Since writing this, I have added another detailed post regarding Freeman. Of course it is highly recommended.
Anyway, in their magazine’s blog, Hit & Run, Welch, who is Reason’s editor-in-chief, republished an op-ed that he wrote for the LA Times responding to their editorial taking at face value Charles W. Freeman’s outburst attacking the “Israel Lobby” for undermining his candidacy for chairman of the National Intelligence Council.
Vehement objections came from several of Israel’s most loyal supporters in Congress, from some journalists and lobbyists known for their strong support of the Jewish state, and from other members of what some would no doubt call, well, the Israel lobby.
Freeman, as the Times editorial pointed out had said in the past,
“the brutal oppression of the Palestinians by the Israeli occupation shows no sign of ending.” He also said: “American identification with Israel has become total.” Israel, he once said, “excels at war; sadly, it has shown no talent for peace.”
When he resigned as a candidate, Freeman, proving that he not only would have been biased in a position requiring objectivity, but also showing a serious lack of judgment and perhaps a need to be less, uh, zealous, in his views said:
“The tactics of the Israel Lobby plumb the depths of dishonor and indecency” and reflect “an utter disregard for truth.”
Who did he mean by mentioning the Israel Lobby? Well, there were a number of Jewish bloggers and editors who criticized him for being a mouthpiece for the Saudis and for having strange views about Chinese human rights (he seems to think the Chinese Gov’t was more than fair at Tiananmen Square). AIPAC did not enter the fray or take a position and neither did most other Jewish organizations being wise enough to recognize a losing proposition when they see it.
Still, if you have a bunch of bloggers and reporters criticizing you and they happen to be Jewish and you are a critic of Israel, then it’s easy to call them the “Israel Lobby.” That’s the same tendentious logic used by Walt & Mearsheimer where, if you read them carefully, they basically lump about over 60% of American Jews into the supposed “Israel Lobby.” You give money to a synagogue and some Jewish lobbyist in Washington talks about having the support of synagogues? Well, congratulations on being part of the “Israel Lobby.” For part of our coverage of Walt & Mearsheimer, go here and you will find other links as well.
One of the key bloggers who criticized Freeman is Steve Rosen, formerly of AIPAC and now suing AIPAC for defamation in connection with the espionage case that cost him and Keith Weissman their jobs at the lobbying organization (see our stupendous coverage of the case here, here, here and here.
But they weren’t the only critics, and their criticism did not revolve around Israel. This is where Welch’s op-ed comes in. The LA Times declares there was indeed an “Israel Lobby” and lectured:
“But we do not believe that Israel should be immune from criticism or that there is room for only one point of view in our government…U.S. policy has been extremely supportive of Israel over the years, as have many of our policymakers. That’s fine. But theirs should not be the only voices allowed in the room.”
As Michael Moynihan pointed out here recently, Freeman stands accused, plausibly, of sending out an e-mail to a diplomatic listserv arguing that “the Politburo’s response to the mob scene at ‘Tian’anmen’ stands as a monument to overly cautious behavior on the part of the leadership, not as an example of rash action.” This is plausible, since it’s of a piece with Freeman’s referring to an anti-Chinese Tibetan protest as a “race riot,” and leaning more toward the Beijing side when it comes to the dispute over Taiwan. And it’s perfectly consistent with his long track record of issuing apologia for Saudi Arabia, one of the world’s most illiberal countries, with whom he describes himself as a “friend.”
“Saudi Arabia needs to make more serious long-term efforts — not just making new friends in the United States but helping its existing friends to be friends,” he lamented in a remarkable September 2003 interview with the Saudi-American Forum. “Sometimes it’s difficult to be a friend to Saudi Arabia. The current atmosphere brings you no public credit instead it brings you sometimes vicious criticism.”
Later, Welch adds about Freeman’s Saudi views:
It is possible to believe fervently that America should not exert its will onto the rest of the world, without crossing into a fantasy land wherein a country with no real press freedom, no elections, and no legal culture even allowing for anything resembling “introspection” is held up as an intellectual example from which the United States needs to learn. This is the definition of clientitis; it exhibits not a “startling propensity to speak truth to power” but rather a startling propensity to lob bouquets at dictators.
And he concludes,
This is a man with warped judgment, and I’d rather not pay his salary, let alone have him screening important national intelligence.
Read it all at Reason Magazine.