All of the interesting "Catholic stories" have kept me from opining about Charles Freeman, the man who had been selected to chair the National Intelligence Council by President Obama’s incoming Director of National Intelligence, Dennis Blair. Yesterday afternoon, I saw that he had resigned and so apart from saying "good riddance," there wasn’t much to add.
Until, that is, Mr. Freeman made remarks explaining why he had to resign that were so outrageous, they confirmed the worst fears of his detractors. Freeman blamed the "Lobby," a group of pro-Israeli lobbyists "intent on enforcing adherence to the policies of a foreign government." He lamented the "inability of the American public to discuss, or the government to consider, any option for U.S. policies in the Middle East opposed by the ruling faction in Israeli politics." Someone should tell Mr. Freeman he forgot to mention the bits about controlling the media and killing Christ.
Last time I checked, there actually was not yet a "ruling faction" in Israeli politics, as Benjamin Netanyahu is still trying to form a government. And, the opinion pages of almost any newspaper in America would dispute the assertion that Americans are incapable of discussing any and all views about the Mideast. What our government should not be capable of is appointing to a position of authority a man who is so easily given to conspiracy theories when, in fact, those of us who urge Congress and the President to support Israel are exercising our constitutional right to free speech, and doing it in the open. Mr. Freeman’s nomination was not killed backstage, it was killed in that most democratic of forums, the blogosphere.
Facts, evidently, never weighed as heavily as love in Mr. Freeman’s calculations. He served in China, and he fell in love with that culture, excusing the Tiananmen Square Massacre with the wish that the Chinese government had acted sooner, as if tardiness was the root of the problem. When he was sent to Saudi Arabia, he fell in love there too, calling the King of that reactionary land, "Abdullah the Great." What was it that Mr. Freeman admired about the Saudis? The way they stone women? Was it the swiftness of their justice against homosexuals, whom they hang? Or could it be their export of radical Wahabi beliefs through their support of Madrasahs that have become recruiting grounds for terrorists? Such greatness, indeed.
Anti-Semitism, like most diseases, is not always full-blown. And, it can be found in the strangest places. Indeed, in the pages of this magazine’s print edition last week, I discovered a quote from an Arab Catholic Israeli, Wadie Abunasser: "I don’t see any difference between Hamas and [Yisrael Beitenu Party leader Avigdor] Lieberman." Okay, let’s make this easy for Mr. Abunasser. Hamas is a terrorist organization that murders innocents, both Israeli and Palestinian, as a matter of strategy. Mr. Lieberman is a loud-mouth who I find obnoxious and wrong-headed and repulsive, but he hasn’t killed anyone, he did not organize celebrations the afternoon of September 11, and he has no known ties to terrorist organizations pledged to the destruction of Israel and America.
Christians of all people have a special obligation to be sensitive to anti-Semitism: Our historical record of persecuting the Jews is second to none. And, the Obama Administration, which has many more appointments to make, must we wary of the latent anti-Semitism among some on the Left, or in the case of people like Mr. Freeman, the not-so latent anti-Semitism of some on the Left. Otherwise, people like me will quite openly object. I am a blogger not a lobbyist. I do not belong to AIPAC. But, if supporting our best ally in the whole world – and the only nation in the Mideast any of its critics would willingly choose to live in – is essentially conspiratorial, count me in.