As I have noted a couple times, Chuck Hagel has served as chairman for the Atlantic Council. His vice chairman is Chas Freeman. In a speech in Moscow on December, Freeman took to decrying the “fifth column” of disinformation agents in the United States who act on Israel’s behalf. Aside from the fact that Jews in particular have been branded for hundreds and hundreds of years as disloyal to their countries, the speech is a shocking diatribe that builds on the notion that behind any pro-Israel journalism is a “fifth column” of Jews.
A reader asks whether Freeman was actually singling out Jews. Let’s take a look.
Freeman began his speech by using a Hebrew word to describe this purported enterprise. “In the brief time available to me as a panelist, I would like to put forward some thoughts about the control of narrative and the manipulation of information as an essential element of modern warfare. The Israelis call this ‘hasbara.’ Since they are without doubt the most skilled contemporary practitioners of the art, it seems appropriate to use the Hebrew word for it. And, since Israel’s most recent war (against the Palestinians in Gaza) sputtered to an end just ten days ago, I’ll cite a few examples from that war to illustrate my main points.” A Hebrew — that is, Jewish — moniker for his conspiracy is appropriate, you see.
He asserted these people are traitors to America: “In some countries, like the United States, Israel can rely upon a ‘fifth column’ of activist sympathizers to amplify its messages, to rebut and discredit statements that contradict its arguments, facts, and fabrications, and to impugn the moral standing of those who make such statements.” Each and every one of these fifth columnists, wouldn’t you know it, is Jewish.
He called out a Jewish organization: “[T]he Jewish Agency for Israel has sponsored an online ‘Hasbara Handbook’ for students around the world to use as advocates of Israel and its policies.” And then he cited another Jewish cabal: “The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America – an organization notorious for the viciousness of its efforts to blacken the reputations of those who criticize Israel or advance accounts of events that deviate from the official Israeli narrative by branding them as ‘anti-Semitic’ or ‘self-hating Jews.’ [The handbook] notes that CAMERA provides a free monthly magazine full of timely hasbara materials for Jewish students in the United States.”
He was not done. Next come the rabbis: “In addition, many American rabbis see it as their duty to rally their congregations to Israel’s defense. One typical example was a rabbi who, as the Gaza fighting began, stressed to his New York congregants that ‘making yourself well informed and able to articulate Israel’s case clearly and compellingly is … important. … No slanted print media article or editorial or electronic report that is … unbalanced and unfair can be allowed to go unchallenged. … Those media organs that are habitually anti-Israel should be flooded with letters and e-mails when their stories and pictures paint a … portrait of what we know to be other. Conversations at the water cooler, in health clubs, and particularly at holiday parties and gatherings so common at this time of year. … All of these are our challenge. Get informed, stay informed, and let your voice be heard.’ ”
No mention was made of the thousands of Christian churches or the largest pro-Zionist organization in America, Christians United For Israel, all of which strongly support the Jewish State and work to combat media bias against Israel. (And Freeman never actually looked at whether the media is actually anti-Israel; he simply assumed it is accurate and everything to the contrary is propaganda.)
The rest of Freeman’s twisted version of Middle East events I leave to others. But can there be any doubt that this is a smear on Jewish Americans in particular? None from my vantage point nor, I would suggest, from that of any fair-minded person. (Someone should ask Hagel at the hearing what he thinks.)
And more to the point, what is Hagel and his organization doing with someone on their board who spews this verbiage? Hagel should be asked about these words, his relationship with Freeman and why, for goodness sake, he would agree to serve with him.