Israel Lobby wins one over Obama


Do these schoolchildren count as much as Israeli schoolchildren?
Daylife/AP Photo by Anja Niedringhaus

The Obama administration’s candidate for a top US intelligence post has withdrawn, after his past criticism of Israel came under heavy fire.

Charles Freeman had been named to head the National Intelligence Council, which produces security assessments. But his comments about Israel, as well as links to China and Saudi Arabia, had enraged dozens of US lawmakers…

Some observers are interpreting it as a test case of the Obama administration’s willingness to stand up to powerful pro-Israeli forces in US politics.

Mr Freeman has served as a former ambassador to Saudi Arabia, a senior diplomat in China and an assistant secretary of defence. His background and past statements had caused dozens of members of Congress – mainly Republican – to question his appointment.

Among their stated concerns were remarks attributed to Mr Freeman in 2007, in which he said: “The brutal oppression of the Palestinians by Israeli occupation shows no signs of ending,” and “American identification with Israel has become total”

In a message posted on the website of Foreign Policy magazine, Mr Freeman said he believed the “barrage of libellous distortions of my record would not cease upon my entry into office…

He said the incident showed “Americans cannot any longer conduct a serious public discussion or exercise independent judgment about matters of great importance”.

Nothing new, of course. American foreign policy in the Middle East has been supervised by the Israeli government for decades.

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