Lots of Freeman links — and the debate is getting personal (UPDATED)

  • Stephen Walt, co-author of the "The Israel Lobby," says in ForeignPolicy.com that critics of the appointment of Charles "Chas" Freeman are leading a "McCarthy-like" smear campaign based entirely on Freeman’s criticism of Israel: "The Likudnik wing of the Israel lobby is gradually losing influence, because more and more people understand that its policies are disastrous for both Israel and the United States, and because its repeated efforts to smear people and stifle debate are deeply damaging as well as un-American."
  • The New Republic’s Jon Chait, one of those Walt criticized, says it doesn’t appear Walt read his original Washington Post piece or the pieces of anyone else he criticizes — since most of them focus on Freeman’s ties to Saudi Arabia and his comments that the Chinese government should have cracked down on the Tiananmen Square protesters earlier: "It seems to me that when you are baselessly accusing a group of people of conspiring together, wildly distorting their views, and questioning their patriotism, then you are coming pretty close to an objective definition of ‘smear.’ I think Walt has a right to express his opinion, unpersuasive though his opinion may be. The thing about Walt is that he thinks contrary opinions on matters close to his heart are inherently acts of smearing, intimidation, and conspiracy."
  • M.J. Rosenberg, at TPMCafe, says Chait is allowing his Jewish background to shape his views: "He’s liberal on every single issue but Israel (on which he is pure neocon), not only liberal but brilliant. But when it comes to Israel, he just can’t get beyond the ethnic pull. Even worse, he does not understand that his ethnic blinders (and that is all they are) have led him to support an approach to Israel that, if it succeeds, will destroy it. … In 2009, in Obama’s America, it is harder and harder to take seriously those who approach issues ethnically. It’s antediluvian,"
  • The Weekly Standard’s Michael Goldfarb says he’s stunned how "presumptuous" Rosenberg is being: "Is it possible those opposed to Freeman’s appointment simply prefer Israeli democracy to Saudi authoritarianism, and are thus troubled by an appointment of someone who seems to hold precisely the opposite view? … Is this now a legitimate form of argument — to dismiss everything a person has written and insist that they have some ulterior, hidden motive for their positions?"
  • UPDATE: The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg also attacks Rosenberg, calling him the "Israel Policy Forum’s Professional Slander Expert": "What Rosenberg can’t seem to comprehend is that a person can be opposed to the occupation, and be opposed to the viciously anti-Israel "realism" of the Walts and Mearsheimers at the same time. I admire the work of the Israel Policy Forum very much, and so I’m continually surprised that its director of policy analysis has placed himself in the camp of Walt and Mearsheimer and Charles Freeman."
  • And at Politico, James Kirchick attacks liberals for not caring about Freeman’s support of authoritarian regimes: "The mix of silence and pleasure that has characterized American liberal reaction to the Freeman appointment is but the latest, sad episode in the decline of the American left’s anti-totalitarianism and international solidarity."

UPDATE: Eli Lake, of the Washington Times, reports that three congressional aides say the Director of National Intelligence’s inspector general is investigating potential conflicts of interest that Freeman may have involving China and Saudi Arabia.

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