A lot of us who are enraged at the treatment afforded Chas. Freeman have been furiously tapping our keyboards and publishing posts and newspaper articles to articulate the important issues that this fight represented. Phil Weiss, Matt Ygleisias, Glenn Greenwald, M.J. Rosenberg, Chris Nelson, Greg Sargent and Spencer Ackerman have all covered this story excellently. But Steve Walt’s recap of Freeman’s ordeal and what it means in the larger context of the fight for a sane, reasonable U.S. policy toward Israel is superb.
I participated in a conference call with Daniel Kurtzer sponsored by Brit Tzedek yesterday. After reading Jerry Haber sing Kurtzer’s praises for months at his blog, I expected better. I expected someone tougher, someone sharper, more acute. Instead, what I heard was someone nibbling around the edges of a progressive policy toward Israel. Certainly it’s far superior to the past eight years. But somehow I expected more.
The reason I bring this up is that a questioner boldly asked why liberal Jewish groups (like Brit Tzedek!) didn’t do more (it did nothing actually) to back Freeman. In reply to the general question of Kurtzer’s view of the Freeman story, the former defended Freeman but denounced the latter’s attack on the lobby after withdrawing. The Kurtzer likened Freeman’s statement attacking the lobby to Walt-Mearsheimer, who he erroneously claimed know nothing about the Middle East, “or anything.”
You can tell a lot about a person by who they like and who they hate and how that corresponds to your own judgments. The fact that Kurtzer slammed the two academics so severely told me a lot about the limitations of Kurtzer’s judgment.
What I find especially ironic about this is that Steve Walt, in his appraisal of the debacle is so temperate, so clear-eyed, so judicious that I found myself wondering whether Freeman, if he could’ve adopted Walt’s approach, might’ve presented a harder target for Schumer, Israel, Emanuel to strike.
My hat is off to Steve Walt. His judgement of what happened, who won, who lost, and where we go from here is terrific.