The effort to force President Obama to withdraw the nomination of Chas Freeman as chairman of the National Intelligence Council is getting creepy.
Initially, it was just typically ugly. The forces that support the Likud line on Israel always try to block any appointment of anyone who opposes Israeli policies in the occupied territories. During the past eight years they got accustomed to having their people in virtually every foreign policy post. They were called neocons and one of that group's many successes was manipulating the intelligence that got us into Iraq (see Feith, Douglas).
So it was natural that when President Obama apointed someone who was on the record as strongly opposing the occupation they would go ballistic -- and they did.
Steve Rosen, the indicted former AIPAC official, organized a full-court attack on Freeman, enlisting all the usual suspects (the New Republic crowd, the Weekly Standard crowd, and their various and sundry camp followers). Journalists all over Washington were contacted not only by Rosen but by his former employers to take down Freeman.
It was all about Israel, of course. Everyone involved in the anti-Freeman effort are staunch allies of the lobby.
But focusing only on Israel did not look good. So the "get Freeman" bunch decided to feign interest in his alleged ties to Saudi Arabia (of course, that is all about Israel, too) and, get this, his supposed lack of sympathy to Chinese dissidents. The latest is that they are accusing him of taking Saudi money for his foundation and are demanding that this be investigated in the name of good government.
But it's all about Israel.
It's silly to pretend that it isn't when the people applying these strict standards to Freeman never applied them to anyone before. Would they oppose a nominee who had a few million dollars invested in Israel or was unnaturally close to the Israel lobby? Of course not. They would applaud the appointment. Employees of the lobby have gone directly from it to the highest levels of the State Department. Who protested? Certainly not these people.
Here is the scary part.
I'm a pro-Israel Jew, who has visited Israel 50 times in 40 years. But I am, like 99.9% of American Jews, first an American.
The idea that the anti-Freeman crowd is running all over town demanding that anyone not close to Israel be banned from working in an American intelligence agency leaves me nauseated.
How dare they? It has taken 20 years to get over the Pollard spy scandal. Good Jewish American kids cannot get jobs in various US government agencies because some people who provide (or withhold) clearances think that American Jews have divided loyalties.
We don't. But crusades like this, not surprisingly, leave the impression that we do.
This isn't about Freeman.
It is about a group that has decided to go after him to warn the administration that only friends of the lobby are acceptable appointees. It is about a group that is so oblivious to Jewish history that it believes it can recklessly put their interests in Israel above everything else and not expect to build strong resentment in Washington (it was strong enough, even before this).
How dare they? My children are first generation (their mom, my wife, was born in a Displaced Persons camp in Germany after her parents survived the Holocaust). We love this country and will be damned if we allow anyone to convey the impression that we take it for granted.
For us, this is the "goldeneh medina" (the golden land), the best homeland Jews ever had. How dare they imply that for us it's only second best.
This whole thing is creepy. And it hurts all Jews.
It also hurts Israel, a country I love, which is being destroyed by policies these people have consistently supported. Why can't they just shut up? Haven't they done enough damage?