In recent days, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and his surrogates have attempted to paint Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) as holding anti-Israel views because of his relationship with Palestinian-American Professor Rashid Kahlidi. Last night on Fox News Channel, Rudy Giuliani continued the anti-Khalidi campaign by claiming that he holds a “very hostile view of Israel” and has “a connection to the PLO.” Giuliani disapprovingly noted that the Woods Foundation funded “Khalidi’s organizations” while Obama was a board member:
Senator Obama and Ayers, sitting on the Woods board, gave something like $70,000 or $80,000 to Khalidi’s organizations that participated in giving — doing these exhibits which would, I think, tell just one side of the story in terms of the Middle East. … But — and all that is available from public record.
In fact, the “public record” shows that Khalidi is a well-respected, mainstream scholar of Middle Eastern studies. As the Washington Post explained in a 2004 profile of Khalidi and his book Resurrecting Empire:
Among other scholars who specialize in the region, [Khalidi’s book] isn’t a radical take on the present state of affairs. Michael C. Hudson, director of the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies at Georgetown, describes Khalidi as preeminent in his field, a courageous scholar and public figure. […]
Khalidi’s book is equally critical of corrupt Arab nationalist regimes and Israeli policies in the occupied territories. It is measured, perhaps even a bit safe in its main argument.
Further demonstrating the inaccuracy of the McCain campaign’s characterization of Khalidi is the fact that while McCain served as chairman of its board, the International Republican Institute distributed several grants to the Palestinian research center co-founded by Khalidi.” Seth Colter Walls reports:
A 1998 tax filing for the McCain-led group shows a $448,873 grant to Khalidi’s Center for Palestine Research and Studies for work in the West Bank. … The relationship extends back as far as 1993, when John McCain joined IRI as chairman in January. Foreign Affairs noted in September of that year that IRI had helped fund several extensive studies in Palestine run by Khalidi’s group, including over 30 public opinion polls and a study of “sociopolitical attitudes.”
As Ezra Klein notes, “This, of course, just goes to show how absurd it is to suggest that Khalidi is some sort of radical polemicist. The guy is such a credentialed and respected scholar that even right-leaning organizations have funded his work, simply because it’s good work.”