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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