Politics & Policy

The L.A. Times Suppresses Obama’s Khalidi Bash Tape

Obama, Ayers, and PLO supporters toast Edward Said's successor, but the press doesn't think it's quite as newsworthy as Sarah Palin's wardrobe.

Let’s try a thought experiment. Say John McCain attended a party at which known racists and terror mongers were in attendance. Say testimonials were given, including a glowing one by McCain for the benefit of the guest of honor … who happened to be a top apologist for terrorists. Say McCain not only gave a speech but stood by, in tacit approval and solidarity, while other racists and terror mongers gave speeches that reeked of hatred for an American ally and rationalizations of terror attacks.

Now let’s say the Los Angeles Times obtained a videotape of the party.

Question: Is there any chance — any chance – the Times would not release the tape and publish front-page story after story about the gory details, with the usual accompanying chorus of sanctimony from the oped commentariat? Is there any chance, if the Times was the least bit reluctant about publishing (remember, we’re pretending here), that the rest of the mainstream media (y’know, the guys who drove Trent Lott out of his leadership position over a birthday-party toast) would not be screaming for the release of the tape?

Do we really have to ask?

So now, let’s leave thought experiments and return to reality: Why is the Los Angeles Times sitting on a videotape of the 2003 farewell bash in Chicago at which Barack Obama lavished praise on the guest of honor, Rashid Khalidi — former mouthpiece for master terrorist Yasser Arafat?

At the time Khalidi, a PLO adviser turned University of Chicago professor, was headed east to Columbia. There he would take over the University’s Middle East-studies program (which he has since maintained as a bubbling cauldron of anti-Semitism) and assume the professorship endowed in honor of Edward Sayyid, another notorious terror apologist.

The party featured encomiums by many of Khalidi’s allies, colleagues, and friends, including Barack Obama, then an Illinois state senator, and Bill Ayers, the terrorist turned education professor. It was sponsored by the Arab American Action Network (AAAN), which had been founded by Khalidi and his wife, Mona, formerly a top English translator for Arafat’s press agency.

Is there just a teeny-weenie chance that this was an evening of Israel-bashing Obama would find very difficult to explain? Could it be that the Times, a pillar of the Obamedia, is covering for its guy?

Gateway Pundit reports that the Times has the videotape but is suppressing it.

Back in April, the Times published a gentle story about the fete. Reporter Peter Wallsten avoided, for example, any mention of the inconvenient fact that the revelers included Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn, Ayers’s wife and fellow Weatherman terrorist. These self-professed revolutionary Leftists are friendly with both Obama and Khalidi — indeed, researcher Stanley Kurtz has noted that Ayers and Khalidi were “best friends.” (And — small world! — it turns out that the Obamas are extremely close to the Khalidis, who have reportedly babysat the Obama children.)

Nor did the Times report the party was thrown by AAAN. Wallsten does tell us that the AAAN received grants from the Leftist Woods Fund when Obama was on its board — but, besides understating the amount (it was $75,000, not $40,000), the Times mentions neither that Ayers was also on the Woods board at the time nor that AAAN is rabidly anti-Israel. (Though the organization regards Israel as illegitimate and has sought to justify Palestinian terrorism, Wallsten describes the AAAN as “a social service group.”)

Perhaps even more inconveniently, the Times also let slip that it had obtained a videotape of the party.

Wallsten’s story is worth excerpting at length (italics are mine):

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.”…

[T]he 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 … his opponents for the White House….

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.

So why is the Times sitting on the videotape of the Khalidi festivities? Given Obama’s (preposterous) claims that he didn’t know Ayers that well and was unfamiliar with Ayers’s views, why didn’t the Times report that Ayers and Dohrn were at the bash? Was it not worth mentioning the remarkable coincidence that both Obama and Ayers — the “education reform” allies who barely know each other … except to the extent they together doled out tens of millions of dollars to Leftist agitators, attacked the criminal justice system, and raved about each others books — just happen to be intimate friends of the same anti-American Israel-basher? (Despite having watched the videotape, Wallsten told Gateway Pundit he “did not know” whether Ayers was there.)

Why won’t the Times tell us what was said in the various Khalidi testimonials? On that score, Ayers and Dohrn have always had characteristically noxious views on the Israeli/Palestinian dispute. And, true to form, they have always been quite open about them. There is no reason to believe those views have ever changed. Here, for example, is what they had to say in Prairie Fire, the Weather Underground’s 1974 Communist manifesto (emphasis in original):

Palestinian independence is opposed with reactionary schemes by Jordan, completely opposed with military terror by Israel, and manipulated by the U.S. The U.S.-sponsored notion of stability and status-quo in the Mideast is an attempt to preserve U.S. imperialist control of oil, using zionist power as the cat’s paw. The Mideast has become a world focus of struggles over oil resources and control of strategic sea and air routes. Yet the Palestinian struggle is at the heart of other conflicts in the Mideast. Only the Palestinians can determine the solution which reflects the aspirations of the Palestinian people. No “settlements” in the Mideast which exclude the Palestinians will resolve the conflict. Palestinian liberation will not be suppressed.

The U.S. people have been seriously deceived about the Palestinians and Israel. This calls for a campaign to educate and focus attention on the true situation: teach-ins, debates, and open clear support for Palestinian liberation; reading about the Palestinian movement—The Disinherited by Fawaz Turki, Enemy of the Sun; opposing U.S. aid to Israel. Our silence or acceptance of pro-zionist policy is a form of complicity with U.S.-backed aggression and terror, and a betrayal of internationalism.

SELF-DETERMINATION FOR THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE!

U.S. OUT OF THE MIDEAST!

END AID TO ISRAEL!

Barack Obama wouldn’t possibly let something like that pass without a spirited defense of the Israel he tells us he so staunchly supports … would he? I guess to answer that question, we’d have to know what was on the tape.

But who has time for such trifles? After all, isn’t Diana Vreeland about to critique Sarah Palin’s sartorial splendor?

National Review’s Andrew C. McCarthy chairs the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies’s Center for Law & Counterterrorism and is the author of Willful Blindness: A Memoir of the Jihad (Encounter Books 2008).

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