Meet Obama's New Old 'Radical' Pal

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 31, 2008 9:37 AM CDT
Meet Obama's New Old 'Radical' Pal
In this 2003 file photo, Palestinian-American historian Rashid Khalidi speaks during a press conference at the Geneva press club in Geneva, Switzerland.   (AP Photo)

Ever since an April story in the LA Times linked him with Barack Obama, friends say Rashid Khalidi has expected to be vilified along the lines of Bill Ayers. The Manhattan-born Columbia professor is an advocate for Palestinian rights and once likened Israeli policies to apartheid. This week John McCain finally brought up his ties to Obama, while GOP partisans accused him of anti-Semitism and extremism. Khalidi isn't commenting, but colleagues tell the New York Times the attacks are ridiculous.

One Rabbi who knows Khalidi called them “completely absurd, uncalled for, and malicious.” Former Jewish and Arab students alike say he was an excellent professor who allowed for divergent views. “Anyone who knows me knows the last thing I am is extreme,” Khalidi once said. He befriended Obama while teaching at the University of Chicago, though he dismissed a National Review report that he babysat Obama’s kids as nonsense. (More Election 2008 stories.)

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