One of the many recent rightwing freakouts is about the idea that the media is covering up some kind of close relationship between Barack Obama and Rashid Khalidi and this in turn shows, I guess, that the US is going to adopt a left-wing Arab nationalist perspective toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
But Sam Stein reports:
In regards to Khalidi, however, the guilt-by-association game burns John McCain as well.
During the 1990s, while he served as chairman of the International Republican Institute (IRI), McCain distributed several grants to the Palestinian research center co-founded by Khalidi, including one worth half a million dollars.
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. (See grant number 5180, “West Bank: CPRS” on page 14 of this PDF.)
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.”
Not that there’s anything wrong with that! But it does expose some pretty massive hypocrisy on the part of the right-wing. Meanwhile, the real truth about Obama’s approach to Israel policy is that though there have been some promising signs, there have also been many moments when Obama’s been disappointingly timid on this issue. It’s an issue that calls for a dramatic substantive departure from the conventional wisdom — the tragedy of the matter, as everyone says, is that everyone more-or-less knows what a final status agreement would look like. But it is an issue that calls for boldness and the taking of some political risks under circumstances where there’s little political upside. I hope Obama’s got what it takes, and some days I even think he does. But anyone who thinks there’s a real risk of Khalidi controlling US policy toward Israel is living on some other planet.