The National Council for Young Israel (NCYI) sent a letter to the Los Angeles Times, asking the California newspaper to release the tape of farewell party for Columbia University Professor Rashid Khalidi. Khalidi is a known anti-Semite (anti-Israel, anti-Jew even is a better term since Arabs are Semites as well). During the farewell party, some horrendous pro-terrorism statements were made and such poetry was recited, seemingly without Barack Obama saying anything about it.
Not only that, but some sources have told bloggers that Obama may have made anti-Israel statements himself during the party.
Needless to say, the LAT could cause a tremendous firestorm if it would release the tape. However, since they are not an official part of the Obama campaign, they should do their journalist duty first and foremost. Firestorms be damned, this is about sharing with the public the information they need to be able to make an educated vote. If Obama's position towards Israel is different than he has said in the last few months, this should be shared with the public.
Here is the letter the NCYI sent to the LAT:
To the Editor
The election of the President of the United States and the peaceful transition of power from one president to the next is the hallmark of America's constitutional democracy. The First Amendment of the Constitution guarantees the freedom of the press, another hallmark of our democracy. It is, therefore, most disturbing that your paper is hypocritically hiding behind a promise to a source and withholding information from the public that could affect the outcome of next week's presidential election.
Senator Barak Obama became the Democratic candidate for President, despite his affiliation with Reverend Jeremiah Wright. The Senator's repudiation of his pastor was accepted by Americans who believed the assurances of this charismatic candidate.
The Times is in possession of a tape of a 2003 event that Senator Obama attended with Palestinian scholar Rashid Khalidi. The Times is refusing to allow the pubic to review the tape claiming that they promised anonymity to the source who provided them with the tape. Steve Barry, writing in your paper on March 24, 1998, criticized the secret settlement of civil court proceedings because they often hide issues that are "immensely important to the public." Tresa Baldas in the National Law Journal of September 15, 2005, quoted Susan Seager, an attorney representing a number of media outlets, including the LA Times, who did not want the court records sealed in the case of Armour v Ritter. Ms. Seager said : "When courts conduct private proceedings behind closed doors, it creates public mistrust and suspicion."
In an August 29, 2003, interview with Joe Scarborough, Mr.Khalidi hedged when Mr. Scarborough asked him if he said "Israel is a ‘racist' state with an ‘apartheid' system and that America has been brainwashed by Israel." The transcript of that broadcast provided the actual cite for Mr. Khalidi's statement.. (Jordan Elgrably, "Crisis of Our Times: Nationalism Identity and the Future of Israel/Palestine, an Interview with Rashid Khalidi.")
Your paper claims that the outcome of civil court proceedings is "immensely important to the public" and that "private court proceedings create public mistrust and suspicion." These positions are ludicrous in light of your intentionally withholding information of grave concern to members of the public. Surely the outcomes of civil court proceedings pale in comparison to the importance of a presidential election. Your failure to publicize the video "creates mistrust and suspicion" among Jewish and pro-Israel voters as to Senator Obama's record, especially when so many voters are undecided about the election. "The public has the right to know."
Shlomo Z. Mostofsky, President
National Council of Young Israel