EDITORIAL: The Israel lobby gets pumped up with blood lust

The Israel lobby gets pumped up with blood lust

The first line of defense has come crashing down.

Denying the existence of the Israel lobby is like saying there’s no such thing as global warming.

But just as global warming deniers later decided to reposition themselves by acknowledging its reality while suggesting it was harmless, those who now reluctantly concede that the lobby exists want to insist that it is benign and not particularly powerful. They charge that far more dangerous than the lobby are its critics: a fanatic bunch of slanderers who stand at the vanguard of a global wave of anti-Semiticism.

Even so, the lobby that preferred to hide in the shadows has now broken cover and while intoxicated with victory wants to bring down another quarry.

In a victory message (revealed by Mondoweiss), Daniel Pipes, director of the Middle East Forum, heralded Steven Rosen’s “achievement” after having got “the word out” — mobilized the lobby. Pipes applauded Rosen because, “Only someone with Steve’s stature and credibility could have made this happen.” There was a campaign and in three weeks it accomplished its goal: Chas Freeman bowed out.

But even now, the editors of the Washington Post want to try and sustain the charade that there is no lobby and denounce those of us who think otherwise:

Mr. Freeman issued a two-page screed on Tuesday in which he described himself as the victim of a shadowy and sinister “Lobby” whose “tactics plumb the depths of dishonor and indecency” and which is “intent on enforcing adherence to the policies of a foreign government.” Yes, Mr. Freeman was referring to Americans who support Israel — and his statement was a grotesque libel.

For the record, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee says that it took no formal position on Mr. Freeman’s appointment and undertook no lobbying against him. If there was a campaign, its leaders didn’t bother to contact the Post editorial board.

If the Post’s editorial board was truly outside the loop here it probably says less about the vigor of the campaign and more about the diminishing influence of their editorial page. It’s role is now that of being granted the final word — one that can then be applauded by its bloodthirsty allies like Marty Peretz: “With cool and stiletto words, the Post has put this man in the bin.”

(That’s an interesting choice of imagery and reinforces what I suggested yesterday: that it would in many ways be more fitting if we talked about the Israel mob instead of the lobby. Be that as it may, the language has now solidified in popular usage and Israel lobby it is. All that remains to be contested is whether it should be lobby or Lobby. I’m sticking with the small “l” since I think this is an entity held together with much stronger ideological than organizational glue.)

As for the Post’s assertion that AIPAC played no part, that might be its official position though Dan Fleshler says the organization didn’t just sit back and watch:

Very reliable sources inform me that Josh Block, an AIPAC spokesperson, contacted bloggers and journalists expressing concern about Freeman. That is probably what Freeman referred to when he mentioned “easily traceable e-mails” in the announcement that he was giving up the fight. Trust me on this one. I had to think twice about writing it because I want Block, who is generally very nice to critical journalists at the AIPAC Policy Conferences, to be nice to me. There is no way I would have written it unless it were manifestly true, and important.

Even it were not true, it is simply inconceivable that Mark Kirk, Charles Schumer and other Congressfolk who publicly objected to Freeman would have done so without the encouragement – or winks and nods – of AIPAC. The Hill is where it lives and breathes, and nothing this important could have been orchestrated without its blessing.

Walter Pincus adds:

Only a few Jewish organizations came out publicly against Freeman’s appointment, but a handful of pro-Israeli bloggers and employees of other organizations worked behind the scenes to raise concerns with members of Congress, their staffs and the media.

For example, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), often described as the most influential pro-Israel lobbying group in Washington, “took no position on this matter and did not lobby the Hill on it,” spokesman Josh Block said.

But Block responded to reporters’ questions and provided critical material about Freeman, albeit always on background, meaning his comments could not be attributed to him, according to three journalists who spoke to him. Asked about this yesterday, Block replied: “As is the case with many, many issues every day, when there is general media interest in a subject, I often provide publicly available information to journalists on background.”

Yesterday, the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, which tried to derail Freeman’s appointment, applauded his withdrawal. But it added: “We think Israel and any presumed ‘lobby’ had far less effect on the outcome than the common-sensical belief that the person who is the gatekeeper of intelligence information for the President of the United States should be unencumbered by payments from foreign governments.”

The suggestion that neither Freeman’s views on Israel nor the efforts of the Israel lobby were central is however quite easy to refute by engaging in a simple line of conjecture.

Consider the blog post through which Steven Rosen “got the word out”:

Readers of this blog know that I have been generally quite positive about the appointments the new Adminsitration is making for Middle East policy positions. Today’s news is quite different. According to Laura Rozen at the Foreign Policy blog, Chas W. Freeman, Jr., the former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, will become chairman of the National Intelligence Council, and may at times participate in daily intelligence briefings to President Obama. This is a profoundly disturbing appointment, if the report is correct. Freeman is a strident critic of Israel, and a textbook case of the old-line Arabism that afflicted American diplomacy at the time the state of Israel was born. His views of the region are what you would expect in the Saudi foreign ministry, with which he maintains an extremely close relationship, not the top CIA position for analytic products going to the President of the United States.

Here is a sample of his views on Israel, from his Remarks to the National Council on US-Arab Relations on September 12, 2005: “As long as the United States continues unconditionally to provide the subsidies and political protection that make the Israeli occupation and the high-handed and self-defeating policies it engenders possible, there is little, if any, reason to hope that anything resembling the former peace process can be resurrected. Israeli occupation and settlement of Arab lands is inherently violent. …And as long as such Israeli violence against Palestinians continues, it is utterly unrealistic to expect that Palestinians will stand down from violent resistance and retaliation against Israelis. Mr. Sharon is far from a stupid man; he understands this. So, when he sets the complete absence of Palestinian violence as a precondition for implementing the road map or any other negotiating process, he is deliberately setting a precondition he knows can never be met.”

Here is another example from 2008: “We have reflexively supported the efforts of a series of right-wing Israeli governments to undo the Oslo accords and to pacify the Palestinians rather than make peace with them. … The so-called “two-state solution” – is widely seen in the region as too late and too little. Too late, because so much land has been colonized by Israel that there is not enough left for a viable Palestinian state alongside Israel; too little, because what is on offer looks to Palestinians more like an Indian reservation than a country.”

According to Foreign policy blog, Freeman has told associates that in the job, he will occasionally accompany Director of National Intelligence Adm. Dennis Blair to give the president his daily intelligence briefing. His predecessor, Thomas Fingar, wore a second hat as deputy director of national intelligence for analysis.

Now subtract the parts relating to Israel. You’re left with this:

Readers of this blog know that I have been generally quite positive about the appointments the new Adminsitration is making for Middle East policy positions. Today’s news is quite different. According to Laura Rozen at the Foreign Policy blog, Chas W. Freeman, Jr., the former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, will become chairman of the National Intelligence Council, and may at times participate in daily intelligence briefings to President Obama. This is a profoundly disturbing appointment, if the report is correct. His views of the region are what you would expect in the Saudi foreign ministry, with which he maintains an extremely close relationship, not the top CIA position for analytic products going to the President of the United States.

According to Foreign policy blog, Freeman has told associates that in the job, he will occasionally accompany Director of National Intelligence Adm. Dennis Blair to give the president his daily intelligence briefing. His predecessor, Thomas Fingar, wore a second hat as deputy director of national intelligence for analysis.

Is this the basis of a campaign? I don’t think so.

What now follows?

Fred Kaplan makes an interesting argument:

Chas Freeman is a high-profile figure. He became one by his own design, through public speeches, some of them deliberately provocative. Making him NIC chairman would—unjustly but unavoidably—hurl all intelligence, and all policy based on intelligence, into the fray of fractious politics.

However, this is where Freeman’s foes misplayed their hand. Had they let Freeman step into the job, they could have used him as the whipping boy for all foreign-policy measures they don’t like—especially those involving the Middle East and China—and it might have been easier for them to rally opposition. But now it will be indisputably clear that the president is the one making policy. They’re left with Barack Obama as their target—and one thing that’s clear, so far, is that those who sling mud at Obama wind up hitting themselves.

This might turn out to be true but there are already indications that having successfully thrust a stiletto into Freeman, those who still have blood on their hands now have DNI Blair in their sights.

“It wasn’t until Mr. Freeman withdrew from consideration for the job, however, that it became clear just how bad a selection Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair had made… The real question is why an administration that says it aims to depoliticize U.S. intelligence estimates would have chosen such a man to oversee them,” says the Washington Post.

“Blair revealed his true colors by hiring Freeman. From here on out, every intel product will be treated as suspect. The Obama administration’s attempt to politicize the intelligence process has badly muddied the waters,” wrote Michael Goldfarb in The Weekly Standard.

Did Freeman’s foes misplay their hand, as Fred Kaplan suggests, or are they now one step closer to achieving a much more significant goal: to be able cast doubt on any statement the DNI makes.

Freeman needed to be finished off and put “in the bin.” Blair just needs to be crippled.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Facebooktwitterrss
Facebooktwittermail

4 thoughts on “EDITORIAL: The Israel lobby gets pumped up with blood lust

  1. Russ Wellen

    We forget that Steve Rosen’s work was a reprise of November 2008 last year — only then he was unsuccessful. At the time Ilan Goldenberg wrote at TPMCafe:

    “Steve Rosen, the AIPAC official who was dismissed by the organization after being indicted for espionage, is leading the charge against the appointment of General James L. Jones as President Obama’s National Security Adviser. Rosen says that Jones is too strenuous in opposition to the occupation of the West Bank. … And Rosen has been calling reporters all over town to badmouth Jones.

    “Huh? Why would Rosen think that anyone cares what a guy charged with espionage against the United States thinks of an American general? …

    “What is wrong with this picture? Call me naive but I would think that anyone on trial for espionage, would keep his mouth shut about security issues and personnel relating to the country he is charged with betraying. Nor would I expect him to attack a decorated American marine for insufficient devotion to Israel or any country other than this one.”

    If he’s convicted, will Pipes et al cut him loose like AIPAC did when he was charged? They may not feel the need to since the Middle East Forum isn’t (I don’t think) a registered lobbyist like AIPAC (or the groups that comprise it).

  2. Leonard Koscianski

    Though your comments on politics are quite insightful, your comments on science are not very scientific. The debate over the cause of long range temperature variations is far from settled. The debate over the accuracy of the data isn’t even settled.

    “Global Warming”, a political term, is to the Democrats as “Weapons of Mass Destruction” was to the Republicans. More a product of group think than of accurate observation.

  3. DE Teodoru

    How about the term GLOBAL BLEEDING for Bush in obediance of neocons’ “Word War IV” went on anti-Islamic “Crusades” for cheap oil, fraudulently exploiting 9/11 for he has totally cannibalized the Afghan War for Iraq? The Israeli Lobby has been with us since the 1950s, LBJ in 1960s threatening to expose it if Israel doesn’t support Vietnam War (he backed down). That lobby is incriminating American Jews– as American as apple pie– into Fifth Column service, hoping that they will stampede in fear on Great Aliyah to make up for all the Israelis moving to Los Angeles to be American along with Arabs and Iranians there.

Comments are closed.