Rashid Khalidi, Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University, reportedly has signed an appeal for funds to outfit a ship--to be named The Audacity of Hope--that will challenge the Israeli blockade of Gaza in September or October. Khalidi and his wife (who also signed the appeal) became friends and occasional dinner companions of Barack Obama when Khalidi was on the faculty of the University of Chicago. Khalidi also contributed to the education of Obama on issues relating to the Middle East. Just before Khalidi moved to Columbia, at a dinner honoring Khalidi, Obama saluted the rabidly anti-Israel professor for "offer[ing] constant reminders to me of my own blind spots and my own biases."
Khalidi's biases run in favor of terrorism against the State of Israel. Thus, as Scott has written, Khalidi is an admirer of Salal Khalaf who, among other terrorist connections, was the commander in chief of the Black September organization, a PLO front group best known for the massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics. When Khalaf died, Khalidi wrote that he would be "sorely missed by the Palestinian people to whom he devoted his life."
Moreover, Khalidi himself was a mouthpiece for the greatest PLO terrorist of them all, Yasser Arafat. Although Khalidi apparently disputes the point, Martin Kramer has the goods.
As to the appeal to fund the voyage of the Audacity of Hope, it states that the ship will sail from the U.S. to the Eastern Mediterranean, where it will join ships from "Europe, Canada, India, South Africa and parts of the Middle East." As Campus Watch points out, the appeal employs the word "we" when speaking of the upcoming trip, which gives the impression that the signatories, including Khalidi, intend to be aboard.
We can always have the audacity to hope he is.
Finally, what about the legality of Khalidi's latest efforts to injure Israel? Andy McCarthy writes:
The United States has neutrality laws against things like fitting, furnishing or arming vessels with the intent of committing hostile acts against a country with which the U.S. is at peace. (Challenging a blockade is a hostile act.) We also have laws against providing material support to terrorist organizations like Hamas. Will the Obama Justice Department pursue an investigation of Khalidi?
I don't have enough audacity to hope for that.