Not that professor Rashid Khalidi of Columbia University needs my help, but I couldn't help staying quiet as the Republican smear machine picked on this soft-speaking American of Palestinian origin.
I first met Professor Khalidi in the old city of Jerusalem. He was on a multi year summer mission to revamp the Khalidi -- library one of the oldest libraries in Jerusalem. His effort was to restore really old manuscripts and provide global academics with the access to those rare documents. I am not sure whether the reported funding by the IRI (the International Republican Institute) which McCain headed at the time was for this project or another, but clearly Professor Khalidi has and continues to be a hard-working academic and researcher.
Professor Khalidi has repeatedly denied that he ever received any monies or had any connection with the Palestine Liberation Organization, not that there is anything wrong with that. After all, the United States recognizes the PLO and has regularly interacted with PLO leaders starting in the administration of George H Bush to the Clinton eight years and even the current Bush administration. Every time President George W. Bush meets with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, the American president is meeting with the Chairman of the PLO executive committee.
What is sad, however, is that American politics has stooped so low that a Moslem and Arab or a Palestinian are dismissed not for what they say or what they do but for who they are. Rashid Khalidi's sin is not whether he is or is not a spokesman of the PLO -- his real sin is that he is an American of Palestinian origin that presidential nominee Barack Obama knew.
In the current republican fear mongering, anti-Islam and anti-Palestinianism is also matched with pro-Israelisation. The latest right wing celebrity is Joe the Plumber, whose rise to fame was connected to issues of taxes and domestic economy was also thrust in foreign policy. Joe the Plumber's latest brown nosing US conservatisms was his statement that about Israel. Stopping at a flag store, in Ohio, Wurzelbacher twice agreed with a questioner who said that "a vote for Obama is a vote for the death to Israel."
The only silver lining in all these gutter level guilt by association and smearing honorable Americans like Rashid Khalidi, is that after November 4th this sad era will hopefully be over for a long long time.
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