Obama Pick Quits Over Israel Criticism

The Obama administration’s candidate for a leading intelligence post has quit following a barrage of ferocious attacks against him by supporters of the Israeli lobby, The Washington Post reported on Wednesday, March 11.

"I have concluded that the barrage of libelous distortions of my record would not cease upon my entry into office," Charles Freeman, chair the National Intelligence Council, told his friends and supporters in an e-mail.

The veteran diplomat, a vocal critic of Israel, resigned from his new post on Tuesday, March 10, even before he began work at the council which analyzes national security issues.

"I do not believe the National Intelligence Council could function effectively while its chair was under constant attack by unscrupulous people with a passionate attachment to the views of a political faction in a foreign country," he wrote.

Since his nomination, Freeman has come under fire of pro-Israel Congressmen and politicians for his outspoken criticism of Israel.

The resignation came hours after National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair told a Senate hearing that he was standing behind his appointment of Freeman, who is now president of the Middle East Policy Council think-tank.

During the hearing, Congressmen, led by Freeman’s chief critics Sen. Joseph Lieberman, cited his past statements which "appear either inclined to lean against Israel or too much in favor of China."

Freeman, a former ambassador to Saudi Arabia, was quoted as saying in 2007 that "the brutal oppression of the Palestinians by Israeli occupation shows no sign of ending."

He has also said that the "American identification with Israel has become total."

Powerful Lobby

The White House declined to comment on the resignation.

But a source familiar with the Obama administration recognized the ferocity of attacks against Freeman.

"There were a lot of forces lined up against him," the source told Reuters.

Pro-Israeli politicians celebrated the resignation.

"Charles Freeman was the wrong guy for this position," New York Democratic Senator Charles Schumer said in a statement.

"His statements against Israel were way over the top and severely out of step with the administration."

Freeman believes the attacks waged against him are a test case for the might of the Israeli lobby in the US.

"The libels on me… show conclusively that there is a powerful lobby determined to prevent any view other than its own from being aired," he wrote in his mail.

"The tactics of the Israel Lobby plumb the depths of dishonor and indecency and include character assassination, selective misquotation, the willful distortion of the record, the fabrication of falsehoods, and an utter disregard for the truth."

Founded in 1953, the American Israel Public Affair Committee (AIPAC) is one of the most influential special interest groups in the US.

AIPAC, whose original name was the American Zionist Committee for Public Affairs, currently has more than 100,000 members.

Its stated purpose is to lobby the Congress and the administration on issues and legislation that are in the best interests of Israel and the US.

Freeman believes the controversy raises "serious questions" on whether the Obama administration will be able to make decisions apart from the influence of the lobby.

"The aim of this Lobby is control of the policy process through the exercise of a veto over the appointment of people who dispute the wisdom of its views, the substitution of political correctness for analysis, and the exclusion of any and all options for decision by Americans and our government other than those that it favors."
(IslamOnline.net and Agencies)

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