October 29th, 2008
08:23 PM ET

Rashid Khalidi: "scurrilous" charges

The McCain campaign has accused the Los Angeles Times of “intentionally suppressing” a videotape the newspaper obtained of a 2003 banquet where then-state Sen. Barack Obama spoke of his friendship and frequent dinners with fellow University of Chicago professor Rashid Khalidi, a leading Palestinian scholar and activist. The Times says making the tape public would violate an agreement with its source. Sen. John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin now claim Khalidi had been a spokesman for the Palestinian Liberation Organization. Khalidi denies that. Below are excerpts from a 2003 interview when Khalidi appeared on MSNBC to explain that he supports dialogue in the Middle East, and is not anti-American and anti-Israeli.

JOE SCARBOROUGH: Professor, let me begin with you and just ask you to defend yourself against these charges that you are anti-American or that you are anti-Israeli.

RASHID KHALIDI, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: Well, I don't think I should have to defend myself. The charges themselves are scurrilous and the people who are making them are not very reputable themselves. I am somebody whose record and what I've written is well known. I'm somebody who thinks that the United States has made some mistakes in the Middle East and that these are things that are not in the best interest of the United States or the American people.

And the kind of people who would call critics of this or that policy unpatriotic or un-American, I think, are doing the United States and the people of the United States a terrible disservice.

SCARBOROUGH: OK, well, let me bring up a quote or two and have you respond to these quotes and whether you think they are being misinterpreted. This is what you said in a speech in June: "Israel has killed three times as many innocent civilians as have Palestinians, for all the media hysteria about suicide bombers. Killing civilians is a war crime, whoever does it, although resistance to Israeli occupation is legitimate in international law."

Now, Professor, it sounds like you are saying there very much that suicide bombings, like the tragic one last week that killed quite a few young children, are legitimate in international law. Do you agree or disagree with that?

KHALIDI: Absolutely not. Absolutely not.

SCARBOROUGH: You do not believe that?

KHALIDI: Absolutely. That is not what I said and that's not even what the New York Post, which is notorious for making mistakes on things like this, said. What I said and what I believe is that killing civilians, in any manner, form, or shape, is a war crime, is a violation of international law. The massacre of innocent children by suicide bombers is, in my view, a war crime. And that is what I said in the speech that was taken out of context in that New York Post article...What I went on to say is that, in international law, in a situation where you have military occupation, resistance against that occupation is, under international law, considered legitimate. That is a far cry from suicide bombs or attacks on civilians, which are, as far as I'm concerned and as far as international law is concerned, war crimes.

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Read what the campaigns are saying about Obama’s relationship with Rashid Khalidi.

Filed under: Barack Obama • Rashid Khalidi • Raw Politics
soundoff (55 Responses)
  1. Nathan

    Assuming that there was an agreement not to show the video, the L.A. times can still release the full text transcript of the video. I don’t see what the big deal is, well unless you are trying to run defense for Obama instead of doing your job. That being the case, they have no journalistic integrity either, so release the video.

    October 29, 2008 at 10:17 pm |
  2. Deepa

    It's interesting that Palin and McCain are highlighting an association that really does not add up to the sinister motives they imply, particularly Palin. Obama has never said that he does not support Israel – what he has said is that Israelis and Palestinians need to find common ground. Are we not allowed to associate with people with whom we disagree? How else are we supposed to build consensus? If everyone thought the same way, then nothing would change.

    October 29, 2008 at 10:17 pm |
  3. Viv from NY

    OH Please a desperate campaign doing desperate things!
    Is McCain saying one can not talk or associate with people who have different views than we do ? What a closed minded leader he will be then. This story needs to go into the trash . Sad day when Mccain has to stoop this low.

    October 29, 2008 at 10:17 pm |
  4. Samantha

    Since when was every Palestinian Suddenl affiliated with the PLO, since when did we all agree with and support with the PLO, since when did someone wanting to see their country free and independent make them a terrorist or supporter of terrorist organizations, since when did not agreeing with all of America's foreign policy make someone un-American!??

    Because this man is Palestinian and Obama was friends with him, does not make either of them affiliated with terrorists. The GOP attempting to use this against Obama is really racial profiling to me, that they are pretty much saying all Palestinians are terrorists and being friends with a Palestinian makes you suddenly un-american. As a Palestinian American, a law abiding citizen, and a tax payer and an Ameircan citizen it pains me to see people making me and my people seem inferior to the rest of America.

    What happened to all men being created equal?
    Is this at all American? Is it?

    This is a cheap shot and very low of the Republican Party, and very low of anybody to agree with anything that they are claiming about this subject.

    I am a Palestinian, I do not support Fateh or the PLO, however I am critical of Israel. How does that make me a terrorist or un-American? Since when did everyone have to agree with every one of Americas foreign policy?

    Since when did being Palestinian or being friends with a Palestinian automatically make you any less of a person??

    Grow up, Sarah Palin
    Grow up, John McCain

    be Grown people stop being so immature, lose with some dignity and stop with these cheap shots

    October 29, 2008 at 10:16 pm |
  5. Karen

    Rashid, Rev.Wright, Ayers, the Republicans with Karl Rove will do whatever its takes right up to election day so I am not surprised by this non-story just like I was not impressed by the Republicans and FOXNEWS sleaze fest with the Bill Ayers story that last for several days and frizzled out. All America should be asking is " Am I better off economically then I was 8 years ago?". My personal answer is NO!. I am voting for Barack & Joe, no Republican sleaze campaign in the final few days, is going to change my mind.

    October 29, 2008 at 10:16 pm |
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