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Roger L. Simon
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Birth of the Cool

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Khalidi Tapes Could Shed Light on Obama's Anti-Israel Positions


Over 14 months ago, I wrote the following on the Pajamas Media website:

"Given the extraordinary sudden turnabout in U.S. policy toward Israel under the Obama administration, I have become obsessed by the repressed 2003 videotape of Rashid Khalidi and Barack Obama. That tape — or so we are told — is ensconced in a safe at the Los Angeles Times building. In the current situation, its release by the paper is more important and newsworthy than ever.

"The Khalidi tape could be of tremendous significance in revealing the provenance of Obama's views on the Middle East and the degree to which the public was misled on those views during the presidential campaign. ...

"Rashid Khalidi — a Palestinian-American historian known for his strong pro-Palestinian opinions — is currently the Edward Said Professor of Modern Arab Studies at Columbia and director of that university's Middle East Institute. After Khalidi received this Columbia appointment in 2003, a farewell dinner party was held in his honor in Chicago. A videotape was made of that party where many good things were said about the Palestinian cause and many bad things about Israel. Then Illinois state Sen. Barack Obama was in attendance, as were, some say, William Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn."

Since then, my obsession with this hidden tape has, if anything, grown, inspired by Obama's continuing ambivalence, veering toward contempt, for the state of Israel. Others have recently chimed in on the subject, like Jim Hoft noticing a certain irony in Times' behavior spurred by recent events ("L.A. Times Won't Release Obama-Khalidi Tape But Posts 24,000 Sarah Palin Emails"). And then Stanley Kurtz amplified Hoft with "Release the Redacted Transcript!" in the National Review.

Making note that the Times claims to have promised not to release the video itself, Kurtz wrote: "I doubt the L.A. Times will ever release the actual videotape, but I do think there's a scenario in which a transcript might be produced."

Perhaps because I live in Los Angeles and know the Los Angeles Times well, having written for it on occasion, I am far less optimistic than Stanley that such a revelation would occur.

Though better written than the lefty blog, the Los Angeles Times is barely three degrees to the right of the Daily Kos. I suspect their editorial board would rather see the return of the McNamara Brothers, who dynamited the Times building in 1910, than do anything that might possibly harm the re-election of Barack Obama.

This is true even though the Los Angeles Times seems to have had little problem disseminating Wikileaks. It's not just the Palin emails. Blabbing is fine as long as it's on the proper side.

Meanwhile, Peter Wallsten, the reporter who received the clandestine tape and wrote the original attenuated Los Angeles Times article on the Khalidi party, isn't talking. He's moved on to The Washington Post, writing cheerleading pieces about Obama with "daring" articles like, "White House seeks to connect with young voters."

No, in all probability, the only way we will ever see the tape or read even a redacted version of the transcript is courtesy of one of the better second-story men on the West Coast or a retired KGB agent.

This is a shame because events conspire to make the production of this tape increasingly important. Among the soi-disant activists backing the second flotilla currently revving up to bring supposedly needed supplies to allegedly impoverished Gaza is one Rashid Khalidi. He has been raising money in support of one of the vessels with a familiar name. Writes Israel's Arutz Sheva:

"This year's American vessel, named The Audacity of Hope after U.S. President Barack Obama's best-selling book, is being organized by an American group called 'U.S. Boat to Gaza.'

"Obama links to the Audacity do not end there, however. Professor Rashid Khalidi, director of the Middle East Institute at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs, and a friend from Obama's time in Chicago, is among the supporters of an appeal launched by the group last week.

"'We must raise at least $370,000 in the next month,' a statement on U.S. Boat to Gaza's website read indicating it doesn't have the money needed to sail yet."

While the release of the Khalidi tape by the Los Angeles Times might not ensure the flotilla's demise, it might go a long way toward that. More importantly, that release could clarify a lot of things about Obama's attitude toward Israel and ultimately his Middle East policy. The longer the Los Angeles Times hides it, the more suspicious it seems.

To find out more about Roger L. Simon, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at



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13 Jul 2012 Birth of the Cool

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6 Apr 2012 The Los Angeles Times Should Release the Khalidi Tape for Passover