I first heard of Qastina from a throwaway line in an Uri Avnery article on the Gush Shalom site, unfortunately headed The Rape of Washington, which, since I haven't even finished reading the article might be an expression metaphorically linking the Israel lobby public execution of Chas Freeman with the prosecution of the former Israeli President, Moshe Katzav, for rape and sexual harassment.
So Katsav called a press-conference in his remote home-town, Kiryat Malakhi (the former Arab village of Qastina, now within reach of the Qassams). It was an unprecedented performance. The ex-President spoke solo for nearly three hours, airing his grievances against the police, the Attorney-General, the media, the politicians and almost everybody else. All this was, incredibly, broadcast live on all three of Israel’s TV channels, as if it had been a State of the Union address. Katsav rambled on and on, repeating himself again and again. No questions were allowed. Respected journalists, hungry for scoops, were evicted if they dared to interrupt.Typical Avnery. Israel lobby bad therefore non-Israel lobby good. Israel bad, Saudi Arabia good. Very clever or, for those who don't do irony, very stupid.
So when I came back yesterday morning, I found this feat dominating the front pages of all our newspapers. Everything else was banished to the back pages.
BECAUSE OF this, Charles Freeman got hardly a mention. Yet his affair was a thousand-fold more important than all the sexual activities of our ex-President.
Freeman was called by Barack Obama’s newly-appointed Chief of National Intelligence, Admiral Dennis Blair, to the post of Chairman of the National Intelligence Council. In this position, he would have been in charge of the National intelligence Estimates (NIE), summarizing the reports of all the 16 US intelligence agencies, which employ some 100,000 people at an annual cost of 50 billion dollars, and composing the estimates that are put before the President.
In Israel, this is the job of the Directorate of Military Intelligence, and the officer in charge has a huge influence on government policy. In October 1973, the then intelligence chief disregarded all reports to the contrary and informed the government that there was only a “low probability” of an Egyptian attack. A few days later the Egyptian army crossed the canal.
Throughout the 1990’s, the man in charge of intelligence estimates, Amos Gilad, deliberately misled the government into believing that Yasser Arafat was deceiving them and was actually plotting the destruction of Israel. Gilad was later openly accused by his subordinates of suppressing their expert reports and submitting estimates of his own, which were not based on any intelligence whatsoever. Later, as the guru of Prime Minister Ehud Barak, Gilad coined the phrase “We have no Palestinian partner for peace”.
In the US, the intelligence chiefs famously supplied President George W. Bush with the (false) intelligence he needed to justify his invasion of Iraq.
All this shows how vitally important it is to have an estimates chief of intellectual integrity and wide experience and knowledge. Admiral Blair could not have chosen a better person than Charles Freeman, a man of sterling character and uncontested expertise, especially about China and the Arab world.
And that was his undoing.
But the article has the lot. Israel's ethnic cleansing, a disgusting creature for a president of the State of Israel deposed for alleged rape so that the more typically zionist mass murderer, Shimon Peres, could take the post and of course there's the Israel lobby and Uri Avnery's notion that a man up to his eyeballs with the Saudi regime can somehow be "a man of sterling character". Anyway, in these days of increasing globalisation I'm sure you can be a character in any currency, not just sterling.