Jewish Journal


October 30, 2008

McCain campaign to L.A. Times: Release Obama-Khalidi tape [VIDEO]

Web Extra Video: VideoJew Jay Firestone reports from Thursday morning demonstration at the L.A. Times


Rashid Khalili

Rashid Khalili

John McCain and his vice presidential running mate continued Wednesday to accuse the Los Angeles Times of protecting Barack Obama by not releasing the video of 2003 celebration Obama attended for a Palestinian-American scholar and critic of Israel. The newspaper has refused to make the tape public because of a promise made to the source who provided it.

"The Los Angeles Times did not publish the videotape because it was provided to us by a confidential source who did so on the condition that we not release it," the Time's editor, Russ Stanton, said in a statement. "The Times keeps its promises to sources."

The video was referenced six months ago in an exclusive story the Times wrote about the event, honoring Rashid Khalidi, who was leaving the University of Chicago for Columbia University. Under the headline "Allies of Palestinians See a Friend in Obama," the article mentioned a poem by a young Palestinian-American that likened the Israeli government's treatment of Palestinians to terrorism; another compared "Zionist settlers on the West Bank" to Osama bin Laden, both "blinded by ideology."

For live coverage of this breaking story, read The God Blog, by Brad A. Greenberg, named L.A.'s Best Weblog by the L.A. Press Club.

"Obama adopted a different tone in his comments and called for finding common ground," Times reporter Peter Wallsten wrote. "But his presence at such events, as he worked to build a political base in Chicago, has led some Palestinian leaders to believe that he might deal differently with the Middle East than either of his opponents for the White House."ALTTEXT

Obama admits to being a close friend of Khalidi, although both have publically said they disagree regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; As a strong critic of Israel, Khalidi has been a lightening rod for conservative attacks on Obama. McCain and Sarah Palin repeated Wednesday accusations that Khalidi was a spokesman for the Palestinian Liberation Organization, which he denies.

McCain, who likened the farewell party to a neo-Nazi rally, also has ties to Khalidi. In the 1990s McCain chaired an organization called the International Republican Institue, which gave $500,000 to Khalidi's Center for Palestine Research and Studies.

For months, and with increasing frequency during the past week, conservative bloggers and pundits have called on the L.A. Times to make the video public, saying that doing so would shed light on what Obama said about Khalidi or how he reacted to criticisms of Israel.

Barack Obama wouldn't possibly let something like that pass without a spirited defense of the Israel he tells us he so staunchly supports … would he?" Andrew McCarthy asked in a column for National Review Online. "I guess to answer that question, we'd have to know what was on the tape."

Wallsten did not reply to e-mail and a call to Stanton, whose office number has been plastered across the Web, went straight to voicemail. Nancy Sullivan, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Times, told The Journal there was no plan to provide a transcript of the tape, but did not explain why.

VideoJew Jay Firestone reports from the Thursday morning rally in front of the Los Angeles Times building

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