THE BLOG
12/01/2008 05:12 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The Rashid Khalidi, Iran, Anti Israel Bogeymen

by Taylor Marsh

Let's start with Juan Cole's "McCain Racism, Hypocrisy on Khalidi Issue." He gives an explanation that is continually ignored no matter how many people point it out.

The rightwing American way of speaking about these issues is bizarre from a Middle Eastern point of view. Lots of real living Israelis have close ties to actually existing Palestinians. There are 12 Palestinian members of the Israeli Knesset, and they have helped keep the Kadima government in power. Here is PLO leader Mahmoud Abbas with current Israeli Prime Minister Tzipi Livni; Livni has repeatedly negotiated with the PLO as foreign minister of Israel. McCain's entire line of attack assumes that Palestinian equals "bad" and ignores Israel's and the Bush administration's support for the PLO against Hamas.

The problem with the Khalidi, according to camp McCain, revolves around anti-Semitism. Shorter: McCain's behind so they're playing the Israel card, with Khalidi the route. Just listen to Mike Goldfarb, a McCain spokesman, try to weave this web, which leads him to a ghost.

What we're dealing with on this side of the pond is neoconservative delusion meeting up with the Rapture contingent spit out through politics. Sorry to be disrespectful of the religious fundamentalists, but when their greater fantasy meets up with our even greater urgency of dealing with the Palestinian and Israeli stalemate, I have no patience. Even Olmert thinks the notion of a "greater Israel" is an idea whose time has passed.

The Khalidi smear is born out of this delusion, brought to a boil over the figment of an Iran image that is dangerous for this country and our prospects for peace and security in the world, but also for a foreign policy that engages and solves challenges in a region that cries out for solutions. That we've got bigger problems percolating in Pakistan and the tribal regions is a subject I'll leave for another day.

Khalidi is the face of the right-wing's Israel card that McCain, Palin and their surrogates, as well as their radio barkers, are playing in order to scare people into thinking that Obama is something he's not. It's a way they can sew doubt and drape the anti Israel cape around him. As Sullivan also pointed out, this McCain ad comes complete with what's meant to be menacing music of that other culture.

The now infamous Khalidi tape that the L.A. Times has but won't release further aides the wingnut image fearmongers, because it teases that there's something to hide and the evil liberal media is helping hide it. There is no evidence whatsoever that the Khalidi tape has anything noteworthy on it. Since newspapers are in the business of breaking big stories, if they had anything juicy they'd have reported on it. Oh, except Obama appearing at an event with a Palestinian scholar. That's Obama's "crime." Hanging around with thinkers, intellectuals, a pro Palestinian man. The L.A. Times is very unlikely to release the tape, because they got it on condition that they wouldn't. Burning sources is a very bad habit for reporters and journalists to get into.

No one on the neoconservative side seems to understand that in order to get peace you need a relationship with the Palestinians, as well as the Israelis. Not one of animosity, but of mutual need, if nothing else. The irony is that Bush made all this much harder when he pushed the PLO for elections, with the outcome that Hamas won out. But they were elected. Even John McCain admitted that because of this we'd have to deal with it during an interview last summer with Jamie Rubin:

Rubin: Do you think the American diplomats should be operating the way they have in the past, working with Palestinian government if Hamas is now in charge?

McCain: They are the government, sooner or later we are going to have to deal with them, one way or another [...]

This is the usual, It's Okay If A Republican Offers To Talk To Hamas, because they're the Serious Ones on foreign policy and national security, but if a Democrat decides to talk with our adversaries to find common ground we're "soft," "anti American," etc. When you have Israel involved, coupled with a man who actually knows a Palestinian, well, it's swiftboating mana from heaven for McCain and his allies.

John McCain is shaking the Khalidi tree, giving permission to Sarah Palin and their supporters to do the same, just as Republican 527s unleash unholy swiftboating ads throughout the battleground states. Conservative bloggers have been trying to stir up a ruckus over it for days. If it doesn't work for the election, maybe they can delegitimize Obama going forward? The trolls are going to be very busy.