Rashid Khalidi, Barack Obama’s frequent dinner companion, was closer to Yasser Arafat’s terrorist group than you may think.
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IN THE WAKE OF THE 1991 GULF WAR, then Secretary of State James Baker launched peace talks featuring Israel and the Palestinians, which were held in Madrid. The Israelis only agreed to the talks under the condition that the PLO not be involved in the negotiations, which turned out to be farcical, because the terrorist group operated from behind the scenes, giving marching orders to the Palestinian delegation of which Khalidi was a part.
As Khalidi recounts in his 1997 book Palestinian Identity: The Construction of Modern National Consciousness, while he was in Jerusalem during the summer of 1991, he “agreed to the request of Faisal al-Husayni that, if the Palestinians became involved in negotiations with Israel…I would serve as an adviser to the Palestinian delegation.”
That fall, he wrote, “on the eve of the sudden convocation of the Madrid conference, I received a call from PLO officials in Tunis asking me to confirm that I was indeed going to Madrid, since the names of the delegation and its advisers had to be presented to Secretary Baker’s assistants that very night.”
Khalidi goes on to explain that while he “did not participate in the entirety of every round of discussions” he and his Palestinian colleagues “worked extremely hard,” and he not only acted as an adviser during the October and November Madrid talks, but also in “each of the ten Palestinian-Israeli bilateral negotiating sessions in Washington which continued until June 1993.”
(A digital scan of the relevant section of the book is available here.)
Taken as a whole, the record shows that Khalidi — whether or not he should officially be called a “spokesman” — clearly was tight with the PLO, having acted as an adviser at the group’s request, and regularly speaking on its behalf.
As a professor, Khalidi has established himself as the heir to Edward Said, the leading anti-Israel intellectual of the 20th century (with whom Obama famously broke bread at a 1998 Arab community event in Chicago). He has said that American Jewish supporters of Israel have been “brainwashed” and that they can’t accept the fact that Israel is “an apartheid system in creation.” And when it comes to peace talks, Khalidi said, “The United States is actually worse than Israel on some issues.”
So what, exactly, are the “blind spots” and “biases” that Obama is so grateful to Khalidi for exposing in their frequent dinners? And what part of their conversation does Obama hope spreads around “this entire world”?
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