Thursday, October 30, 2008

A concern about the Republican campaign tactics

In the final days of this campaign, John McCain seems to have used innuendo to imply that there is something to hide in Barack Obama's relations with Rashid Khalidi. USNews reports:
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, appearing on Fox News' On The Record, said Khalidi "has made very incendiary remarks about Israel. ... He has a connection with the PLO. He worked for...WAFA, he was their spokesman. I believe Khalidi's wife was the translator for that organization, which was affiliated with the PLO. There is no dispute about the fact that he has a very hostile view to the state of Israel."
Compare Giuliani's comment with that of Scott Horton in Harpers Magazine responding to similar charges in the conservative magazine The National Review:
This doesn’t sound much like the Rashid Khalidi I know. I’ve followed his career for many years, read his articles and books, listened to his presentations, and engaged him in discussions of politics, the arts, and history. In fact, as McCarthy’s piece ran, I was midway through an advance copy of Khalidi’s new book Sowing Crisis: The Cold War and American Dominance in the Middle East.......Rashid Khalidi is an American academic of extraordinary ability and sharp insights. He is also deeply committed to stemming violence in the Middle East, promoting a culture that embraces human rights as a fundamental notion, and building democratic societies. In a sense, Khalidi’s formula for solving the Middle East crisis has not been radically different from George W. Bush’s: both believe in American values and approaches.
Or to this by Juan Cole in his blog, Informed Comment:
The increasingly sleazy John McCain, who once promised to run a clean campaign, has now attacked my friend Rashid Khalidi and attempted to use him against Barack Obama. Khalidi is an American scholar of Palestinian heritage, born in New York and educated at Yale and Oxford, who now teaches at Columbia University. He directed the Middle East Center at the University of Chicago for some time, and he and his family came to know the Obamas at that time. Knowing someone and agreeing with him on everything are not the same thing.
Here is's description of Khalidi from the page assigned to his book:
Rashid Khalidi, author of six books about the Middle East—Sowing Crisis, The Iron Cage, Resurrecting Empire, Origins of Arab Nationalism, Under Siege, and the award-winning Palestinian Identity—is the Edward Said Chair in Arab Studies and director of the Middle East Institute at Columbia University. He has written more than eighty articles on Middle Eastern history and politics, including pieces in the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, and many journals. Professor Khalidi has received fellowships and grants from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the American Research Center in Egypt, and the Rockefeller Foundation; he was also the recipient of a Fulbright research award. Professor Khalidi has been a regular guest on numerous radio and TV shows, including All Things Considered, Talk of the Nation, Morning Edition, NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, and Nightline.
Comment: Khalidi certainly seems a serious scholar. I have been reading Juan Cole and I hold his opinions in great respect, as I do the editors of Harpers Magazine. If they can be believed, the Republicans are denigrating the reputation of a scholar in their negative campaigning. This is wrong per se.

It also undermines the quality of discussion with respect to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. If we are to have a knowledge based foreign policy, the quality of the political discussion is extremely important. JAD

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