≡ Menu

Israel Lobby Smears Obama Intelligence Appointee

JTA has launched the first salvo in the Jewish war against proposed Obama intelligence appointee, Chas. Freeman.  Freeman is a friend of Obama intelligence chief, Adm. Dennis Blair, who asked the former to chair the National Intelligence Council.  Freeman’s background as former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia and vocal critic of the Israeli Occupation renders him deeply suspect in the pro-Israel community.

JTA’s Ron Kampeas dredged up a highly dubious “expose” published by his newspaper in 2005 which purported to find hatred of Israel in many educational materials created by Arab groups and circulated for use in U.S. schools.  Among them was a book funded by the Middle East Policy Council, chaired by Freeman.

Here is Kampeas’ lurid prose today inveighing against Freeman:

The Obama administration’s reported pick for a top intelligence post helped peddle a Saudi-funded school study guide decried by Jewish groups and educators for having anti-Jewish biases…

Freeman is president of the Middle East Policy Council, a Saudi-funded think tank. A JTA investigative series in 2005 exposed how the council, led by Freeman, joined with Berkeley, Calif.-based Arab World and Islamic Resources in peddling the “Arab World Studies Notebook” to American schools. In the version examined that year by JTA staff, the “Notebook” described Jerusalem as unequivocally “Arab,” deriding Jewish residence in the city as “settlement”; cast the “question of Jewish lobbying” against “the whole question of defining American interests and concerns”; and suggested that the Koran “synthesizes and perfects earlier revelations.”

Then I went back to the original 2005 story to see whether its claims were any better documented.  They weren’t:

The “Arab World Studies Notebook” is…billed by its creators as an important tool to correct misperceptions about Islam and the Arab world, the manual for secondary schools has been blasted by critics for distorting history and propagating bias.

…The…publication was created as the joint project of two organizations – both of which receive Saudi funding.

Some of the references are subtle, say critics, making them all the more harmful. For example, the manual:

• Denigrates the Jews’ historical connection to Jerusalem. One passage, describing the Old City, says that “the Jerusalem that most people envisage when they think of the ancient city is Arab. Surrounding it are ubiquitous high-rises built for Israeli settlers to strengthen Israeli control over the holy city.”

• Suggests that Jews have undue influence on U.S. foreign policy. Referring to Harry S. Truman’s support of [Israel] it says: “Truman’s decision to push the U.N. decision to partition Palestine ended in the creation of Israel. The questions of Jewish lobbying and its impact on Truman’s decision with regard to American recognition – and indeed, the whole question of defining American interests and concerns – is well worth exploring.”

• Suggests that the Koran “synthesizes and perfects earlier revelations,” meaning those ascribed to by Christians and Jews.

Leaves out any facts and figures about the State of Israel in its country-by-country section, but refers instead only to Palestine.

So here is the extent of the charges against the book that Freeman, as Kampeas would have you believe, personally peddled to impressionable American school children:

1. It correctly notes that much of Jerusalem’s Old City is Arab.  Also notes that Jerusalem’s suburban communities across the Green Line are “settlements” and that those who live there are “settlers.”  The JTA report would have you believe that the textbook is calling every Jewish resident of Jerusalem a “settler.”  Considering that they have not provided enough context in their quote to know precisely what the text is specifically saying, I judge the reference to “ubiquitous high rises” to refer to newer Jerusalem neighborhoods across the Green Line, which are generally understood by everyone except Israel to be settlements.

2. Correctly suggests that lobbying by American Zionists had an effect on Truman’s decision to recognize Israel and that this subject is “well worth exploring.”

3. Correctly notes that Muslims see the Koran as “perfecting earlier revelations” of Christianity and Judaism, just as Jews see their religion as progressing from previous pagan religions common to ancient Israel.

4. Correctly notes that a textbook about the Arab Middle East doesn’t feature a great deal of information about Israel.

So what have we here?  Where’s the smoking gun?

To his credit, the JTA reporter does quote a figure sympathetic to Freeman like M.J. Rosenberg.  And I suppose I should be thankful that Freeman’s chief “accuser” in this story is none other than putative Aipac spy, Steve Rosen.  I find it rich that Rosen in effect accuses Freeman of having “dual loyalty” to Saudi Arabia, when the U.S. government is currently accusing Rosen of stealing secret intelligence documents to give to Israel.  One man’s dual loyalty is another’s filial duty to the Jewish state.

Among Freeman’s other offenses were to defend Walt-Mearsheimer’s The Israel Lobby, along with accepting $750,000 in Saudi funding for MEPC.  Kampeas does note a fact previously reported by Politico’s Ben Smith–that pro-Israel analysts like Dennis Ross also work in a similarly partisan environment funded by heavily pro-Israel donors.  Ross also worked for a think tank affiliated with the Jewish Agency for Israel, a quasi-government group.

So it seems that for Rosen and Freeman’s other detractors, what’s good for a goose like Ross isn’t for a gander like Freeman.  Seems fair to me.

{ 14 comments… add one }
  • emman chehade randazzo February 25, 2009, 3:26 PM

    Thank you for this concise and cohesive essay deconstructing Kampeas’ idiotic comments Richard. Let’s hope Freeman isn’t politically crucified for his balanced views.

  • S February 25, 2009, 10:27 PM

    Great job in exposing this piece of pseudo-journalism. It’s just a hate-and-smear job against a well-credentialed, even-handed, experienced, wise and loyal diplomat. No surprise, therefore, that JTA’s piece is replete with biased language, misquotes, falsifications, and fanciful assumptions.
    But let’s call a spade a spade. These agents of a foreign power, a.k.a. the Israel Lobby folks (and it seems JTA’s Kampeas is one of them) are used to being the baal habayit in American politics; accustomed to having unfettered power to appoint and remove politicians and public officials. Suddenly, they realize that things have changed in Washington. Oh, how I feel their pain!

  • Julian March 2, 2009, 5:10 AM

    “I find it rich that Rosen in effect accuses Freeman of having “dual loyalty” to Saudi Arabia, when the U.S. government is currently accusing Rosen of stealing secret intelligence documents to give to Israel.”

    There were no documents and he is not accused of stealing documents. At least have a clue what you’re talking about.

    • Richard Silverstein March 2, 2009, 3:41 PM

      You mean to say that Rosen & Weissman were merely enjoying meals with a Defense Dept. analyst who specialized in Iranian intelligence for the hell of it. You mean to say the Israeli Mossad operative/attache who left the country in haste as soon as the government sting was revealed did so because he had an ailing mama back home in Tel Aviv? You mean to say that the government was using Larry Franklin to lure Rosen & Weissman into whatever conspiracy they were planning merely because they didn’t like their taste in dress suits.

      Apologist for accused spies. Very nice. You must be a personal friend of Mort Klein & all the other Israel Firsters supporting Rosen the Slimeball.

  • Thom March 2, 2009, 9:04 PM

    Your dislike of Israeli policies so dominates this site that you suppport the appointment of Chas Freeman who said this about the Chinese response to peaceful dissident protests:
    From: [email address removed]
    Sent: Friday, May 26, 2006 9:29 PM

    I will leave it to others to address the main thrust of your reflection on Eric’s remarks. But I want to take issue with what I assume, perhaps incorrectly, to be yoiur citation of the conventional wisdom about the 6/4 [or Tiananmen] incident. I find the dominant view in China about this very plausible, i.e. that the truly unforgivable mistake of the Chinese authorities was the failure to intervene on a timely basis to nip the demonstrations in the bud, rather than — as would have been both wise and efficacious — to intervene with force when all other measures had failed to restore domestic tranquility to Beijing and other major urban centers in China. In this optic, the Politburo’s response to the mob scene at “Tian’anmen” stands as a monument to overly cautious behavior on the part of the leadership, not as an example of rash action.

    For myself, I side on this — if not on numerous other issues — with Gen. Douglas MacArthur. I do not believe it is acceptable for any country to allow the heart of its national capital to be occupied by dissidents intent on disrupting the normal functions of government, however appealing to foreigners their propaganda may be. Such folk, whether they represent a veterans’ “Bonus Army” or a “student uprising” on behalf of “the goddess of democracy” should expect to be displaced with despatch from the ground they occupy. I cannot conceive of any American government behaving with the ill-conceived restraint that the Zhao Ziyang administration did in China, allowing students to occupy zones that are the equivalent of the Washington National Mall and Times Square, combined. while shutting down much of the Chinese government’s normal operations. I thus share the hope of the majority in China that no Chinese government will repeat the mistakes of Zhao Ziyang’s dilatory tactics of appeasement in dealing with domestic protesters in China.

    I await the brickbats of those who insist on a politically correct — i.e. non Burkean conservative — view.


    Is this your idea of building a better world.

    Michael Moore’s Farenheit 9/11 focused a great deal on the U.S. ties with Saudi Arabia and the close relationships between that regime and its American supporters which Mr. Moore saw as terribly ironic given the number of Saudi nationals involved in 9/11. Freeman easily could have been a target of Moore’s movie.

    So now somw who call themselves liberals and devotees of a healed world use a supporter and lobbyist of the Chinese and Saudi governments to put forward their cause.

    Under what tenet of Tikkun Olam does this site support such views. Perhaps, under the old mantra- the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

    • Richard Silverstein March 2, 2009, 11:29 PM

      I find it offensive and an invasion of privacy that you attempted to publish Mr. Freeman’s personal e mail address in your comment. Do anything close to that again and you’ll be history here.

      I disagree with Freeman about Tienamen Square. I agree with him about the Israeli-Arab conflict. In your rather small brain, is it impossible to wrap it around the concept that you may disagree with someone on one subject & agree w. them on another? Or must we only embrace those w. whom we agree 100% of the time?

    • Peter D March 10, 2009, 7:39 AM

      Richard, Thom. See this post by Jim Lobe on this memo.

      • Richard Silverstein March 11, 2009, 2:07 AM

        I just think it’s a damn shame Obama didn’t run this thing like he ran his campaign. Freeman needed a full court press. He needed researchers digging up info like Nelson did. I had no idea that Freeman wasn’t representing his OWN opinions about what the Chinese should’ve done during Tienamien Square, but rather the views of the Chinese leadership. This changes everything. Yet we only find out about this the day Freeman withdraws. It just seems a crying shame.

  • Rowan Berkeley March 3, 2009, 2:24 AM

    I wouldn’t describe Richard’s piece as “deconstructing Kampeas’ idiotic comments”, emman. Deconstruction is a process of undermining the closed logical systems within which systematic thought as a whole takes place. In other words, it is a method of sabotaging thought altogether, which is why I disapprove of it and stick with the previous generation of social and cultural philosophers, who were, logically enough, structuralists.

  • Julian March 8, 2009, 6:01 AM

    “Apologist for accused spies. Very nice. You must be a personal friend of Mort Klein & all the other Israel Firsters supporting Rosen the Slimeball.”

    Accused doesn’t mean guilty. If the “experts’ are right the AIPAC case is almost over with a full acquittal in store for Rosen.

    • Richard Silverstein March 8, 2009, 10:33 PM

      If the “experts’ are right the AIPAC case is almost over

      You mean the “experts” like Malcolm Hoenlein & Mort Klein? Actually, you’ve linked to a post by Steve Aftergood who I know personally. Steve has an axe to grind in this case as a anti-nuclear activist who has championed the use of government information in order to advance the cause of nuclear disarmament. Because of this Steve MUST argue that Rosen & Weissman are not guilty. If he takes any other position he would be betraying all his previous work.

      So Steve is not a disinterested observer & his view of the case is highly skewed. If you read the comments in the thread you’d note that not everyone even at the FAS site agrees with Steve’s analysis.

      I wouldn’t count my chickens if I were you. Steve Rosen, Doug Feith, Wolfowitz if they aren’t spies are so useful to Israel they might as well be. And notice I didn’t say they WEREN’T.

  • Julian March 9, 2009, 5:25 PM

    “So Steve is not a disinterested observer & his view of the case is highly skewed. If you read the comments in the thread you’d note that not everyone even at the FAS site agrees with Steve’s analysis.”

    No the other person commenting is Grant F. Smith.
    I doubt there is a more biased observer. His whole life is devoted to getting the likes of Steve Rosen.
    Smith’s argument: “it would probably advantage the prosecution to show how AIPAC acquired and used NDI and commercial information in the past.” Is just plain stupid. Aipac is not on trial.
    With Leonard, who has 30 years of government experience determining what is classified testifying for the defense, it’s pretty much over.

  • Mike P. March 10, 2009, 4:37 PM

    Chas Freeman is the protypical example of clientism and corruption in the State Department, siding with the countries he is assigned to, rather than with the U.S., and then working at organizations funded by those very countries.

    And when one of those countries is Saudi Arabia, that’s about as traitorous as one can get.

    Good riddance to an enemy of the people.

    • Richard Silverstein March 11, 2009, 1:55 AM

      Yes, it is typical of neocons to accuse their enemies of being traitors. I guess it takes a traitor to know one, right?

      But what about Dennis Ross working for a Jewish group affiliated with the Israeli government? If Freeman poses a problem so should Ross. But Ross, you see, is kosher & Freeman is treif.

      It’s say it’s Mike P. who’s an enemy of the people and of the good.

Leave a Comment