Ali Abunimah, a Hyde Park Palestinian-American activist, said that until a few years ago, Obama was "quite frank that the U.S. needed to be more evenhanded, that it leaned too much toward Israel." It was vivid in his memory, said Abunimah, because "these were the kind of statements I'd never heard from a U.S. politician who seemed like he was going somewhere rather than at the end of his career."I just wished Obama could embrace Arab allies in Iraq instead of telling them their liberation was a dumb war.
In 2000, Abunimah recalled, Professor Rashid Khalidi, a leading Palestinian American advocate for a two-state solution and harsh critic of Israel, held a fundraiser in his home for Obama, embarked then on an ultimately unsuccessful bid for the House of Representatives. "He came with his wife," Abunimah said. "That's where I had a chance to really talk to him. It was an intimate setting. He convinced me he was very aware of the issues [and] critical of U.S. bias toward Israel and lack of sensitivity to Arabs. ... He was very supportive of U.S. pressure on Israel."
Khalidi, now the Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University, and head of that school's Middle East Institute, declined to comment on Abunimah's recollections. But in an interview in Tuesday's Daily News, he said he hosted the fundraiser because he and Obama were friends while the two lived in Chicago. "He never came to us and said he would do anything in terms of Palestinians," Khalidi told the paper.
Nevertheless, one Hyde Park source close to Obama, speaking only on condition of anonymity, recalled, "He often expressed general sympathy for the Palestinians -- though I don't recall him ever saying anything publicly."
Asked to comment on these recollections of his views, a spokesperson for Obama's campaign did not challenge them, saying only: "The speech is a clear articulation of his positions related to Israel."
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Electronic Intifada on Obama and Palestinians
From an Electronic Intifada post from Larry Cohler-Esses, from The Jewish Week, 8 March 2007 (deconstruct that!),