obama spoke warmly of Khalidi and their friendship at a Chicago dinner in 2003.
Obama would lose the Jewish vote if he were seen as a friend to a PLO sympathizer. So for the umpteenth time this campaign, Obama has apparently successfully made the case that a former alliance will not impact his decisions as president and do not reflect his views. On its own, no big deal, nice political damage control.
But in the case of Rashid Khalidi, the common desires of many Americans and the MSM bias has crossed over into blatant act of partisanship by a major news organization. The LA Times has a video of Obama at that 2003 dinner for Rashid Khalidi which they won’t release. News organizations are normally suing this to obtain this kind of news. Why would they do this? Think of the Rev Wright. While people may have been aware of his views, having it on video tape makes a visceral impression, especially on people who don’t follow the news closely.
Rashid Khalidi, Rev Wright, Bill Ayers, Bernadine Dohrn, Tony Rezko, Larry Walsh, James Johnson, Michael Klonsky, Frank Marshall Davis, Danny Davis, Edward Said–stop me when you see a pattern.
All articles referenced are copied in full at end of post.
Barack Obama Embellishes His Resume
Don’t get me wrong – I’m a big fan of Barack Obama, the Illinois freshman senator and hot young Democratic Party star. But after reading his autobiography, I have to say that Barack engages in some serious exaggeration when he describes a job that he held in the mid-1980s.I know because I sat down the hall from him, in the same department, and worked closely with his boss. I can’t say I was particularly close to Barack – he was reserved and distant towards all of his co-workers – but I was probably as close to him as anyone. I certainly know what he did there, and it bears only a loose resemblance to what he wrote in his book.
Here’s Barack’s account:
Eventually a consulting house to multinational corporations agreed to hire me as a research assistant. Like a spy behind enemy lines, I arrived every day at my mid-Manhattan office and sat at my computer terminal, checking the Reuters machine that blinked bright emerald messages from across the globe. As far as I could tell I was the only black man in the company, a source of shame for me but a source of considerable pride for the company’s secretarial pool.
First, it wasn’t a consulting house; it was a small company that published newsletters on international business. Like most newsletter publishers, it was a bit of a sweatshop. I’m sure we all wished that we were high-priced consultants to multinational corporations. But we also enjoyed coming in at ten, wearing jeans to work, flirting with our co-workers, partying when we stayed late, and bonding over the low salaries and heavy workload.
Barack worked on one of the company’s reference publications. Each month customers got a new set of pages on business conditions in a particular country, punched to fit into a three-ring binder. Barack’s job was to get copy from the country correspondents and edit it so that it fit into a standard outline. There was probably some research involved as well, since correspondents usually don’t send exactly what you ask for, and you can’t always decipher their copy. But essentially the job was copyediting.
It’s also not true that Barack was the only black man in the company. He was the only black professional man. Fred was an African-American who worked in the mailroom with his son. My boss and I used to join them on Friday afternoons to drink beer behind the stacks of office supplies. That’s not the kind of thing that Barack would do. Like I said, he was somewhat aloof.
…as the months passed, I felt the idea of becoming an organizer slipping away from me. The company promoted me to the position of financial writer. I had my own office, my own secretary; money in the bank. Sometimes, coming out of an interview with Japanese financiers or German bond traders, I would catch my reflection in the elevator doors—see myself in a suit and tie, a briefcase in my hand—and for a split second I would imagine myself as a captain of industry, barking out orders, closing the deal, before I remembered who it was that I had told myself I wanted to be and felt pangs of guilt for my lack of resolve.
If Barack was promoted, his new job responsibilities were more of the same – rewriting other people’s copy. As far as I know, he always had a small office, and the idea that he had a secretary is laughable. Only the company president had a secretary. Barack never left the office, never wore a tie, and had neither reason nor opportunity to interview Japanese financiers or German bond traders.
Then one day, as I sat down at my computer to write an article on interest-rate swaps, something unexpected happened. Auma called. I had never met this half sister; we had written only intermittently. …[several pages on his suffering half-sister] …a few months after Auma called, I turned in my resignation at the consulting firm and began looking in earnest for an organizing job.
What Barack means here is that he got copy from a correspondent who didn’t understand interest rate swaps, and he was trying to make sense out of it.
All of Barack’s embellishment serves a larger narrative purpose: to retell the story of the Christ’s temptation. The young, idealistic, would-be community organizer gets a nice suit, joins a consulting house, starts hanging out with investment bankers, and barely escapes moving into the big mansion with the white folks. Luckily, an angel calls, awakens his conscience, and helps him choose instead to fight for the people.
Like I said, I’m a fan. His famous keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention moved me to tears. The Democrats – not to mention America – need a mixed-race spokesperson who can connect to both urban blacks and rural whites, who has the credibility to challenge the status quo on issues ranging from misogynistic rap to unfair school funding.
And yet I’m disappointed. Barack’s story may be true, but many of the facts are not. His larger narrative purpose requires him to embellish his role. I don’t buy it. Just as I can’t be inspired by Steve Jobs now that I know how dishonest he is, I can’t listen uncritically to Barack Obama now that I know he’s willing to bend the facts to his purpose.
Once, when I applied for a marketing job at a big accounting firm, my then-supervisor called HR to say that I had exaggerated something on my resume. I didn’t agree, but I also didn’t get the job. But when Barack Obama invents facts in a book ranked No. 8 on the NY Times nonfiction list, it not only fails to be noticed but it helps elevate him into the national political pantheon.
Posted: July 9th, 2005
October 07, 2008, 3:30 p.m.
Why Won’t Obama Talk About Columbia?
The years he won’t discuss may explain the Ayers tie he keeps lying about.
By Andrew C. McCarthy
Barack Obama does not want to talk about Columbia. Not even to his good friends at the New York Times, who’ve so reliably helped him bleach away his past — a past neck-deep in the hard Left radicalism he has gussied up but never abandoned.
Why? I suspect it is because Columbia would shred his thin post-partisan camouflage.
You might think the Times would be more curious. After all, the Democrats’ presidential nominee has already lied to the Gray Lady about the origins of his relationship with Weather Underground terrorists Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn. Back in May, in a cheery profile of Obama’s early Chicago days, the Times claimed (emphasis is mine):
Mr. Obama also fit in at Hyde Park’s fringes, among university faculty members like Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn, unrepentant members of the radical Weather Underground that bombed the United States Capitol and the Pentagon to protest the Vietnam War. Mr. Obama was introduced to the couple in 1995 at a meet-and-greet they held for him at their home, aides said.
Now look, anyone who gave five seconds of thought to that passage smelled a rat. Ayers and Dohrn are passionate radical activists who lived as fugitives for a decade. There’s no way they held a political coming-out party for someone who was unknown to them. Obviously, they already knew him well enough by then to feel very comfortable. They might have been sympathetic to a relative stranger, but sponsoring such a gathering in one’s living room is a strong endorsement.
And now, even the Times now knows it’s been had. In this past weekend’s transparent whitewashing of the Obama/Ayers tie, the paper claimed that the pair first met earlier in 1995, “at a lunchtime meeting about school reform in a Chicago skyscraper[.]” That storyline is preposterous too, but it is also a marked revision of the paper’s prior account (which, naturally, reporter Scott Shane fails to mention).
Why the change? The tacit concession was forced by Stanley Kurtz and Steve Diamond — whom the Times chooses not to acknowledge but who hover over Shane’s sunny narrative like a dark cloud.
Despite all manner of stonewalling by Obama, Ayers and their allies, these commentators have doggedly pursued information about the Chicago Annenberg Challenge. That’s the $150+ million “education reform” piggy bank substantially controlled in the nineties by Ayers and Obama, who doled out tens of millions of dollars to Leftist radicals — radicals who, like their patrons, understood that control over our institutions, and especially our schools, was a surer and less risky way to spread their revolution than blowing up buildings and mass-murdering American soldiers. As Diamond observes, in a 2006 speech in Venezuela, with Leftist strongman Hugo Chavez looking on, Ayers exhorted: “Teaching invites transformations, it urges revolutions small and large. La educacion es revolucion!”
Be clear on that much: Whether clothed as a terrorist or an academic, Ayers has made abundantly clear in his public statements, both before and after he established a working relationship and mutual admiration society with Obama, that he remains a revolutionary fueled by hatred of the United States. And while Obama now ludicrously pleads ignorance about Ayers’s terrorism — the terrorism that made the unabashed Ayers an icon of the Left — understand that this rabid anti-Americanism is the common denominator running through Obama’s orbit of influences.
Yes, Ayers is blunter than Obama. As he so delicately told the Times, America makes him “want to puke.” The smoother Obama is content to say our society needs fundamental “change.” But what they’re talking about is not materially different.
Such sentiments should make Obama unelectable. So, when it comes to his own radical moorings, Obama is engaged in classic liar behavior. He changes his story as the facts change — and the burden is always on you to dig up the facts, not on him to come clean. Yesterday, asked to comment on the Ayers relationship, David Axelrod, Obama’s top political adviser, hilariously chirped, “There’s no evidence that they’re close.” Translation: Get back to us when you can prove more damaging information — until then, we don’t need to further refine our perjury.
And then Axelrod gave us still more lies: “There’s no evidence that Obama in any way subscribed to any of Ayers’ views.”
Oh yeah? Well, Mr. Axelrod, how do you explain Obama’s breathless endorsement of Ayers’s 1997 Leftist polemic on the criminal-justice system, A Kind and Just Parent? As Stanley Kurtz has recounted, Ayers’s book is a radical indictment of American society: We, not the criminals, are responsible for the violent crime that plagues our cities; even the most vicious juvenile offenders should not be tried as adults; prisons should eventually be replaced by home detention; American justice is comparable to South Africa under Apartheid. Obama’s reaction? He described the book as “a searing and timely account” — a take even the Times concedes was a “rave review.”
Obama and Ayers shared all kinds of views. That is why they worked so well together at the Chicago Annenberg Challenge (CAC), funding the likes of Mike Klonsky, a fellow SDS and Maoist associate of Ayers who, as Steve Diamond relates, used to host a “social justice” blog on Obama’s campaign website. With Obama heading the board of directors that approved expenditures and Ayers, the mastermind running its operational arm, hundreds of thousands of CAC dollars poured into the “Small Schools Workshop” — a project begun by Ayers and run by Klonsky to spur the revolution from the ground up.
Precisely because they shared the same views, Obama and Ayers also worked comfortably together on the board of the Woods Fund. There, they doled out thousands of dollars to Jeremiah Wright’s Trinity Church to promote its Marxist “black liberation theology.” Moreover, they underwrote the Arab American Action Network (AAAN) founded by Rashid Khalidi, a top apologist for Yasser Arafat. As National Review’s David Pryce-Jones notes, Khalidi once directed WAFA, the terrorist PLO’s news agency. Then, like Ayers, he repackaged himself as an academic who rails at American policy. The AAAN, which supports driver’s licenses and public welfare benefits for illegal aliens, holds that the establishment of Israel was an illegitimate “catastrophe.”
Khalidi, who regards Israel as a “racist” “apartheid” state, supports Palestinian terror strikes against Israeli military targets. It’s little surprise that he should be such a favorite of Ayers, the terrorist for whom “racism” and “apartheid” trip off the tongue as easily as “pass the salt.”
And it’s no surprise that the like-minded Obama would be a fan. Khalidi, after all, has mastered the Arafat art of posing as a moderate before credulous Westerners while (as Martin Kramer documents) scalding America’s “Zionist lobby” when addressing Arabic audiences. The Obama who decries “bitter” Americans “cling[ing] to guns or religion” when he’s in San Francisco but morphs into a God-fearing Second Amendment enthusiast when he’s in Pennsylvania — like the Obama who pummels NAFTA before labor union supporters but has advisers quietly assure the Canadians not to worry about such campaign cant — surely appreciates the craft.
Obama and Ayers not only demonstrated their shared view of Khalidi by funding him. They also gave glowing testimonials at a farewell dinner when Khalidi left the University of Chicago for Columbia’s greener pastures. That would be the same Columbia from which Obama graduated in 1983.
Khalidi was leaving to become director of Columbia’s Middle East Institute, assuming a professorship endowed in honor of another Arafat devotee, the late Edward Said. A hero of the Left who consulted with terrorist leaders (including Hezbollah’s Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah) and was once photographed hurling rocks at Israelis from the Lebanese border, Said was exposed by researcher Justus Reid Weiner as a fraud who had created a fictional account of his childhood, the rock on which he built his Palestinian grievance mythology.
We know precious little about Obama’s Columbia years, but the Los Angeles Times has reported that he studied under Said. In and of itself, that is meaningless: Said was a hotshot prof and hundreds of students took his comparative-lit courses. But Obama plainly maintained some sort of tie with Said — a photo making the Internet rounds shows Obama conversing with the great man himself at a 1998 Arab American community dinner in Chicago, where the Obamas and Saids were seated together.
Said had a wide circle of radical acquaintances. That circle clearly included Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn. When they came out of hiding in the early 1980s (while Obama was attending Columbia), Ayers took education courses at Bank Street College, adjacent to Columbia in Morningside Heights — before earning his doctorate at Columbia’s Teachers College in 1987.
Said was so enamored of Ayers that he commended the unrepentant terrorist’s 2001 memoir, Fugitive Days — the book in which the haughty Ayers brags about his Weatherman past — with this glowing dust-jacket blurb:
What makes Fugitive Days unique is its unsparing detail and its marvelous human coherence and integrity. Bill Ayers’s America and his family background, his education, his political awakening, his anger and involvement, his anguished re-emergence from the shadows: all these are rendered in their truth without a trace of nostalgia or “second thinking.” For anyone who cares about the sorry mess we are in, this book is essential, indeed necessary, reading.
Sorry mess, indeed. For his part, Ayers is at least equally enthralled by Said, of whom, even in death, Ayers says “[t]here is no one better positioned … to offer advice on the conduct of intellectual life[,]” than the man who was “over the last thirty-five years, the most passionate, eloquent, and clear-eyed advocate for the rights of the Palestinian people.”
After they left Columbia, both Obama and Ayers went to Chicago: Obama to become a “community organizer” (the director of the Developing Communities Project, an offshoot of the Gamaliel Foundation dedicated to Saul Alinsky’s principles for radicalizing society); Ayers, two years later, to teach at the University of Illinois. Diamond details how they both became embroiled in a major education controversy that resulted in 1988 reform legislation.
Ayers’s father, Tom Ayers, a prominent Chicago businessman, was also deeply involved in the reform effort. Interestingly, in 1988, while Obama and Ayers toiled on the same education agenda, Bernadine Dohrn worked as an intern at the prestigious Chicago law firm of Sidley Austin — even though she could not be admitted to the bar due to her contempt conviction for refusing to cooperate in a terrorist investigation. How could that happen? It turns out that Sidley was the longtime outside counsel for Tom Ayers’s company, Commonwealth Edison. That is, Ayers’ father had pull at the firm and successfully pressed for the hiring of his daughter-in-law.
The next summer, though he had gone off to Harvard Law School (another impressive accomplishment he prefers not to discuss), Obama returned to the Windy City to work as an intern at Sidley. Dohrn was gone by then to teach at Northwestern. A coincidence? Maybe (Diamond doesn’t think so), but that’s an awful lot of coincidences — and a long trail of common people, places and experiences — for people who purportedly didn’t know each other yet managed to end up as partners in significant financial and political ventures.
In short, Bill Ayers and Barack Obama moved in the same circles, were driven by the same cause, and admired the same radicals all the way from Morningside Heights to Hyde Park. They ended up publicly admiring each other, promoting each other’s work, sitting on the same boards, and funding the same Leftist agitators.
You could conclude, as I do, that it all goes back to a formative time in his life that Obama refuses to discuss. Or you could buy the fairy tale that Bill Ayers first encountered an unknown, inexperienced, third-year associate from a small Chicago law-firm over coffee in 1995 and suddenly decided Barack Obama was the perfect fit to oversee the $150 million pot of gold Ayers hoped would underwrite his revolution.
From the Los Angeles Times
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
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.
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.”
Aides say that Obama’s friendships with Palestinian Americans reflect only his ability to interact with a wide diversity of people, and that his views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have been consistent. Obama has called himself a “stalwart” supporter of the Jewish state and its security needs. He believes in an eventual two-state solution in which Jewish and Palestinian nations exist in peace, which is consistent with current U.S. policy.
Obama also calls for the U.S. to talk to such declared enemies as Iran, Syria and Cuba. But he argues that the Palestinian militant organization Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, is an exception, calling it a terrorist group that should renounce violence and recognize Israel’s right to exist before dialogue begins. That viewpoint, which also matches current U.S. policy, clashes with that of many Palestinian advocates who urge the United States and Israel to treat Hamas as a partner in negotiations.
“Barack’s belief is that it’s important to understand other points of view, even if you can’t agree with them,” said his longtime political strategist, David Axelrod.
Obama “can disagree without shunning or demonizing those with other views,” he said. “That’s far different than the suggestion that he somehow tailors his view.”
Looking for clues
But because Obama is relatively new on the national political scene, and new to foreign policy questions such as the long-simmering Israeli-Palestinian conflict, both sides have been looking closely for clues to what role he would play in that dispute.
And both sides, on certain issues, have interpreted Obama’s remarks as supporting their point of view.
Last year, for example, Obama was quoted saying that “nobody’s suffering more than the Palestinian people.” The candidate later said the remark had been taken out of context, and that he meant that the Palestinians were suffering “from the failure of the Palestinian leadership [in Gaza] to recognize Israel” and to renounce violence.
Jewish leaders were satisfied with Obama’s explanation, but some Palestinian leaders, including Ibish, took the original quotation as a sign of the candidate’s empathy for their plight.
Obama’s willingness to befriend Palestinian Americans and to hear their views also impressed, and even excited, a community that says it does not often have the ear of the political establishment.
Among other community events, Obama in 1998 attended a speech by Edward Said, the late Columbia University professor and a leading intellectual in the Palestinian movement. According to a news account of the speech, Said called that day for a nonviolent campaign “against settlements, against Israeli apartheid.”
The use of such language to describe Israel’s policies has drawn vehement objection from Israel’s defenders in the United States. A photo on the pro-Palestinian website the Electronic Intifada shows Obama and his wife, Michelle, engaged in conversation at the dinner table with Said, and later listening to Said’s keynote address. Obama had taken an English class from Said as an undergraduate at Columbia University.
Ali Abunimah, a Palestinian rights activist in Chicago who helps run Electronic Intifada, said that he met Obama several times at Palestinian and Arab American community events. At one, a 2000 fundraiser at a private home, Obama called for the U.S. to take an “even-handed” approach toward Israel, Abunimah wrote in an article on the website last year. He did not cite Obama’s specific criticisms.
Abunimah, in a Times interview and on his website, said Obama seemed sympathetic to the Palestinian cause but more circumspect as he ran for the U.S. Senate in 2004. At a dinner gathering that year, Abunimah said, Obama greeted him warmly and said privately that he needed to speak cautiously about the Middle East.
Abunimah quoted Obama as saying that he was sorry he wasn’t talking more about the Palestinian cause, but that his primary campaign had constrained what he could say.
Obama, through his aide Axelrod, denied he ever said those words, and Abunimah’s account could not be independently verified.
“In no way did he take a position privately that he hasn’t taken publicly and consistently,” Axelrod said of Obama. “He always had expressed solicitude for the Palestinian people, who have been ill-served and have suffered greatly from the refusal of their leaders to renounce violence and recognize Israel’s right to exist.”
In Chicago, one of Obama’s friends was Khalidi, a highly visible figure in the Arab American community.
In the 1970s, when Khalidi taught at a university in Beirut, he often spoke to reporters on behalf of Yasser Arafat’s Palestine Liberation Organization. In the early 1990s, he advised the Palestinian delegation during peace negotiations. Khalidi now occupies a prestigious professorship of Arab studies at Columbia.
He is seen as a moderate in Palestinian circles, having decried suicide bombings against civilians as a “war crime” and criticized the conduct of Hamas and other Palestinian leaders. Still, many of Khalidi’s opinions are troubling to pro-Israel activists, such as his defense of Palestinians’ right to resist Israeli occupation and his critique of U.S. policy as biased toward Israel.
While teaching at the University of Chicago, Khalidi and his wife lived in the Hyde Park neighborhood near the Obamas. The families became friends and dinner companions.
In 2000, the Khalidis held a fundraiser for Obama’s unsuccessful congressional bid. The next year, a social service group whose board was headed by Mona Khalidi received a $40,000 grant from a local charity, the Woods Fund of Chicago, when Obama served on the fund’s board of directors.
At Khalidi’s going-away party in 2003, the scholar lavished praise on Obama, telling the mostly Palestinian American crowd that the state senator deserved their help in winning a U.S. Senate seat. “You will not have a better senator under any circumstances,” Khalidi said.
The event was videotaped, and a copy of the tape was obtained by The Times.
Though Khalidi has seen little of Sen. Obama in recent years, Michelle Obama attended a party several months ago celebrating the marriage of the Khalidis’ daughter.
In interviews with The Times, Khalidi declined to discuss specifics of private talks over the years with Obama. He did not begrudge his friend for being out of touch, or for focusing more these days on his support for Israel — a stance that Khalidi calls a requirement to win a national election in the U.S., just as wooing Chicago’s large Arab American community was important for winning local elections.
Khalidi added that he strongly disagrees with Obama’s current views on Israel, and often disagreed with him during their talks over the years. But he added that Obama, because of his unusual background, with family ties to Kenya and Indonesia, would be more understanding of the Palestinian experience than typical American politicians.
“He has family literally all over the world,” Khalidi said. “I feel a kindred spirit from that.”
Ties with Israel
Even as he won support in Chicago’s Palestinian community, Obama tried to forge ties with advocates for Israel.
In 2000, he submitted a policy paper to CityPAC, a pro-Israel political action committee, that among other things supported a unified Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a position far out of step from that of his Palestinian friends. The PAC concluded that Obama’s position paper “suggests he is strongly pro-Israel on all of the major issues.”
In 2002, as a rash of suicide bombings struck Israel, Obama sought out a Jewish colleague in the state Senate and asked whether he could sign onto a measure calling on Palestinian leaders to denounce violence. “He came to me and said, ‘I want to have my name next to yours,’ ” said his former state Senate colleague Ira Silverstein, an observant Jew.
As a presidential candidate, Obama has won support from such prominent Chicago Jewish leaders as Penny Pritzker, a member of the family that owns the Hyatt hotel chain, and who is now his campaign finance chair, and from Lee Rosenberg, a board member of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
Nationally, Obama continues to face skepticism from some Jewish leaders who are wary of his long association with his pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., who had made racially incendiary comments during several sermons that recently became widely known. Questions have persisted about Wright in part because of the recent revelation that his church bulletin reprinted a Times op-ed written by a leader of Hamas.
One Jewish leader said he viewed Obama’s outreach to Palestinian activists, such as Said, in the light of his relationship to Wright.
“In the context of spending 20 years in a church where now it is clear the anti-Israel rhetoric was there, was repeated, . . . that’s what makes his presence at an Arab American event with a Said a greater concern,” said Abraham H. Foxman, national director for the Anti-Defamation League.