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Readers Debate 'Israel Lobby,' Freeman

There is a mountain of comments this morning on the news that Charles W. Freeman Jr., who had been appointed to chair the National Intelligence Council, withdrew from consideration and blamed a campaign by the "Israel Lobby."

Walter Pincus also writes that most of an Internet campaign against Freeman "focused on Freeman's work for the Middle East Policy Council, a Washington-based nonprofit organization that is funded in part by Saudi money, and his past critical statements about Israel."

Readers found differing views on the opinion pages. The Post's lead editorial applauded Freeman's withdrawal. But Columnist David Broder decried it. Our readers weigh in on both sides. Several blame the Obama administration for making a poor choice.

We'll start with a complaint from charleswheeler1, who wrote, "I believe the WP's use of the term "screed" in its headline reveals its own bias." [The word screed was used on in its brief summary of the story, which was rewritten this morning. It was not used in the headline. The word screed was used in the Post editorial applauding Freeman's departure. The text of Freeman's statement.]

Now to other comments on the main story.

AHRO wrote, "It seems the citizens of the USA are still in the dark about who really runs their country... Funny thing is that the rest of the world knows who really runs the US of A. You might as well call it the US of I."

protagoras said, "Look, Two things seem apparent. First, this is an AIPAC hit (with deniability). Second, the WaPa and the New Republic among others have lost all journalistic credibility in matters relating to Israel."

Anglia123 wrote, "It is unfortunate that Freeman withdrew his nomination. As a Jew who has grown increasingly disgusted with AIPAC and the Israeli government's actions over the past few years, I looked forward to the nomination of a man who, at least when it comes to Israel, had the courage to call the country on its grievous misconduct in the past two of its wars..."

BurgundyAndGold said, "...Freeman was just mad that he got caught with his hand in the cookie jar when it came to his dealings with the Saudis and Chinese.
Easy enough to blame it on the Israel Lobby after Walt and Mearshimer wrote their book." [That's a reference to the much-discussed best-seller by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt entitled The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy.]

WillSeattle wrote. "There probably is such a lobby. But that doesn't excuse the cold hard fact that Saudi Arabia - to this day - remains the primary source of al-Qaeda's money and volunteers - more than 90 PERCENT. Choosing someone who doesn't understand that our enemy actually comes from Saudi Arabia ... not a good idea."

To which pali2600 responded, "What leads you to believe that he doesn't understand? Explain it for us."

heatherczerniak asked, "So what proof does Freeman have that Israeli lobbyists were behind it? Sounds like just another anti-Jewish moron to me. Let him work for the Saudis. They pay good."

But bullmountaininc wrote, "And if you think that AIPAC wasn't working behind the scenes here there are some bargain bridges for sale...Israel deserves to have it's place in the world like all other legitimate countries. The events of history are tragic and we all know that. To use that to force and intimidate current policy decisions is NOT appropriate."

schumann-bonn said, "...Freeman did the right thing to withdraw. Were he to head NIC, any Israel critical assessment would be tainted and suspicious. Now, if NIC is headed by somebody sympathetic to Israel and issues an Israel critical assessment, that would carry weight."

jryan758 wrote, "The pro-Israel lobby and our government's pro-Israel policies run against the USA's very basic founding principles and are destroying us. Freeman is exactly right. Its seriously time for a change."

GaryPeschell said, "...Israel's posture of wounded inncocence in this matter might be more credible if only it has not kept building those settlements."

drokpa108 wrote, "It is a sad day for America and the world. Chas Freeman would have brought much-needed analysis to the issues of the day."

All comments on the main story are here.

Now for comments on David Broder's column.

biswashira wrote, "Israel and her supporters in America are polluting our politics. It is a shame that Broder is blaming BO for not giving into these lobbyists."

JPRS wrote, "...well said. A political litmus test shouldn't be the standard for national security post. If this is how the Obama administration conducts its foreign policy, we can look for it to repeat many of the same mistakes of the last administration. What value is gained by shutting out informed voices from internal policy debates?"

rlmcca wrote, "Obama is such an impressive leader leaving his nominees twisting slowly in the wind and refusing to even take a position on whether they should stay or go. Maybe we should have elected someone with some executive experience--and better judgment."

Braguine wrote, "Freeman's withdrawal is a national disaster. It is time the Israely lobby be exposed for what it is. American foreign policy and who works in the White House should be decided in Washington not Tel Aviv."

dgblues wrote, "...He maybe smart as hell, but he's a boot-licking fascist. Normally I'd admire anyone who AIPAC doesn't, but in this case, I'll make an exception. Obama's choices have been almost universally lousy."

All comments on the Broder column are here.

And finally comments on the Post editorial:

Garak wrote, "This editorial writer sounds like Ken Lay when he swore Enron was a buy at $60. Ignoring the facts, ignoring reality. A "screed"? This editorial is a screed. Have you cleared this with AIPAC?"

syedsalamahali wrote, "...this editorial will surely be rewarded by AIPAC and those who live off it's most gracious 'charities' !"

dougmuder wrote, "Whoever writes your editorials needs to read your news section. In your lead story, you report that AIPAC provided damaging material about Freeman to reporters "on background", so that it would not be attributed to them. That seriously undercuts what you're saying here."

Hobbes4 wrote, "This editorial is a disgrace to The Post, one of America's greatest newspapers. Here we see, yet again, raw proof of the extraordinary power that has been amassed by the Israel lobby... Charles Freeman has served his country well in many capacities and is eminently qualified for the intelligence position to which he had been nominated. His withdrawal is a significant loss to the nation..."

j2hess wrote, "Just because Freeman is intemperate, and just because AIPAC took no formal position, is no reason to doubt that there was a campaign against Freeman by the Israeli lobby. It may have been well-deserved..."

Phillip258 wrote, "Mr. Freeman certainly is entitled to have his opinions but his extreme views and his penchant to color his analysis with his personal views leads one to wonder who would nominate him for this position..."

All comments on the editorial are here.

By Doug Feaver  |  March 12, 2009; 7:47 AM ET
Categories:  Israel , Obama  | Tags: Israel, Saudi, Zionist, lobby  
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It is amazing! Amazing that there is so much evidence that AIPAC and other israeli lobbying groups are pulling the strings here when it comes to foreign policies and national security. Do you really think Obama would have gotten elected if he had not said "yes master" to AIPAC? Or had not chosen the most neocon of them all, Rahm Israel Emanuel, as his Chief of Staff? This Freeman issue is just another example. What about the case that we supposedly had against two AIPAC employees taking info from Franklin and passing it on to israel? Have any of you heard much about it? Another example that none of the media behemoths has the 'balls' to say anything about this israel. This israel that has forced millions into refugee camps since the BEGINNING! The refugee camps are not a reaction to Palestinian terrorist acts, those actions are a reaction to the refugee camps. Israel is BUILDING SETTLEMENTS and VIOLATING international laws! But yes, that thing and its people are just toooo special to punish, or even say "don't do it." That little country is the world's largest and most powerful THEOCRACY. Maybe our black President should ask israel govt why the Ethiopian jews/israeli don't have the same rights as the others, or as the non-blacks!!!! Has our great media ever even brought that up?

Lastly, why don't you just look at a comment that another reader posted on one of those columns; it shows you the 'special people, special country' mindset that israel is in ... "Freeman did the right thing to withdraw. Were he to head NIC, any Israel critical assessment would be tainted and suspicious. Now, if NIC is headed by somebody sympathetic to Israel and issues an Israel critical assessment, that would carry weight." That comment is unbelievable! That's the 'logic' behind those people's arguments all these years. But again, they're special and we're not.

Posted by: kharkosse44 | March 13, 2009 7:56 PM | Report abuse

You are either a retarded moron or on AIPAC's payroll.

This is an AIPAC hit. Everyone can see that. It just goes to show that NAZI thugs at AIPAC runs the foreign policy of this country.

We all can see the cancer but no one knows what to do about it.

BTW, AIPAC does not represent all of Israel. Only the right wings.

"I think the Post board got this one right. I wasn't aware of any smear campaign ongoing against Freeman"

Posted by: ThePatriotOne | March 12, 2009 4:31 PM | Report abuse

The United States must break with the State of Israel. Tel Vive now effective controll the Government of these United States.

Thru its "Jewish Lobby" it has corrupted the U.S. Congress. It has the sworn loyality of President Obama. And his Chief of Staff is an Israeli Citizen who spies on our National Security and Foreign Policy.

Steve Rosen is still pulling the strings of Congressional Leaders, while awaiting Trial for High Treason.

We want to cut all ties with Israel, root out all of its Agents here in the U.S.A.



Posted by: JAMadison4 | March 12, 2009 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Israel sucks.

Posted by: adrienne_najjar | March 12, 2009 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Those who wish to say that the Freeman kibosh / withdrawal shows the Obama administration lack integrity on the Middle East may be a bit too focused on this one action. I'm not sure that Israel is too pleased with the US's engagement with Iran and Syria, or it's offers to support rebuilding in Gaza while it is still under Hamas control. Perhaps the reason Freeman lacked support was more his style than his substance. Lot's of people question Israel, lot's question the intelligence status quo (as Lane points out), and many of those supported Obama. If the NIC head is a competent analytical type who also is willing to probe accepted wisdom, he may be a better fit for no drama Obama rather than a quote machine.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | March 12, 2009 3:42 PM | Report abuse

In a few years, our elected officials will have to swear allegiance to the constitution of Israel. It's only a matter of time...

Posted by: Fuzzy21 | March 12, 2009 2:38 PM | Report abuse

fischy, that's because you weren't paying any attention.

There were articles in the Post, including an editorial by Jon Chait attacking Freeman, and there was a concerted online campaign to try to discredit Freeman, accompanied by vigorous in-person lobbying of the administration by the most blindly pro-Israel politicians, like Schumer, Lieberman, Berkley, Israel, and Cantor.

Posted by: davestickler | March 12, 2009 12:15 PM | Report abuse

So fischy, its only a smear campaign if you say so? Freeman is overreacting because you weren't aware of the controversy? Thats a rather ego-centric take on the situation. Lets hope the President can avoid these problems in the future by contacting you before someone else has to withdraw.

Posted by: lostinthemiddle | March 12, 2009 12:13 PM | Report abuse

I think the Post board got this one right. I wasn't aware of any smear campaign ongoing against Freeman. I wasn't even aware there was ongoing resistance to his appointment. If there was a campaign against him, it was not very conspicuous. True, I don't read every email or see every article - but this suggests Freeman is overreacting. He should do well on the lecture circuit, though.

Posted by: fischy | March 12, 2009 11:57 AM | Report abuse

I see that you are also ignoring Ponnuru's Right Matters post- Not So Intelligent
posted at 3/6/2009 12:44 PM EST :

The Washington Post participated in the online smear campaign and now ignores its own culpability. I repeatedly contacted the Post ombudsman regarding Ponnuru's claims about Freeman, and Mr Alexander refused to do anything but send me Walter Pincus' email?!? Alexander didn't even do that until 4 days after my original contact with him, and a few hours after Freeman withdrew.

Posted by: lostinthemiddle | March 12, 2009 10:40 AM | Report abuse

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