Between Mecca and Jerusalem

December 26, 2011

( The Middle East Policy Council, formerly the slightly more truthfully named American Arab Affairs Council, founded by two American diplomats who worked in the Middle East, is typical of how the Gulfies do things. Saudis and Emiratis don’t do their own laundry or build their own buildings or pump their own gas, they hire foreigners to do it for them. The Saudi Lobby is their equivalent of the Filipino maids, British architects and Indian construction workers. Want someone to spread the smear that the Jews control America. Hire that boy who took our messages to the president, give him a budget and let’s see what he can do.

You won’t find politicians stopping by the American-Saudi Political Action Committee. Instead a whole bunch of former American ambassadors to Saudi Arabia, like Chas Freeman, explain their position to influential people, which just happens to be the position of the House of Saud.

That goes double when the target is the general public. In 2003, the Alliance for Peace and Justice ran a bunch of radio ads attacking Israel and calling for an end to the occupation. The “Alliance” was the end of a long tail that led through an ad agency to a public relations firm and to the Saudis. Qorvis Communications, founded a year before September 11, acts as the House of Saud’s PR firm. Raided by the FBI back in 04, it’s still out there and working hard for the kingdom, and has its own political action committee. Much like the way the Kuwaiti government used the law firm of Shearman and Sterling to run a campaign against Guantanamo Bay.

One Qorvis alum, Judith Barnett, another former diplomat, sits on the advisory board of J Street, the left-wing anti-Israel lobby. And the Finance Committee of the Democratic National Committee. Not to mention Amideast, formerly American Friends of the Middle East, originally the Committee for Justice and Peace in the Holy Land, an organization created to oppose the creation of Israel. Its co-founder *Kermit Roosevelt Jr had come out of the board of the Institute of Arab-American Affairs, which was headed by the same man who headed the Arab League’s office in the United States– proving that the Saudis were still playing the same game as far back as the 1940’s.

Ms. Barnett’s political activism aligns neatly with her business in The Barnett Group, which helps Middle Eastern companies overcome “trade and governmental regulatory barriers” to do business in the United States. This line of work isn’t particularly unusual for her ilk. Barnett was formerly the VP of Georgetown Global Investments Corporation, which specialized in Middle Eastern investments. GGIC was started up by Marc Ginsberg, another former ambassador to the Arab world, who blogs at the Israel Policy Forum, yet another left-wing anti-Israel group.

Tying them all together is Ambassador Robert Pelletreau, another J Street advisory board member, the original contact man for the PLO and a member of the Board of Governors of the Middle East Institute, (funded by a collection of oil companies and the Sultan of Oman) and on the advisory council of the Israel Policy Forum– and is also the treasurer of Amideast. In addition to all that, he’s a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and on the boards of the National US-Arab Chamber of Commerce and the American-Iranian Council. The latter is part of the Iranian Lobby and has arranged meetings with Ahmadinejad. His former law firm, Afridi, Angell & Pelletreau is based out of the United Arab Emirates. (MORE)


Chas Freeman Jr.: Swine Vengeance

April 4, 2010

Charles (usually called Chas) Freeman has just taken another step in revealing his out-of-control loathing of Israel, accusing it of being worse than South Africa. Who is he and why is this significant?


For the last dozen years, Freeman, the former US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, has been President of the Middle East Policy Council (formally known as the American Arab Affairs Council) a Lobbying group for the Arab World. One of the groups primary functions is to Publish a quarterly journal called Middle East Policy. The Journal is filled with anti-Israel messages that are beyond even the broadest definition of mainstream of U.S. thinking on the region. As the President of the the organization responsible for this Journal, who’s viciousness and willing to show bias, the attempted appointment of Freeman as a gatekeeper for U.S. Intelligence is a very disturbing matter.

It matters because Freeman, with nothing more to lose from making public his true feelings, had been the Obama Administration nominee–selected by intelligence chief Dennis Blair–to be chair of the National Intelligence Council. Freeman had to withdraw and though the real reason has never before been made public, it is this: he was involved in business with Saudi Arabia which came close to the borders of legality and certainly would have been very embarassing for him and the administration if made public.

Freeman’s connections with China also raised questions. In fact, many think he had to pull out of the nomination more because of his defense of China’s government at a time it was violently repressing dissent than for anything connected with Israel. It is clear, however, who Freeman blames for his humiliating defeat.

By the way, note that this gentleman who finds Israel so offensive has never had anything but praise for the Saudi political system and society.

Freeman was also a client of the Saudis to such an extent that then Secretary of State James Baker, who certainly couldn’t be accused of being pro-Israel, described Freeman in scathing terms in his own autobiography for always taking the Saudi line in a way that interfered in the effort to force Iraq out of Kuwait in 1990-1991.

Since losing the nomination, Freeman has been more and more hysterical publicly in expressing his hatred of Israel, with strong hints that his attitude extended to Jews generally. Presumably, he held pretty much the same views beforehand but didn’t talk so loudly about them.

The story of how Freeman was kept out of office is an amazing tale of how a handful of bloggers–without support from any group or institution–forced the story into public attention. One day I might tell it to you.

Meanwhile, though, reflect on how things would be if Freeman was in a high administration position and ask yourself what kind of administration would have appointed such a man to a highly influential post. The issue here is not just attitude toward Israel but picking someone who had some questionable associations, a bad record as ambassador, and seems–judging from his public statements–emotionally excitable and fairly extremist as well. Not the kind of cool, open-minded, and balanced mentality one would want in just about the most powerful post for evaluating intelligence.

Chas Freeman Jr.
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