Charles Freeman: Stifling debate on Israel has deadly consequences | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED

Charles Freeman: Stifling debate on Israel has deadly consequences

The "other half" of Amb. Freeman's very recent public utterances.
The interviewer Malsin was very competent in asking the right questions

By Jared Malsin

New York – When it comes to the normally stultified American debate on Middle East issues, Charles Freeman, the former US ambassador to Saudi Arabia, is one of the most outspoken US officials.

His pronouncements, by his own admission, break established taboos against criticism of Israel, against skepticism about the two-state solution, against supporting engagement with Hamas. And the central taboo, he argues, which underpins the others, prohibits discussion of the role of right wing organizations lobbying for Israel, such as AIPAC.

Freeman’s own career took a bizarre detour as a result of the the Israel lobby, when in 2009 his appointment to chair the National Intelligence Council was cancelled after a series of right-wing officials furiously attacked him for allegedly not supporting Israel strongly enough.

Freeman is a strict realist. He argues that by kowtowing to the most hardline backers of Israel, the US is undermining its own strategic interests, and in the long run is undermining Israel’s own security.

The need to open up the debate about Israel and its role in steering US policy, Freeman says, is imperative in order to achieve security and avert further bloodshed.

“There’s a deadening inhibition on discussion of many issues connected with the Israel-Palestine conundrum,” Freeman told Palestine Note in a recent interview. “The history shows that the effort to discuss issues, which the right-wing partisans of Israel do want to be discussed is often punished in elections by money being given to opponents or withheld from those who had the temerity to raise politically incorrect questions.”

“I think there’s an element of fear and intimidation that is quite palpable, which results in a badly skewed and ultimately tragically ineffectual policy,” he added.”

“I say ‘tragically ineffectual’ because people die. Palestinians and Israelis die because of the inability of the United States political establishment to bring itself to any open or honest examination of where American interests lie, still less to actually pursue those interests, which I think lie in a peace that secures a Jewish state and a Palestinian state.”

Jared Malsin: Starting with the controversy around your appointment as head of the National Intelligence Council: You said at the time that you were forced out by the Israel lobby. Do you see that happening with other appointments in Washington?