Angry Arab says that after Bill Clinton got in, Arabists were ‘eliminated’ from State Dep’t

on 12 Comments

Angry Arab has a fascinating post on a letter written to the NYT by ass’t sec’y of state Jeffrey Feltman. Angry Arab– As’ad AbuKhalil– uses the letter as an opportunity to reflect on the elimination of Arabists from the State Department since the Clinton years.

A few quick points before the excerpt: there were Arabists all over the State Department in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s; and they generally lost.

They opposed the creation of Israel and warned that it could only be established and preserved by force (prophetic). They pushed for the right of return of the Palestinian refugees, and lost (and the wound still festers). The Arabists were described as a romantic and anti-Semitic and fuddy-duddy elite in the Robert Kaplan book that Angry Arab mentions below, The Arabists– a book that treated Israel’s creation as a great liberal advance. Many of them came out of the old WASP establishment; and it is impossible to talk about the vanishing of the Arabists without speaking of the rise of Jews into the Establishment and the Jewish mistrust of that blueblood ancien regime. I was raised to dislike and fear Arabs; and my youthful prejudice is still widely shared in American Jewish life. Erica Jong wrote, Arabs and Other Animals, as the title of one of her chapters in her bestseller Fear of Flying– a no-cost prejudice, like the n-word back when Mark Twain was writing. Clinton’s was the most philosemitic presidency in history. He appointed two Jews to the Supreme Court, and his Middle East negotiating team was almost all Jewish. These sociocultural factors are of course significant in policymaking; and though I believe younger Jews are far more worldly than their parents’ generation, the change is taking place slowly. Brzezinski was railroaded after the Carter administration because he was seen as being too pro-Arab. He was said to be advising Obama; I don’t see hide nor hair of him. The great Rashid Khalidi (who as an Obama adviser actually might have saved the two-state-solution) was blackballed during the 2008 campaign. And remember the manner that the neoconservatives blackballed Chas Freeman as National Intelligence director in early 2009– an Arabic speaker, who liked Saudi Arabia, he was deemed an Arabist. Forget about it. That happened in the Obama administration, of course, and why? Well for the same reason that Feltman and Treasury’s Stuart Levey can endure from the disaster Bush administration into the Obama administration, because they are regarded as reliable by the Israel lobby, a force outside partisan politics. It’s all of a piece, the character of the new Establishment.

Angry Arab:

So Jeffrey Feltman wrote a letter to the New York Times today to express his disapproval of a Lebanese newspaper and its editorial line. When I read that last night, I could not help but think of the degradation of Middle East expertise in the US government. It is fair to say that ever since Bill Clinton came to power, the Arabists were completely eliminated from policy making positions at the White House and State Department (although some remain at other branches of the US government). Of course, the war on Arabists began in earlier years: Henry Kissinger tried to marginalize them in earlier years too. Their obituary was written in the book on their record by Robert Kaplan. In the late 1990s, I spoke about the Arabists and made the point I am making now at a conference at Georgetown University. After my talk, I was approached by Robert Pelletreau–he was the last Arabist to serve as the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs because the job went after him to ardent Zionists from outside the Foreign Service: people like Martin Indyk–and he pleaded with me to not use the word “Arabist” because it hurts the career and image of Middle East specialists at the US government. Feltman comes from the Foreign Service but does not dream of ever being considered an Arabist: not only because of his Likudnik politics but also because of his failure to achieve any of the knowledge or competence of Arabists in yester years….

This is not about politics: I am not endorsing the political views (always timid) of former Arabists: but I am at least pointing out the competence of Arabists in comparison to the Zionist crowd who now occupy positions of power relating to the Middle East in the US government.

12 Responses

  1. Sand
    January 9, 2011, 9:31 pm

    When I think of Clinton and the I-Lobby, I can’t seem to shake from my mind from the Washington Times exposé revealing the “the pull”, or even perceived “pull” that David Steiner (big backer of Hills for President), then head of AIPAC had over Clinton’s appointments.

    David Steiner of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)

    The Complete Unexpurgated AIPAC Tape

    “…recorded without his knowledge by New York businessman Haim (Harry) Katz. Its existence was first revealed to the Washington Times and its release triggered Steiner’s [AIPAC] resignation…”

    link to

    Also, with Obama — our current puppet[?] leading the Democratic Party — it doesn’t seem to get much better (probably worse in fact):

    Hostage to Events: In an exclusive interview, the State Department’s leading Iran expert discusses his *resignation* and why the Islamic Republic and the United States keep on talking past each other.
    Foreign Policy: Barbara Slavin [7/27/10]

    John Limbert: “…A number of players with more skeptical views about the prospect of rapprochement with Tehran such as White House aide Dennis Ross and nonproliferation experts like Robert Einhorn and Gary Samore — appear to be driving U.S. policy now, and the president himself blames the Iranian government for failing to respond to his outreach…”

    “…Limbert, a scholar of Persian history and poetry and former Peace Corps worker in Iran who is fluent in Farsi and whose wife, Parvaneh, is Iranian, wrote a book about how to negotiate with Iran for the U.S. Institute of Peace. He is also the only American official who has met Ayatollah Ali Khamenei — during the hostage crisis before Khamenei became Iran’s president and then supreme leader…”


    link to

  2. VR
    January 9, 2011, 10:52 pm

    It has to be trying listening to these vulgarities day and night, being subjected to these imbeciles who call themselves experts that do nothing but promote these vile views to prime an ever ready war machine. Suffice it to say that American Imperialism knows just where to go to get these truncated “assessments,” trying to extend its hegemonic tentacles to retard entire regions. Unfortunately it is accompanied by the ignorance which is supported throughout the USA which embraces willing dupes daily. I think this can be summed up with a short statement of whose footsteps they follow in, fulfilling the interests of the few in their sordid little parade –


    • Walid
      January 10, 2011, 2:39 am

      Interesting description of the “Arabists” and Likudniks involvement in Washington politics, As’ad’s quite accurate piece was in response to Jeffrey Feltman’s January 8th opinion in the NYT objecting to the “heroics” and other praises of the Lebanese al-Akhbar that had been written in the NYT on December 28th. The NYT article had branded the paper as just about the only honest Arabic-language paper in the Middle-East while all the others were pro-US and directly or indirectly on the Saudi payroll and by extension on the shady side of journalism and all this praise must have nauseated Asst Sec. of State Feltman. The December 28th NYT article on al-Akhbar, where As’ad has a Saturday column, said things upsetting to Americans along the lines of:

      “… Al Akhbar became the only Arab newspaper to obtain its own substantial batch of WikiLeaks cables and gleefully cataloged various embarrassments to the region’s kings, princes and politicians. Soon afterward, the paper’s popular Web site came under a cyberattack that became a story in its own right, and provided more free publicity.

      … (the al-Akhbar) paper that has become the most dynamic and daring in Lebanon, and perhaps anywhere in the Arab world. In a region where the news media are still full of obsequious propaganda, Al Akhbar is now required reading, even for those who abhor its politics.

      … the paper champions gay rights, feminism and other leftist causes, even as it wholeheartedly supports Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Shiite movement. Al Akhbar’s access to Hezbollah allows it to scoop other papers on Lebanon’s biggest continuing story, but it also publishes muckraking exposés on the abuse of domestic workers, prison overcrowding and other delicate subjects. Add splashy full-page color photos and witty tabloid-style headlines, and you have an alluring product.

      … Still, it is refreshingly free of the slavish headlines that are so common across the Middle East: the king’s visit to the airport, the president’s trip to the mosque. Even the pan-Arab press, largely owned by Saudi Arabia, is seriously constrained in what it can say. Lebanon has long had the most freewheeling news media in the region, but its outlets are often vehicles for their owners, usually political bosses or businessmen with a sectarian ax to grind. Reporters are often pawns in this game: Rafik Hariri, the billionaire former prime minister who was assassinated in 2005, used to send around envelopes of cash to his favorites.

      … “Our project is basically anti-imperialism,” said Khaled Saghieh, Al Akhbar’s mild and cerebral managing editor, who abandoned a Ph.D. in political science at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, to help start the paper. That insurrectionary theme, he said, links the paper’s resistance to neoliberal economic policies and its support for Hezbollah’s fight against Israel. There are plenty of disagreements with Hezbollah, whose members regularly call to complain about articles — though not in any official capacity. But the Shiite group’s leaders appear to recognize the importance of maintaining alliances across Lebanon’s complex sectarian and political landscape.

      … Like several of the editors, Mr. (Omar) Nashabe is fully conversant with American culture; he earned a Ph.D. in criminal justice from the State University of New York, Albany, before joining the paper. He is responsible for some of the paper’s most socially liberal columns, and talks excitedly about the need for new laws to defend foreign laborers and women’s sexual rights. He brushes off the angry letters and phone calls he gets from social conservatives, including some in Hezbollah. ”

      The full NYT December 28th article that pissed off Feltman and started him and As’ad on preaching matches for their parishes:

      link to

  3. Oscar
    January 10, 2011, 12:59 am

    Apologies to Angry Arab and fellow Mondoweissers, but this is not exactly breaking news. Kay Griggs long ago outed the State Department as a cheerleading squad for Israel.
    link to

    This post is surprisingly naive in its premise. The State Department has long ago been infiltrated by Zionists and your elected officials have conceded this area as — what Pat Robertson might call — Israeli occupied territory. Do you wonder why the State Department cannot deplore the killing of an American citizen on the Mavi Marmara (who happens to be of Turkish descent) or otherwise voice full-throated protests against the IDF maiming of American citizens such as Emily Henochowicz or Tristan Anderson?

    Try to understand . . . THE US IS NOT AN HONEST BROKER IN THE I/P NEGOTIATIONS. Just the opposite. We are israel’s lawyer. The entire game is rigged that way. Obama knows this now, and has backed off like the shabbos goyim he’s proven to be.

    Sent from my iPad

    • Walid
      January 10, 2011, 3:40 am

      Oscar, I don’t think the Angry Arab was trying to break fresh ground here but simply referring to the history of Zionist cheerleaders in Washington as a side note to highlight the absurdity of Obama having the current Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs along with other gurus assigned to help fixing the I-P conflict like Martin Indyk and Dennis Ross that are Jewish and pro-Israel. As’ad’s post was his opportunity to stick a couple of needles in his Feltman doll for the brick that was thrown through al-Akhabar’s vitrine; Phil capitalized on As’ad’s side note to turn it into a full subject about the vanished Arabists for some interesting discussion.

      • Oscar
        January 10, 2011, 8:01 am

        Walid, I agree — I reviewed AA’s post on his site, and it was much more in depth and detailed than i’d expected. Also, it’s Pat Buchanan, not Robertson, obviously. The central thesis remains — the State Department deck is stacked against a sustainable peace in I/P.

  4. Jeffrey Blankfort
    January 10, 2011, 2:05 pm

    This article from the Israeli paper, Ma’ariv in 1994, “The Jews who run Clinton’s Court, (translated by Israel Shahak) spells out the problem:

    Israeli paper /Maariv/, September 2, 1994*
    By Avinoam Bar-Yosef*
    The Jews Who Run Clinton’s Court*

    Several weeks ago the rabbi of “Adath Yisrael” synagogue in Cleveland
    Park, Washington, dedicated his Sabbath sermon to the Jewish cultural
    and political center which is being formed in America. “For the first
    time in American history”, the rabbi said, “we no longer feel that we
    live in diaspora. The U.S. has no longer a government of Goyim
    [Gentiles], but an administration in which the Jews are full partners in
    the decision making at all levels. Perhaps the aspects of the Jewish
    religious law connected with the term ‘government of goyim’ should be
    re-examined, since it is an outdated term in the U.S.”.

    Indeed, as far as the Jews are concerned, President *Bill Clinton*
    contributed towards a real change in the Administration’s outlook,
    having concluded a series of changes in enhancing Jewish power beginning
    during under President *Reagan* and his Secretary of State, *Schultz*.
    True, the Jewish political influence was also evident in America of the
    previous decades. We have already seen a Jewish Secretary of State,
    *Kissinger*, enjoying the confidence of President *Richard Nixon* and
    there were Jewish Cabinet members under *Carter*. However, they were
    usually the exceptions testifying to the rule. Especially. pious Jews
    were hardly ever appointed to participate in political work concerning
    the Middle East.

    The picture has now totally changed and not only about the Middle East
    For example, every morning at about 6:00 o’clock, several staff cars
    travel from the CIA center to the White House with senior officers of
    the American intelligence community, who are about to present to the
    president and to the four top staffers a PDB – President’s Daily
    Briefing – the term for the most exclusive report in Washington. The
    document, consisting of 5-7 pages, is often accompanied by top secret
    satellite photographs transferred by the Pentagon. It is composed in the
    course of the night by the best American intelligence experts who
    analyze the telegrams and reports arriving from the CIA’s world-wide
    network of agents. It contains the most sensitive information regarding
    developments around the world. Its uniqueness, compared to other
    American intelligence documents, lays in the fact that it almost always
    indicates the source of the information, whether it is a document stolen
    by a spy, or an agent or ‘mole’ infiltrating a foreign government, or
    whether the source is tapping by means of satellite. If Clinton is in
    Washington, he holds a short discussion on the contents of the document
    with the five other addressees: Vice-President *Al Gore*, National
    Security Adviser *Anthony Lake*, White House Chief of Staff *Leon
    Pineta*, Deputy National Security Adviser *Samuel (“Sandy”) Berger*, and National Security Adviser to the Vice-President, *Leon Perth*. _Two of the addressees, Berger and Perth, are warm Jews. They have reached posts that are extremely sensitive for the U.S. policies. They are by no means exceptions…. [“warm Jews” is a term used by Zionists in Israel to describe those loyal to Israel].

    For the remainder of the article, click here:
    link to

    • Walid
      January 11, 2011, 1:34 am

      “… Two of the addressees, Berger and Perth, are warm Jews. They have reached posts that are extremely sensitive for the U.S. policies. They are by no means exceptions…. [“warm Jews” is a term used by Zionists in Israel to describe those loyal to Israel].

      I must remember that “warm Jews” term.

    • Sand
      January 11, 2011, 2:12 pm

      Far be it from me to criticize someone’s article/translation, but the ‘style’ and ‘analysis’ of the writing IMHO has a lot to be desired. Just one example (of many) — the issue is not that Wolf Blitzer is a *Jew* — the issue is that Wolfie worked, and is still working on a v. influential national news station, and also worked for AIPAC — which had/has a very definite *Israel* news peddling agenda.

      Contemporary example of Wolf’s *AIPAC* work:

      BLITZER: I wonder, Gabrielle Giffords is Jewish, is there anything anti-Semitic in there other than “Mein Kampf,” and the references to Hitler or anything that would suggest an anti-Semitic motive there?

      link to

      Also, your link says the source was from the: “Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, November/December, 1994”, however, when I went to Washington Report on Middle East Affairs digital 1994 archives and couldn’t find the article?

      link to

  5. pjdude
    January 11, 2011, 3:16 am

    Israel supporter had to ensure that to happen. they couldn’t allow the arabist to stay as that would have allowed the truth to get out. Israel’s existence and our support of it is a detriment to American interests.

    • Walid
      January 11, 2011, 3:59 am

      The Arabists were doomed because of the lack of support from timid American and other Arabs forever afraid of upsetting anything. Can an American be more concerned and fight for the Palestinians’ RoR than an Arab? On the other hand, the Zionists in America were organized and never failed to stand up at the very front for everything and anything having to do with Israel’s interests. I don’t blame the bad guys for winning but I blame the good guys for having let them win without a fight.

      • pjdude
        January 11, 2011, 4:30 am

        I’m refering to the fact way back in 48 the state department told truman that supporting ISrael was a bad idea and would hurt the country

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