Michelle Obama, Bernardine Dohrn, and Sidley & Austin:
A quick follow-up to Andy McCarthy’s intriguing and provocative essay exploring when and how Barack Obama and Bill Ayers really first met:
Michelle Obama joined Sidley & Austin as an associate in the fall of 1988. She had previously been a summer associate at Sidley & Austin—evidently in the summer of 1987.
According to Wikipedia, Bernardine Dohrn worked for Sidley & Austin from 1984 to 1988, while she unsuccessfully sought admission to the New York and Illinois bars. (According to Sidley’s managing partner, Dohrn didn’t get admitted to the bar because “She wouldn’t say she’s sorry” for her acts of domestic terrorism.) It appears that Dohrn first worked in Sidley’s New York office, and then in its Chicago office.
Did Michelle Obama and Bernardine Dohrn work together? Did they know each other at Sidley? When and how did they come to know each other?
I don’t mean to suggest by these questions that there’s any reason to conclude that Barack Obama and Bill Ayers met through their wives. As Andy suggests, it’s quite possible that they met earlier in New York. Another alternative, as Steve Diamond speculates, is that Obama and Ayers may have worked together during a battle over reform of Chicago’s public schools in 1987 and 1988 (before Barack met Michelle).
Obama and Ayers helped fund Khalidi’s organization that rejects ‘racist’ Israel’s existence:
The board of a nonprofit organization on which Sen. Barack Obama served as a paid director alongside a confessed domestic terrorist granted funding to a controversial Arab group that mourns the establishment of Israel as a “catastrophe” and supports intense immigration reform, including providing drivers licenses and education to illegal aliens.
The co-founder of the Arab group in question, Columbia University professor Rashid Khalidi, also has held a fundraiser for Obama. Khalidi is a harsh critic of Israel, has made statements supportive of Palestinian terror and reportedly has worked on behalf of the Palestine Liberation Organization while it was involved in anti-Western terrorism and was labeled by the State Department as a terror group.
In 2001, the Woods Fund, a Chicago-based nonprofit that describes itself as a group helping the disadvantaged, provided a $40,000 grant to the Arab American Action Network, or AAAN, for which Khalidi’s wife, Mona, serves as president. The Fund provided a second grant to the AAAN for $35,000 in 2002.
Obama was a director of the Woods Fund board from 1999 to Dec. 11, 2002, according to the Fund’s website. According to tax filings, Obama received compensation of $6,000 per year for his service in 1999 and 2000.
Obama served on the Wood’s Fund board alongside William C. Ayers, a member of the Weathermen terrorist group which sought to overthrow of the U.S. government and took responsibility for bombing the U.S. Capitol in 1971. […]
The $40,000 grant from Obama’s Woods Fund to the AAAN constituted about a fifth of the Arab group’s reported grants for 2001, according to tax filings obtained by WND. The $35,000 Woods Fund grant in 2002 also constituted about one-fifth of AAAN’s reported grants for that year. […]
AAAN co-founder Rashid Khalidi was reportedly a director of the official PLO press agency WAFA in Beirut from 1976 to 1982, while the PLO committed scores of anti-Western attacks and was labeled by the U.S. as a terror group. Khalidi’s wife, AAAN President Mona Khalidi, was reportedly WAFA’s English translator during that period.
Rashid Khalidi at times has denied working directly for the PLO but Palestinian diplomatic sources in Ramallah told WND he indeed worked on behalf of WAFA. Khalidi also advised the Palestinian delegation to the Madrid Conference in 1991.
During documented speeches and public events, Khalidi has called Israel an “apartheid system in creation” and a destructive “racist” state.
He has multiple times expressed support for Palestinian terror, calling suicide bombings response to “Israeli aggression.” He dedicated his 1986 book, “Under Siege,” to “those who gave their lives … in defense of the cause of Palestine and independence of Lebanon.” Critics assailed the book as excusing Palestinian terrorism.
Obama endorsed Ayers’ 1997 book “A Kind and Just Parent”:
And then Axelrod gave us still more lies: “There’s no evidence that Obama in any way subscribed to any of Ayers’ views.”
Oh yeah? Well, Mr. Axelrod, how do you explain Obama’s breathless endorsement of Ayers’s 1997 Leftist polemic on the criminal-justice system, A Kind and Just Parent? As Stanley Kurtz has recounted, Ayers’s book is a radical indictment of American society: We, not the criminals, are responsible for the violent crime that plagues our cities; even the most vicious juvenile offenders should not be tried as adults; prisons should eventually be replaced by home detention; American justice is comparable to South Africa under Apartheid. Obama’s reaction? He described the book as “a searing and timely account” — a take even the Times concedes was a “rave review.”
Ayers Book Mentions Obama by Name:
Barack Obama, who has consistently downplayed his relationship with William Ayers during his presidential campaign, once gave a glowing endorsement of a book by the former domestic terrorist and was mentioned by name in the book itself.
A blogger unearthed the Dec. 21, 1997, endorsement in the Chicago Tribune and posted photographs of the praise for Ayers’ book on Zombietime.com Saturday.
Featured next to a smiling photograph of himself, then-State Senator Obama called Ayers’ book, “A Kind and Just Parent: Children of the Juvenile Court,” a “searing and timely account of the juvenile court system, and the courageous individuals who rescue hope from despair.”
The book, which details life at the Chicago Juvenile Court prison school, mentions Obama by name on page 82 when it describes Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood:
“Our neighbors include Muhammad Ali, former mayor Eugene Sawyer, poets Gwendolyn Brooks and Elizabeth Alexander, and writer Barack Obama. Minister Louis Farrakhan lives a block from our home and adds, we think, a unique dimension to the idea of ‘safe neighborhood watch': the Fruit of Islam, his security force, has an eye on things twenty-four-hours a day.“
Khalidi/Ayers Book Connections:
In the acknowledgments of Ayers’ 1997 book, A Kind and Just Parent (the book Obama publically endorsed in the Chicago Tribune), he thanks Rashid Khalidi’s wife, Mona Khalidi, calling her a “co-parent:”
Thanks to friends and family who provided models and standards and shared struggles of parenting:…Mona Khalidi, sister, friend, and co-parent today….
Thanks to…Mona Khalidi…for careful critical comments.
And in the acknowledgments of his 2004 book, Resurrecting Empire, Khalidi begins like this:
There are many people without whose support and assistance I could not have written this book or written it the way that it was written. First, chronologically and in other ways, comes Bill Ayers. He persuaded me a little over a year ago that I should write this book, and he put me in touch with my editor, Helene Atwan, who has done all that I imagined a good editor could do and more. Bill was particularly generous in letting me use his family’s dining room table to do some of the writing for the project….
Bernardine Dohrn continually encouraged me to keep working on the book when I was traveling and at home….
Obviously, the Khalidi and Ayers-Dohrn families were very close, intellectually, personally, and politically. Both Ayers-Dorhn and the Khalidis gave separate campaign events for Obama. Khalidi did exchange ideas with Obama, and it’s hard to believe that Khalidi’s political backing of Obama and exchanges with Obama on the Middle East weren’t thoroughly discussed with Ayers, whom Khalidi would surely have known had a history with Obama at the Chicago Annenberg Challenge and on the juvenile crime battle.
Ayers’ 1998 edited book, Teaching for Social Justice, features a contribution by Rashid Khalidi (pp.186-187). Here are some excerpts from Khalidi’s piece:
Much of what I do involves teaching for justice, because the very terms I teach about are subversive of so many categories of public knowledge. This is because teaching about the modern Middle East in the United States means confronting a great deal of resistance, notably where the subject of Palestine is concerned….
Beyond generalized prejudices and often not-so-veiled racism against Arabs, Muslims, and Middle Easterners, the main problem comes when I have to confront firmly held and profoundly wrong ideas, particularly one which are widespread in our culture….
Things get harder when such misunderstandings, which at times are honest and innocent, are combined with the “idiot wind” which blows whenever government policy is discussed, and the lemmings in the media and the inside-the-beltway chorus echo whatever those in power are saying. It is nevertheless vitally important to try to talk sense about such things, whether about the Gulf war back in 1991, or about the “peace process” today, which has so far given us a lot of process and very little peace.”
It’s also of interest that in the back of Teaching for Social Justice Ayers includes a list of books he believes can serve as “resources for teaching for change.” Among those books is Obama’s 1995 memoir, Dreams From My Father.
Khalidi, the PLO, and Salah Khalaf:
Among the Hyde Park friends of Barack Obama was former PLO spokesman Rashid Khalidi. Khalidi was on the faculty of the University of Chicago, at whose law school Obama was a lecturer. Their children attended the same school. The Khalidis and the Obamas became friends and dinner companions.
As Paul notes below, when Khalidi moved from the University of Chicago to Columbia, Obama attended the dinner honoring Khalidi. Obama saluted Khalidi for “offer[ing] constant reminders to me of my own blind spots and my own biases.” What a guy.
Last night FOX News reported that Khalidi wrote an obituary for Salah Khalaf (also known as Abu Iyad) when he died in 1991. According to the FOX News report, Khalidi praised Khalaf and said he would be “sorely missed by the Palestinian people to whom he devoted his life.”
Khalaf held many PLO posts. In Inside the PLO Neil Livingstone and David Halevy report that Khalaf was the PLO’s spymaster, the leader of its security and covert apparatus and the principal link to so-called rejection front elements like Abu Nidal. He directly oversaw the PLO’s internal security including Force 17, the Special Operations Group and the Intelligence and Security Apparatus.
Khalaf was also the commander in chief of the terrorist Black September organization. Black September was a PLO front group that answered directly to Yasser Arafat. It is of course best known for the massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics.
Among its other operations was the 1973 seizure of the Saudi embassy in Khartoum. During the operation the American ambassador to Sudan (Cleo Noel) and his deputy chief of misson (George Curtis Moore) were both brutally murdered on Arafat’s orders along with the Belgian diplomat Guy Eid. Khalaf was involved in the planning of the operation and directed the seizure of the embassy. (I tell the story of the operation in “How Arafat got away with murder.”)
Before they murdered Noel, Moore and Eid, the Black September terrorists demanded the release of Robert Kennedy’s assassin Sirhan Sirhan. Obama’s friends Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn were also big fans of Sirhan Sirhan. FOX News reported this week that Ayers and Dohrn dedicated their 1974 book Prairie Fire to “political prisoners” including Sirhan Sirhan…
Obama, Ayers, and the Woods Fund:
Barack Obama served on the board of directors of Woods Fund of Chicago from 1993 to 2001. During that time, the tax exempt foundation made some interesting grants, including one to Obama’s church, Trinity United Church of Christ, headed by Rev. Jeremiah Wright at the time. Grants were also made to ACORN, a left wing voter registration group and to a partnership for constructing low income housing. The fund also used Northern Trust for financial services, which is the same company that provided Obama his 2005 mortgage.
In 2001 the board of directors included Obama, William Ayers, the former Weather Underground radical terrorist, and serving as chairman was Howard J. Stanback who headed New Kenwood LLC, a limited liability company founded by now-convicted felon Tony Rezko and Allison Davis, Obama’s former boss at the law firm of Davis Miner Barnhill & Galland.
Obama, Ayers, and the Chicago Annenberg Challenge:
SK: Well, Hugh, I think they had a genuine political partnership. As far as we know for certain, it began in about early 1995 when Barack Obama became the chairman of the board of a small education foundation, not too small, because it had ultimately more than $100 million dollars to dispense. But Barack Obama became chairman of the board of something called the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, a foundation that was essentially founded by Bill Ayers. Now this foundation had two operating bodies, the board, which Obama chaired, and something called the collaborative, which Bill Ayers chaired. And so the two were effectively working together at this foundation, and what’s more, the foundation was giving a lot of money to Bill Ayers’ personal education projects, and the projects of his allies. And as, since the board was in charge of giving out that money, Obama effectively was funding Bill Ayers’ very radical education projects for years on end.
Obama and Ayers at Panel Discussion:
Michelle Obama in 1997 organized a university event in which she invited her husband, Sen. Barack Obama, and former Weathermen radical Bill Ayers to serve on a panel discussion about whether child murderers should be tried as adults.
Both Barack Obama and Ayers served on the side that opposed treating offending minors as adults.
Obamas and Khalidis: Frequent Dinner Guests and Babysitters:
Rashid and Mona Khalidi became close friends of Barack and Michelle Obama during the time when both Barack and Rashid taught at the University of Chicago (1992-2003). At a lavish farewell party for Khalidi in Chicago in 2003, when Khalidi left his prestigious position at the University of Chicago for an even more prestigious one at Columbia University in New York, Obama gave Khalidi a glowing eulogy. He said that he and his wife Michelle had been frequent dinner guests of the Khalidis, and that the Khalidis had frequently babysat for the Obama children. According to a Los Angeles Times account based on a video of Obama’s speech, he added that “his many talks with the Khalidis, . . .had been ‘consistent reminders to me of my own blind spots and my own biases. . . . It’s for that reason that I’m hoping that, for many years to come, we continue that conversation-a conversation that is necessary not just around Mona and Rashid’s dinner table,’ but around ‘this entire world.’” […]
Rashid and Mona Khalidi anticipated Obama’s generosity to AAAN by holding a fundraiser in their house for Obama’s unsuccessful run for Congress in 2000. It would seem that it later proved to be a profitable event for the Khalidis.
Ayers held a Meet-and-Greet for Obama in 1995 at his home:
You might think the Times would be more curious. After all, the Democrats’ presidential nominee has already lied to the Gray Lady about the origins of his relationship with Weather Underground terrorists Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn. Back in May, in a cheery profile of Obama’s early Chicago days, the Times claimed (emphasis is mine):
Mr. Obama also fit in at Hyde Park’s fringes, among university faculty members like Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn, unrepentant members of the radical Weather Underground that bombed the United States Capitol and the Pentagon to protest the Vietnam War. Mr. Obama was introduced to the couple in 1995 at a meet-and-greet they held for him at their home, aides said.
Now look, anyone who gave five seconds of thought to that passage smelled a rat. Ayers and Dohrn are passionate radical activists who lived as fugitives for a decade. There’s no way they held a political coming-out party for someone who was unknown to them. Obviously, they already knew him well enough by then to feel very comfortable. They might have been sympathetic to a relative stranger, but sponsoring such a gathering in one’s living room is a strong endorsement.
And now, even the Times now knows it’s been had. In this past weekend’s transparent whitewashing of the Obama/Ayers tie, the paper claimed that the pair first met earlier in 1995, “at a lunchtime meeting about school reform in a Chicago skyscraper[.]” That storyline is preposterous too, but it is also a marked revision of the paper’s prior account (which, naturally, reporter Scott Shane fails to mention).
Obama, Ayers, Khalidi, and the LA Times Won’t Release the Khalidi Tape:
Obama, Ayers, and PLO supporters toast Edward Said’s successor, but the press doesn’t think it’s quite as newsworthy as Sarah Palin’s wardrobe.
Let’s try a thought experiment. Say John McCain attended a party at which known racists and terror mongers were in attendance. Say testimonials were given, including a glowing one by McCain for the benefit of the guest of honor … who happened to be a top apologist for terrorists. Say McCain not only gave a speech but stood by, in tacit approval and solidarity, while other racists and terror mongers gave speeches that reeked of hatred for an American ally and rationalizations of terror attacks.
Now let’s say the Los Angeles Times obtained a videotape of the party.
Question: Is there any chance — any chance – the Times would not release the tape and publish front-page story after story about the gory details, with the usual accompanying chorus of sanctimony from the oped commentariat? Is there any chance, if the Times was the least bit reluctant about publishing (remember, we’re pretending here), that the rest of the mainstream media (y’know, the guys who drove Trent Lott out of his leadership position over a birthday-party toast) would not be screaming for the release of the tape?
Do we really have to ask?
So now, let’s leave thought experiments and return to reality: Why is the Los Angeles Times sitting on a videotape of the 2003 farewell bash in Chicago at which Barack Obama lavished praise on the guest of honor, Rashid Khalidi — former mouthpiece for master terrorist Yasser Arafat?
At the time Khalidi, a PLO adviser turned University of Chicago professor, was headed east to Columbia. There he would take over the University’s Middle East-studies program (which he has since maintained as a bubbling cauldron of anti-Semitism) and assume the professorship endowed in honor of Edward Sayyid, another notorious terror apologist.
The party featured encomiums by many of Khalidi’s allies, colleagues, and friends, including Barack Obama, then an Illinois state senator, and Bill Ayers, the terrorist turned education professor. It was sponsored by the Arab American Action Network (AAAN), which had been founded by Khalidi and his wife, Mona, formerly a top English translator for Arafat’s press agency.
Is there just a teeny-weenie chance that this was an evening of Israel-bashing Obama would find very difficult to explain? Could it be that the Times, a pillar of the Obamedia, is covering for its guy?
Gateway Pundit reports that the Times has the videotape but is suppressing it.
Michelle Obama attended a party celebrating the marriage of Khalidi’s Daughter:
It was a celebration of Palestinian culture — a night of music, dancing and a dash of politics. Local Arab Americans were bidding farewell to Rashid Khalidi, an internationally known scholar, critic of Israel and advocate for Palestinian rights, who was leaving town for a job in New York.
A special tribute came from Khalidi’s friend and frequent dinner companion, the young state Sen. Barack Obama. Speaking to the crowd, Obama reminisced about meals prepared by Khalidi’s wife, Mona, and conversations that had challenged his thinking.
His many talks with the Khalidis, Obama said, had been “consistent reminders to me of my own blind spots and my own biases. . . . It’s for that reason that I’m hoping that, for many years to come, we continue that conversation — a conversation that is necessary not just around Mona and Rashid’s dinner table,” but around “this entire world.” […]
And yet the warm embrace Obama gave to Khalidi, and words like those at the professor’s going-away party, have left some Palestinian American leaders believing that Obama is more receptive to their viewpoint than he is willing to say.
Their belief is not drawn from Obama’s speeches or campaign literature, but from comments that some say Obama made in private and from his association with the Palestinian American community in his hometown of Chicago, including his presence at events where anger at Israeli and U.S. Middle East policy was freely expressed.
At Khalidi’s 2003 farewell party, for example, a young Palestinian American recited a poem accusing the Israeli government of terrorism in its treatment of Palestinians and sharply criticizing U.S. support of Israel. If Palestinians cannot secure their own land, she said, “then you will never see a day of peace.”
One speaker likened “Zionist settlers on the West Bank” to Osama bin Laden, saying both had been “blinded by ideology.” […]
Still, many of Khalidi’s opinions are troubling to pro-Israel activists, such as his defense of Palestinians’ right to resist Israeli occupation and his critique of U.S. policy as biased toward Israel.
While teaching at the University of Chicago, Khalidi and his wife lived in the Hyde Park neighborhood near the Obamas. The families became friends and dinner companions.
In 2000, the Khalidis held a fundraiser for Obama’s unsuccessful congressional bid. The next year, a social service group whose board was headed by Mona Khalidi received a $40,000 grant from a local charity, the Woods Fund of Chicago, when Obama served on the fund’s board of directors.
At Khalidi’s going-away party in 2003, the scholar lavished praise on Obama, telling the mostly Palestinian American crowd that the state senator deserved their help in winning a U.S. Senate seat. “You will not have a better senator under any circumstances,” Khalidi said.
The event was videotaped, and a copy of the tape was obtained by The Times.
Though Khalidi has seen little of Sen. Obama in recent years, Michelle Obama attended a party several months ago celebrating the marriage of the Khalidis’ daughter.
Son of Ayers and Son of Khalidi are Co-authors:
…Patel has a much deeper relationship with Ayers than he admitted in the NPR interview.
In 2005, he co-authored a book with Ayers’ adopted son, Chesa Boudin.
The book, “Letters from Young Activists: Today’s Rebels Speak Out,” was co-written by several young radicals, including Ismail Khalidi, the son of Columbia University Professor Rashid Khalidi.
WND was first to report on Obama’s close relationship with Khalidi, who has been tied to the Palestinian Liberation Organization and who has described Israel as a “racist” state with an “apartheid” system.
The preface of Patel’s 2005 book, meanwhile, was written by Ayers’ wife, Weather Underground co-founder Bernardine Dohrn.
Dohrn describes the book as “a clarion call of hope, defiance, critical analysis, humor, irony, and self-conscious insistence that the queer, the Palestinian, the immigrant, the privileged, the children of prisoners and hip-hopsters have arrived.”
The back cover of the book boasts an endorsement from Mumia Abu-Jamal, the convicted cop-killer and former member of the Black Panther Party.
On the acknowledgments page, Patel and co-authors thank Ayers himself for “guidance” and “encouragement.”
Ayers influencing Obama?
We begin with the discovery by Danette Clark, an RBO contributor, that Eboo Patel (on right), a former White House religious advisor to Barack Obama, stayed as a guest in residence during the 2004-2005 school year in the same hall as Bill Ayers and his wife, Bernardine Dohrn, at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
If that’s not enough to convince you that this faith-based appointee and Bill Ayers knew each other personally, consider this — Eboo Patel also co-authored a book in 2005 with Bill Ayers’ adopted son, Chesa Boudin.
The book, Letters from Young Activists: Today’s Rebels Speak Out, was authored by several young radicals including Ismail Khalidi, the son of Rashid Khalidi, the Columbia University professor with ties to the Palestinian Liberation Organization who has described Israel as a “racist” state with an “apartheid” system. […]
Clark writes: Patel isn’t the first White House appointee revealed to have close ties to Bill Ayers and I’m positive he won’t be the last. As Donald Trump and others continue to speculate as to whether Ayers actually wrote Obama’s book, Dreams from My Father, dare I speculate as to who has really been helping to make White House appointments?
Ayers and Obama: Same Polling Location:
Early this morning, the Obama family voted at the Beulah Shoesmith Elementary School, in Hyde Park. Long after they had gone, the lawn in front of the school was filled with reporters, mostly Europeans, filming voters. While I was talking to an eight-year-old kid dressed as George Washington, my colleague Peter Slevin, of the Washington Post was across the street, knocking on the door of someone else who had voted at the Shoesmith School this morning: William Ayers. […]
As the polling day drew into the late afternoon, the level of security in Hyde Park matched the level of anticipation. Obama’s house, four blocks away, was surrounded.
Ayers said he felt “a lot of sympathy” for the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, “who was treated grotesquely and unfairly” by the media. He said that Martin Luther King Jr. was, in his time, far more radical than Wright: “Wright’s a wimp compared to Martin Luther King—he had a fiercer tone.” Ayers was referring to the speeches King gave late in his life in opposition to the Vietnam War and on the subject of economic equality. “Martin Luther King was not a saint,” Ayers said. “He was an angry pilgrim.” Ayers said that he had commiserated recently with yet another former Hyde Park neighbor (and fellow Little League coach), the Palestinian-American scholar Rashid Khalidi, now at Columbia University, who has also been a punching bag of the right wing in recent weeks.
Across the street, neighborhood kids chanted “O-ba-ma! O-ba-ma!” and “Yes we can!” for the cameras. Ayers smiled, looking a little like a more boomer Fred MacMurray in an episode of “My Three Sons.”