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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Los Angeles Times' Obama, Khalidi, and perhaps Ayers, too, Video Controversy

By now most of you have heard that the Los Angeles Times is refusing to release a videotape of Barack Obama praising Rashid Khalidi, a director in Beirut, from 1976 to 1982, of the official PLO press agency WAFA. However, I think most people are missing the most important aspects of this issue. So here are my thoughts.

We don't need this video to know that Barack Obama has a close relationship to Rashid Khalidi; we already know that to be true.

In an April 10, 2008 Los Angeles Times report (yes, that's the same L.A. Times that refuses to release the video), Peter Wallsten stated that at the 2003 Khalidi going away party, "A special tribute came from Khalidi's friend and frequent dinner companion, the young state Sen. Barack Obama."

Wallsten goes on to say this:

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."

So we really don't need the video to know that Obama has a very friendly relationship with Khalidi.

What I would like to know is this: Why has Barack Obama tried to deceive the American people by claiming that his relationship with Khalidi consists only of his kids going to school with Khalidi's kids and of Obama having one conversation with Mr. Khalidi? This is the claim that he makes on his Fight the Smears website.

[Khalidi] is not one of my advisors; he’s not one of my foreign policy people. His kids went to the Lab school where my kids go as well. He is a respected scholar, although he vehemently disagrees with a lot of Israel’s policy…To pluck out one person who I know and who I’ve had a conversation with who has very different views than 900 of my friends and then to suggest that somehow that shows that maybe I’m not sufficiently pro-Israel, I think, is a very problematic stand to take…So we gotta be careful about guilt by association. -emphasis mine

It seems to me that having a conversation with Khalidi is very different from having many conversations "around Mona and Rashid's dinner table." Why the disparity? What is Barack Obama trying to hide?

Here is the second important aspect of the video controversy that is largely being ignored: Reports are that domestic terrorists William Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn were at this same event. If either of them, and especially Ayers, appears on this video, what would that do to Obama's claim that Ayers is just a guy who lives in the neighborhood? Is this why the L.A. Times refuses to release the video?

If you think that this Los Angeles Times should release this video, you can e-mail them and help to put the pressure on them.

Here's the address: readers.rep@latimes.com

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