Chas Freeman Al Saud
Attention all those folks who voted for Obama not only because he promised America vital change, but because he swore to sustain foreign policy support for America’s long standing democratic allies – notably the State of Israel.
Take a close look at who’s just been appointed Chairman of his National Intelligence Council, the inner group that produces vital intelligence estimates for the President, his administration as well as the overall intelligence community. I’m talking of none other than Charles “Chas” Freeman, the former U.S, diplomat and pro-Arab lobbyist who is openly and loudly hostile to the Jewish state of Israel, is a defender of Chinese oppression, and hardly the man one might think Obama’s supporters would like buzzing in the presidential ear.
A bosom pal of a long list of Arab kings, princes and other oil millionaires, Freeman was U.S. Ambassador to the desert kingdom of Saudi Arabia during the first Gulf War. More to the point, since 1997 he has been president of the Middle East Policy Council, the Arab world lobbying group that used to be called the “American Arab Affairs Council”. Not surprisingly, the MEPC owes it very healthy endowment to those internationally renowned lovers of peace, civil rights and democratic process, the Saudi Royal Family.
Freeman’s lack of enthusiasm for democracy is not limited to the Middle East. Without a sign of shame, he has steadfastly defended China’s brutality towards those brave enough to fight for Chinese freedom of political thought. Indeed, the only criticism Freeman had of the Chinese government for its bloody 1989 massacre at Tiananmen Square was the timing! In a 2006 posting onÂ ChinaSec, a confidential internet discussion group of China specialists, recently reprinted inÂ The Wall Street Journal, Freeman wrote: “The truly unforgivable mistake of the Chinese authorities was the failure to intervene on a timely basis to nip the demonstrations in the bud.”
Moreover he declared, “the Politburo’s response to the mob scene at ‘Tiananmen’ stands as a monument to overly cautious behavior on the part of the leadership, not as an example of rash action.” As if that wasn’t enough, Mr. Freeman continued, “I do not believe it is acceptable for any country to allow the heart of its national capital to be occupied by dissidents intent on disrupting the normal functions of government, however appealing to foreigners their propaganda may be.”
Still it’s the Middle East and the Arab-Israeli conflict where I’m convinced Freeman can do the most damage. Consider this assessment by Freeman before the Arab-American Affairs Council in 2006: “[Israel’s] inability to find peace with the Palestinians and other Arabs in the driving factor in the region’s radicalization and anti-Americanism. Demonstrably, Israel excels at war; sadly it has shown no talent for peace.”
No mention of Islamic extremism’s rejection of American political values , no mention of Arab failure to accept a Jewish state, .
Or how about this insightful Freeman view in 2007 remarks to the Pacific Council on International Policy in Los Angeles: “We embraced Israel’s enemies as our own; they responded by equating Americans with Israelis as their enemies. We abandoned the role of Middle East peacemaker to pacify its captive and increasingly ghettoized Arab populations. We wring our hands while sitting on them as the Jewish state continues to seize more Arab land for its colonists. Now the United States has brought the Palestinian experience – of humiliation, dislocation and death to millions more in Afghanistan and Iraq.”
Didn’t the President just announce he was upping our military presence in Afghanistan?
Freeman has also taken up the cause of legitimizing the Hamas terrorists – even at the expense of the already legitimate Palestinian government. Or take the example of Freeman’s MEPC council publication Middle East Policy. It is consistently anti-Israel. In its fall 2008 issue, editor, Anne Joyce even perpetuated the anti-Semitic smear that the Iraq war was waged by neo-cons on behalf of Israel
These are hardly views that will encourage Arab states to show true willingness for peace with the Jewish state and are certainly not views that will reassure the Israel to take the chances we keep urging them to take.
From a strictly ethical point of view it seems totally out of order. As Jeffrey Goldberg ofÂ The Atlantic MonthlyÂ says it is obviously inappropriate to hire “a well known advocate for the interests of Middle Eastern autocracies to produce national intelligence assessments for the Obama administration.”
There are those like New York’s Senator Chuck Schumer who are already openly urging the president to change his mind and reverse Freeman’s appointment. I hope many of Obama’s million’s of fans will do the same. It won’t be the first time Obama has had to shift appointment gears – but embarassing as that may be, it may be one of the most important shifts our new president can make if he sincerely wants intelligence assessments that are objective and will help him, Israel and the Arabs in the ongoing struggle for a just Mideast peace.
The Obama Administration Double-Deals On Israel
Barack Obama just added double-dealing to his foreign policy repertoire. On Friday, administration officials led many Jewish leaders to believe that the president had decided to boycott the United Nation’s “anti-racism” conference known as Durban II. At the same time, however, human rights organizations were being led to believe that the administration was not pulling out and was looking for a way to “re-engage.”
Durban II, scheduled for Geneva in April, is the U.N.’s attempt at a rerun of the 2001 global anti-Semitic hate fest held in Durban, South Africa.
After sowing confusion over the phone lines, the State Department chose late Friday night to put the real deal in print. Their release reads: “the current text of the draft outcome document is not salvageable,” and “the United States will not … participate in a conference based on this text,” but we will “re-engage if a document that meets [our] criteria becomes the basis for deliberations.” A new version must be: “shorter,” “not reaffirmÂ in totoÂ the flawed 2001 Durban Declaration,” “not single out any one country or conflict,” and “not embrace the troubling concept of “defamation of religion.”
And by the way, it continued, the U.S. will “participate” for the first time in the U.N. Human Rights Council.
All of this leaves the American people not knowing whether they’re coming or going.
It does open a window, however, into Obama’s gerrymandering. On one phone line with Assistant Secretary of State Karen Stewart were Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Freedom House, the American Civil Liberties Union, the U.N. Foundation, the UNA-USA Association and the Arab American Institute, among others. On the other line with National Security Council member Samantha Power were Jewish organizations. The dangerous message was that an Arab advocacy group does human rights, while Jewish organizations do Jews.
The Durban Declaration claims that Palestinians are victims of Israeli racism; with Israel the only U.N. state charged with racism. The end game, as 2001 attendee Yasser Arafat made plain, is to analogize Israel to apartheid South Africa, pile on political isolation and sanctions and defeat Israel politically, if not militarily. The purpose of Durban II, as decided in August 2007 with the consent of the European Union, is to “foster the implementation of the Durban Declaration.” In January of this year, the E.U. agreed to “reaffirm” the Durban Declaration “as it was adopted at the 2001 World Conference.” Durban II cannot be salvaged; its very raison d’Ãªtre includes demonizing Israel.
Some Europeans and Australia had been teetering on the edge of following Canada and Israel in boycotting the conference. But they were waiting for Obama to walk with them. Rather than encouraging these like-minded states, America’s mixed message has sent human rights organizations and states scurrying. They are looking to inject some creative ambiguity into “not reaffirmingÂ in toto“–or as Stewart put it, “not unequivocally reaffirming”–the Durban Declaration. Instead of leadership and clarity of convictions, the U.S. has started a race to the bottom of the diplomatic barrel.
The prospect irritated Human Rights Watch, the American U.N. Association and the U.N. Foundation, which all let Stewart know they would have preferred to cut Israel loose now as a fair cost of engagement. Peggy Hicks from HRW complained that insisting on “no reference to a single country or conflict is very problematic and destructive to the Durban Review process.” Susan Myers of the U.N. Foundation worried that the move “boxed in the administration” and “undercut the ability of the U.S. to re-engage.”
In fact, Obama’s four deal-breakers do not include many other troubling provisions still on Durban II’s negotiating table. These include: questioning the veracity of the Holocaust, a variety of attacks on freedom of expression in addition to “defamation of religion,” and incendiary claims of “Islamophobia”–the general allegation of a racist Western plot to discriminate against all Muslims.
The administration’s decision to slip in the Human Rights Council as a consolation prize for Durban enthusiasts is an attempt to downplay a major move. State Department officials intimated that they intend not only to observe but to run for a seat–subject to the “likelihood of successful elections.” Council members and human rights gurus, like China, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, are sure to welcome the instant legitimacy provided by U.S. participation. The Council–controlled by the Organization of the Islamic Conference–has adopted more condemnations of Israel than all other 191 U.N. states combined, while terminating human rights investigations on the likes of Iran, Cuba and Belarus. Obama’s move denies the opportunity to leverage the prospect of American membership to insist on reform.
Whether Obama actually stays away from Durban II is most likely to depend on his cost-benefit analysis of sacrificing Israel vs. heeding the siren’s call to engage. My guess is he’ll take the loss in the engagement column on Durban and the Israel column on the Council. Who said the human rights business had anything to do with human rights?
Anne Bayefsky is a senior fellow of the Hudson Institute, director of the Touro Institute onÂ Human RightsÂ and the Holocaust and editor ofÂ www.EYEontheUN.org.