Rashid Khalidi

Rashid Khalidi, Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University, has signed an appeal for funds to outfit a ship--to be named The Audacity of Hope after Barack Obama's second book--that will challenge the Israeli blockade of Gaza in September or October, according to a report by Robert Mackey at The Lede, a blog of the New York Times. His wife Mona is also a signatory.

The appeal is posted at the site USTOGAZA.ORG, which says the ship will sail from the US to the Eastern Mediterranean, where it will join ships from "Europe, Canada, India, South Africa and parts of the Middle East." The appeal employs the word "we" when speaking of the upcoming trip, which gives the impression that the signatories intend to be aboard.

The site's opening paragraph is laden with falsehoods of commission and omission:

This is an important moment in history. In the aftermath of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla massacre and increased world-wide scrutiny of Israel's blockade of Gaza, the Israeli government has mounted a huge public relations campaign spreading the lie that by letting a few more items into Gaza the blockade has been lifted. This is not the reality. Gaza is still under siege, vital building materials and other supplies are banned, exports of goods from Gaza are denied and neither ships nor people can travel without permission from Israel, permission which Israel will not give. Gaza is essentially an open-air prison under a U.S.-backed Israeli blockade.

Somehow, USTOGAZA omitted reference to this video, which shows Israeli commandos being brutally attacked by those on board.

It notes the amount of money needed and the size of the ship:

We turn to you to help make the U.S. boat, The Audacity of Hope, a reality. We must raise at least $370,000 in the next month. These funds will be used to purchase a boat large enough for 40-60 people, secure a crew, and cover the licensing and registering of the boat. In addition, the funds will subsidize some other costs of sending a U.S. delegation.

Mackey's brief report notes the Khalidi-Obama connection, about which CW examined closely during the 2008 presidential campaign:

One of the activists whose name appears beneath the appeal for funds is Rashid Khalidi, a Palestinian-American professor at Columbia whose friendship with Mr. Obama was briefly made into a campaign issue in October 2008 by Senator John McCain.

As my colleagues Marc Santora and Elissa Gootman reported at the time, days before the presidential election, Mr. McCain cited a Los Angeles Times article "about a dinner Mr. Obama attended in Mr. Khalidi's honor in 2003, and questioned Mr. Obama's commitment to Israel." Subsequent reports that Mr. McCain had helped finance Mr. Khalidi's work in the West Bank blunted those criticisms to some extent.

The real audacity this round is for Khalidi, who served as a spokesman for the PLO while it was listed as a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department, to engage in this kind of agitprop. Audacious, but hardly surprising for a man with a long history of substituting anti-American and anti-Israel propaganda for scholarship and teaching, as CW has demonstrated conclusively. (Links between McCain and Khalidi were questioned by the foundation that awarded the grant.)

Twenty-four years ago, Daniel Pipes wrote in a review of Khalidi's book, Under Siege: PLO Decisionmaking During the 1982 War, that "It is hard not to suspect the objectivity of a book on the Palestine Liberation Organization that starts by thanking PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat and is dedicated to those killed in 1982 'in defense of the cause of Palestine.'" In the book's introduction, Pipes noted that Khalidi expressed his "deep thanks" to Arafat and his minions, who "extended every possible assistance to me on three trips to Tunis," then home to the PLO.

Viewed in this light, Khalidi's career reveals a man with a disturbing consistency as an apologist for terrorist organizations. Whether shilling for the PLO under Yasser Arafat or blockade-running for Hamas, which rules Gaza, Khalidi consistently sides with civilization's enemies.

Rashid Khalidi: from PR hack to pirate.


Glenn Kessler of the Checkpoint Washington blog at the Washington Post emailed Khalidi to ask if he thought naming the ship The Audacity of Hope could be embarrassing to the president. Khalidi wrote back, according to Kessler, "that he was not aware the boat would be named after Obama's book when he agreed to add his name to the list of sponsors."

Kessler goes on to report that Khalidi replied:

"But if the name is a problem for the administration, it can simply insist publicly that Israel lift the siege: end of problem, end of embarrassment," [Khalidi] wrote, "That of course would require it to respond to the systematic mendacity of those in Congress and elsewhere who support the siege, and indeed whatever else the Israeli government does."

Khalidi added: "I signed because the siege/blockade of Gaza, which is effectively supported by the United States, is a disgrace. I support the idea because it may cause the media to pay attention to the effective imprisonment and collective punishment of 1.5 million people who by the admission of Israeli officials, are being subjected to this ordeal in order to bring down their government. As the Goldstone Report suggested, this may rise to the level of a war crime, in which our country is complicit. That is truly embarrassing."