If the Israel Lobby is a myth, then why is obsequience to israel a bipartisan litmus test for US officials? “Are you now, or have you ever been, a critic of israel?”
On 5 March 2009 the Washington Times reported Foreign ties of nominee questioned:
The director of national intelligence, Dennis C. Blair, last Thursday named Mr. [Chas W.] Freeman, a veteran former diplomat, to the chairmanship of the National Intelligence Council, known inside the government as the NIC. In that job, Mr. Freeman will have access to some of America’s most closely guarded secrets and be charged with overseeing the drafting of the consensus view of all 16 intelligence agencies.
His selection was praised by some who noted his articulateness and experience as U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia and a senior envoy to China and other nations. But it sparked concerns among some members of Congress from both parties, who asked the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s inspector general, Edward McGuire, to investigate Mr. Freeman’s potential conflicts of interest.
Why didn’t these kind of questions sink Rahm Emanuel? After all:
Mr. Emanuel is arguably the second most powerful man in the country and, just a few days into his tenure, already one of the highest-profile chiefs of staff in recent memory.
Renowned as a fierce partisan, he has been an ardent ambassador to Republicans, including Mr. Obama’s defeated rival, Senator John McCain of Arizona. He has exerted influence on countless decisions; in meetings, administration officials say, Mr. Obama often allows him to speak first and last.
“You can see how he listens and reacts to Rahm,” said Ron Klain, the chief of staff to Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. “You can see that his opinion is being shaped.”
Emanuel has strong foreign ties. Haaretz writes U.S. Jews laud Obama pick of Rahm Emanuel for chief of staff:
“Rep. Emanuel is also a good friend of Israel, coming from good Irgun stock, davening at an Orthodox synagogue, and sending his children to Jewish day schools,” Daroff concluded.
Ira N. Forman, Executive Director of the National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC), echoed Daroff’s approval, saying in a statement Thursday that “Obama made an outstanding selection. Emanuel has been a forceful and effective leader within the Democratic Party. His voting record and leadership in support of the U.S.-Israel relationship are outstanding.”
“Emanuel has deep Jewish roots and strong ties to the Jewish community. Emanuel, the son of an Israeli immigrant, has a proven commitment to Israel’s security and served as civilian volunteer on an Israeli military base during the Persian Gulf War of 1991,” the statement continued.
“Good irgun stock” means his jewish “faith” is very strong. His middle name is Israel.
On 10 March 2009 Foreign Policy blog The Cable posted a letter from Freeman explaining his withdrawal from the position, Freeman speaks out on his exit (my emphasis):
You will by now have seen the statement by Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair reporting that I have withdrawn my previous acceptance of his invitation to chair the National Intelligence Council.
I have concluded that the barrage of libelous distortions of my record would not cease upon my entry into office. The effort to smear me and to destroy my credibility would instead continue. I do not believe the National Intelligence Council could function effectively while its chair was under constant attack by unscrupulous people with a passionate attachment to the views of a political faction in a foreign country. I agreed to chair the NIC to strengthen it and protect it against politicization, not to introduce it to efforts by a special interest group to assert control over it through a protracted political campaign.
As those who know me are well aware, I have greatly enjoyed life since retiring from government. Nothing was further from my mind than a return to public service. When Admiral Blair asked me to chair the NIC I responded that I understood he was “asking me to give my freedom of speech, my leisure, the greater part of my income, subject myself to the mental colonoscopy of a polygraph, and resume a daily commute to a job with long working hours and a daily ration of political abuse.” I added that I wondered “whether there wasn’t some sort of downside to this offer.” I was mindful that no one is indispensable; I am not an exception. It took weeks of reflection for me to conclude that, given the unprecedentedly challenging circumstances in which our country now finds itself abroad and at home, I had no choice but accept the call to return to public service. I thereupon resigned from all positions that I had held and all activities in which I was engaged. I now look forward to returning to private life, freed of all previous obligations.
I am not so immodest as to believe that this controversy was about me rather than issues of public policy. These issues had little to do with the NIC and were not at the heart of what I hoped to contribute to the quality of analysis available to President Obama and his administration. Still, I am saddened by what the controversy and the manner in which the public vitriol of those who devoted themselves to sustaining it have revealed about the state of our civil society. It is apparent that we Americans cannot any longer conduct a serious public discussion or exercise independent judgment about matters of great importance to our country as well as to our allies and friends.
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.
There is a special irony in having been accused of improper regard for the opinions of foreign governments and societies by a group so clearly intent on enforcing adherence to the policies of a foreign government – in this case, the government of Israel. I believe that 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.
The outrageous agitation that followed the leak of my pending appointment 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. I regret that my willingness to serve the new administration has ended by casting doubt on its ability to consider, let alone decide what policies might best serve the interests of the United States rather than those of a Lobby intent on enforcing the will and interests of a foreign government.
In the court of public opinion, unlike a court of law, one is guilty until proven innocent. The speeches from which quotations have been lifted from their context are available for anyone interested in the truth to read. The injustice of the accusations made against me has been obvious to those with open minds. Those who have sought to impugn my character are uninterested in any rebuttal that I or anyone else might make.
Still, for the record: I have never sought to be paid or accepted payment from any foreign government, including Saudi Arabia or China, for any service, nor have I ever spoken on behalf of a foreign government, its interests, or its policies. I have never lobbied any branch of our government for any cause, foreign or domestic. I am my own man, no one else’s, and with my return to private life, I will once again – to my pleasure – serve no master other than myself. I will continue to speak out as I choose on issues of concern to me and other Americans.
I retain my respect and confidence in President Obama and DNI Blair. Our country now faces terrible challenges abroad as well as at home. Like all patriotic Americans, I continue to pray that our president can successfully lead us in surmounting them.
Later that same day Ben Smith at Politico posted Freeman hits ‘Israel lobby’ on way out:
Charles W. Freeman Jr.’s abrupt withdrawal from his appointment as chairman of the National Intelligence Council came after he drew fire on a number of fronts – including questions about his financial ties to China and Saudi Arabia.
But the most heated opposition came from supporters of Israel – and Freeman’s departure shows Obama’s reluctance to signal a dramatic change to a U.S. policy in the Middle East that centers on standing beside Israel.
Throughout his presidential campaign, Obama jettisoned aides and backed off statements that appeared to imply a change in the Bush Administration’s firm support for hawkish Israeli governments.
On 12 March the Jerusalem Post, in Freeman blames ‘Israel lobby’ for ouster from NIC, wrote (my emphasis):
Critics of the selection of the former US ambassador to Saudi Arabia – among them members of Congress – cited statements he had made harshly criticizing Israel, praising Saudi Arabia and seeming to side with the Chinese government over democracy advocates, as well as business and financial ties to China and Saudi Arabia, in calling for Freeman to be denied the position overseeing the compilation of the US intelligence community’s National Intelligence Estimates.
In his statement, Freeman also said, “The outrageous agitation that followed the leak of my pending appointment 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.”
Those questions, which rebounded through the blogosphere Wednesday, have led some to argue that Israel advocates who believe they helped their cause by seeing Freeman shut out have only scored a Pyrrhic victory.
“The perception, almost universally held, that he was brought down because he is a strong and vocal opponent of Israel’s West Bank and settlement policies, is not good for the Jewish community and the pro-Israel community in particular,” M.J. Rosenberg of the Israel Policy Forum, wrote on his blog, pointing out that criticism of Freeman first surfaced in the pro-Israel community.
He told The Jerusalem Post that the community has been trying to argue that its alleged power is a myth, yet it will now be perceived as “bringing down” a top government appointee.
Prominent blogger Andrew Sullivan, not known to be a harsh Israel critic, called Freeman’s “cardinal sin” his willingness to blame Israel for the situation it finds itself in in the Middle East.
“This is the third rail no one is allowed to touch and have access to real power in Washington,” he wrote. “I find the hysterical bullying of this man to be repulsive.”
Even some mainstream media outlets have picked up on this theme. Reuters called the controversy a “a test case for the strength of Washington’s right-wing pro-Israel lobby” since remarks critical of Israel have previously been “virtually taboo in official Washington, whose elected leaders – or those running for office – tend to stress unflagging support for the Jewish state.”
Still, pro-Israel groups who opposed Freeman’s appointment openly welcomed the news that he would not be taking the post.
Ira Forman, executive director of the National Jewish Democratic Council, said that Freeman’s comments blaming the Israel lobby only proved that he was ill-suited for the job.
“I understand someone being upset if people oppose an appointment, but to lash out at what appeared to be a conspiracy in his mind was not the type of temperament one would hope for in someone in such a position,” he said.
Obviously Freeman’s foreign ties weren’t the real problem, it was his criticism of israel. And this was true before he wrote this letter about the Israel Lobby. Rahm Emanuel wasn’t subjected to a different standard. It was the same standard: “what’s good for the jewish community?”, as M.J. Rosenberg would put it.
Ira Forman, who was quoted praising Emanuel above, here gleefully spells out the fate of anyone who notices that what’s good for the jewish community isn’t necessarily good for their own. If you speak out, you’ll be punished. If you object to that, you’ll be smeared as “crazy”. Jewish power is a myth. If you doubt that, an invisible, imaginary, non-existent jewish conspiracy will crush you.
In related news, on 11 March 2009 AP published Officials: Iran does not have key nuclear material (my emphasis):
Iran does not yet have any highly enriched uranium, the fuel needed to make a nuclear warhead, two top U.S. intelligence officials told Congress Tuesday, disputing a claim by an Israeli official.
U.S. National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair and Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Michael Maples said Tuesday that Iran has only low-enriched uranium – which would need to be refined into highly enriched uranium before it can fuel a warhead. Neither officials said there were indications that refining has occurred.
Their comments disputed a claim made last weekend by Israel’s top intelligence military official, who said Iran has crossed a technical threshold and is now capable of producing atomic weapons.
The claim made by Israeli Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin runs counter to estimates by U.S. intelligence that the earliest Iran could produce a weapon is 2010, with some analysts saying it is more likely that it is 2015.
Maples said the United States and Israel are interpreting the same facts, but arriving at different conclusions.
“The Israelis are far more concerned about it,” Maples told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Blair also stood firm behind former U.S. Ambassador Charles Freeman, his pick for a top analysis job, despite strong congressional criticism.
Freeman, who was U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia during the Persian Gulf war, had harshly criticized the Israeli government, the Iraq war and the war on terrorism in general.
A policy council Freeman headed also has been criticized for some ties to foreign governments, including Saudi Arabia and China. Blair’s inspector general is investigating those ties while Freeman works with ethics advisers to scrub his personal finances for potential conflicts of interest.
Blair and Maples will very soon be following Freeman. Then Rahm Emanuel can tap Ira Forman or someone else Ira Forman approves of as National Intelligence Director. Then Obomba will get the “correct” intel. Then he can bomb bomb bomb bomb bomb iran. And then jews everywhere will live happily ever after.
American Goy notes the relative silence of the media and other curious details in Irony overload- the strange case of Charles W. “Chas” Freeman.
UPDATE 12 March 2009: On 11 March 2009 American Jewish Committee 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 cliches 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.
This statement, and especially the last sentence, sounds just like Ira Forman, executive director of the National Jewish Democratic Council, already quoted above. It’s as if they’re conspiring or something. But that’s just conspiratorial talk.
Scapegoating, in my dictionary, means blaming someone who isn’t responsible. When criticism is aimed at any other powerful entity it’s called “speaking truth to power”. When jewish power is criticized many jews insinuate the critic is insane, others revel in crushing the critic’s windpipe, and a few “self-hating jews” affirm his criticism.
On 6 March 2009 Richard Silverstein wrote Chas. Freeman: Aipac Smells Blood in the Water (links in original):
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 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.
AJC, NJDC, AIPAC, Schumer, Emanuel, … how many more nonentities of the mythical Israel Lobby are involved here?
Read more about AIPAC at Secrecy News. Among other things you might be interested to find out more about Steve Rosen, Freeman critic and alleged spy for israel:
AIPAC Case Lingers On | Secrecy News
AIPAC Appeals Court Rules Against Prosecutors | Secrecy News
The Jewish Chronicle – Classifieds, News, Business, and Events
American Goy sums up why spying for israel isn’t considered wrong:
You see, the defense team can point out to the 2008 AIPAC meeting, and show a few short films showing Obama, Clinton, McCain, Pelosi, Reid, Boehner all saying the same thing – that Israel is America’s greatest friend.
Well then, since Israel is America’s greatest friend, giving our greatest friend and ally, the best thing to happen to the world since sliced bread was invented, a few measly “top secret” documents stolen from the Pentagon, is not treason, nor can it be proven to cause injury to the United States.
Because Israel is our greatest friend and ally.
Because American and Israeli interests and goals are the same.
Steve Rosen’s response posted 10 March 2009, Chas Freeman withdraws from NIC nomination:
Democratic Representative Steve Israel said that he spoke of his concerns last week to White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and later sent him materials about the former ambassador’s statements and associations. Israel, a member of the House Appropriations Committee’s Select Intelligence Oversight Panel, said in a phone interview, “As I was leaving the White House this afternoon, they told me of Blair’s statement” of Freeman’s withdrawal. “I think Blair’s defense of Freeman was indefensible, and people in the White House realized that.”
Freeman is indefensible in the sense that at this point anyone who defends him will just as surely be drummed out of government by the same mythical conspiracy.
A powerful US politician whose middle name is Israel, and another whose last name is Israel, join together with a collection of well-funded, well-organized pro-Israel organizations to snuff the appointment of a critic of Israel, while a gaggle of jews waves their hands, Jedi-style, saying “it was his conspiratorial temperament”.
What can I say? This is absolutely mindnumbing. The scandal is already over-the-top and the ADL and SPLC haven’t even piped up to claim that it’s just another example of how the poor powerless jews get scapegoated by “old canards” of “the anti-semites”.