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Defending Dad

Chas Freeman’s son comes out swinging:

His appointment is being challenged these days by a small cabal of folks that believe first and foremost in the importance of allegiance to Israel as a core U.S. priority. Putting aside my natural instinct as a son to want to punch some of these guys in the face for some of the things they are saying about my father, for heaven’s sake, I’m more deeply angry about the lack of guile some of these people have.

Steve Rosen (what do you say about someone on indictment for espionage calling someone else un-American (ANSWER: chutzpah!), Jon Chait (who has scaled new lows); someone who used to be someone in Soviet studies named Gabriel Schoenfeld; the unpleasant Marty Peretz; and the usual lurid commentators from the comic book approach to international affairs (the nasty, narrow, dogmatic children from NRO and their ilk (although I’m glad you changed your mind about marching for Pride in Jerusalem, Jamie). Goodness!

I do think it’s perfectly acceptable to be more loyal to Israel, even as an American citizen. But I also think that should disqualify you from any serious discussion about American interests in the Middle East.

In fact, I’m in lock step with my Dad on this one: there are no cases, from a U.S. official’s standpoint, in which another country’s interests should trump those of the United States. That there is any serious debate – and I do think people like Congressman Kirk of Illinois are serious – on this issue is a sure sign that something is rotten.

My Dad is a royal pain in the butt, but I love him. Why this pack of arfing lapdogs have chosen him as a target is clear: he’s been a longtime thorn in the butt of the Israel first-ers. Never mind that he’d be a killer NIC chair for genuine American interests.

My Dad and I are going to continue to argue.

We’ll do it, respectfully though.

Wish that could be said about his detractors. They are low-lives. And if you’re among them and by chance read this: I still want to punch you in the face. You’d deserve it, you schmucks.

Andrew Sullivan manages to make the case against Freeman’s detractors without playing the Jewish card (yes, that’s what you call it when you combine terms like "cabal" and "Israel first-ers" with Yiddish words like "chutzpah" and "schmucks"):

This is Freeman’s cardinal sin among his critics: to blame Israel, even in part, for the plight it finds itself in, and to ask that US foreign policy be more neutral with respect to the parties in the Middle East. This is the third rail no one is allowed to touch and have access to real power in Washington. Even when the horrifying Gaza assault was going on, it became evidence of anti-Semitism to find the civilian casualties morally repellent and the siege itself counter-productive. This kind of intimidation must end. And again: it is not as if Freeman is being given the job that, say Dennis Ross has. It is that a man with these views has any right to be in any American government at all. Of course he does. Obama was not elected to continue the policies toward Israel of George W. Bush.

I repeat: if there are serious financial conflicts of interest, Freeman should withdraw. I also find some of Freeman’s realist statements, even as contrarian, a little too brutal for my taste. But I also believe that somneone whose views push the envelope against recent US policy in the Middle East is an important asset for the United States right now. And I find the hysyerical bullying of this man to be repulsive.

UPDATE: Sullivan fleshes out his thinking in this column.