Thursday, March 12, 2009

Israel Lobby Knocks Out Freeman

By Melvin A. Goodman
March 12, 2009

Israel is capable of debating sensitive national security issues dealing with a variety of Israeli-Arab issues, but this does not appear to be possible in the United States.

Read on.


Anonymous said...

AJC Rejects Charles Freeman's "Scapegoating" of Pro-Israel Community

New York – March 11, 2009 – AJC rejected charges made by Ambassador Charles Freeman blaming the “Israel Lobby” for his decision to withdraw his acceptance of the position of chair of the National Intelligence Council.
Freeman was formerly the U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia and the chair of the Middle East Policy Council, funded in part by the Saudi government. His foreign policy views drew considerable scrutiny.

He lavishly praised Saudi King Abdullah as “Abdullah the Great,” callously stated that the Chinese government’s Tiananmen Square crackdown was a “monument to overly cautious behavior,” demonstrated consistent hostility toward Israel, and bizarrely argued, “What 9/11 showed is that if we bomb people, they bomb back.”

AJC Executive Director David A. Harris issued the following statement:

Apparently, Chas Freeman can dish it out but can’t take it.

Like all appointments to key national security positions, Freeman’s merited public scrutiny. His views on ‘Abdullah the Great,’ on Israel, on September 11, and on Tiananmen Square were a matter of public record, and respected officials on both sides of the aisle raised legitimate concerns about them.

Ambassador Freeman could have defended those beliefs in an open debate. Instead, he chose to fire off nasty emails scapegoating the ‘Israel Lobby’ for his own decision to withdraw.

The only “libels” and “smears” here are Freeman’s tired clich├ęs about a nefarious ‘Israel Lobby’ that stifles debate. In truth, it’s Freeman, a charter member of the Saudi Fan Club, who wanted the debate to be silenced – since he found himself on the losing side once it started.

If Freeman’s conspiratorial rant reflects the quality of his analysis and his temperament under pressure, it’s just further evidence that he wasn’t the right man for this critical job.

Anonymous said...

Once again, it just shows why no one reads newspapers any longer. You can only find the truth on the internet. The mainstream media won't touch anything negative regarding the "right", i.e. the latest info on Cheney, and now this. Just two LARGE examples of an ongoing problem.

"Journalists" newscasters are making too much money - they should not be part of the establishment elite. They become friends with these destructive forces running things and then refuse to do any real investigative reporting. Seymour Hersh seems to be one of the few remaining. Yet no one else reports what he finds - because he's liberal. But you know, it must be true that the media is liberal because they keep telling us so.

clearheaded said...

This is a democracy and we lister to the voice of the people and it is clear that Mr. Freeman is out of step. You can call him distinguished all you want but his views on Israel are not those of the American people. He is fanatically opposed to Israels' postion on the major issus and probably secretly opposes their right to exist. His appointment to this position is the equivalent of making Rush Limbaugh the President's communications director.

Anonymous said...

America first citizens with $$$ should do something drastic to counter the ever influence of the zionist lobby.

Anonymous said...

Chas Freeman: It's not over yet
By Lawrence W. White, FLAME Hotline, March 11, 2009

Charles Freeman, a former ambassador to Saudi Arabia, is the diplomat chosen several weeks ago by the administration to chair the National Intelligence Council.

Problems immediately arose. Freeman was in the paid service of Saudi Arabia, had repeatedly blasted Israel, had defended China including its actions in the Tiananmen Square massacre, and had numerous conflicts of interest. Prior to the appointment he had not been fully vetted, and any examination of his finances had not occurred. As a result, the selection became controversial as soon as Freeman's name became public.

As a result of these issues, opposition to his nomination arose among several members of Congress, as well as parts of the media and ordinary citizens. This led to his withdrawing his nomination after several weeks of controversy. Whether he withdrew or was pushed is not clear at this time.

Opposition to Freeman was initially attributed to his many statements blaming Israel for the current crisis and absence of peace in the Middle East. However, what led to his demise were not primarily considerations related to Israel but rather the exposure of Freeman's many statements apologizing for Saudi and Chinese behavior as well as a whole panoply of foreign policy conflicts.

These included his 12-year chairmanship of the Middle East Policy Council which was a Saudi-funded front group, and his chairmanship of Projects International, a group that represented U.S. business interests in Saudi Arabia and China. Freeman fully supported the repressive government of China. He criticized a Tibet protest against China as a "race riot", and stated that China should have intervened earlier in the Tiananmen Square protests. But the major feature of his support for China was his paid role on the board of a Chinese government-owned oil company that had dealings in Iran. This same Chinese oil company also purchased oil from Sudan while its leaders were overseeing genocide in Darfur. There were no objections from Freeman about any of this

Following the withdrawal, a collective sigh of relief was uttered by those who opposed him. However, it is not yet time to uncork the champagne. For those of us in opposition, we should not expect this problem to disappear. The fact that a group of citizens along with members of Congress mobilized to put pressure on the administration to halt the nomination clearly represents an age-old use of the democratic right to petition government. However, it also opens the door to new charges of pressure from the Israel lobby.

We have heard this before, from Jimmy Carter, Stephen Walt, and John Mearsheimer, from the likes of such hateful demagogues as Norman Finkelstein, and even from Jewish groups such as J Street, who falsely label themselves as pro-Israel. This time, joining the cries of criticism of the so-called "Israel lobby" are many new and surprising names, including Andrew Sullivan, and M.J. Rosenberg of the Israel Policy Forum.

Certain historical events become symbols. The USS Liberty tragic friendly fire incident in 1967 became the casus belli for the anti-Israel zealots and has been so for over 40 years. Now the Freeman case is about to become the poster child for those who preach against the "Israel lobby".

Freeman himself has initiated the process. In a note to Foreign Policy, ABC News has reported that Freeman attacked the Israel lobby, claiming that the destruction of his career "will be seen by many to raise serious questions about whether the Obama administration will be able to make its own decisions about the Middle East and related issues."

Here are Freeman's words:

"The libels on me and their easily traceable email trails show conclusively that there is a powerful lobby determined to prevent any view other than its own from being aired, still less to factor in American understanding of trends and events in the Middle East. The tactics of the Israel Lobby plumb the depths of dishonor and indecency and include character assassination, selective misquotation, the willful distortion of the record, the fabrication of falsehoods, and an utter disregard for the truth. The aim of this Lobby is control of the policy process through the exercise of a veto over the appointment of people who dispute the wisdom of its views, the substitution of political correctness for analysis, and the exclusion of any and all options for decision by Americans and our government other than those that it favors."

The inability of the American public to discuss, or the government to consider, any option for US policies in the Middle East opposed by the ruling faction in Israeli politics has allowed that faction to adopt and sustain policies that ultimately threaten the existence of the state of Israel. It is not permitted for anyone in the United States to say so. This is not just a tragedy for Israelis and their neighbors in the Middle East; it is doing widening damage to the national security of the United States."

Now what is going on here? Congress, the media, good government organizations, and various special interest groups, have always evaluated candidates for high government office with great scrutiny. In this case as in others, the candidates own words were examined in full context. But as Jake Tapper of ABC News has pointed out, "only in Freeman's case does the nominee make an allegation that a foreign power was lurking nefariously somehow behind it all."

For Freeman, this represents a different and more lucrative kind of career move than the one he had originally expected. He is now following in the footsteps of Jimmy Carter, Ramsey Clark, Charles Lindbergh, and others who have made a profitable career out of travelling the lecture circuit blaming Jews and peddling tales of conspiracy. This is what Richard Hofstadter labeled "the paranoid style in American politics", and it has great appeal for angry minds.

Most Jewish and pro-Israel organizations took no public stance on the nomination, and there was apparently little lobbying of Congress. Nonetheless, Freeman's son, Charles Freeman Jr., a former assistant U.S. Trade Representative for China Affairs., referred to his father's critics as "Israel first-ers" and stated that his father's "appointment is being challenged these days by a small cabal of folks that believe first and foremost in the importance of allegiance to Israel as a core U.S. priority."

An irony in all this is that according to several members of Congress, the concerns about his anti-Israel positions did not and would not stop his official appointment to chair the NIC. Rather, it was Freeman's comments on China and Tibet, and his connections to the Chinese oil company, that finally did him in.

None of Freeman's critics claimed that he was not entitled to hold these opinions on Israel, China and the Middle East. Rather, they claimed he was not entitled to hold these judgments and allegiances and at the same time make official analyses and reach conclusions for the US government on critical intelligence matters.

This raises an age-old question for American Jews. Is it useful to try to prevent this sort of appointment, or will it, as M.J. Rosenberg claims, be dangerous in that it feeds resentment of Jews in official circles? We had a different experience during World War II, when the Roosevelt administration was supported by most of the Jewish community. Opposition to Roosevelt's policies regarding restrictions on intake of the doomed European Jews was virtually non-existent. At that time, the roles of Jimmy Carter, Stephen Walt, and John Mearsheimer, were taken by Charles Lindberg, Henry Ford, and Father Coughlin.

In the 1930s and 1940s Jews were primarily motivated by the fear of creating an anti-Semitic backlash. The prevailing view of the Jewish community was to maintain a low profile and do nothing that might annoy the powers in Washington, (This is the position of M.J. Rosenberg today).

At present, the Jewish community can see the results of a more aggressive posture. We now know the benefits of publicly speaking out, of lobbying, and using our rights as citizens. All indications are that this is a far healthier stance. However, this behavior is about to be tested.

Anonymous said...

Robert Parry, I would like you to review your old posts on Sun Myung Moon, and note “The Washington Times owns the Chas Freeman story,” by Kevin D. Williamson,

Also, Consortium has not paid enough attention to Dick Cheney and Rush Limbaugh. After being instrumental in stopping Chas Freeman's nomination, then Sun Myung Moon's conglomerate joins in the blaming of the Israeli lobby, never having anything but praise for both Rush Limbaugh and Dick Cheney.

Rush combining hatred of Muslims and Hispanics is powerful poison in these troubled times. Cheney predicting a terror attack just as Obama is getting al Qaeda upset, and would be happy to oblige giving Rush and Dick an excuse to blame a terror attack on Obama,

From the Consortium archives


Please do a story on the Cheney, Limbaugh and the Washington Times connection.

Anonymous said...

This is commentor #6 again. The first link I enclosed was defective; here it is again. If it doesn't paste right the second time go to Washington City Paper link and click on "tips its hat"

Remember Freeman is a realist, not a peace activist, so-called realism has a cold-blooded touch to it.

My guess he was the best person for the job. But there are plenty of reasons to disagree besides those being in the Christian Right that are trying to butter up Israel in the hope that American Jews won't complain about Christmas pageants.