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.


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 —


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see

This article is pure hogwash. As an American christian I fully support Israels right to not only exist but flourish. Nobody critizes Palestinians when they expand illegal settlements and fire rockets at civillians. How sad that Europeans have bought the Arab propoganda that they are fed.

Posted by scott | Report as abusive

Israel should consider Hillary a ticking bomb; she is out of the closet now on her pro-palestinian attitude. I’d sooner trust a pit-bull. And lipstick won’t help.

Posted by JuanitoVerde | Report as abusive

Real Jews who understand “Torah” very well that God mentioned clearly in their holy book “Jews will not have their own independent country and they will live under other countries rules around the World.” How long they will hide behind powerful people and powerful countries to commit crimes. One day when Jews will no longer have support from any one of them then it is quite obvious they will be wiped out automatically from the face of the earth. Bottom line it is the truth and it is the reality.

The best thing for Israel, the U.S., and the Palestines is some open honest debate in the U.S.. In the past, if anyone stated an objection to anything Israel did, you were immediately labeled as Anti-Israel or Anti-Semitic.
We don’t even agree with everything that our own government does, so to fail to agree with everything Israel does is far from being against Israel. Perhaps by honestly criticizing some of Israel’s actions may be the very best way to showing a true concern for Israel’s future. It is time for open honest debate on the Middle East without the name calling.

Posted by Jim West | Report as abusive

Mr. Debusmann,

You are in DEEP DEEP trouble! How dare you write something this honest and to the point against Israel? How dare you separate the interests of U.S. and Israel? Yes U.S. and Israel are two separate countries, but thanks to AIPAC, it was always portrayed that U.S. must FIRST think and take action in the interest of Israel EVEN if it was against the U.S. interests. Now you come out in broad daylight and write about it? Don’t you know what’s is waiting for you? In short: Don’t mess with AIPAC. PERIOD.

So Mr. Debusmann, please be assured a file will be opened under your name in AIPAC and alike think tanks and you will be their next project as anti-Semite and so many other things you are hiding in your cousin’s closets. Oh, they go and find things and they make sure to put your DNA and fingerprints on them. God help you!

Posted by Alex | Report as abusive

If all your Senators and Congressmen can be bought by special interest groups such as AIPAC they are unfit for seats in Washington. We have controls on parliamentarians in Europe, who have to declare their outside interests. The result of AIPAC’s work was very clear in Gaza, where Israel committed War Crimes on the civilian population, worse than Hitler ever did to the Jews, over the same period of time.

Posted by Graeme Warren | Report as abusive

America should stop supplying Israel with arms, the Israilies have made Gaza a concentration camp, the israilies speak with forked tounge, they dont want Iran to have have even a nuclear power station, yet they themselves have nuclear capability.
Let the Palistine people have the same way of life as we have in the west.


It’s not just Israel, it’s Capitalism and the GOP too. Every group heavily dependent on propaganda for support is falling from power. It’s an inevitable result of the era in which we live. The propaganda was rather effective back when TV was high tech, but the world has clearly changed.

The people are more knowledgeable now than at any point in history. We have access to information like never before, news archives, global communication, social networks, search engines, opinions galore, and a comment section on every corner. Welcome to the information era, where the people have a voice, and Democracy is rising.

The momentum for peace is building fast, and the ‘movement’ has grown significantly. Here on the net, our “we” is a global community that has only just begun to organize and unite. Our “we” includes kings and queens, rock stars and socialites, big wigs, the little guy, and people from all walk of life. The people are making a stand. It’s time for peace, and we’re not backing down.

Posted by James Hovland | Report as abusive

So, … why Israel never offered an Israeli citizenship to its Arab/Palestinian population?! Is it a hard decision for the Zionist state between being “democratic” (and not being exclusively jewish) and being actualy; “Jewish”. The last democracy applicable only to those of the propper blood-line ended about this time 64 years ago. I thought that such a powerful democracy like Israel’s could easily eat-Hamas-alive in some future assembly of israeli/palestinian Knesset? Why do they need ethernal american protection when they already have “nuclearized” their “free and democratic” stand, nicely packed in to the state policy with expectations of “messiah 2nd. comming”?!

Posted by Bo | Report as abusive

I know very little of the conflict involving Israel and Palestine, so I type Israel in wikipedia. The second paragraph stated the League of Nations, after WW1, followed the British mandate for Palestine, basically occupying Palestine like they did India and Hong Kong until the end of WW2. After WW2, 1947, the United Nations approved the partitioning of Palestine into two countries, one Jewish, one Arab.

On May 14, 1948 the state of Israel declared independence and this was followed by a war with the surrounding Arab states, which refused to accept the plan. The Israelis were subsequently victorious in a series of wars confirming their independence and expanding the borders of the Jewish state beyond those in the UN Partition Plan. Since then, Israel has been in conflict with many of the neighboring Arab countries, resulting in several major wars and decades of violence that continue to this day.

Looking at the facts of history, the actions of Israeli leaders, (not the whole state or peoples) seem to forgot their august leader, Moses, brought the ten commandments to the world. Israel seems to covet their neighbors land, (Illegal west bank settlements), and forgot the first commandment, “Thou shall not kill”. I believe Jewish people have a right to live and love where ever they wish, but they stole that land from Palestine, by force, years ago with the help of England, France, and the U.S.

Posted by cdwalker | Report as abusive

Wow.. if everyone was as able as this author to distill large issues to their core points of contention as they ACTUALLY exist, instead of parroting the viewpoints of outside lobbies,
I think matters in the middle east could be readily resolved. Take away all the benefit/subsidies to each side to continue their terrorism and/or stonewalling respectively, and this becomes a draining, costly affair, for BOTH sides to engage in.
Assess matters fairly and in there totality, as this author does, and it is becomes rather transparent how the parties to this affair have managed to accelerate the conflict and its intesity over time, as opposed to both groups being left with little option but to both give ground and settle.
No person recieving foreign cash or consideration, should be allowed to serve in any US elected position, and should in fact be under indictment.
The fact that this is not universally acknowleged in all quarters as it once was, is why we are in the middle of this mess.

Posted by victor hanson | Report as abusive

“Though they spoke of terrible human suffering, reality was sealed off by their trite, lifeless vernacular: ‘capabilities’, ‘objectives’, ‘our chips’ ‘giveaway’. It was a matter, too, of culture and style. They spoke with the cool, deliberate detachment of men who believe the banishment of feeling renders them wise and, more important, credible to other men. They neither understood the foreign policy they were dealing with, nor were deeply moved by the bloodshed and suffering they administered to their stereotypes”.

Roger Morris on the ‘Wise Men’ around President Nixon.

It’s also a fitting description of AIPAC. The vocabulary they deploy is no different then that of Israeli politicians and IDF commanders. Palestinians who bow before Israeli superiority are ‘moderates’. Those who defend against the theft of their land are ‘terrorists’. Refugee camps are a ’wasp nest of terror’. Palestinians are not murdered but are on the receiving end of ‘targeted killings’. Kids who are shot at point blank range, or charred beyond recognition are ‘collateral damage’ – regrettable but expected. Roads that are Palestinian-free are ‘sterile’. Illegal settlements are ‘neighbourhoods’. Israeli soldiers don’t massacre civilians but carry out ‘pinpoint surgical strikes’, like removing a tumour. And now this diseased jargon has been adopted by journalists, particularly in the US.

This is why the planned demolition of almost 90 homes in East Jerusalem has elicited barely zero media attention in the US. Palestinians are seen as a surplus of humanity. And the strongest word Clinton could come up with? ‘unhelpful’.

The Harvard Professor Sara Roy, a long time advocate of Palestinian rights, summed it up beautifully. Entitled ’A Jewish Plea’, she writes:

“Why is it virtually mandatory among Jewish intellectuals to oppose racism, repression, and injustice everywhere else in the world and unacceptable–indeed, for some, an act of heresy–to oppose it when Israel is the oppressor, choosing concealment over exposure?”

Posted by Nu'man | Report as abusive

setbacks? what setbacks? maybe, it’s just the columnist making an easy buck? I understand, life’s expensive… so, it’s a setback for reuters, mainly.

Posted by mike | Report as abusive

This has gone too far as far as human rights are concerned. Killing 1200 people for revenge for 11 or 12 killed about half of them in aggression were soldiers who were members of IDF and died in battle.

Bigger question is who is dictating the foreign policies of USA. There are few facts to bear in mind.

AIPAC at one point was considered to be representing foreign government and in the time of Kennedy Administration they were required to register as foreign agents. Never happened. The last President of AIPAC was accused of transferring sensitive material to Israel and his case is still pending.

69% of Jewish faith people are pro-Israel and are politically active. They contribute heavily to both parties whether it is Democratic or republican, They want to have both sides of the isle so that their interest is served.

There are about 5,000,000 jews in Israel and 6,500,000 in the united states. They are part of left wing agenda from George Soro down the line.

Instead of contributing to American Politician machine if they gave all the contributions to Israel directly it will decrease US burden of not giving them that much entitlement every year.

Military Machine which killed in Gaza was supplied by American taxpayer money. We should have had some say in which way the weapons are used.

They have about 9-11 nuclear reactors and 50-200 nuclear warheads which could be even more. Although they have not admitted to it officially even once.

Fighting planes, helicopters, tanks against AK47, Grenade launchers from back of pickup truck does not appear to me as even odds of fight.

Soldiers can walk into any house any time and occupy for as long as they want because they have back of helicopters and terrorize anybody they want.

They want to demolish palestinian houses which are claimed to be illegally constructed but about 500,000 are living in occupied areas and they are building more and more.

They are stealing even sand and stones from west bank for their construction and can get away with impunity.

They at their whim can stop delivery of food, medicine,fuel and even transfer of money so they will starve and become more resentful and result in further anger. They can not receive any aid from sea which recently has been shown to be intercepted by Israel navy and expect to live in peace with each other till eternity considering who has been aggressive in acquiring land from who at what human expense should have some impact on final decision in the solving of the conflict.

This whole affair is gross human right issue and should be addressed at a world body rather than at local level.

Posted by VJ | Report as abusive

While I certainly respect Israel’s right to exist there is nothing I can think of that is more contrary to the United
States national interest then its unequivocal support of
Israel in its tortured relationship with the Palestinians.

This is the burning issue that unites Muslims all over the world to hostility against the U.S. and the inevitable terrorism that results from those feelings.

Until the U.S. addresses this core issue and begins a fair evenhanded treatment of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict there will be no security for Americans, Israelis, or Palestinians.

Posted by Hugh Giblin | Report as abusive

Well, having read all these comments I am finding our perception is skewed based on our backgrounds. I am agnostic and asian. I pondering what is best for humanity, as technology narrows gaps in every field. Everything in moderation is key, too much influence from either side! What bothers me about both jews and arabs/muslim are they think they are absolutely righteous in their ways. Coming from horrid poverty I believe education and more higher(college)education is key. Most people of jewish faith that I have met are educated and the opposite for muslim/arabs. Educate the people with knowledge not from the Koran or Torah but math and science. This will not solve the probelm as highly educated jewish persons, still put religion first. The key is to respect another human being’s values and life, before anything else. Also we must allow technology to loosen the grip from centralized media which feeds the public. Just like food, if you eat one group of food, for example diary, is that enough to nourish your body completely?

Posted by JACK JOHNSON | Report as abusive

This is the most refreshingly honest article I’ve read in the mainstream media in perhaps my whole life. Wow. Great job.

Posted by Democracy | Report as abusive

Today United States policies stands for injustice. The history of USA association with Israel is a glaring example of USA pseudo democratic values and of false freedom advocacy.

Sudan was tried why not USA ?

Posted by Mohammed | Report as abusive

The unquestioning support of the U.S. towards Israel is at the roots of its problems in the Middle East. The U.S. can choose to continue with that policy and watch its power and influence fade more and more in the region. Or it can simply change that policy. It’s really up to the U.S.

Posted by Ahmet Armagan | Report as abusive

Before deciding or squabbling concerning American policy in the Middle East it behooves American policy makers to consider what their final goals are. Clearly an intermediate goal is to retain the support of the Saudi’s. But even the Sunni Saudi’s are not interested in prolonging the brutality of the Shiite supported Hamas regime. It is also clear even to the Palestinians, that Israel has as of yet to reach the brutality of the Hamas. If one criticizes Israel today, the idea is suggested that the present democratically elected regime of the Hamas should be recognized. However, this is to the detriment of the vast majority of the Arab regimes. It seems that if Israel is to seek peace it should do so with the Hamas but it is not entirely clear that such a policy would be higly beneficial to the long term goals of American policy. On the other hand the continuation of the support of the puppet regime of Abu Mazan tends to erode all of American influence in the region. It seems therdfore to be prudent policy to wait decision on these issues until those long term goals of the present American government are made explicit.

Posted by mpav | Report as abusive

The solution is simple and the reaction to it by the parties concerned will let you know where they really stand.

First – Jerusalem belongs to GOD so it cannot belong to Israel, Palestine or Christians. Religion is co-opted by each group not for reverence to deity but to their own quest and lust for power and domination. So Jerusalem needs to become an independent entity that has as a peace force people from each faith who wish to live and work together in peace. As an independent city any of the three religions who recognize its divinity can purchase a building and house their capital there to conduct the business of their government with the backdrop of peace and not power or control.

This is where all US funding should go to support peace and humanitarian efforts in the region should flow from here and through those committed to peace from the three faiths that have major tenants of their faith tied to this city.

Second – Turn the West Bank over to the Palestinians to govern as they see fit based on the boarders discussed.

It is not necessary for Jewish Settlers to leave the West Bank, but they must realize that their land will become part of the Palestinian Nation and if they remain will become Palestinian citizens subject to its laws.

Third – It is more likely that with a formed and eventually stable state and government Palestine will be in a better position to maintain the peace and minimize criminal activities, and with their own state Palestinian’s will have as a deterrent any state sponsored attacks towards Israel will be considered acts of war. Other random violent acts must be recognized by the populations of each state as criminal and dealt with.

If each state wishes to have open or closed boarders it will be up to them. The United Nations or other peace centered bodies can put at both nations disposal peace troops and observers to monitor the actions and situations in and around boarders to foster peace and as impartial witnesses.

Even with this everyone must understand that there are and will be those who wish conflict because they will not live in peace with each other and power is their base desire.

Posted by Tristam Harrington | Report as abusive

Many opinion writers it seems, like to state that Hama’s should be included in talks with the U.S. because they are the duly elected political group running the west bank. It is always forgotten or maybe left out on purpose, that yes Hama’s is the ruling authority on the West bank, but not until after they overthrew the PLO and booted them out. As for support dwindling from the Obama admin, yes I think it is too. It stands to reason it would, why with Obama’s family muslim ties and his own practicing of it in his past. As for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, she absolutely favors middle eastern countries over Israel mainly due to the hundreds of millions of dollars in donations her and Bill received from them while trolling for $ to build his library. I don’t always like how Israel acts, but when you are surrounded by enemies who live to destroy you, what are they to do. Hama’s doesn’t want peace no way no how. Their own charter calls for the destruction of Israel, if they did, when the settlements were given to Hama’s, instead of moving their people into these already built homes and tend the gardens that were left, they just burned it down. As for this land that Israel has been took, it was the spoils of war, one started by the others. I also believe in a two state remedy. It won’t happen though, Hama’s doesn’t want it. They want to continue to play the victim so they can try to keep world opinion on their side. It truly is a sad situation there. I only wish someone would start to look out for the people that are truly suffering, the Palestinians and average Israeli’s.

Sad to see the same old Arab propoganda about Aipac again. Aipac nor the media dictate American citizens perceptions of Israel. Americans support Israel because they are defending their land. If the Arabs had not attacked Israel there would not be any “withdraw to the 67 borders” argument. Arabs lost the war fair and square. There are no do-overs in war. So get over your selves. If the Arabs care so much about Palestine then start accepting more Palestinan refugees. Very simple

Posted by brian | Report as abusive

Bravo Mr. Debusmann!
Thank you very much for making my day today. I feel a ray of freedom in the air. Freedom for, as an American Citizen, I am definitely a subject of the State of Israel when it comes to US foreign policy.
Emotions aside, thank you for your outstanding article, its honesty, its truth and your objective and unbiased analysis.
For the sake of our US interests and peace even for the Palestinians and Israelis, isn’t the selection of Mr. Freeman an excellent choice? I see only two groups of people who can disagree: one, the fanatic Israeli (and Zionist) supporters and two, their new-found brethren, the Pat-Robertson evangelists.
Please keep up the good work and I am certain, in a few years, we will owe you a measure of success for helping advance our American interests and peace in the Middle East.
Peace and Kindest regards

Posted by yaz | Report as abusive

All American politicians must show respect for the Fuhrer, Israeli masters in the form of AIPAC by standing and saluting: Heil AIPAC, Heil Israel.

Posted by Dan | Report as abusive

The suffering of the Palestinian people rests just as much on the shoulders of the Arab countires in the region, who have almost never allowed the Palestinians citizenship in their countries, despite their desperate situation, as it does on Israel. This sort of commentary does not enable reasonable discussion of the situation in the Middle East (especially as any criticism of the militant Hamas government in Gaza is absent), it only provokes outlandish and unfounded criticism of one of the parties involved. To deny that parties such as Hamas or Hezbollah are dangerous and untrustworthy, diplomatically or otherwise, is to look at the situation with some sort of pro-Palestinian and (therefore) anti-Israel agenda. Hamas’s complete disregard for civilians on either side of the Gaza border is wrong (and a violation of international law, as the popular criticism of Israel is put). Furthermore, Mearsheimer and Walt’s book recieved heavy criticism on both sides of the debate, from Alan Dershowitz to the ever-popular Noam Chomsky. This sort of biased commentary is unhelpful and completely irrelevant, and gives way to anti-Semitic propaganda, such as the 75th comment on this article.

Posted by Nathan | Report as abusive

A one-sided approach to the Mideast conflict is not in America’s interest. But I also expect Israel to show its gratitude for the support they have received from America and Europe in securing a homeland. Now is the time for Israel to show some fairness to their neighbors for their struggle to have a homeland. That would be the best way for Israel to say “thanks!”.

Posted by Bruce Leighty | Report as abusive

The majority of people who have posted to this site have obviously bought into Mr. Debusmann’s canard about the pro-Israel lobby. Perhaps they should pause and consider for a moment Israel’s polices in the past decade and America’s foreign policy.

Several years ago the Israeli government sensed a change in Syrian attitudes toward peace. The Israels wanted to open peace negotiations with Syria and they wanted the Americans to be participants. The Bush Administration adamantly refused to engage in any negotiations with Syria. After repeatedly pleading with the Americans, the Israelis gave up in frustration, and turned to the Turks as mediators. For the last few years not-so-secret negotiations between Israel and Syria have gone on with Turkish help. The talks have been rather successful and Israel and Syria have resolved the major differences between themselves. However, the Syrians pushed for regional issues to be included, and that required the participation of the USA, which was not forthcoming. The talks were suspended during the recent Israel-Hamas conflict, but Turkey this week indicated its willingness to continue mediation so the “secret” negotiations will likely resume in the near future. Hopefully, the Obama administration will participate, and align its foreign policy on this issue with that of Israel (that is, talk to the Syrians), which was not the case under George Bush.

Take the Iraq war as another example. Having bombed Saddam Hussein’s nuclear project in the early 1980′s and having been targeted by Iraqi Scuds during the First Gulf War, the Israelis naturally were happy to see the demise of the Iraqi dictator. However, they saw Saddam Hussein as being contained and no longer a threat to the region. The Israelis wanted the Americans to focus on the nuclear threat from Iran, and they saw the Iraq war as a diversion. Everyone now knows which way American foreign policy went. Now that the USA is pulling out of Iraq, America may shift the focus of its foreign policy to Iran, which has not been the case so far.

Also, take the many examples over the decades of the sale of huge quantities of sophisticated weapons to the Gulf states, in particular, the Saudis, despite Israel opposition.

Mr. Debusmann conveniently overlooks the foregoing examples and suggests that there is a cabal of pro-Israel lobbyists who somehow have manipulated American foreign policy to the detriment of the USA. When American foreign policy has supported Israel it has been because Americans sincerely believe that these policies are the right ones.

Posted by Dan from Canada | Report as abusive

Wow; Obama has actually appointed SOMEONE who is not just there to roll over for Israel? Gotta say I am amazed (in a good way) as it’s important that the U.S. does what we CAN to aide Palestinians in this horrendous Holocaust — perpetrated by a group of people (the Zionist-Jews) who should certainly KNOW better. Of course, IF you actually delve into Jewish-Holocaust history, you will see that MANY Zionist (who are surely not Good Jews) also aided and abetted the Nazis.
Someone NEEDS to stand up for the Little GUY– and, I mean Palestine; 60 percent (or more) of the children in Gaza are suffering from malnutrition AND from water-borne illnesses. The children who were not permanently maimed or KILLED by Israel are starving to DEATH! Israel has stolen more and more of the Land belonging to the Palestinians..; stolen their clean water (and turned off water to the area)..; Israel has only allowed a certain// minimal amount of food into Gaza, which is not enough for these children (and their parents; those who are not yet quite dead) to subsist, even..; Israel has placed an embargo on heating-oil AND cooking-oil, to say nothing about gasoline for automobiles. Israel has refused entry into Gaza to ships carrying HUMANITATRIAN, including Medical supplies.
And, we, the U.S., are backing these atrocities? Finally, with Freeman in there, WE MAY BEGIN TO DO THE RIGHT THING. Certainly, as a humanist, I do hope this IS so!! It’s far past time to say, “NO”, to Isreal and, “YES”, to helping the civilian populations of Palestine.
Even HAMAS tried to sit=down with Isreal; the Zionists would have no part of it. It’s simply disgusting and we really NEED to align ourselves with the dead and dying.
Truly, even though there is a “supposed cease fire”, Palestinians are STILL BEING KILLED on a DAILY BASIS.. Should we actually GO along with THAT?? I don’t think so!

Posted by Anne Beckett | Report as abusive

The USA has criticized Israel many times: for building settlements, for making Jerusalem the capital, for talking to Fatah, for not talking to Fatah, for responding to Arab terrorism not hard enough or too hard, etc., depending on the administration. In any case some of the discussion here is over the top.

Posted by Sar Chasm | Report as abusive

The United States’ vital interests do not lie in protecting Isreal. It’s that simple. We have no overwhelming strategic interest in the Middle East much beyond oil.

The Jewish Lobby has been lobbying U.S. politicians for decades with big bucks and heavy pressure to support its Zionist agenda. Conservative Christians support Isreal because they fervently believe that when Armegeddon occurs, which they expect immimently, Jesus Christ will return triumphantly to Israel and save the world as it evaporates. That is the main reason why white Republicans support Israel. The Israelis take their money and support and hope the Republican Christians never turn on them or attempt to convert them.

The U.S./Israel relationship has a few parallels in the China where U.S. relationship where China needs America to buy its merchandise and even lends America the money to do it. But the relationship is fundamentally unequal and when the music stops, what will be the result?

The U.S. is a highly developed country with a stable political history. The same cannot be said of China or Israel. The relationship is based on mutual need, but whose need is greater and what will be the likely outcome of a break? A break in either relationship U.S./Israel or U.S./China will have a considerably more severe impact on the other countries than the U.S. The balance of power rests with the U.S. The United States needs to better analyze its own strategic interests and act accordingly.

Posted by Just Mark | Report as abusive

” the Arab countires in the region, who have almost never allowed the Palestinians citizenship in their countries,” — Do you mean to say that ALL Palestinians should leave their lands and take up residence in OTHER Arab countries and let Israel have ALL of Palestine?

Posted by awabnavi | Report as abusive

I getting tired of hearing how Israel is our “best friend” or how AIPAC has little influence on U.S. mideast policies.

America’s continued support of Israel in the face of that nations criminal punishment of the Palestinian people is an embarrassment in the world and only fuels the flames of Arab discontent.

With “friends” like Israel and their strong advocate lobby AIPAC who needs enemies.

Posted by Tom Long | Report as abusive

As an anglo saxon protestant who actually lives in the middle east and has friends in the aid agencies I can hopefully offer some objectivity.

The genoicide that took place in Gaza and the appalling aparthied that exits in Palestine are humanitarian disasters that no right minded human being can condone – the stories told to me by my friends in the aid agencies are horrific. The binary approach of successive administrations to supporting Israel and the billions of dollars provided annually are I contend counter productive to a sustainable peace. Binary approval of anything as important as the middle east is not rational and must therefore be based on a pre disposition or influences of those in charge of policy. Call it a lobby or whatever you want to call it but it is not objective nor is it desirable from a humanitarian perspective.

If the Obahma administration engages people with a broader perspective then this can only be a good thing. When I lived and worked in te US and Europe I had no real understanding of the middle east and many of my views must have been influenced by the media as I certainly felt more anti Arab even if not pro Israeli. Being in the region and talking to educated people has given me a broder perspective. We all should look at this objectively and support a more balanced perspective from the incoming administration. Also forget Iran launching a nuclear attack on Israel – might make a good story for the TV show ” 24″ but it will not happen ! – it is nonsense whatever we are led to believe.

Posted by David | Report as abusive

As Arabs we learn it as early as possible in our lives that we should not distinguish between Israel and the USA because of the unconditional support the USA has been given to Israel. Can you imagine how damaging this is to the relationship between Arabs and Americans? I let you guess…..How long this hate between Arabs and Americans can go before Americans start to be more objective to the Middle East conflict?

Posted by Mahmoud | Report as abusive

“Do you mean to say that ALL Palestinians should leave their lands and take up residence in OTHER Arab countries and let Israel have ALL of Palestine?”

Absolutely not. What I am saying is that the Palestinian refugee problem has become a tool used by the powerful Arab states in the region to apply international pressure on Israel. People seem to forget that before 1967 Egypt occupied Gaza and Jordan occupied the West Bank, and Palestinian refugees (the lower classes of Palestinians) were forced into refugee camps and refused help they desperately needed by those who swore to defend their cause at all costs. People on this board speak of “criminal actions” by Israel, but refuse to look at the exploitation of Palestinians on behalf of the Arab countires in the region. These are not arguements for peace, they are arguements for the punishment of Israel based on faulty, one-sided logic.

Posted by Nathan Hersh | Report as abusive

A good way to form our opinion based on facts and not on emotions is to stop taking sides. When I become an “Israeli” or “Pro-Palestine”, I take a side which would inevitably bring my ego into the equation (my side is right). Israel is not moving anywhere close to peace by building and expanding settlements or by killing 450 children in Gaza. Recently met with a person who visited Gaza and he states that children no longer react to gun shots, shells or air strikes. Please do not desensitize a whole generation because if they do not have the time to mourn their own than they would certainly not care for anyone else. The injustices committed against any one person leaves a stain on all of our hearts and souls.

Posted by Irfan | Report as abusive

“People seem to forget that before 1967 Egypt occupied Gaza and Jordan occupied the West Bank, and Palestinian refugees (the lower classes of Palestinians) were forced into refugee camps and refused help they desperately needed by those who swore to defend their cause at all costs.”

Great argument, they kept Palestinians land for 20 years so its okay for us to keep it as well. Don’t just follow what is happening because when a great number of people start to follow authority without questioning it than grave things happen, this is what caused holocaust in Germany and is causing it in occupied Palestine. Think and do the right thing because this time you will be responsible for the holocaust.

Posted by Irfan | Report as abusive

Am totally in agreemet with David and all others who posted similar views. It is the time for the USA ro reset its ties with Israel all arab countries. USA cannot claim to be a democracy when it supports the Israel criminal acts against Palestinians. In 1992 only, 1.2 million russians immigrated to Israel! How can they prove any tie with that land, since, historians claim that they are of a khzar-turkish race? No surprise some young russian-”jews” painted swastikas in the synagogues recently.

what’s with the unconditional support of troops who participated in Gaza massacre? If they have not done anything wrong, why Israel is shielding them from international courts?

Israel has committed massacres in the past and is continuing with them. Watch “Waltz with Bashir”, an Israeli soldiers account of Lebanon and learn what actually happened in Palestinian camps and what did Israeli did to punish the General responsible, hmmmm…. made him their prime minister.

Posted by Irfan | Report as abusive

What two things coming out of the Middle East do others want? They want Oil and Opium. Exxon has gotten to Iraq’s oil. The CIA has gotten (back to) the Afghan Opium. Israel is the US’ oldest ally in the area. Now Saudi and Iraq will join the ranks. Exxon is happy but not yet done.

Exxon aims for big role in Iraq’s oil sector dUSTRE52812L20090309

And if you want any info on the CIA go to Google and type in CIA Drugs and sit back and read for a while.

Will the US give up on these countries? It is not likely. We may force Israel to back off from its current position but let’s face it both sides have committed enough stupidity that anyone can tell either side to back off. The reality that both sides miss is quality of life for everyone. The Palestinian’s Hamas can’t seem to compromise and just want Israel gone, which they should have discovered by now is not going to happen so, the people suffer. Seems stupid to me but Hamas has the guns so what are the regular people to do.

Israel could be better but let’s fact it why? If you won’t their right to exist why should they recognize yours? Yes the Hawks will suffer but they will not go away. As long as world’s economies run on Oil and Opium funds the CIA the Middle East will be in turmoil just the way those in real power want.

Posted by B.Free | Report as abusive

The new American president does not support the jewish state like the previous presidents have done. It is time for Isreal to pay-up. And it it time for America to stop paying for Isreal. It won’t be long before we are no longer interested in the well being of Isreal. We now have a president who does not follow the religious beliefs of others blindly.

Posted by Greg Shell | Report as abusive

I really believe people are missing a key element in this whole argument. This is first and foremost a religious issue and that needs to be dealt with from within Islam. I have traveled to Saudi multiple times, Israel, Egypt and so forth. Until the feuding between Shiite and Sunni ends (which is theologically impossible under certain conditions of Sharia law) no responsible Muslim state is going to have the leverage to approach this issue objectively.

While many believe that this is a Jewish versus Muslim issue, it is actually a fight between the Syrian-Gaza-Iranian Alliance versus’ the GCC alliance, a turf war if you will. You go into Saudi Arabia and they will tell you that, they may hate the United States…they may hate Israel…but they hate no one more than Iranians. They label them ‘enemy’ from within as opposed to Western countries who are the enemy from the outside.

So sorry if I went off on a tangent but it really boils my blood when people bring up ‘McDonald papers’, British decrees of 1923 or Bill Clinton. Until unilateral Muslim consensus is achieved, a stabilizing agreement is unlikely.

As for this oil argument, commodities are and always will be a whores market.

America is one of the most religious countries in the world and Judea-Christian values are much more aligned. Only 30% of Americans believe in Evolution so before you go argueing this blood for oil argument, you better take a closer look at Militant Christianity.

Posted by Anonymous | Report as abusive

cdwalker, you are right on, you should look up Dryfus, he and Hertzel started the whole Zionest movement, good job cdwalker.

Posted by tony sacco | Report as abusive

Israel enjoys widespread support in the United States because they are in the right. Who would ask the French to leave France, the Germans to leave Germany, the Poles to leave Poland? As for the Arab occupiers of Palestine (and Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria), they can go back to where they came from. The Spaniards got it right: answer Arab brutality with Spanish brutality.

Posted by Sophocles | Report as abusive

Glad to see that at least some here in the U.S. are finally getting it. To echo past comments, “we need to cut Israel loose”
No doubt the Arabs and many Islamists are a disconnected and complicated group to be dealing with and Israel has its work cut out but its recent past history of refusing to come up with a reasonable peace offer (ie a contiguous chunk of land for the Palestinians) and their support of West Bank “settlers” speaks volumes about their desires and motives for peace and their desire for land. If Israel would truely be willing to give up something worth something, (ie a solitary decent piece of land with contiguous borders) for the Palestinians, then we in the U.S. should continue to support them in their existance and stuggles with the Arabs but otherwise I feel we should be treating them the same as any other foreign country-no more, no less.

Posted by Ed Miller | Report as abusive

lol @ sophocles

Even Israeli leaders (Sharon for one) have admitted they are like the French in Algeria, except they have nowhere else to go. As for Arab occupiers of Palestine, you’re absolutely right.

Two Rabbis from Vienna were dispatched to Palestine in 1897 to investigate whether building a Jewish state there was feasible. The Rabbis reported their findings: “The Bride is Beautiful but she is married to another man”.

Your ignorance is matched only by the thickness of your skull.

Posted by Palestinian | Report as abusive

Charles Freeman is the wrong candidate for this job. It is not simply his position on Israel that is wrong. There are his comments about China that condone the Tiananmen massacre; his past commercial ties to a Chinese state owned company; the financial support from Saudi Arabia for an organization he headed. These make him unfit for such an important intelligence position. Now that he has withdrawn his name from the appointment, of course, the anti-Israel crowd will somehow suggest that it was all part of a nefarious Zionist plot.

Posted by Dan from Canada | Report as abusive

It appears that all the Israel-haters here have found their forum here to vent. While Israel has certainly made mistakes, it is the main democracy and beacon of hope in the Middle East. Yes, democracy is messy, complicated, and cumbersome…you know, things like demonstrations, court decisions, bad political decisions, and fractured elections..
.What is the Arab alternative? Nothing.. They offer little to the Palestinians or most of their own citizens….
I have little doubt that nobody wants peace more than the Israelis, who (sadly) have concluded that one can’t negotiate with barbarians (Abbas notwithstanding)
I actually think there is hope now with Netanyahu coming to power again soon. It seems to me that it has been the weak Israeli leaders who have made bad military decisions, and the strong leaders (Begin, Sharon) who actually have made peace more likely.

Posted by Tony | Report as abusive

Well, the broad issue here in Israel and Palestine is political manipulation.
I’ve been to Israel a few times, and have very goods friends who are Israelis and Zionist in the traditional sens.
There’s always been a strong Zionist Right-wing in Israel, matched by an equally strong Hammas party.
Both Hammas and Right Wing politician and best friends and ennemies, because without their respective existences, they have no raison to exist first place.
Hammas terrorist action fuel Zionnist Right Wing action, and Zionnist Right Wing actions fuel Hammas actions.
As long as there seems to be a treat form Hammas or other terroriste group, Israel Zionnist will keep on receiving help and funding, same goes for teh hammas, as long as there’s agression from Isreal Hammas will received support and funding.
This has been going on for decades, and the first casuaties are both the palistinian and Israeli people to a lesser degree.
Israel is a trhird world country, with pothole on its road, non paved pavment, crippling poverty and lack of business opportunity.
Seems that 1/2 GDP of this country is spent on the IDF, the other half spent on generous welfare, but in no way Israel can hope to develop by continuing this policy.
The last 2 wars, lebanon and gazza have proven to the common Israeli people that their respective government policies of military action against terrorists aren’t working since hammas is getting out stronger every time.
The only solutio, and everybody knows this, is a two states solutions, but nor the hammas and Zionnist party want it, because peace means an end to their respective existence and good bye to all the funding and support they have been receiving.
As long as the USA keeps suporting Right wing zionism, there will be no peace or solution. the solution is the complete withdraw of support for extreme zionism and Judaism Fundamontalisme from the common Israeli people.
Unless Israeli electors stop being manipulated by such party as the likud party or crooks like Olmert they won’t be abble to fianlly move on.