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Charles Freeman’s disloyalty allegations

Kevin MacDonald

March 13, 2009

Charles Freeman’s withdrawal from his appointment as head of the National Intelligence Council has attracted a great deal of comment. But the most amazing parts of his statement are the least commented on. To wit:

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.

This is a rather unvarnished statement of disloyalty. Indeed, Freeman’s comment bears more than a passing resemblance to Pat Buchanan’s famous comments on the neoconservatives who engineered the US invasion of Iraq on behalf of Israel:

They charge us with anti-Semitism—i.e., a hatred of Jews for their faith, heritage, or ancestry. False. The truth is, those hurling these charges harbor a “passionate attachment” to a nation not our own that causes them to subordinate the interests of their own country and to act on an assumption that, somehow, what’s good for Israel is good for America.

And in case anyone missed it, Freeman made the accusation of disloyalty twice more:

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 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.

And yet, coverage of the Freeman withdrawal in the mainstream media has ignored these allegations. (In fact, as Andrew Sullivan noted, the MSM basically ignored the issue entirely.) The Washington Post article (posted also at the Los Angeles Times website) summarized the situation by saying only that “Freeman had come under fire for statements he had made criticizing Israeli policies and for his past connections to Saudi and Chinese interests.” It quoted Freeman’s statement that he did not believe that the NIC “could function effectively while its chair was under constant attack" but left out the rest of Freeman’s sentence: “by unscrupulous people with a passionate attachment to the views of a political faction in a foreign country.”

The Post’s editorial on the subject bordered on the bizarre, claiming that any suggestion that the Lobby was behind the failed appointment was nothing more than a “conspiracy theory.” Please!

The New York Times article included some of Freeman’s very negative comments on the Israel Lobby, but also included the denial of any influence by a spokesman for AIPAC:

Mr. Freeman blamed pro-Israel groups for the controversy, saying 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.”

Joshua Block, a spokesman for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a lobbying group, said Tuesday that his organization had not taken a formal position on Mr. Freeman’s selection and had not lobbied Congress members to oppose it.

Again, no mention of disloyalty. And although both the New York Times and the Washington Post took Block at his word in denying AIPAC’s involvement, Block was lying through his teeth. According to Stephen Walt, despite claiming that it had no role in the affair, AIPAC “leaned hard on some key senators behind-the-scenes and is now bragging that Obama is a ‘pushover.’”

But even Walt’s blog skirted the disloyalty issue. (In my review of Mearsheimer and Walt’s The Israel Lobby, I criticized them for going soft on the disloyalty issue.)

The only mention of the disloyalty issue I have been able to find in the MSM is Melanie Phillips’ column in The Spectator (London) titled “Exit, Spraying Venom.” Phillips quotes Freeman’s “passionate attachment to the views of a political faction in a foreign country” comment, describing his comments as a whole as a “gross libel against American Jews, through its false and malevolent accusation of untoward and uniquely powerful and damaging political power.” Phillips concludes:

Given the unhinged hatred towards Israel and the Jews coursing through the west, which was given rocket fuel in the US by the Walt/Mearsheimer travesty which invested Jewish conspiracy theory with a wholly spurious aura of academic respectability, it was inevitable that if Freeman bit the dust the Jews would be blamed.

Wow! Clearly Phillips is the one who is unhinged. But not for the first time. She has been quoted as believing while "individual Palestinians may deserve compassion, their cause amounts to Holocaust denial as a national project."

In making his charges of disloyalty, Freeman’s comments must be understood as indicting not only the usual suspects, such as AIPAC and Daniel Pipes’ Middle East Forum (current home of Steve Rosen, the former AIPAC operative who is being tried for espionage on behalf of Israel and was the first to flag Freeman’s appointment). Minimally, Freeman is also indicting the Jewish Senators and Congressmen who pushed hard on this issue. (Non-Jewish politicians like Rep. Mark Steven Kirk, who took up the Lobby’s cause in Congress, are guilty of nothing more than mundane things like subservience, cowardice, and the desire to be reelected.) The Jewish names mentioned most prominently in the Congressional campaign against Freeman have been three Zionist stalwarts: Sen. Charles Schumer, Rep. Steve Israel and Sen. Joe Lieberman.

It is noteworthy that Schumer and Israel expressed their complaints to Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s Chief of Staff. Emanuel has been described as “a fierce partisan of Israelwho volunteered to aid the Israel Defense Force during the 1991 Gulf War. He was doubtless a sympathetic ear.

One wonders why the ADL has not made a statement on Freeman’s comments. It may well be that the entire organized Jewish community hopes for a quick death for this incident — the less said the better at this point. This same logic would explain why the disloyalty issue is not discussed in the MSM: Disloyalty is a very grave charge that the goyim shouldn’t even be thinking about. As Steven Walt points out, lobbies live in the dark and die in the light of day. It’s hard to imagine Abe Foxman complaining that Freeman’s accusation of disloyalty is yet another anti-Jewish canard when it’s not very difficult for even the most braindead among us to see that there is a whole lot of truth in it.

It is important to realize the gravity of the charge of Jewish disloyalty. It is a charge that has repeatedly surfaced throughout Jewish history beginning in the Book of Exodus where Pharaoh says: “Behold, the people of the children of Israel are too mighty for us; come, let us deal wisely with them, lest they multiply, and it come to pass, that, when there befalleth us any war, they also join themselves unto our enemies, and fight against us, and get them up out of the land” (Exod. 1:9–10).  

The first example I am aware of in American history was the successful campaign by Jewish organizations to abrogate a trade agreement with Russia during the Taft Administration in 1911. In promoting the bill, Jewish spokesmen favored formulations in which the problem was couched as an American problem rather than as a problem for American Jews (even though the difficulties for American Jews were only a pretext for a campaign that was actually directed at changing the status of Russian Jews).

Similarly, as I noted in my last column, Jews around the world have been advised to frame the Iranian threat to Israel as a global problem, not simply as a problem for Israel.

The charge of disloyalty stems from a very simple fact: Jews sometimes have interests as Jews that are not the same as the interests of the society as a whole. And because the organized Jewish community has often had power far beyond its numbers, there is a very real possibility that Jewish influence would compromise the interests of the society as a whole. We have already seen this in the successful neoconservative promotion of the war in Iraq —  the focus of Buchanan’s ire (and by now proved beyond a shadow of a doubt with an avalanche of other treatises on the subject). Of course, right now, the conflict revolves around Israel and the “existential threat” it sees in Iran.

The interesting thing now is what will happen to Adm. Dennis C. Blair, the Director of National Intelligence and the person who appointed Freeman.  Blair not only defended Freeman to the bitter end, his stated views on Iranian nuclear capability are very much opposed by Israel (and hence the Israel Lobby). On March 10, Blair noted that  "The overall situation — and the intelligence community agrees on this — [is] that Iran has not decided to press forward . . . to have a nuclear weapon on top of a ballistic missile." This conflicts with the Israeli perspective. In commenting on the disparity in views, Blair stated that "the Israelis are far more concerned about [Iran’s nuclear capability], and they take more of a worst-case approach to these things from their point of view."

Blair is implying that the Israeli and the American views are not the same. Horrors! This is doubtless a grave offense in the eyes of the Israel Lobby — a group that seemingly cannot even imagine that Israel and the US may have different interests.

Clearly, the Lobby still has some work left to rid the government of people with ideas that differ from theirs. But they expended quite a bit of energy and credibility with the heavy-handed tactics they used in torpedoing Freeman and enforcing their version of foreign policy orthodoxy. Their next battle may be even more difficult.

The good news is that the machinations of the Lobby are more open than ever. The vast majority of the debate happened on the Internet. The MSM was late in reporting it, and in the end it left out critical details. This is yet another nail in the coffin of the credibility of the MSM, and it means that people who are serious about understanding current events are going to rely even less on it. People will read the New York Times not for "all the news that's fit to print," but to try to understand why the Times left out what it did. Sadly, this indictment of the MSM also applies to mainstream conservative pundits such as Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, and Rush Limbaugh.

It is noteworthy that, as J. J. Goldberg has pointed out, the Obama Administration has initiated foreign policy positions that are quite different than the Bush Administration, including high-level negotiations with Syria, approving the dialogue between the British and  the political wing of Hezbollah in Lebanon, and steps that might be interpreted as a more conciliatory approach to Iran. Already, Zionist hardliners like Morton Klein of the Zionist Organization of America are up in arms about Hillary Clinton's "troubling transformation."

While it is too early to see where this is heading, whatever happens is going to be all over the Internet. That is a major problem for the Lobby — and one that will only get worse in the future.

Kevin MacDonald is a professor of psychology at California State University–Long Beach.  

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