Riz Khan
Chas Freeman and the Israeli lobby
Charles Freeman talks about the pro-Israel lobby and its impact on US foreign policy.
Last Modified: 27 Mar 2009 08:39 GMT

Watch part two

Charles "Chas" Freeman was selected last month by the administration of Barak Obama, the US president, for one of the country's top intelligence jobs, chairman of the National Intelligence Council.

Within hours, pro-Israel advocates launched a major offensive to make sure Freeman's appointment did not stand.

Advocates say Freeman was a natural choice: He was a former ambassador to Saudi Arabia, who has also served as an assistant secretary of defence and a senior US diplomat in China.

He headed the Middle East Policy Council, a think-tank in Washington.

His critics said he was an "Arabist," a term used to describe officials and academics who are deemed too pro-Arab or too anti-Israel.

Freeman lashed out at his critics publicly and withdrew his nomination on March 10. He accused the Israel lobby of "doing widening damage to the national security of the United States," and said its tactics included "character assassination, selective misquotation [and] the willful distortion of the record."

On Thursday, Riz Khan speaks with Freeman about the role of the Israel lobby in shaping policy in Washington, the lack of open public debate in the US on Israel, and the lack of mainstream media coverage of his case.

How powerful is the pro-Israel lobby in the US? Does it have a stranglehold on US Middle East policy? Does it stifle or penalise those who dare challenge it?

This episode of Riz Khan aired on Thursday, March 26, 2009.

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