Wasn’t it supposed to be all about Israel?


At JTA we’re not so smart, so we needed to ask: "The Freeman fight: Was it all about Israel?"

Over at The New York Times, they had no doubts: "Israel Stance Was Undoing of Nominee for Intelligence Post."

The only problem is… Charles "Chas" Freeman seems to think that his fate was sealed by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. And now we have Newsweek and Politico reporting that his support for the regime in China were very upsetting to her.


A former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Freeman has faced questions over the past two weeks about financial ties between members of the Saudi royal family and the Middle East Policy Council (MEPC), a Washington think tank he heads that has been critical of U.S. support for Israeli government policies. But Pelosi’s objections reportedly focused on Freeman’s ties to China. A well-placed Democratic source said Pelosi, a strong supporter of the Chinese human-rights movement, was incensed about public remarks that Freeman once made that seemed to justify the violent 1989 Chinese government crackdown on democracy protesters at Tiananmen Square. The source, who asked not to be identified, said Pelosi thought Freeman’s views were "indefensible" and complained directly to President Obama about his selection.


And sources tell POLITICO that the speaker objected to Chas Freeman’s appointment to head the National Intelligence Council, in part because she wasn’t confident of his support for dissenters in Tibet and China at large.

Pelosi herself had this to say following the Newsweek article:

"I saw in the paper this morning my name quoted in association with this. I never made a public statement about Chas Freeman’s nomination," Pelosi said in response to a question from the Huffington Post. "The conversation I had that was quoted in the paper was in a classified setting which I would never quote, nor should anyone else have."

Back to The New York Times… the paper seems to base its thesis on Sen. Chuck Schumer’s claiming credit — yet Freeman has ridiculed such claims by the New York lawmaker. Which, now that I think about it not only raises questions about the Times unambiguous assertion, but also Freeman’s.

In other words… it may or may not be true that pro-Israel pundits and advocates were responsible for highlighting comments made by Freeman regarding China and Saudi Arabia — but if it was those snippets that caught people’s attention, then it would seem to poke a gigantic hole in the argument that merely to say something critical about Israel is enough to block you from getting a D.C. job.

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