Admiral Dennis Blair’s appointment of Chas. Freeman as chair of the National Intelligence Council becomes more troubled by the day. Not because of any real taint on Ambassador Freeman’s record, but because Aipac and its Congressional water carriers are upping the ante day by day in a campaign to oust him due to his strongly critical views about the Israeli Occupation.
His critics veil their criticism in an attack on Freeman’s close ties to Chinese and Saudi business and government interests, but make no mistake–Freeman’s sin is his outspokenness on Israel and his sympathies for Palestinian suffering.
This coordinated attack fits Aipac’s modus operandi to a tee. First, you will probably not hear the group’s name directly associated with the assault. The phone calls go from Aipac headquarters to their mostly Republican minions on the Hill. But it’s entirely possible that unlike the Manchurian Candidate, Aipac doesn’t even need to activate their operatives. They’ve been so indoctrinated that the Congress members know what is expected of them and they start the campaign themselves.
And by the by, Jim Lobe notes that most of the seven Congress members who signed a letter asking for an investigation of Freeman were heavy recipients of pro-Israel campaign donations closely affiliated with Aipac.
Even Chuck Schumer, now New York’s leading pro-Israel political leader after Hillary’s promotion to State, is getting in on the act. He picked up the phone to call his good friend and fellow pro-Israel Dem., Rahm Emanuel, to rail about Freeman. What’s especially significant about Schumer’s involvement is that until now the opposition was led by straight neo-con Republican forces and the pro-Israel right: Steve Rosen, Michael Goldfarb, the Republican Jewish Coalition, John Boehner, Eric Cantor, Mark Kirk, Marty Peretz, Jonathan Tobin, etc. Schumer is the first Democratic leader to get into the tussle.
I am angry that Chuck Schumer thinks there’s no place in the U.S. intelligence apparatus for a man of Freeman’s views. Do we require uniformity of thought when it comes to Israel? Can no one question? Can no one diverge from a reductive pro-Israel consensus? It doesn’t look good.
Admiral Blair’s spokesperson has just set up a perfect “out” for him by “acknowledging” that Freeman’s appointment was not vetted nor approved by the White House. Can anyone imagine that an appointment to such a senior intelligence position would NOT be vetted? C’mon. I’m afraid they’re preparing to throw him overboard.
This is Aipac laying down a marker, telling Obama that if he wants to stray from the fold on Israel this is what he can expect: war by attrition and death of policy by a thousand paper cuts. The Israel lobby desperately wants to slow down the train that is Obama’s Israel policy. They don’t want it to get to its destination and they’re willing to throw Chas. Freeman under the wheels as part of a long-term strategy.
I’m hoping that Jewish peace groups and bloggers will take up this cause. And intelligence analysts should as well. Don’t let Aipac and Republican neo-cons set our nation’s Israel agenda. Don’t let them destroy the career of an experienced diplomat who brings a refreshingly forthright view of the Israel-Arab conflict. Make no mistake, Chas. Freeman is like the first “Communist” on Joe McCarthy’s list. Once it gets Freeman, it won’t be satisfied. It will then go on to fry the bigger fish or it may simply be satisfied to cow the Obamas and Clintons into submission.
Miles Stuart says
I could be wrong, but I think the significance of the position is in making sure the president is fully and objectively informed rather than determining policy. This is a stark contrast with the previous administration where people were employed to make sure the president was fully misunderinformed. Freeman would be much more than a political loss for Obama, he has rare, relevant and valuable expertise on perhaps the most difficult areas for the US to navigate.
Norman Weinstein says
And this from today’s (3/6) McClatchy:
”JERUSALEM — A day after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gently chastised Israeli officials for demolishing Arab homes in East Jerusalem, the city’s new mayor pushed back Thursday and suggested that America’s top diplomat had been the victim of a disinformation campaign.
“During her first visit to the region as secretary of state, Clinton criticized the unfolding home demolitions as “unhelpful” to tenuous Israel-Palestinian peace talks and a violation of Israel’s commitment to the diplomatic process.”
Not a moment, not a day passes that some representative of Israel, official or otherwise, does not demonstrate that this state, so often declared bold and wise and good, has no intention of seriously pursuing a just peace and a valid two-state solution to the conflict. It’s all the way or nothing, from the Mediterranean to the Jordan, and I suspect that this has always been at the very least a Zionist subtext. “Next year in Jerusalem,” indeed. Do The New Israel Fund, The Abraham Fund, Peace Now, Brit Tzedek v’Shalom even exist anymore?
Israel has become such a far-right, militarized, ossified society (80 – 85 % of its population supporting the Gazan atrocity), and its powerful patron now also so steadily right of center in this and numerous other instances, that one naive enough to want to apply some fundamental decency and simple intelligence to this tragic and dangerous continuation of injustice can only despair.
One can imagine this site’s response if a Republican administration nominated a candidate for an intelligence position who had defended the Chinese reponse to Tiannamen Square and had been on the Board of the chinese National Offshore Oil Company which has extensive business in Sudan and Burma; had stoutly defended Saudi Arabia, a client, etc. Note Farenheit 9/11’s emphasis on collusion between the Bush Administration and the Saudis to get Saudi nationals out of the county after 9/11.
In arguing that the world’s greatest problem in the world is Israeli brutality (to use Freeman’s adjective) your compromise your goal of healing the world.
What you also are impliedly stating is that the vast majority of Israeli Jews have lost their “Jewish values” which only diaspora Jews, with elevated moral sensitivity, possess.
Where on earth has anybody made the arguement that this is the “world’s greatest problem” What an odd statement.
Spephen Walt in defense of Chas Freeman:
(via Juan Cole’s column)
Includes some comments of Cole on Zionist nationalism:
“Zionism is a form of nationalism centered on the necessity of turning Judaism into a base for a nation-state. Probably a majority of Jews, and virtually all American Jews, were offended by this notion before WW II”
“Nationalism where healthy can be a sane form of patriotism and pride in the achievements of a people,and many Zionists fit that description (though more Jewish Zionists than Christian Zionists are humane in my experience). But nationalism can also easily turn pathological.”