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Attack on Arab-American thinker criticised.

Dubai: The attempts by Republican circles to link Democratic candidates with Palestinian professor Rashid Al Khalidi has met with strong condemnation from many parties, including Arabs and Jews, inside and outside the US.

While some Arab-American groups describe the attacks on Al Khalidi as a "smear campaign" against a highly respected thinker from the community, the pan-Arab newspaper of Al Hayat denounced efforts to link Obama with Khalidi in such a manner as a way of "inciting racism against Arab communities in the United States, as it became clear that the McCain campaign was seeking to frighten the Jews into voting against Obama".

The Washington Post, considered the bastion of the Neo-conservatism in the US, also criticised the attacks on Al Khalidi, and said comparing him to a neo-Nazi is a "vile smear".

McCain also called Al Khalidi, the director of a Middle East Institute at Columbia University, "a PLO [Palestine Liberation Organisation] spokesperson". Al Khalidi has criticised Israel in some of his writings.

Targeting Al Khalidi was expected after attacking Obama himself because his father was a Muslim, "as if this is something bad," veteran Arab-American journalist Mohammad Guneim said.

"During US election campaigns," Guneim told Gulf News, "everything is allowed even if it is immoral". But the long list of permissible things doesn't include criticising Israel, otherwise, "that person will be accused of biased against it," Guneim added.

Attacking Arabs and Muslims became a phenomenon, "since the terrorists attacks of 9/11, both Arabs and Muslims in the US became whipping boys," he said.

An experienced US Jewish diplomat also strongly attacked "racist", and called for its stop.

M.J. Rosenberg wrote in his weekly column in Washington-based Israel Policy Forum, which he heads, saying "The only reason they engage in Arab or Muslim baiting is because they believe that Jewish donors and voters want to hear this stuff and will vote - based not on their perception of American interests - but on bigotry, racism, and hate.

"In fact, the people who should most be insulted by these racist smear campaigns are Jews", the article, entitled How Stupid Do They Think Jews Are? added.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Date:Nov 3, 2008
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