McCain: Slander First

In one of the more shameful episodes in the recent history of campaign flackery, Team McCain sent its blogger/spokesperson Mike Goldfarb out to shovel dirt at Columbia University professor Rashid Khalidi. After casually conceding that Khalidi received almost half a million dollars from the International Republican Institute back when it was headed by John McCain, Goldfarb proceeds to smear Khalidi as “unsavory” and an “anti-Semite” based on the fact that Khalidi happens to be an American of Palestinian descent and a critic of Israel’s policy of occupation and settlement in the West Bank.

Watch it:

New York University professor Barnett Rubin comes to Khalidi’s defense:

I actually find it demeaning, insulting, and depressing to have to defend Rashid. I could say, I know him, he has been a guest in my home in New York and in my rented house in Provence, he bears absolutely no resemblance to the image these despicable people are trying to project of him, and lot’s more. I could point out that I am Jewish and have VISIBLE JEWISH ARTIFACTS IN MY HOME, which did not appear to alarm Rashid, if he even noticed them, but it is all just so ridiculous I don’t know what to say.

I don’t want to treat these charges with the respect of a refutation. I just want to express my disgust with those who uttered them and my solidarity with my friend, Rashid Khalidi.

Scott Horton also speaks up for Khalidi:

Rashid Khalidi is an American academic of extraordinary ability and sharp insights. He is also deeply committed to stemming violence in the Middle East, promoting a culture that embraces human rights as a fundamental notion, and building democratic societies… He sees education and civic activism as the path to success, and he argues that pervasive military interventionism has historically undermined the Middle East and will continue to do so. Khalidi has also been one of the most articulate critics of the PLO and the Palestinian Authority—calling them repeatedly on their anti-democratic tendencies and their betrayals of their own principles.

A few years ago, Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz “offered a large monetary award (payable to the PLO) for anyone who could actually come up with a quote by a prominent pro-Israeli writer who equated mere criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism.” Given that Goldfarb is a former writer-editor for a prominent conservative magazine, I think Dershowitz owes the PLO some money.