Then-reporter Peter Wallsten (now with the Wall Street Journal) noted that the event was one of many signs that had encouraged Palestinian-Americans to believe “that Obama is more receptive to their viewpoint than he is willing to say.” Wallsten explained:
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.”
Wallsten claimed that Obama’s own remarks at the Khalidi farewell “adopted a different tone…and called for finding common ground.”
However, there is no way to verify that claim, since the Los Angeles Times has refused to release the video recording, or a transcript thereof–ostensibly to honor an agreement with the source, whose identity has been the source of significant speculation since 2008.
In further attempts to locate the tape or determine its whereabouts, Breitbart News has contacted the Arab American Action Network (AAAN) in Chicago, which Khalidi founded and which Obama provided with money while serving on the board of the Woods Fund with Bill Ayers. However, a request for comment received no response, despite verbal assurances from AAAN that a response would be forthcoming.
Breitbart News also attempted to contact blogger and activist Ali Abunimah, who served on the board of AAAN at the time and wrote in early 2007 about his disappointment with then-U.S. Senator Obama’s alleged abandonment of the Palestinian cause. No response was received.
The occasion for the farewell party was Khalidi’s departure from the University of Chicago for Columbia University in New York. His provocative advocacy for the Palestinian cause had created controversy in Chicago, and would do so in New York as well. Obama’s participation in a special event in Khalidi’s honor reflected not only the friendship between their two families, but also the eagerness with which Obama attempted to win support from left-wing constituencies in advance of the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate in 2004.
The $50,000 reward is contingent on Breitbart News being able to obtain independent authentication of the video recording, as well as verification that the video recording contains Obama’s complete remarks at the event.