It is really strange to turn on the television and see actual presidential and vice-presidential candidates charging that someone who had dinner at my apartment two weeks ago -- Professor Rashid Khalidi of Columbia University -- is a "neo-Nazi." Yet John McCain actually said this yesterday. Sarah Palin also attacked him, as a "radical professor" and "former spokesman for the Palestine Liberation Organization." (Rashid never held such a position, though he did at one time try to present the Palestinian point of view to journalists in Beirut. I think this is the same PLO whose leader, Mahmoud Abbas, is the elected president of the Palestinian Authority, the U.S.'s preferred "moderate" Palestinian leader, and Israel's partner in negotiations, but maybe it is some other PLO, known only to Sarah Palin.)
But all this is beside the point. I actually find it demeaning, insulting, and depressing to have to defend Rashid. I could say, I know him, he has been a guest in my home in New York and in my rented house in Provence, he bears absolutely no resemblance to the image these despicable people are trying to project of him, and lot's more. I could point out that I am Jewish and have VISIBLE JEWISH ARTIFACTS IN MY HOME, which did not appear to alarm Rashid, if he even noticed them, but it is all just so ridiculous I don't know what to say.
I don't want to treat these charges with the respect of a refutation. I just want to express my disgust with those who uttered them and my solidarity with my friend, Rashid Khalidi.
UPDATE: After I put this up, I saw that Juan Cole has commented on this far more cogently than I, as has Scott Horton, a fellow guest at the above-mentioned dinner party and house in Provence.