Damn I look good! But then, I looked good yesterday. Gonna look good tomorrow. Wonder when Andrews AFB golf course opens up?
Obama’s break with Israel was both predictable and predicted. Of course it’s easy enough to point back to the years of anti-Israel fulmination Obama sat through in Rev. Wright’s church, or his friendship with prominent Palestinians like Rashid Khalidi, and then say that Obama was tight with critics of Israel. The comeback is always that Obama was simply doing what any politician in leftist Hyde Park had to do. Besides, there are years of strong statements from Obama of support for Israel as well.
In 2011, I took a detailed look at the history of Barack Obama’s ties with Palestinian critics of Israel and carefully tried to assess how sincere his support might have been.
I concluded that Obama’s core image of himself on matters of foreign policy, as well as decades of deep personal ties to critics of Israel, would have been far harder to fake than a few years of pro-Israel speeches before AIPAC conferences. I also predicted that when it comes to Israel, we’d see the real Obama emerge after re-election. As on so many other issues, the Obama of today is far closer to the Obama of the mid-1990s than the “post-partisan” Obama who sought the presidency in 2008.
For a detailed look at the still poorly-understood history of Obama’s stance toward Israel, consider “Pro-Palestinian-in-Chief.” In light of this history, very little that’s happening now is surprising.
Obama’s close friend and longtime ally, Rashid Khalidi, Edward Said’s successor as the most prominent American advocate for the Palestinians, goes further. Khalidi told the Los Angeles Times that as president, Obama, “because of his unusual background, with family ties in Kenya and Indonesia, would be more understanding of the Palestinian experience than typical American politicians.” Khalidi’s testimony is important, since he speaks on the basis of years of friendship with Obama.
Those who know Obama best, then, affirm that his foreign-policy views are atypical for an American politician, and are grounded in his unique international heritage and upbringing. That is important, because our core task is to decide whether Obama’s pro-Palestinian past was a stance rooted in sincere sympathy, or nothing but a convenient sop to his leftist Hyde Park supporters. Jarrett and Khalidi give us reason to believe that Obama’s decidedly pro-Palestinian inclinations are rooted in his core conception of who he is.
Although Obama has long withheld his college transcripts from the public, the Los Angeles Times reported in 2008 that Obama took a course from Edward Said sometime during his final two undergraduate years at Columbia University. This was just around the time Obama’s ties to organized socialism were deepening, and certainly suggests a sincere interest in Said’s radical views. As Martin Kramer points out, in his superb 2008 review of Obama’s Palestinian ties, Said had just then published his book The Question of Palestine, definitively setting the terms of the academic Left’s stance on the issue for decades to come.
Student and teacher share a meal and reminisce
In May 1998, Edward Said traveled from Columbia to Chicago to present the keynote address at a dinner organized by the Arab American Action Network, a group founded by Rashid and Mona Khalidi. We’ve known for some time that Barack and Michelle Obama sat next to Edward and Mariam Said at that event. (Pictures are available.) It has not been noticed, however, that a detailed report on Said’s address exists, along with an article by Said published just days before the event (Arab American News, May 22, June 12, 1998). Between those two reports, we can reconstruct at least an approximate picture of what Obama might have heard from his former professor that day.
For the most part, Said focused his article (and likely his talk as well) on harsh criticisms of Israel, which he equated with both South Africa’s apartheid state and Nazi Germany. Said’s criticisms of the Palestinian Authority also were harsh. Why, he wondered, weren’t the 50,000 security people employed by the Palestinian Authority heading up resistance to Israel’s settlement building? In his talk, Said called for large-scale marches and civilian blockades of Israeli settlement building. To prevent Palestinian workers from participating in any Israeli construction, Said also proposed the establishment of a fund that would pay these laborers not to work for Israel. Presciently, Said’s talk also called on Palestinians to orchestrate an international campaign to stigmatize Israel as an illegitimate apartheid state.
So broadly speaking, this is what Obama would have heard from his former teacher at that May 1998 encounter.
There’s a great, great deal more, but the point has been made. Just as with Jeremiah Wright, just as with Bill Ayers, just as with Derrick Bell, so with Rashid Khalidi and Edward Said. Obama made no secret of who he was and what he believed. It’s all there for the discerning reader.
We learn that Obama’s fury with Netanyahu is manufactured. It’s Israel he hates.
Not Jews, he hastens to assure us. Jews are reliably liberal, a solid Democrat-voting bloc. Say just enough words about the “unbreakable bond” between the US and Israel to placate them, then invent an enemy, Netanyahu, to impose his will. If some Jews are uncomfortable with his antagonism, tough. He’s not running anymore.
The record is clear. Obama’s heritage, his largely hidden history of leftist radicalism, and his close friendship with Rashid Khalidi, all bespeak sincerity, as Obama’s other Palestinian associates agree. This is not to mention Reverend Wright — whose rabidly anti-Israel sentiments, I show in Radical-in-Chief, Obama had to know about — or Obama’s longtime foreign-policy adviser Samantha Power, who once apparently recommended imposing a two-state solution on Israel through American military action. Decades of intimate alliances in a hard-Left world are a great deal harder to fake than a few years of speeches at AIPAC conferences.
The real Obama is the first Obama, and depending on how the next presidential election turns out, we’re going to meet him again in 2013.
I think he was an election too early—the 2014 midterms, not the 2012 Presidential election—but otherwise this is oracular. Obama’s hardcore radicalism and autocratic style are playing out on issue after issue.