Let’s start with Juan Cole‘s “McCain Racism, Hypocrisy on Khalidi Issue.” He gives an explanation that is continually ignored no matter how many people point it out.

The rightwing American way of speaking about these issues is bizarre from
a Middle Eastern point of view. Lots of real living Israelis have close ties
to actually existing Palestinians. There are 12 Palestinian members of the
Israeli Knesset, and they have helped keep the Kadima government in power.
Here is PLO leader Mahmoud Abbas with current Israeli Prime Minister Tzipi
Livni; Livni has repeatedly negotiated with the PLO as foreign minister of
Israel. McCain’s entire line of attack assumes that Palestinian equals “bad”
and ignores Israel’s and the Bush administration’s support for the PLO against

The problem with the Khalidi, according to camp McCain, revolves around anti-Semitism. Shorter: McCain’s behind so they’re playing the Israel card, with Khalidi the route. Just listen to Mike Goldfarb, a McCain spokesman, try to weave this web, which leads him to a ghost.

What we’re dealing with on this side of the pond is neoconservative delusion
meeting up with the Rapture contingent spit out through politics. Sorry to be
disrespectful of the religious fundamentalists, but when their greater fantasy
meets up with our even greater urgency of dealing with the Palestinian and Israeli
stalemate, I have no patience. Even Olmert thinks the notion of a “greater
Israel” is an idea whose time has passed

The Khalidi smear is born out of this delusion, brought to a boil over the
figment of an Iran image that is dangerous for this country and our prospects
for peace and security in the world, but also for a foreign policy that engages
and solves challenges in a region that cries out for solutions. That we’ve got
bigger problems percolating in Pakistan and the tribal regions is a subject I’ll leave
for another day.

Khalidi is the face of the right-wing’s Israel card that McCain, Palin and
their surrogates, as well as their radio barkers, are playing in order to scare
people into thinking that Obama is something he’s not. It’s a way they can sew
doubt and drape the anti Israel cape around him. As Sullivan also pointed out, this McCain ad comes complete with what’s meant to be menacing music of that other culture.

The now infamous Khalidi tape that the L.A. Times has but won’t release
further aides the wingnut image fearmongers, because it teases that there’s
something to hide and the evil liberal media is helping hide it. There is no
evidence whatsoever that the Khalidi tape has anything noteworthy on it.

via Huffington Post

Since newspapers are in the business of breaking big stories, if they had anything
juicy they’d have reported on it. Oh, except Obama appearing at an event with
a Palestinian scholar. That’s Obama’s “crime.” Hanging around with
thinkers, intellectuals, a pro Palestinian man. The L.A. Times is very unlikely to release
the tape, because they got it on condition that they wouldn’t. Burning sources
is a very bad habit for reporters and journalists to get into.

No one on the neoconservative side seems to understand that in order to get
peace you need a relationship with the Palestinians, as well as the Israelis.
Not one of animosity, but of mutual need, if nothing else. The irony is that
Bush made all this much harder when he pushed the PLO for elections, with the
outcome that Hamas won out. But they were elected. Even John McCain admitted
that because of this we’d have to deal with it during an
interview last summer with Jamie Rubin

Rubin: Do you think the American diplomats should be operating the way they
have in the past, working with Palestinian government if Hamas is now in charge?

McCain: They are the government, sooner or later we are going to have to
deal with them, one way or another […]

This is the usual, It’s Okay If A Republican Offers To Talk To Hamas, because
they’re the Serious Ones on foreign policy and national security, but if a Democrat
decides to talk with our adversaries to find common ground we’re “soft,”
“anti American,” etc. When you have Israel involved, coupled with a man who actually knows a Palestinian, well, it’s swiftboating mana from heaven for McCain and his allies.

John McCain is shaking the Khalidi tree, giving permission to Sarah Palin and their supporters to do the same, just as Republican 527s unleash unholy swiftboating ads throughout the battleground states. Conservative bloggers have been trying to stir up a ruckus
over it for days. If it doesn’t work for the election, maybe they can delegitimize
Obama going forward? The trolls are going to be very busy.

UPDATED: The Washington Post has a terrific editorial on Rashid Khalidi that’s important for people to read.