Opinion

The Great Debate

Setback for America’s pro-Israel hawks

By Bernd Debusmann
March 5, 2009

Bernd Debusmann - Great Debate– Bernd Debusmann is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own. –

“The brutal oppression of the Palestinians by the Israeli occupation shows no sign of ending … Israel no longer even pretends to seek peace with the Palestinians, it strives to pacify them … American identification with Israel has become total.”

These are excerpts from a 2007 speech by Charles (Chas) Freeman, a former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, whose appointment as chairman of the National Intelligence Council was announced on February 26 and is turning into a test case for the strength of Washington’s right-wing pro-Israel lobby.

Signs are that its influence might be waning under the administration of President Barack Obama. Does that mean the days of unquestioning American support for Israel are coming to en end? Probably not.

But the furious reaction to Freeman’s appointment from some of the most fervent neo-conservative champions of Israel points to considerable concern over the possible loss of clout.

In his new job, Freeman will be responsible for compiling intelligence from the the United States’ 16 intelligence agencies into National Intelligence Estimates, detailed and lengthy analyses that play a key role in shaping U.S. foreign policy.

The initial drumbeat of criticism came from conservative pro-Israel bloggers, including Steve Rosen, former policy director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Rosen has been indicted for giving “national defense information to persons not entitled to receive it,” legalese for spying.

“Freeman is a strident critic of Israel and a textbook case of the old-line Arabism that afflicted American diplomacy at the time Israel was born,” Rosen wrote.

While remarks critical of Israel are common coin among human rights groups and independent scholars, they are virtually taboo in official Washington, whose elected leaders – or those running for office – tend to stress unflagging support for the Jewish state.

Even small departures from the standard line can prompt the ire of the Israel-right-or-wrong camp. During his election campaign, Obama learned how tricky seemingly innocent remarks can be when he said “nobody is suffering more than the Palestinian people.” There was so much criticism, he later “clarified” the remark.

The initial blogger assault on Freeman, whose lengthy and impressive resume of public service includes Assistant Secretary of Defense under Ronald Reagan, then moved to the opinion pages of the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post and the conservative Washington Times. The attacks widened to suggest that he is beholden to the Saudi government.

That allegation stems from the time he ran a Washington-based think tank, the Middle East Policy Council (MEPC), whose donors include Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a member of the Saudi royal family and billionaire entrepreneur, who gave the council $1 million.

CRITICISM THREATENS PEACE?

The appointment has been made but the quest to dislodge or discredit him is not over. Nine Republican members of Congress wrote to the inspector general in the office of the Director of National Intelligence, Admiral Dennis Blair, demanding “a comprehensive review of Ambassador Freeman’s past and current commercial, financial and contractual ties to the Kingdom to ensure no conflict of interest exists in his new position.”

House Minority Whip Eric Cantor has urged Obama to reconsider the appointment, saying that Freeman’s comments about the U.S.-Israel relationship “raise serious concerns about his ability to support the administration’s attempts to bring security, stability and peace to the Middle East.”

Criticism of Israel threatens peace? Israeli settlements on the West Bank, in violation of international law, have nothing to do with the flagging peace process? Making peace is made easier by the U.S. refusal to talk to Hamas, the group that won elections in Gaza and runs the war-shattered territory?

One of the critics of the appointment, Gabriel Schoenfeld, noted, with a tone of disapproval, that Freeman’s MEPC had published “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy,” a controversial assessment of U.S.-Israeli relations by two prominent American academics, John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen Walt of Harvard.

They argued that the United States, through its unquestioning support of Israel, was neglecting its own security interests to advance the interests of another state. The influence of hawkish pro-Israel lobbies, chief among them AIPAC, had established a stranglehold on Congress to ram through decisions favoring Israel.

In the 60 years since its establishment on May 14, 1948, Israel has been by far the largest recipient of U.S. assistance, military and economic, in the world, according to the Congressional Research Service. Aid has been running at around $3 billion a year since 1985, a sizable sum for a country with a population smaller than that of New York City.

Walt, who blogs at Foreign Policy magazine, weighed into the Freeman debate as it gathered steam even before the actual appointment. Apart from trying to get it revoked by Dennis Blair or get Freeman to withdraw, Walt said, the anti-Freeman campaign had a third aim.

“Attacking Freeman is intended to deter other people in the foreign policy community from speaking out on these matters. Freeman might be too smart, too senior and too well-qualified to stop, but there are plenty of younger people eager to rise in the foreign policy establishment and they need to be reminded that their careers could be jeopardized … if they said what they thought.”

But the Obama administration appears to have no problem with people who say what they think about U.S.-Israel ties. Take Samantha Power, the former Harvard professor whose outspoken views echo those of Walt and Mearsheimer. Obama gave her an important job on the National Security Council.

– You can contact the author at Debusmann@Reuters.com. —

Comments
128 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

Nice Piece

Looks like the obligatory kneel in front of almighty AIPAC is going out of fashion. The fact that Rosen and other neo-cons are bending over backwards to discredit Freeman is a sign of how desperate they are.

I think the reluctance by U.S. policymakers to seriously address Israel’s behavior in the occupied territories has been a major obstacle to peace. Knowing that AIPAC and other pro-Israeli groups were able to steer the debate and coerce anyone who did not adopt their version has encouraged successive Israeli governments to extinguish any hope of a viable Palestinian state. Having an open and balanced debate about this conflict is something the U.S. badly needs.

Acting as an honest broker for once will only improve the image of the US, especially in the Arab and Muslim world.

Posted by Nu'man | Report as abusive
 

My opinions is that AIPAC is far more cunning and not forthcoming in its response to criticism of Mr Freeman. I have always wondered that how could pro-Israel lobby be so effective. I think they staff the senator and congressmen offices, give contributions to pro-Israel republican and democratic candidates and actively try to defeat neutral and or those who question support of Israel without any qualm. This is a bigger question as they do have extremely left wing agenda and mind you not with their own money but tax-payer money. Most op-ed articles in major left wing newspapers have pro-Israel columnist and they are for propagation of their agenda irrespective of which party candidates belong.

Posted by vj | Report as abusive
 

The Israel-right-or-wrong crowd may be losing a bit of influence but Israel’s interests are still being looked after in high places. Look at Dennis Ross in his new post in charge of a region that includes Iran. Will he engage in even-handedness? You bet he won’t. So one could say its an even trade, Freeman on one hand, Ross on the other.

And Clinton’s visit to Ramallah did not indicate one millimetre of change on the tried-and-true course.

Posted by Ariel | Report as abusive
 

Just another Obama campaign lie to get elected.

Posted by Patrick Henry | Report as abusive
 

finally, a commentary exposing the truth. There is much more that can come out about the relationship between members of cognress and AIPAC. the fact that members of congress are so outraged over an appointment of some like Mr. freeman who has served this country well and always looked out for the best interest of AMERICA first. We have destroyed our reputation and put a target on our backs all over the middle east by this unjustified and blind support of israel. our support of the zionist regime is contradictory of what america stands for and the principals on how we were founded. we can reduce at least 80% of our security threat and animosity towards us in the middle east by treating the palestine-israel issue FAIRLY and pragmatically. its the only way to ensure a peace process actually works and that innocent people on both sides are able to live their lives peacefully.

Posted by sidney | Report as abusive
 

If this is indeed a sign of a reassessment of the policy toward Israel it is a very small one and long overdue. It is after all, we Americans, who subsidize this policy and we have a right and obligation to act, within the parameters of fairness, in our own national interest. Blindly following the desires of pro-Israel hawks leads us ever deeper into wars (now that Obama appears to extend the reach of war to Pakistan), international isolation and crisis at home. It is a time to carefully examine all aspects of the American policy in the Middle East and act according to the best interests of the USA. Pepole at home must be honestly informed about the issues and not given a constant strem of one-sided propaganda. It is the attitude that is supported by many Jews here, friends of Israel as well as many Israelis. It is time for America to wake up.

Posted by Rick | Report as abusive
 

It is interesting that you label Pro-Israel advocates as “hawks” … I call them “realists.” When you suggest peace for Israel, please make reference to (non-existent) Palestinian peaceful ACTIONS, not the politics of the US Government.

Their hawkish Koran won’t accept a Jewish entity in Israel, nor will it allow peace as the final answer. The Koran is built on Jihad and incremental apocalypse as the final answer. Even if the “land for peace” formula were to be resurrected, the Islamic world would be the one that would need to demonstrate THEIR peaceful intentions.

The Durban II Conference will clearly show that the Islamic world are the real “hawks.” They would remove Israelis from the land Israelis have occupied for millennia on the East and West Bank.

Removing the Israeli “occupation” would be the same as erasing history. It would be yet another expulsion of Jews. THAT is racism.

Posted by Ari Hirim | Report as abusive
 

Ariel:

“And Clinton’s visit to Ramallah did not indicate one millimetre of change on the tried-and-true course”

Good point. She called Israel’s plans to demolish nearly 90 Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem as ‘unhelpful’. I doubt Olmert and Netanyahu are going to lose any sleep. As for Dennis Ross, I expect him to continue what he does best: groveling to Israeli leaders and lecturing Palestinians about the benefits of an ‘enlightened occupation’

Posted by Nu'man | Report as abusive
 

so israeli ideaological are labeled “realist” and “hawkish” and muslim and arabs are called “extremist” and “fundamentalist”. let’s not forget that the whole concept of israel is based of a jewish extremist religious idealogies, challenged by many “moderate” jews. the zionist misinturpret the torah and are carrying out an agenda that goes against their own religious beliefs much like the taliban/al-qaeda jihadis themselves. there is no difference between them, except one side calles themselves muslims and the other jewish but neither represents the true beliefs of their respected religions and teachings of their holy books. the “realist” zionist believe that after every non-jews is killed, removed, displaced or all of the above off of “their” land, then the messiah will come. is that any different then the osama bin laden’s perdiction of removing every “infidel” out of the sands of the middle east so he can establish 10th century caliphate?? not at all. israel has shown that peace is not one of its ideals and has no interest in it what so ever. the taliban were recently given permission to carry out their agenda in swat valley of pakistan and israel recently elected a genocidal extremist government in israel. its sad to see that religious extremist are endangering the lives of millions of jews and muslims as well all other faiths of this world.

Posted by roscoe | Report as abusive
 

I was surprised by the support of Senator Obama by the Jewish community as well as Wall Street during the primaries. I am just a High School graduate so I thought maybe I could be wrong. Our scholars know what is best. Now I believe you reap what you sow.

Posted by JC14 | Report as abusive
 

Basically, Zionism is an morally bankrupt idea involving expulsion of Palestinians from Palestine. This has been accompanied by ongoing terrorism of Palestinians, demonization of the few that fight back, and land grabs, apartheid, all backed by the West since the beginning of this fiasco. At this point the only solution of this mess is a one-state-solution whereby all people in the area have equal rights, and equal votes. All else appears doomed to failure, leading to endless strife and possibly even nuclear war. Israelis need to be compelled to give up the Zionist quest. Palestinians need to be repatriated and compensated. Let serious boycotts begin!

Posted by Bob H | Report as abusive
 

I get sick and tired of the Isreali crap! Isreal technically stole the land in 1949, buy invading Palestine before the allies could finalize a treaty between the palestinians and jews from ruined europe after WWII.

Next, the Isreali’s won the miracle war in 1967 and started making settlements in the ‘west bank’ areas. I’m sorry, but if history can teach us anything, it is that Isreali’s in charge of Isreal Do NOT want anything less than what is in a stupid religious text. Oh and there are other stupid religious texts that state that isreal was removed to babylon hundreds of years ago. Seeing as after someone looses a war the pay for the loss. Isreal isn’t eligible for anything that they lost thousands of years ago… i. e. that means that yes, they get to keep what they got in 1949. They should be sharing the lands won in the 1967 war and NO permanent settlements in Palestinean land!!!!!

I really am sick and tired of paying for what happened to a ethnicity 60 damn years ago.

Also, human beings DO not give back lands when someone looses them. So the isreali argument that the plaestinean lands were given to the isrealites by GOD thousands of years ago is pure GREED and RUBBISH.

People want to talk about human decency.. then just split the damn area in two. isreal gets what they had. All settlements from after a set time say… 15 years from teh winning of the 1967 war, isreal keeps the rest get turned over to the palestineans. Hell, if that was done that might ease the angst from the european jews stealing the original lands back in 1947.

It’s so damn funny that for hundreds of years muslims, jews and christians lived in relative harmony in jerusalem when it was governed by the muslims.

Oh the Koran is NOT just for jihad!!! just remember the ignorrant christians had and have ‘jihad’ also. they just called the crusades :)

Maybe if people just would think of other people as just people first and formost there would be a tremendous decrease in war-mongering in the stupid world. But, that would be sensible and we unfortunately do not live in anything resembiling a sensible world.

Oh and any reply about spelling errors i will most emfattically ignore.

Posted by Mike | Report as abusive
 

I agree 100% with the commentary made by roscoe.

I had just a small amount of hope that President Obama had more teeth and claws regarding this issue but it will remain as it is until something drastic occurs.

As for the future leaders in the region, I wonder if they think for themselves in arranging genuine, fair peace for all. It’s not going to be the politicians of today or the past that will live on the land forty years from now. They’re not even guaranteeing there will be land to live on but it’s the youth of today that will have to keep on living with murder, terrorism and injustice, all for the sake of these old men and women- who only fought for their own interests out of fear- not for the interests of their offspring. If there was true interest in the well-being of their children, these old people would have been more than eager to make peace with their neighbors, instead of going down the war path from the start. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict wouldn’t even exist. At least at the level it does today.
I don’t see why would the religion of one side or the other take such importance in running a country. Any country that truly wishes to live in peace will make their constitutional or parlamentary government independent of religious law, even if morally inspired by it because it’s been tried and proven true that religion-based governments cause great social and economic inequality.
At the moment I’m observing that current militarist interests are forcing the youth to inherit disaster and I can’t wait for the old generations to die off without leaving any more poisoned seed to grow.

Posted by Dan | Report as abusive
 

Israel has no better friend in the world that the US and they’ve taken advantage of it every chance they got. It’s time someone told them “enough; no more colonies in the West Bank, no colonies in the Golan Heights, you already have the bomb, time to stop acting like the biggest bully on the block. None of your neighbors like you and it’s not a surprise given the way you treat them. Would you like a neighbor who behaves as you do? I’m guessing no. So grow up and figure out some better ways to deal with your problems because the ways you’ve been doing it sure haven’t worked.”

Posted by borisjimbo | Report as abusive
 

Zionism is the #1 threat to the average American’s safety. After 60+ years of this failed experiment its time to cut Israel loose.

Posted by daniel | Report as abusive
 

Is there even a rational basis for what the pro-Israel lobby advocates? All they do is mouth off about “unconditional support for Israel” as if this were the end all and be all of our foreign policy in the region. I mean, if Israel were seriously being threatened, fine….but it’s been over three decades since there was any credible military threat to them. Hamas and Hezbollah are the absolute scum of the earth, but if Israel is going to engage in excesses for the sake of defense and then expect us to cover for them when peace doesn’t materialize, then there’s not much we can do for them.

Posted by Jacob | Report as abusive
 

lets set the record straight with facts and logic not hype and emotion. The land was given to Israel in a UN resoltion in 1947. That resolution -which established a Palestinian state in the west bank – was rejected by the arabs. The arabs subsequently launched a war and lost. NO one seemed to be bothered that Jordan ruled the west bank between 48 and 67. Additionally, the PLO was established in 1964 – 3 years before th 6 day war. what were they looking to liberate? Also where are all the refugees from WWII? usually settled by host countries.
The Palestinians have been kept in refugee camps as tools for the destruction of the state of Israel. Why should Israel not settle the land. According to international law Israel acquired ownerless territory in a war of defense – perfectly legitimate. Beware, 70 years ago greed, hatred and difference resulted in the deaths of 50 milion people not just 6 million Jews. The Palestinians -who refuse to live in peace- need to find another place to live. I suggest in 22 Arab states

 

So what is the solution to this mess?

Make Israel cease to exist? Please. Israel is a modern democracy. “Palestine” is yet to even formally exist. And the reason is a long line of dumb mistakes by the Arabic world. Egypt and the others have learned their lessons. Everyone has learned the lesson, except for Hamas.

A one state solution? What a joke. Such a result would result in Israel ceasing to exist, and the supporters of the idea know it very well. They just don’t have the common decency to admit it out loud.

Perhaps Israel should withdraw from Gaza? Oh, I forgot. They left years ago. And then Hamas rejected the calling of a democratic election, and took control of Gaza by force. Remember that?

If that is the “reward” for Israel trying to act reasonably, it is no wonder things are as they are.

So that leaves two alternatives. The first is that the “Palestinians” swallow their pride and start thinking of their children first. If they stop trying to commit terrorist attacks or sending suicide bombs over the boarder, Israel has no reason to blockade the “occupied territories”.

The other alternative? The “Palestinians” can stick to war. Israel has been defending itself for over fifty years. The civilised world, for all their apparent outrage, still see Hamas as the only reason that this problem still exists.

And then Hamas can go back to hiding among civilians, and feign surprise when innocent people end up dead in the crossfire they start. And the whole bloody mess will continue as long as Hamas wishes it.

Posted by John Smith | Report as abusive
 

World War I and II, like all wars allow the victors to redraw geographical and cultural borders. The political and economic crisis’ of our time are intertwined with the political settlements subsequent to both World Wars. A close study of the Treaty of Versaille and Nato(cold war),as well as Palestine, are quite revealing as to this subject.

It is said “To the victor goes the spoils of war”. The U.S. has certainly dominated world relations for the better part of the post war period. Our decline was inevitable. No nation has ever maintained a state of war capability for decades on end without going broke. Perhaps one day nations will eschew the intoxicating allure of victories and power for the values of peace.

Posted by Anubis | Report as abusive
 

It is interesting to note that Admiral Freeman was asked to be vetted and yet you have so many officials with Jewish affiliation serving in this and previous governments, their loyalty is never questioned.As a foreigner, I can never understand why the US government is so beholden to Israel, even at the expense of your own national interests. Did Israel fight alongside with you in Korea, Vietnam, the first Gulf war, and Afghanistan? Israel is the only country that benefited from your war in Iraq. After developing their own nuclear weapons, they now want you to stop Iran from having just a nuclear power reactor. It is not inconceivable that they may ask your Congress to impeach President Obama because he poses a threat to Israel’s security.

Posted by Stephen Wong | Report as abusive
 

I find it very encouraging that by far the majority of posters above me can clearly see that Israel is the cause and not the cure of America’s problems.

After Obama’s and Clinton’s disgraceful pandering at the AIPAC last June I held out very little hope that anyone in Washington would be looking after the interests of American and Americans in this administration, and I still don’t really have any hope. But it is good to see that all of you, my fellow Americans, are finally coming around to the certain knowledge that Israel is a tremendous liability, and a shameless aggressor in Palestine as well. And we have more than enough liabilities at this point in time.

It’s time to cut Israel loose and to try to make up to the Palestinians for the tremendous injustice we have done them over the years with our blank check to Israel.

 

John Smith said:
“The first is that the “Palestinians” swallow their pride and start thinking of their children first.”
——-

That’s just the thing, none of you know Arabs as well as the Israelis do. An Arab would NEVER swallow his pride, his honor – that’s the only thing they have. Everything else be damned. In fact, for the past 600 years, defending their “honor” in 20,000 different ways against enemies real but mostly imagined has been their greatest contribution to the human family.

They’ll seek the removal of Israel from Israel 1,000 years from now, even if they finally sign a peace treaty with Israel – in their mindset that would be justice.
That is, if their mindset stays the same. A peace with Israel is only a temporary arrangement with infidels – in Q’uran ALL accommodations with infidels are temporary.

In fact, they don’t by and large fundamentally believe in a concept of sovereign state, democracy, individual rights, or secular legal code – those concepts are not endemic to them to this day.

Posted by Sam | Report as abusive
 

No question: Iran, Hamas and all the others should recognize Israel’s right to exist. The problem is trying to figure out which Israel they’re supposed to recognize? Is it the Israel that’s prepared to live peaceably within the 1968 borders or the Eretz Israel one the Zionists keep going on about? The Israel that bombed Arafat’s headquarters into rubble or possibly the Israel that occupies the West Bank and is building settlements all over the place? Surely it’s not the Israel that’s laying on the siege of Gaza? So first things first—you don’t sign the agreement if you don’t know the terms. What Israel, the U.S. and the “international community” needs to do is come up with an answer to the question, “Which Israel?”

No question: Israel should lay off threatening to bomb Iran.

Posted by marcanizan | Report as abusive
 

It is truly double standard for the Israelis to be so barbaric and cruel in destroying Gaza.They wanted the world to remember
how bad it was Nazi but they forget how they are behaving now.
It is all about land grab, even now they want more land.
The Palestinians deserve to have a statehood not to be subjugated by Israel

Posted by rick | Report as abusive
 

It is a shame that most of the Law makers of such a great nation like the United States Of America, work for another state called Israel, represented by a shameful organization called AIPAC. American Voters must know the cost of supporting Israel, and How much that coming out of their own pockets.

Posted by Dan | Report as abusive
 

Mr.Debusmann,
Once again a great article from you. I salute you. Only this time the Americans should take time to read and see how much they have lost and losing directly and indirectly by their blind support for Israel. Its very sad indeed to see that any honest opinion and remark about the sufferings of Palestinians evoke so much condemnation. Its time that we ban contributions to politicians as that practice has made lobbyist effectively buy out every single position and politician in the white house.
Would like to see more articles like this that awakens Americans to think for themselves.

Posted by Kumar | Report as abusive
 

The columnist should have mentioned that after whereas Hamas won an election, it illegally overthrew the legal government and even threw Fatah members off buildings as part of its coup.

 

What a great article, the world view of blind Israeli support is dead but it’s still alive and well here in the US. I don’t put the blame on us U.S. citizens I put it on our puppet government and media that ALWAYS side with Israel no matter what atrocities they commit.

Also, the state of Israel doesn’t deserve to exist, the country does of course no one disputes that. However hardcore Jewish Israeli’s feel that certain lands were given to them by God and this is what is known as the state of Israel. They think they have the right to form settlements in Palestine, Egypt, other parts of Africa, etc. and this is a the same thing a German fella used to do in the 30′s and 40′s.

Iranian Prez Ahmadinejoud (sp?) said he loves all countries and that he loves the Jews of Iran, but the neocons in our country don’t wanna hear that and our media doesn’t wanna play those speeches for all to hear.

Here in this US our gov’t and media’s motto is death to Muslims and Christians and Jewish people can spread imperialism all over the world without consequence.

Maybe it’s changing, but probably not as the original writer said.

Posted by Michael | Report as abusive
 

Judging by the quotes and comments Mr. Debusmann cites, it seems Mr. Debusmann never misses an opportunity to take a swipe at Israel. Implicit in the article is the suggestion that somehow the “pro-Israel lobby” has controlled America’s foreign policy, when in fact Americans have controlled their own foreign policy and they have collectively decided that they want to support a democratic state that shares their values and which has been justified in defending its right to exist. If Mr. Debusmann really wishes to embrace a new approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he should consider the real obstacle to peace. The main obstacle is that Palestinian Arabs today do not want and they have never wanted a Palestinian state, hence, over 60 years of frustration in achieving the 2-state solution. The Palestinians Arabs refused to accept the state offered to them as part of the 1947 UN partition proposal; they showed no interest in creating a Palestinian state between 1948 and 1967; they refused Israel’s offer of peace for land after 1967 including former Israeli PM Ehud Barak’s offer in 2000. Even today, there is no strong interest in a Palestinian state. Opinion polls indicate that about 50% of the West Bank’s Arabs would like to see eventually some sort of federation between themselves and Jordan (which makes sense in view of the close family and historic connections between the two). Hamas sees a Palestinian state as only an intermediate stage, with the ultimate goal being the recreation of a pan-Islamic nation. And today, of course, there is the divide between the West Bank and Gaza. This divide is partly a quarrel between Hamas and Fatah for power, but mainly it reflects the lack of a national identity. Gazans are much more religious than West Bankers, who historically look down upon the Gazans. And there are many other important cultural, historic and socio-economic divisions between the two which makes the creation of a national identity difficult. The tragedy of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been the failure to develop successful Palestinian state institutions and more importantly a Palestinian sense of national identity. Instead, the focus for over 60 years has been the destruction of Israel, a state which many Arabs and Muslims have seen as an illegitimate entity in what they consider to be the Arab and Islamic heartland. Mr. Debusmann and his anti-Israel diatribes do little to contribute in a positive way to a solution. Judging by the anti-Israel invectives posted here by others, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will continue to focus primarily on the destruction of Israel rather than something positive.

Posted by Dan from Canada | Report as abusive
 

Washington gets a lot of financial support for reelection of politicians, they are all practically in Israel lobbyist’s pocket. Do you remember how Obama made a 180 degree turn when he made a supporting statement about the Palestinians right? American Jews own the media and that is a very powerful weapon if you want to be elected. We spend billions on Israel, a developed country, and a fraction in Africa, while China is going to take over Africa.

Posted by aalamaram | Report as abusive
 

Thanks for a good column.
We need see more pieces like this.
PLEASE keep it up!!

Posted by Shotta | Report as abusive
 

I’d like to hear where Dan from Canada gets his news. No one wants the destruction of Israel, we just want them to stop starving out an already 3rd world country through their illegal blockades. We want them to stop mercilessly killing children in the street and letting them bleed out despite being within their own borders. To stop bulldozing homes with families still inside just because of not having some impossible to obtain building permit. 1,300 people killed, the IDF is nothing but ruthless, gutless barbarians. When there’s one person in a building you need to kill you don’t drop a cruise missile on a village full of civilians.

Posted by Michael | Report as abusive
 

Israel,
Do not become greedy businesman and ignorant politicians or use your nuclear weapons as a means of forcing your neighbors to accept a “just peace”.
I do not think that that “Holocaust”, was caused by Sheperds in the River Valley of Jordan, do you? Once the insanity of Hitler and others before him including the Catholic Church “picked out” an enemy, to blame, they were called “Jews”. But these “so called human beings” pretending to be men, knew they were wrong because they more or less believed in the God of Abraham and Moses and the Ten Commandments and their confusion was built in part upon “Social Darwinism”, which gave them power, for “ineffectual” ideas.
We/You must make peace with the Palestinians and give them a few thousand square miles of semi-arrid land to call a “home”.
Israel, forget the past, right now in the turmoil of this world, we have no choice! I think you know what I mean, General Motors, Citicorp, Bank of America, Lockheed-Martin, etc. are selling lke “penny stocks”. However, peace is a dividend of understanding and of “basic life” which we need now. And how much can the United States of America and Israel afford?

Jon T.

Posted by John Tamalavage | Report as abusive
 

Where were all these outpourings of sympathy and demands for just treatment when steel ball bearings shredding their way through Israeli buses? Borders are closed to prevent these happenings. Palestinians only seek a total destruction of Israel. This is their sole goal.There is no other motive for their action.

Posted by Sigismund | Report as abusive
 

Gosh, the Jews control US Foreign Policy, the Banks, the labor unions, and the Media too. Why no mention of the daily rockets coming from Gaza aimed at civilian targets (a war crime) or the Hamas charter that calls for the destruction of Israel. Yes, the Hamas was democratically elected (so was Hitler), so I guess Gazans are collectively responsible for the mess they made of their own nest. Israel left Gaza to the Gazans after pulling out all Jewish settlers in the hope for peace…they get rockets instead.

Posted by hal vivaldi | Report as abusive
 

Indeed , great article. Careful, but precise.
Liberty of speech is proclaimed to be a great legacy of democratic quest in the West. Yet, any anti-Israel talks,that criticize strictly the politics, are still considered antisemitic ,and a taboo subject. It is no freedom of speech, but its supression .
America is a great country, that should be an anchor to peace talks, not it`s torpedo. The cost to Israeli-American relations , and the blind support are granted ad escalating costs. Both economic and political.
To have a 2nd runner up for presidency chant ” Bomb bomb Iran ” and then watch THE president elect boycott ( not assist and enforce own position, but refuse to attend) an anti-racism conference, is yet another sign of this all-for nothing alliance.
If we will preach justice and respect of international laws, we must do so , regardless of the race or faith of the transgressor. We need to address, not seek to justify them. Now more than ever, USA can play a vital role in the peace process in the middle east. After the trillions of dollars spent on financing this conflict, it would be unacceptable for the “sponsor” to deny at least verbal support to the party oppressed. The time has come to set aside AIPAC , and the phobia of calling things by their names : apartheid , occupation , humanitarian crisis, and act with integrity and the good will once sold to us, during election campaign.

Israel, give peace a chance
USA, monitor so that chance is not bombed with DIME or phosphorus.

Posted by Samantha Smith | Report as abusive
 

To hal vivaldi, the Palestinian are prisoners living in concentration camps, refugees because someone else stole their land and homes, and rename it Israel, what would you do if the same happened to you and your family providing you are not the thief. Israel is not only occupying the Palestinian land but also the American Congress and senate, and the American political and financial systems, America is under an Israeli occupation and all American politicians must adhere to their master wishes and commands.

Posted by Dan | Report as abusive
 

America’s blind support of Israel is religious. According to fundamentalist Christians (aka Holy Rollers, Southern Baptists, Pentecostals, Assembly of God freaks, etc.)God blesses those countries that bless Israel and curses those countries that curse Israel. That has been U.S. foreign policy since Truman, who himself was a Southern Baptist, a Zionist supporter, and believed in all this Second Coming nonsense. It is funny to me how when any Arab nation commits an act of terrorism the United States is quick to condemn but when Israel commits an act of terrorism the United States turns its head and mumbles that Israel has a right to defend itself. The Jews own America and are responsible for the mess in the Middle East.

Posted by Mike | Report as abusive
 

I am frankly stunned that, on the one hand, posters like ‘Michael’ can say that nobody wants the destruction of the state of Israel and in the same breath praise Ahmadinejad. Iran has been a massive supporter of terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezb’Allah for decades, and Ahmadinejad himself is a holocaust denier and a bigot. For shame.

Israel has nothing to gain by oppressing Palestinians; they don’t need or want the land back, they don’t want the Palestinians’ resources… there’s nothing they have that Israel wants.

If it were Israel’s goal to simply do away with the Palestinians, it would have been well within their power. Heck, Israel’s army and air force were able to completely wipe out the armies of Jordan, Syria, and Egypt all at once in the Six Day War – do you think they couldn’t do the same to the Palestinians if that was their aim?

Israel does want peace, but it wants long, lasting peace. Can they really be expected to negotiate with groups whose stated objective is Israel’s destruction?

Yet as bad as Hamas is, it still has a mandate from the masses. If Hamas truly abandoned violence, stopped sneaking in weapons, and agreed to peaceful coexistence with Israel, they would get it within the hour.

But of course, President Ahmadinejad wouldn’t stand for that.

Posted by Matt Brendzel | Report as abusive
 

I have one little observation to make. Note how when even people who don’t support the Zionist hardline refer to Israel building in the West Bank they call it “settlements”, as if the land weren’t previously occupied by someone else, i.e. Palestinians. Choosing the word to use in a debate is a traditional means of predetermining how the debate will be resolved. If we called them “colonies” instead, which is an arguably more accurate term, would this debate be still occurring or would it have been settled by now?

Posted by borisjimbo | Report as abusive
 

Wow, i hope this article was not published, to add visibility to this outrages attack on freedom of speech.

I mean Republican Jewish Coalition already began its absurd smear campaign , along with other players, to condemn and demonize a man for stating the obvious, in a very careful way! This is a psychosis and an oppression of American people, by AIPAC interest.

Freeman`s donations at least are known,while Clarion Fund is still a fairy tale “do good” ?

Hypocrisy and manipulation.

Posted by Michael M. | Report as abusive
 

Matt I can tell reading comprehension isn’t a big thing of yours so I’ll retype what I already said and see if the time of the time causes it to sink in a little more clear.

No one wants the destruction of the Israeli COUNTRY, Israel doesn’t have the right to go around forming settlements wherever they want and this is the STATE of Israel.

I invite you to youtube all of Ahmadinejad’s speeches, rather than just the garbage the Neocon American gov’t and media spit in your face. Iran is a much more peaceful country than Israel or my homeland of the US, they were Iraq’s biggest enemies when we supported Saddam Hussein originally.

All Israel has to do is go back within their own country’s borders and all will be fine, that’s it, that’s not a lot to ask. Imagine if Mexico started settlements in Texas, I’m doubting you’d be cool with it.

Like the other poster said it all comes down to religion, but also skin color. Nobody cares about a bunch of dark skinned “godless muslims” here in the US, 1300 dead Palestinians is no big whoop, but 13 dead IDF soldiers is worthy of determining our entire Middle East foreign policy.

Save the poor people of Palestine, who are so desperate for their lives they’ll vote for anything that they feel helps defend them from the monsters of Israel.

Posted by Michael | Report as abusive
 

Hahaha, time of the day that is, seems typing clearly isn’t a skill of mine.

Posted by Michael | Report as abusive
 

In his new job, Freeman should be concentrating on compiling intelligence on development of Nuclear Arms by IRAN !!!!

Posted by Realist | Report as abusive
 

Bernd,
Great article. Israel has been a renegade country since it was createdm always crying when they don’t get what they want. I welcome the fresh prospective that Freeman will bring, after all isn’t change waht Obama and his adminsitration is all about. I look forward to the day the illegal Israeli settlements stop and the UN actually enforces Un resolution 242 against Israel. I also hope we can place Rosen behind bars for spying on the USA for the benefit of Israel. Who needs friends like that.
Its quite refreshing to read an article that just tells it like it is. Keep the blogs/articles coming.

Posted by Steven M | Report as abusive
 

The Reuters anti-Israel propaganda machine churns day and night, night and day, relentless in its hatred and vilification of a tiny democracy trying to survive in a vast oily sea of Arab tribal entities bent on genocide.

The Freeman appointment is not a test case for the strength of Washington’s “right-wing pro-Israel lobby” but rather one for Washington’s Saudi paymasters. It is the sheiks — by virtue of their vast oil reserves, hundreds of billions of petrodollars plowed back into US Treasuries and equity stakes in American corporations along with an ignoble history of lavish contributions and lucrative job offers to former presidents, secretaries of state, ambassadors, think-tanks and academics — that in fact rule the roost and always have in the nation’s capital.

There is resistance to Freeman as Chairman of America’s National Intelligence Council not simply because his Middle East Policy Council is funded by and serves as a mouthpiece for the Saudis but because he justified the attacks on the World Trade Center, proudly maintained business ties with the bin Laden family after 9/11, and sided with the Chinese government over the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.

In fact, those famous “neo-conservative champions of Israel” – a group of 87 Chinese dissidents — just wrote a letter to Obama asking him to reconsider Freeman’s appointment in light of the latter’s reference to China’s democracy movement as the “propaganda of dissidents” and his “longstanding record of defending China’s authoritarian regime”.

But of course, for anti-Israel polemicists like Bernd Debusmann, the world always turns on the “Israel Lobby”.

Posted by HIS | Report as abusive
 

Good article. It is time that we have an open and objective discussion of our Middle East policies, without the personal attacks and ridicule for the wrong view. Are not innocent people dying on both sides? Since we are supporting Israel with our financial aid, we have a right to ask the questions, and we have the right to hear both sides.

Posted by Bernard Croghan | Report as abusive
 

hı bernd

thank u for thıs very ınterestıng artıcle .ıf u ask me ı ll say the days of unshaken support of ısreal from an amerıcan admınstratıon ıs far from endıng .

but ıf u say from other members of the world .. yes u mıte be rıte ..

cuz after the outburts of trukısh pm ın davos and what happened ın venezuela and also maurıtanıa and cry of many contrıes ın afrıca and the rest of the world that wıll send a sıgnal to ısreal that movıe tıme ıs over cuz nobody ıs gıvıng u audıence anymore except amerıca .

ı waıt for that day ısreal faces charges for crımes agaınst humanıty and the un ındıctıng ıt for ıts resolutıons dat ıt has dısrespected .

ın a unıpolar world controlled by amerıca there wıll never be justıce for anybody but amerıca frıends lıke ısreal dat ıs y we all are tryıng to get weapons tto protect ourselves .

fınally ı am an advocate of a multı polar world of checks and balances . gıvıng everybody equal rıghts and status .

Posted by yakubu | Report as abusive
 

It’s interesting to learn that a man close to the centre of government in the USA actually believes that the Chinese may have had a point about the demonstrators in Beijing in 1989 (no criticism intended). Freeman has moved over time from being an official of the Reagan administration to taking up a key post in President Obama’s. It is not clear that America’s proper role in the Middle East is anything other than being an honest broker in facilitating an (eventual) solution that benefits the people who live there – all of them. The precise way in which an appointee carries out the duties of a post cannot always be predicted on the basis of past behaviour, and it cannot be ruled out that perhaps Mr Freeman has something about his approach to the whole subject that has eluded every other person since 1948, which will guide the US to a reasonable conclusion of the entire Middle East problem far more quickly than anyone else seems to expect.

Posted by Howard G Kiernan | Report as abusive
 

I think something ‘His’ needs to do a bit of research on Arab countries gov’ts feelings towards Israel. Most of the gov’ts support Israel, the people they govern don’t, but the gov’ts do.

I’d also like to know his definition of “genocide”, is it 13 dead soldiers or is it starving out 2 million 3rd world country civilians and killing 1300?

Posted by Michael | Report as abusive
 

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