Still Protecting Obama's Radical Pal, Rashid Khalidi

For the second day in a row, the Times goes into defensive mode over radically anti-Israel professor and Obama pal Rashid Khalidi, who has defended killing Israeli soldiers in the name of "resistance."

Rashid Khalidi is a Columbia professor, anti-Israel radical - and yet another controversial friend of Barack Obama's.

John McCain has been raising his name on the trail, trying to pressure the Los Angeles Times to release a videotape of a dinner attended by Obama held in Khalidi's honor in 2003. And for the second day in a row, the New York Times goes into defensive mode to protect Khalidi (and by extension Obama) in a sympathetic Metro section story by Marc Santora and Elissa Gootman, "Political Storm Finds A Columbia Professor."

Rashid Khalidi had been bracing for the storm for months, friends said.

Since an April news report detailing his relationship with Senator Barack Obama, Mr. Khalidi, a Middle East scholar and passionate defender of Palestinian rights, had waited to see himself caricatured by Republicans as part of a rogues' gallery of Obama associates, which has come to include the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. and William C. Ayers, a former member of the Weather Underground.

He was surprised, the friends said, that so little criticism came - until this last frenzied week before the election, when Senator John McCain cited the April article in The Los Angeles Times about a dinner Mr. Obama attended in Mr. Khalidi's honor in 2003, and questioned Mr. Obama's commitment to Israel.

In recent days, Republican partisans have accused Mr. Khalidi, a professor at Columbia University since 2003, of everything from anti-Semitism to baby-sitting for Mr. Obama's children.

For Columbia, the firestorm is the latest episode in a string of messy, public controversies regarding Middle East politics. In 2004, pro-Palestinian professors were accused of intimidating Jewish students. Mr. Khalidi was not one of those teachers, but he was barred the next year from lecturing New York City public school teachers for having used the words "racist" and "apartheid" in discussions of Israel.


Mr. Khalidi, the Edward Said professor of Arab studies at Columbia, was born in Manhattan in 1948. His father, a Palestinian Muslim born in Jerusalem, worked for the United Nations, and his mother, a Lebanese-American Christian, was an interior decorator. He graduated from the United Nations International School and earned his bachelor's degree from Yale in 1970 and a doctorate from Oxford University in 1974.

He taught at universities in Lebanon until the mid-'80s, and some critics accuse him of having been a spokesman for the Palestine Liberation Organization. Mr. Khalidi has denied working for the group, and says he was consulted as an expert by reporters seeking to understand it.

National Review's Andy McCarthy begs to differ, and cites the Times' own reporting.

More from Friday's Times:

Addressing an accusation that he had endorsed the killing of Israeli soldiers as legitimate "resistance" to occupation, he said: "Under international law, resistance to occupation is legitimate. I didn't endorse killing Israeli soldiers. These people will take anything out of context. Anyone who knows me knows the last thing I am is extreme. I've called suicide bombings a war crime. I'm a ferocious critic of Arafat."

Rabbi J. Rolando Matalon of Congregation B'nai Jeshurun, a liberal synagogue on the Upper West Side, said he has known Mr. Khalidi for years and called the allegations "completely absurd and uncalled for and malicious."

It's not just an "accusation" but a fact, based on what Khalidi told a conference of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee in June 2002, as originally reported by the New York Sun in 2003:

'"Killing civilians is a war crime. It's a violation of international law. They are not soldiers. They're civilians, they're unarmed. The ones who are armed, the ones who are soldiers, the ones who are in occupation, that's different. That's resistance."