Jeffrey Goldberg makes this distinction:
When Israel does something wrong, pointing out the sin is criticism; here are two examples, from Andrew, and me. When Israel is accused of something it did not do, then it's hostility. Such is the case with Freeman's accusation that Israel brought about the attacks of 9/11. It didn't.
This is a useful distinction, but in this case, it rests, it seems to me, on a reductionist view of Freeman's view and his speech. Here is the full paragraph Jeffrey cites:
Americans need to be clear about the consequences of continuing our current counterproductive approaches to security in the Middle East. We have paid heavily and often in treasure in the past for our unflinching support and unstinting subsidies of Israel's approach to managing its relations with the Arabs. Five years ago we began to pay with the blood of our citizens here at home.
Yes, there is too broad a conflation of Israel and 9/11, and I can see why Jeffrey bristles at it (one senses that many of Freeman's rhetorical excesses are motivated to tick off exactly the people he has ticked off, rather than Israel, whose achievements Freeman has lauded); but Freeman is clearly not saying that Israel outright "brought about the attacks of 9/11".
He is saying that US policy toward Israel has been a contributing factor to the rise of Islamism in the Middle East, and it may provoke worse in the future unless we restore America's position as an honest broker. I agree, and believe we have tilted too far in defense of Israel these past few years (and Gaza was the last straw for me). Lawrence Wright, whom Jeffrey cites, agrees: "Israel is a tremendously powerful recruiting tool [for Jihadists]." Freeman, moreover, made this identical point in 1998, as Jeffrey notes:
No doubt the question of American relations with Israel adds to the emotional heat of [bin Laden's] opposition and adds to his appeal in the region. But this is not his main point.
Jeffrey then implies, not too subtly, that Freeman's alleged change of heart (which is largely a function of Jeffrey's interpretation) is because
he was too tied to a country that is an obvious target for the collectors and analysts of American intelligence.
Too tied to a country for what? To be trustworthy in reading intelligence for his president? Is Jeffrey accusing Freeman of dual loyalty and treason now? If so, a little clarification is in order. Over to you, Goldblog.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to email@example.com.