The Republican Jewish Coalition is calling on President Obama to withdraw the appointment of Chas Freeman to head the National Intelligence Council and is challenging the National Jewish Democratic Council to join them in a bipartisan call for Freeman’s removal. (We will update this piece when we get an NJDC response, but NJDC executive director Ira Forman did say last week that Freeman was "not a pick I would have made") :

RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks issued the following statement:

"Recent reports have confirmed concerns with the naming of Chas Freeman to head the sensitive and influential office of  chairman of the National Intelligence Council. Freeman, who heads the Saudi-funded Middle East Policy Council (MEPC), is a long-standing apologist for the Saudi regime and a harsh and ideological critic of Israel. Additionally, Freeman has asserted that the Chinese government’s ‘unforgivable mistake’ during the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989 was its ‘failure to intervene on a timely basis’ and said Communist officials were ‘overly cautious’ in responding to the student protests.

"Freeman’s unvarnished animosity toward Israel and deep personal and business connections to Saudi Arabia and China should have triggered a careful vetting before his appointment to such a sensitive post was announced. In fact, no such vetting took place.

"Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle have expressed concern about the Freeman appointment. Nine representatives sent a letter to the inspector general of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, asking for an investigation into Freeman’s ties with Saudi Arabia. The letter was written by Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL), and signed by seven other Republicans, including Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) and Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA), as well as one Democrat. Separately, Democratic Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) sent a similar letter to the inspector general. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) went so far as to place a private call to White House chief of staff Rahm Emanual to express his concerns about Freeman. Kirk and Israel later asked the inspector general to include in his investigation Freeman’s connections with a Chinese government-owned oil company.

National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) Executive Director Ira Forman acknowledged that Freeman ‘is a strong, strong Arabist who in some of his comments has strongly skewered his analysis of the region.’ Forman said, ‘It’s not a pick I would have made.’

"Given the bipartisan concerns about Freeman’s background, we call on President Obama to withdraw this appointment. In the spirit of bipartisan cooperation, we urge the NJDC to join us in speaking out publicly against the Freeman appointment and calling on President Obama to withdraw it."

UPDATE: Ira Forman responds: "These guys give hypocrisy a bad name. For 20 years they’ve never been able to criticize a Republican, yet now suddenly they want to be bipartisan in their criticism." He cited, as an example, the RJC’s failure to comment when GOP House leaders urged their members to vote against the foreign aid bill, and thus aid to Israel, in 2007 because of a abortion-rights provision contained in the overall legislation. Forman said last week that Freeman was "not a pick I would have made."

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