Israel haters keep following Obama around
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Israel haters keep following Obama around

Associate Editor

Thursday, March 12th, 2009

It’s funny, isn’t it, how anti-Zionists keep following Obama around, and the poor guy has nothing to do with it. How come Israel-haters didn’t keep following, say, Mario Cuomo around, or Rudy Giuliani, or Mitt Romney, but they can’t stay away from Barack Obama? They’re just drawn to him. Strange.

Just a few months ago, Obama’s cheerleaders were chiding dissident Jews for feeling uneasy about Obama’s record of friendships with the likes of Rashid Khalidi, Ali Abunimah (editor of Electronic Intifada), and other leaders of the Palestinian lobby in the United States, let alone Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Jewish leaders said don’t you worry. Then Obama becomes president and appoints Charles Freeman — arguably an anti-Semite, inarguably an obsessive lier about Zionist conspiracies — to head the National Intelligence Council.

Freeman finally withdrew but the question remains: What was Obama thinking? It’s apparent. He looked into Freeman’s record, he interviewed him, he decided that Charles Freeman was the right man for the Obama administration.

Even The Washington Post wondered how Obama could appoint to such a key position someone who believes in the “grotesque libel” against the Israel lobby, Jewish citizens of this country who advocate for Israel.

No, I’m not talking about J Street, the leftist group that likes to present itself as a Jewish lobby on matters relating to Israel but who took a morally equivalent, blame-both-sides stance during the Gaza war. No, Freeman would have no reason to say anything bad about them. The Reform movement’s Rabbi Eric Yoffie took care of J Sreeet, calling their positions ”morally deficient, profoundly out of touch with Jewish sentiment and also appallingly naïve.” No, Freeman would have no trouble with that lobby.

The Jewish lobby that Freeman wants to nuke is the JINSA crowd, and the Zionist Organization of America, and citizens such as Daniel Pipes, whose Middle East Forum was among the first to bring Freeman’s positions to light.

Jake Tapper of ABC News said, “What’s perplexing about this that so much of what critics objected to were Freeman’s statements, in full context. His record was picked apart like that of any other controversial nominee — sometimes fairly, sometimes not so — but only in Freeman’s case does the nominee make an allegation that a foreign power was lurking nefariously somehow behind it all.”

Khalidi, Abunimah and Wright were all distanced by Obama before his campaign was over but the distance closes when we see the confluence of policies now that Obama is in power: He makes his first phone call to, out of all possible foreign leaders, the Palestinian Abbas, a consistent obstacle to peace whose media and textbooks are viciously anti-Semitic; his secretary of state chides Israel for enforcing the law against Palestinians in east Jerusalem, which is interfering in Israel’s internal affairs in a way that would have Americans outraged were any country to do the reverse; he pledges $900 million to help Gaza (read Hamas) rebuild after it’s war with Israel, freeing up Hamas cash for bullets and rockets, while not demanding Shalit’s freedom in exchange; and then he nominates Freeman, an apologist for Saudi Arabia and China.

Khalidi and Abunimah must think Obama is doing a brilliant job. Is there one thing in the Middle East that Khalidi would have done differently?

I expect certain Jews to say now of Obama, “Well, he’s better than Bush.” That’s like saying in 1855 that at least Pierce was better than Polk. So what. The world is burning and the president is making it worse.

Here’s The Washington Post editorial (March 12) on Obama’s latest fiasco.

Blame the ‘Lobby’

The Obama administration’s latest failed nominee peddles a conspiracy theory.

FORMER ambassador Charles W. Freeman Jr. looked like a poor choice to chair the Obama administration’s National Intelligence Council. A former envoy to Saudi Arabia and China, he suffered from an extreme case of clientitis on both accounts. In addition to chiding Beijing for not crushing the Tiananmen Square democracy protests sooner and offering sycophantic paeans to Saudi King “Abdullah the Great,” Mr. Freeman headed a Saudi-funded Middle East advocacy group in Washington and served on the advisory board of a state-owned Chinese oil company. It was only reasonable to ask — as numerous members of Congress had begun to do — whether such an actor was the right person to oversee the preparation of National Intelligence Estimates.

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. 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. According to a report by Newsweek, Mr. Freeman’s most formidable critic — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — was incensed by his position on dissent in China.

But let’s consider the ambassador’s broader charge: He describes “an inability of the American public to discuss, or the government to consider, any option for U.S. policies in the Middle East opposed by the ruling faction in Israeli politics.” That will certainly be news to Israel’s “ruling faction,” which in the past few years alone has seen the U.S. government promote a Palestinian election that it opposed; refuse it weapons it might have used for an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities; and adopt a policy of direct negotiations with a regime that denies the Holocaust and that promises to wipe Israel off the map. Two Israeli governments have been forced from office since the early 1990s after open clashes with Washington over matters such as settlement construction in the occupied territories.

What’s striking about the charges by Mr. Freeman and like-minded conspiracy theorists is their blatant disregard for such established facts. Mr. Freeman darkly claims that “it is not permitted for anyone in the United States” to describe Israel’s nefarious influence. But several of his allies have made themselves famous (and advanced their careers) by making such charges — and no doubt Mr. Freeman himself will now win plenty of admiring attention. Crackpot tirades such as his have always had an eager audience here and around the world. 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.

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