Thursday, 12 March 2009

Freeman blasts the Lobby

The decision by Chas Freeman to revoke the post of National Intelligence Council chairman is a significant illustration of how the Israeli Lobby helps maintain the interests of a foreign country within America's major centres of power.

Freeman has issued a strongly worded statement castigating the Lobby's manipulative influence and corrosive effect on any possible peace process for the Middle East. Here's a key sample of his indictment:
"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 related issue here, of course, is the spinelessness of Obama in failing to defend Freeman against the Lobby. It wasn't enough for Freeman's proposer, National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair, to give his token backing in response to criticisms of Freeman from Israel-supporting Senator Joe Lieberman.

It required Obama and his circle to stand firmly in rejection of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and its Zionist acolytes, a course of action which no Obama appointee seems willing to countenance.

Incisive critic Juan Cole sees the hands of Chuck Schumer and Rahm Emanuel all over this dirty business.

A Freeman appointment, of course, would not have promised any radical departure from Washington's core support for Israel. Indeed, the severity of the Lobby's interventions to prevent even this moderate figure's posting is a lesson in itself. It's saying to Obama: 'don't even think about going down that road'.

But, while Freeman doesn't pose any critical threat to Israel or the alliance, he does recognise, as do other Obama supplicants too afraid to speak out, the immense disaster of Washington's rigid appeasement of Israel. Factor in Freeman's warnings about the war in Iraq breeding new generations of anti-US sentiment, and it's clear that his take on how to cultivate 'soft American leadership' in the region doesn't sit well with the more belligerent model of domination sought by Tel Aviv and its endorsers in the US.

Still, despite Obama's cowering conduct, Steve Walt offers this encouraging note:
"The silver lining in this sorry episode is that it was abundantly clear to everyone what was going on and who was behind it. In the past, the lobby was able to derail appointments quietly -- even pre-emptively -- but this fight took place in broad daylight. And Steve Rosen, one of Freeman's chief tormentors, once admitted: "a lobby is like a night flower. It thrives in the dark and dies in the sun." Slowly, the light is dawning and the lobby's negative influence is becoming more and more apparent, even if relatively few people have the guts to say so out loud. But history will not be kind to the likes of Charles Schumer, Jonathan Chait, Steve Rosen et al, whose hidebound views are unintentionally undermining both U.S. and Israeli security."

We can lobby too

Meanwhile, on matters counter-lobby, it's good to see the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement getting something of their message across, albeit nominally, to one of Israel's most complicit allies. Following the collective efforts of notable Palestinian and international activists, the UK government has decided against dealing with diamond tycoon and illegal settlement builder Lev Leviev:
"After Israeli and British papers reported the UK’s plans to rent its new Tel Aviv embassy from Leviev, eight groups in the US, UK and Palestine launched a letter-writing campaign to the UK’s Foreign Office. Among those writing to demand a boycott of Leviev were ex-BBC Middle East Correspondent Tim Llewelyn, US academics Norman Finkelstein and Noam Chomsky, Vice President of the European Parliament Luisa Morgantini, and British lawyer Daniel Machover, writing in the Independent."
Alongside the gathering legal actions being raised against Israel's war crimes elite - the latest by the Samouni family from Zeitoun, Gaza - we're seeing the growing internationalisation of the campaign against Israeli apartheid, ethnic cleansing and mass murder - all this despite the Lobby's ruthless advocacy and Obama's craven indulgence of it.


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