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. Arlene-St. Louis

    I lost my job yesterday. I don't care about a PLO issue.

    October 29, 2008 at 10:16 pm |
  2. Arthur

    Just more of the same from the McCain campaign here...they're too busy pointing fingers and playing diva to talk about the important issues; instead in a mode of last desperation they dig up an article about Khalidi...look, Obama had many opportunities to bring up G. Gordon Liddy, but he did not. He's been running the straight and true campaign that McCain promised us so many months ago. Lambast his character they may, but Obama's character rings true and clear. Congratulations, President Elect Obama.

    October 29, 2008 at 10:16 pm |
  3. Teresa

    I am very dismayed that McCain has yet again brought forth "trash talk" to slander Obama. I watched Mr. McCain's interview with Larry King and still have not heard one word laying out any details about his White House agenda – instead just more negative criticisim. Does McCain have a clear plan for America or will he just continue to be an angry man, if elected?
    Atlanta, GA

    October 29, 2008 at 10:16 pm |
  4. Aziz Musa

    So what if Obama was at the same banquet with Khalidi five years ago.Bill Clinton brought Yasser Arafat to the White House.Does that make Clinton "paling with terrorists".It is only McCain's policy of scare tactics just like that of George Bush.

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

    This is outrages to suggest that every Palestinian intellectual that condems the war crimes that commits by Isreali aggression forces is labeled a terrorist. I woul suggest that you read the Isreali Haaretz newspaper that agrees that Isreal commits these crimes against Palestinian Civilians.

    October 29, 2008 at 10:16 pm |
  6. emily

    I would like to know what is on the tape that LA Times is covering, did senator Obama made comments regarding his relationship with Kahlidi, also was Bill Ayers in that dinner?. As I mentioned I would want to know. Im one of the undecided.

    October 29, 2008 at 10:16 pm |
  7. Ken from CA

    A campaign to win "no matter what" that shows no morals and no ethics also has no honor. I cannot understand how Senator McCain, someone who I have had great admiration for, could let his own ego and the greed of his campaign staff ,blind him and cost him his reputation. His weird decisions and spastic behavior may be attractive to the radical right but not those of us who are in the middle and looking for a path to the future.

    October 29, 2008 at 10:16 pm |
  8. Damen

    Anderson, this is a joke. 1. This are horrible cries of desperation these last few days before the election. 2. It amazes how much we are swayed by opinions about Israel and the pro-Israeli lobby in America. This is really stupid and proof that America needs to turn the knotch down when it comes to special interests and look out for ourselves. God Bless The Unitesd States of America!!!

    October 29, 2008 at 10:15 pm |
  9. david

    By the way tell your fact checker to recheck his fact.
    Khalidi was the co-founder of that organization that John McCain and his republican friends financed hundreds of thousands of dollar. So they did have some sort of relationship as well.

    October 29, 2008 at 10:15 pm |
  10. Martin

    This is Unbelievably rediculous.

    If guilt by association is legitimate then the Media should exploit the countless questionable associations that McCain and Palin have had with people and Groups in the past.

    October 29, 2008 at 10:14 pm |
  11. leon

    sure I would expect such lies from republicans I wouldn't palin to pass up a chance to fuel a fire but jezz aren't the democrates nice for rubbing todd palin's succesionism inwhich sara showed full support of " joe volger" if I'm wrong please correct me!

    October 29, 2008 at 10:14 pm |
  12. Louie Sierra

    Make that an 11th hour slight of hand! lol

    October 29, 2008 at 10:14 pm |
  13. Vanessa

    This is just another lame attempt by the McCain campaign to link Obama to 'terrorists'. It seems all he has to do is link him with an 'Arab sounding' person in order to fan the flames of hatred and division. You see, that is what you do when you can't win based on the issues and other substantive measures.

    There seems to be no end to the lows they will stoop to in order to get votes.

    October 29, 2008 at 10:14 pm |
  14. Bev

    McCain & Co. is playing the terrorist card again. The Ayers + Obama = terrorists card did not get the kind of traction the McCain Camp needed. So let's bring out the big gun – an ARAB. And a PLO ARAB at that. I'm surprised McCain didn't whisper "Barak HUSSEIN Obama" while snarking on the Larry King Show. For a man whose reputation has hinged on honor, he has run a most dishonorable campaign by pandering to the most xenophobic, intellectually stunted, fearful citizens among us.

    October 29, 2008 at 10:14 pm |
  15. Aaron, CA

    This is just a sign of McCain's desperation.

    October 29, 2008 at 10:14 pm |
  16. Laura..MD

    This is a non-issue. It's a distraction!! Get over it. People are losing their jobs, pensions, retirement. Focus on the real issues.

    October 29, 2008 at 10:14 pm |
  17. Peter

    I am sick of CNN for constantly being a mouth peice for McCain's negative rhetorics. You guys just play and play it over and over. If you have proven this claim is false, why continue to keep airing the story? Spreading propaganda for McCain?

    October 29, 2008 at 10:14 pm |
  18. Morris Pulliam, MD

    Once again, McCain is dragging out unsupported, false trash. Clearly, he is running out of gas. He should conceed and get on with his life.

    October 29, 2008 at 10:13 pm |
  19. angie

    No one cares about this. The Republicans are grasping at straws with their stupidity, dishonesty, and politics of yesterday. Everything they throw seems to come back to them, and they are left with egg all over their faces.

    October 29, 2008 at 10:13 pm |
  20. Louie Sierra

    This is nothing but an 11th McCain "slight-of-hand" in a desparate effort to derail Obama's forward momentum.

    October 29, 2008 at 10:13 pm |
  21. Fred

    Let the truth end this controversy. Release the tapes and let the public be the judge. There should be nothing to hide. I say put it out there and put an end to this.

    October 29, 2008 at 10:12 pm |
  22. Ray MD

    The desperation of the McCain campaign in involving people like Khalidi in this campaign and by innuendo, impugning their reputations without proof, is too reminiscent of the McCarthy era. America has had enough of guilt by association. Mr. McCain should not be throwing stones when his own past could have been dragged through the mud. Stick to issues.

    October 29, 2008 at 10:12 pm |
  23. Kannan

    This is McCain-Palin camp's last ditch attempt to try and brainwash Americans that have already made up their mind to send a message to the current administration and the Republic party that enough is enough. McCain has run a dirty campaign and just for that he does not deserve anyone's vote.


    October 29, 2008 at 10:12 pm |
  24. Sharon Gamble

    Each time when I think that John McCain maybe getting ready to play fair, he comes up with this "negativeness". Why is is "straight talk" always tinged with 70% of lies? And he wants the American people to know that Obama is not telling the truth?

    October 29, 2008 at 10:12 pm |
  25. Joe M

    This is scandalous that the L.A. Times will not release the video. What are they hiding? Aren't they a news organization that is supposed to report the facts? They need to release this NOW!.

    October 29, 2008 at 10:12 pm |
  26. Ann

    At what point does insulating yourself from a wide range of people with differing ideas and experiences become a requirement for elected office?

    October 29, 2008 at 10:12 pm |
  27. Ronan

    Oh please. This is boring.

    October 29, 2008 at 10:11 pm |
  28. David

    About the "Keeping Them Honest" segment that just ran on this, I'd like to add that when the McCain camp says falsehood A, and "liberal bloggers" who support Obama say falsehood B, the two don't really cancel each other out. McCain should be held responsible for his statements, and Obama his. Neither camp is responsible for the statements of bloggers.

    October 29, 2008 at 10:11 pm |
  29. Max

    This Rashid Khalidi business is not a story. Stop reporting on it. It's just as contrived as the Ayers controversy. Let's focus on the candidates and the issues, not distant associates.

    October 29, 2008 at 10:11 pm |
  30. Zac

    A manufactured controversy .... McCain camp is desperate ....so so desperate

    October 29, 2008 at 10:11 pm |
  31. judy

    This whole thing is ridicuous. The bottom line is that Obama does not agree with this man. You can check that with CNN Fact Check.

    October 29, 2008 at 10:09 pm |
  32. Larry

    Guess the job of 'Muslim Advisor' for Obama has been filled.

    October 29, 2008 at 10:08 pm |
  33. Mesha

    I think at this point Americans are looking at this as just another tactic of lies. Besides you all have confirmed that the implication is not true. What concerns me is why is it that the McCain campaign continues to make accusations that they can not support with facts. It makes them look deseperate.

    October 29, 2008 at 10:08 pm |
  34. OGA

    One or two may be ok, but a chain of associations with questionable characters by Obama is beginning to worry me. I know we want change, and by God, this country deserve change, but the cost of that change shouldn’t be too much for the American people to bear, which is why we all deserve to vote for someone we know will not bring shame and embarrassment to the office by post-election revelations. I would hope the LA Times will release this tape before Election Day.

    October 29, 2008 at 9:58 pm |
  35. Megan

    Dear Anderson Cooper,
    I was dismayed at Sara Palin’s characterization of Prof. Rashid Khalidi as “radical.” As a student of International Relations, minoring in Middle Eastern studies I have on several occasions read Khalidi’s work. I may not always agree with his position, but his arguments are always well supported and thought provoking. Dr. Khalidi’s criticism is an important voice challenging and questioning the accepted narratives of Middle Eastern history. Khalidi’s characterization as “radical” by Sara Palin is an indication of the McCain campaign’s small-mindedness. Even in disagreement, any academic knows the value of a strong counterargument. It ensures that both sides of the coin have been examined.
    Furthermore it is not an insignificant point that the PLO is the UN recognized organization representing the Palestinian people. There is nothing specious about a Palestinian man from a prominent Palestinian family associating in any way with the official Palestinian political entity. Prof. Khalidi has also been a vocal critic of the PLO and its ability to adequately represent and service the Palestinian people.
    Unfortunately, after all ballots are cast on Tuesday this election will be decided and over, but Khalidi will still have the word “radical” associated with his name. That is a new low to bring campaign rhetoric.

    October 29, 2008 at 9:57 pm |
  36. john

    The people of the U.S.A should see the tape. it took years to plan 9-11 with all the bad friends of Obama, terrorists, Obama could be the one to take down America, the great deprestion was caused by over taxing the rich. he will take down America

    October 29, 2008 at 9:54 pm |
  37. Stephen Rodriguez in Texas

    Why does the LA Times not want to release this? Are they afraid the American public will make up their own minds without the direction of the media? Give us the information we deserve. It is not outdated. After all, the media dragged up info on G.W. Bush that was 30 years old when he was running for President. Fair is fair. We live in the USA, and the media should provide us with unbiased information. Well, they should, anyway, although it does not appear to be enforceable.

    October 29, 2008 at 9:54 pm |
  38. LYNN


    October 29, 2008 at 9:50 pm |
  39. George M

    AC, can expose this Rashid Khalidi Tape??
    I think that will do United States a lot of good!

    Am still baffled by all of these people gets tied to Sen. Obama? Has CNN done enough to clear all of these allegations of William Ayers, Rashid Khalidi, Tony Rusco, was Farakhans name mentioned with Million Men march?

    This will be a great question to ask Sen. Obama when he comes to CNN on Friday, don't you think?

    Hello John Galt, PLO is not a religious organization, it was a Terrorist's Organization – Rashid Khalidi was paid by them.

    William Ayers is the Founder of "Weather Underground" which was a Terrorist organization..

    It is scary that some how our future President's has been around these people...dont you think?

    October 29, 2008 at 9:49 pm |
  40. Wendy in NC

    If he is such a bad guy, an anti-American, as Palin would have us think...then why did the IRI whose chairman was none other than John McCain provide Professor Khalidi with a $500,000 grant for Mideast studies?? Please answer that, Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin.

    October 29, 2008 at 9:49 pm |
  41. Priscilla Schiltz

    i guess that makes Todd Palin a mouthpiece for the Alaskan separatist group he belonged to. I dont know how much plainer his answers about suicide bombers could have been

    October 29, 2008 at 9:43 pm |
  42. susan

    I'm sick of Republican mud flinging , lies and insinuations. 8 years of lies, corruption and war mongering is enough.

    October 29, 2008 at 9:41 pm |
  43. Lynn McCaghren

    Cindy: I read where Scarorough comments on "quotes from others." I also see where KHALIDI clarified that those "quotes" are not accurate. He then reiterated his stance. There is a difference between attacks on civilians, and an attack on military occupation. That is the way I see it, and that is the way he explained it.

    October 29, 2008 at 9:38 pm |
  44. Lee from CA

    I believe McCain helped with funding for one of Khalidi's research projects. If everyone that has criticized the US government in the past 8 years were called on the carpet, we would be here for the next 20 years.
    If Mr. Khalidi is a threat to our country, do you think he would still be running free? Just, yet another fear tactic from the flailing campaign.
    Republicans shoud really try a new tactic. How about TRUTH!

    October 29, 2008 at 9:23 pm |
  45. John Lubeck

    Get a brain

    October 29, 2008 at 9:22 pm |
  46. DA

    Wow, it's so amazing how things can be taken out of context to statisfy ones own agenda. Why is it that if a person has spoken with, attended the same meeting or even attempted to educated our youth , but come from different ideologies, they are considered radicals. This country was built on differences with a common goal. How soon many people forget. If we spend more time looking at what makes us alike instead of different, just maybe we could resolve some of our problems in America and the world.

    October 29, 2008 at 9:10 pm |
  47. chistina from atlantic city,n.j.


    October 29, 2008 at 9:09 pm |
  48. Brian Hudson

    This was the final straw for me with Gov. Palin. I am a Republican married to a Palestinian. Not only is she ignorant when it comes to the history behind this conflict but she is making an accusation that is not backed up by any facts. I don't condone the actions of the PLO but because I disagree with the way Israel operates would make me a member? Obama just one my vote.

    October 29, 2008 at 9:04 pm |
  49. Cindy

    Rashid Khalidi did nothing but a lot of double talk in that interview. He even refused to answer questions. And when he did answer he did a lot of around the way answering trying to get off the main subject. Then he was proven to be lying when it was shown exactly where and when he said one quote that he just had stated that he didn't say.

    Of course he is not going to admit to being a mouth piece for the PLO. He does want to keep a job!


    October 29, 2008 at 8:42 pm |
  50. John Galt

    international law.....what a joke. who is enforcing these laws? certainly not the US who most certainly turned our backs on the UN when we invaded Iraq in the "W" admin. we simply said, we do as we pleased.

    if we are to criticize and label every single person who speaks their mind even if it rubs us the wrong way, then we should just eliminate the first amendment because this just makes us hypocrites if we take the higher moral ground....we separate church and state because it is religion's job to take the moral ground, it is the states job to bring justice and equality.

    October 29, 2008 at 8:38 pm |
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