May 20, 2022

Amb. Chas Freeman Talks About Hasbara and Zionist Propaganda

Amb. Chas Freeman Talks About Hasbara and Zionist Propaganda

How Zionist propaganda and pressure impact American foreign policy and compromises Israel's security.


Israel's Ministry of Hasbara

Teaching Americans Hasbara

A Jabotinsky Zionist opposes Hasbara

Naftali Bennett on Hasbara Operations

 

Transcript

Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro:

Speaking of the values of Judaism and propaganda... Those are two things that you've mentioned. I thank you very much for that. I want to go to the topic of Israeli propaganda. You wrote in your book here that Hasbara, Israeli propaganda, is a form of warfare. You described it as a form of warfare. How would you describe Israeli propaganda, hasbara, as being different than other propaganda that all countries and all politicians have, and what impact do you think it has on the United States and our political decisions?

Amb. Chas Freeman:

That's an immense question, but of course there is a ministry in Israel that is responsible for hasbara, and I think the Israelis do it very skillfully. That is to say, they come up with explanations, which is, I guess, what the word means.

Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro:

Yes.

Amb. Chas Freeman:

That are moderately convincing to the ignorant. And they thereby cover up other interpretations of what's happening. Then, I had personal experience of this when I was asked to become the director of foreign national intelligence analysis at the National Intelligence Council and was accused of being a realist on the pages of the Wall Street Journal, which was translated later in other articles saying that I was insufficiently emotionally linked to Israel.

Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro:

"Insufficiently emotionally linked to Israel."

Amb. Chas Freeman:

Well, that was it, you see? That's realism and it's unacceptable. So, in other words, if I were to be allowed to oversee intelligence analysis, I would not bend it in the direction favored by Israel. And so, I was attacked by all the usual Zionist organizations.

Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro:

Attacked in what way?

Amb. Chas Freeman:

Oh, I think mugged on the internet. Muttered against in the halls of Congress. The Washington Post on the day I decided that obviously I couldn't do the job... I was being asked to do it for two reasons. One to restore credibility to American intelligence, which had it had largely lost as a result of the Iraq debacle. And second, to improve the quality of intelligence. I thought I knew how to do both. But it was clear that if I was constantly under attack for presumed prejudice against Israel, I was not going to be able to improve the credibility of intelligence because I would be controversial. And second, I could not have the liberty to reform the system that I thought I needed. So I resigned. "I will not do this," I said. The Washington Post that day had three stories. Chris had an editorial saying I was a crackpot because I imagined there was an Israel lobby.

Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro:

You "imagined there was an Israel lobby."

Amb. Chas Freeman:

This was obviously evidence of some sort of insanity, because such a thing does not exist. Then, on the front page, there was a story about how the Israel lobby had lobbied up on the hill and everywhere else to get rid of me, with many details, by Walter Pincus; a very sound journalist. And then, on the op-ed page was a piece by David Broder who said that the fact that I couldn't do this job was an indication of the low condition to which our country had fallen and it was a tragedy. So, New York Times, pretty much the same day, had a front page article again, detailing the activities of this nonexistent lobby. So, what was that all about? This was about ensuring that nobody in a position of authority questions anything Israel does. And in fact, for the most part, we don't question what Israel does as a country.

Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro:

Why? Why not?

Amb. Chas Freeman:

Well, self-censorship is a good deal of it. I'll tell you a story.

Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Amb. Chas Freeman:

I spent my career in diplomacy, for the most part, trying to avoid the Middle East because it's where hypocrisy first got a bad name. And so, I didn't want to be there. So, eventually, I was in Maputo, Mozambique, and I got a call from George H. W. Bush asking me if I would represent the United States and him in Saudi Arabia. And I gulped and said, "Yes." It took me 15 seconds to wind up the necessary enthusiasm, but I did. And so, I went off to the Middle East. When I had left my ambassadorship, I hoped to leave the Middle East behind me, but I wasn't able to do that. And I found myself one day in... I think it was in Dubai. Might have been in Abu Dhabi. Anyway, it was in the UAE.

Amb. Chas Freeman:

And I turned on the evening television, Arabic news, and I saw a clip, a home movie, taken by somebody in [inaudible 00:06:11], which showed a young man, young Arab man, being taken his home by two Israeli... I don't know. Police or [inaudible 00:06:24] or whatever they were then. They took him out. They kicked the hell out of him. They kicked him in the head, and then they shot him in the head and walked away laughing. And I said to myself, "All Hell is the break loose when this is seen in the United States." It never appeared. So, at that point, that was the moment which I realized that there was a wall of propaganda and denial between us and the realities of life in and around Israel. Now, of course, Israel's not the only country that does this, but it is by far the most effective in my view. And it is aided and abetted by useful idiots in synagogues all over the United States.

Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro:

Zionists.

Amb. Chas Freeman:

Yeah, Zionists. Exactly. Who I understand. Although I do understand it intellectually, I find it difficult to understand emotionally. And we don't have a distinction in English between those two things, but other languages do. And there are many people whose identity is wound up with the state of Israel. Now, I found that... Now reveal my Puritan heritage, I suppose. I found that idolatrous.

Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro:

Well, I'm from Jewish heritage and I find that idolatrous, as well.

Amb. Chas Freeman:

Well, the sad thing is that Puritans thought they were Hebrews.

Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro:

Oh.

Amb. Chas Freeman:

So it's the same tradition. The church should be [inaudible 00:08:20]-

Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro:

At least in Puritan tradition it's the same.

Amb. Chas Freeman:

Yeah, exactly. Well, and of course you don't recognize it. I'm not asking you to. But I think I've reasoned my way through this. I confess I really wasn't very interested in Israel or anything to do with it previously, and when I arrived in Saudi Arabia, I really didn't know anything about what was going on in the Holy Land. And I gradually was educated as events occurred. And I really think Zionism is the negation of everything that I think is valuable in Judaism. It is not in search of the truth. It is in search of imposing lies in place of the truth.

Amb. Chas Freeman:

That's hasbara. It is not in search of justice. It is deeply embedded in ongoing injustices. It is not concerned with the sanctity of human life. It is cruel to the point of being occasionally murderous, and I find nothing to admire in it. So I draw a distinction. I do not believe that Israel is entitled to consider itself a Jewish state, because while there may be many Jews living there, the state does not behave in a manner consistent with the universal values of the religion. So I probably condemn myself now to some terrible fate, but [crosstalk 00:10:07].

Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro:

So, before we go further, I just want to go on the record telling the viewers that besides that long list of accomplishments Ambassador Freeman has, he's also a personal friend of mine. I've known him for years. And I want to go on the record saying he is neither an anti-Semite, not prejudiced against anybody that I know of or any country that I know of, including Israel. And, Chas, Israel, not only calls itself "a" Jewish state, but "the" Jewish state. They made a law that they are the nation state of the Jewish people. That means that Israel is my nation state. Benjamin [inaudible 00:10:48], who explained in his book why he believes anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism.

Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro:

And he said... And it's not just him. Avigdor Lieberman and Israel's own website said the same thing, and Danny Ayalon said the same thing, and various other Zionist dignitaries. Netanyahu said that what France is to the French and Japan is to the Japanese, Israel is to the Jews. And just like you cannot be against the existence of France and be for the French people, and you cannot be against the existence of Japan and be for the Japanese people, you cannot be against the existence of Israel and be for the Jewish people. Now, that's what Zionism is. Without Zionism, the equation is Japan is to the Japanese, what France is to the French, what Israel is to the Israelis.

Amb. Chas Freeman:

Okay.

Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro:

And that makes Israel's nationalism, which we call Zionism, different than all other nationalisms in the world. People need to understand this. Israel is driven by an ideology called Zionism. It's their unique brand of nationalism. There is no other country in the world that claims not to be the representatives of their citizens, but rather the representatives of some arbitrary clash of people. They will consider the Jews perhaps an ethnicity or a race, Jabotinsky said, or whatever they decide the Jews are. Which means two things. Thing number one, if you are a non-Jew in Israel, although you are officially entitled to civil rights, you are not entitled to national self-determination rights. Israel is not your nation state. On the flip side, if you are a Jew like me that has nothing to do with Israel...

Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro:

To me, it's just some country in the Middle East, no different than Turkey or any European state like England. It's just a country. Claims to be my state. Jonathan Pollard said... This is public record. He doesn't deny it. He said it. That American Jews should spy on the United States on behalf of Israel, because Israel's your nation state and Jews do have dual loyalty. He's a disgusting, despicable, dangerous person, and that's what Zionism is. Nevermind all the things that you had mentioned. I'm talking about Zionism is dangerous for Jews. And as you know, my policy is that Jews as Jews... I think that this is an important point that a lot of anti Zionist activists outside of Israel sometimes don't realize. And it's kind of a trap.

Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro:

If somebody in the United States of America says, "Well, I'm a Jew. And if I'm a Jew, I need to object to things that Israel does that I find objectionable." That's Zionism. Because Zionism says that you as a Jew are connected with that country, Israel. Now, if Japan would do something objectionable, I would not say, "As a Jew, I need to object to what Japan does," or, "I need to object to what China does." Although I object to a lot of things China does. Right? And Japan. And as an American, I could say, "As an American, we give tax dollars to Japan," or, "As a human being, I want to throw in my voice here." But as a Jew, for a Jew to say, "I feel an obligation to object to what Israel does because I'm a Jew," nested inside that idea is an encouragement of Zionism that says, "Israel is connected to the Jews."

Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro:

I don't get involved with Israel's human rights issues any more than I do with China's or Afghanistan's or Egypt. I remember once I spoke for your group in Washington, Chas, and you had mentioned, "Yes, but as an American, a taxpayer, you should get involved." I concede that point. I agree. But Afghanistan gets many tax dollars of the United States. As does Egypt. Right? For a Jew to be involved in Israeli politics more than they are Afghanistan or Egypt or anywhere else because they're Jewish, that's the point, you are actually encouraging Zionism. To me, Israel is China. It has no more or less connection to me than China. If somebody says it does, that's Zionism. I would encourage activists, if they really want... Actually, this is the best thing for the Israeli people and the Palestinian people.

Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro:

The best thing would be if the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would be bereft of this ideological, pseudo-religious element which keeps it alive. The "this is the Jewish state." Like Naftali Bennett said on national TV, "God gave us this land." I don't know what religion Naftali Bennett is from, but God giving us the land has nothing to do with the state of Israel. Nothing to do with what's going on in Israel today. Nothing, in my religion. I don't know about his religion. His religion is Zionism. But it needs to become a normal political issue, and then you can deal with it. Once you elevate it to a religious issue, or an ideological issue, Zionism, which is some pseudo-civic religion, it's never going to end. And the bottom line problem is that a Jewish state and a democratic state...

Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro:

Well, if you're going to run according to what you, meaning the Knesset, considers Jewish values or what the politicians consider Jewish values, they conflict very often with democratic values in their Zionist minds, and, they all say this, they need to form a balance between them. But there should not be a balance. Israel needs to be a normal country, and then it can start a normal process of resolution. This needs to become a normal conflict. And the only way to do it is for Jews all over to say, "Israel, you know what?" Jews can have an opinion regarding what Israel does, whether they approve it or don't approve it, just like they have an opinion about anybody else. They can have an opinion regarding whether Israel is a valid service provider to the Jews. In case of another Holocaust, can you run there or not? That's a difference of opinion. America was a place for survivors of the Holocaust, like it says on the Statue of Liberty. Which by the way, Emma Lazarus was a Zionist. Yeah.

Amb. Chas Freeman:

I didn't know that.

Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro:

Yeah. Emma Lazarus was a big Zionist and, yeah, she was the one that-

Amb. Chas Freeman:

Well, nobody's perfect. Even [inaudible 00:17:34] started off in a different direction.

Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro:

That's right.

Amb. Chas Freeman:

[crosstalk 00:17:37] that way. I would say, Yaakov, two things. First, as a taxpayer, what justifies concern about Israel is that the abuses that are being carried out against, let's say, Gaza are being subsidized by us. The abuses in Afghanistan, to the extent we weren't carrying them out, were not subsidized by [inaudible 00:18:07].

Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro:

Okay.

Amb. Chas Freeman:

So, as a taxpayer, I think there's a moral responsibility to consider a stand on what Israel does because it is subsidized. The obvious answer to that is to stop subsidizing it so that it then is free of this special condition that justifies an unusual amount of criticism. The second point I would make is you're absolutely right. The power of dual-loyalty Zionists, where "we owe loyalty to Israel" thing, is the only conceivable cause for a renewal of antisemitism by the public at large. Non-Jews. There's no other reason. In fact, I think all the polls show that the public in general, in the United States, admires Jews more than any other ethnic group or religious group.

Amb. Chas Freeman:

Why? Because the behavior of many Jewish communities, not all but many, is exemplary in terms of giving charity, caring about people, and trying to hold the community to ethical standards and so forth. Everybody has black sheep in the herd, but I think that is generally accepted. So, the connection to Israel is distorted by this financial relationship of funding of the Israeli and of Zionist program, basically. Settlements and so on. And it's also, as you say, it is a danger to Jews everywhere outside of Israel, because it asserts with no evidence whatsoever that Jews are some kind of tool of the state of Israel, which is not acceptable. So, I hope for a world in which, as you say, Israelis can find their own way. They can accept responsibility for their own moral, or immoral, behavior. People outside Israel do not have, will not have, a special reason to pick on Israel. And frankly, as a taxpayer, I'd rather give money to Puerto Rico.

Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro:

Puerto Rico. Yeah.

Amb. Chas Freeman:

But tell me that's possible. No, it isn't going to happen. So, I think we're in basic agreement and I'm saddened by that. I really am saddened by it. I'm sorry I ever learned anything about Israel. I wish I had remained ignorant and had no opinion, which was close to where I started. And you're right. I don't have any animosity to Israel. I hope it straights itself out. I'm not an admirer of it.

Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro:

Yeah, on the contrary, I have the same position. It's not merely that Israeli policy is bad for Jews in America or bad for other people. It's bad for Israelis, as well. It puts them in danger.

Amb. Chas Freeman:

Exactly. Exactly. Because the overseas connection of the knee-jerk support for any twist and turn that the Israeli government takes ensures that there is no effective anecdote to mistakes being made by the Israeli government. You have Israel Hayom. You know?

Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Amb. Chas Freeman:

This is a foreign-sponsored support for a particular Zionist perspective.

Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Amb. Chas Freeman:

It crowds out all other perspectives. No, I mean, Israel is actually very admirable in many ways.

Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Amb. Chas Freeman:

And it is appropriately disputatious, which is very much the Jewish tradition. And I think that's wonderful. People do have courage and express their opinions, although less and less. There is an enormous number of Israelis who have left because they find the place suppressive or they don't want to be associated with what they see as sinful behavior by the government. So, of all places, you go to Berlin these days and you find a huge Israeli community.

Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Amb. Chas Freeman:

This tells you something, I think. So we have a problem... Israel has a problem. The better people are leaving. People who are left don't seem to have much moral standard. [inaudible 00:23:32]. I thought those were in Ukraine, but turns out they're also in the occupied territories. This is not good. It is corrupt. And it is exactly what the entire story of what I regard as the Old Testament is about. It's about trying to find the right, trying to find justice, trying to find proper standards of behavior in a world which is cynical, largely indifferent morality. And it's full of pharaohs, and where the Red Sea doesn't part quite as easily as it did back then.

Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro:

Right. That's the biggest problem. Israel's portrayal of itself as having to do with Judaism or Jews or the Jewish people or the Old Testament or something like that, which they got from the evangelical Christians, by the way. That's where they got that idea. It originated there and the Zionists copied it. But [crosstalk 00:24:42]-

Amb. Chas Freeman:

It's also, Yaakov, I think... Zionism is very much a variant of Eastern European [crosstalk 00:24:52].

Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro:

Yes, yes. Agreed, agreed. I wrote this in my book. I have about eight or nine places, that Zionism mixed and match different ideologies, German vitalism, organic nationalism, all sorts of things. I'm talking the religious part has to do with the evangelicals.

Amb. Chas Freeman:

Right.

Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro:

And whether somebody supports or opposes Israel, one way or the other, neither such people should think that Israel represents the Jewish people or anything Jewish in the Jewish tradition. Even what they to get credit for, I would not say that it has anything to do with the Jewish tradition. Zionism, as a movement, intended to escape from the traditional Jewish mindset and character, and to escape from it. And I'll give them credit for that. Let them. I would fully say that they succeeded, if they succeeded in one thing. They did not succeed in creating a safe place for Jews. They did not succeed in creating a great society. What they did succeed in is creating an ideology and a country that has completely detached itself from the traditional Jewish mindset and character. And our time is-

Amb. Chas Freeman:

It's a sad situation. I remember in the 1950s, when I was a teenager, being very inspired by the propaganda about the state of Israel.

Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro:

Leon Uris, right?

Amb. Chas Freeman:

Yeah. Well, that too. Yeah, no, I mean, not just that. But this kind of communitarianism [crosstalk 00:26:27], part of early Zionism.

Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro:

Until nineteen-sixty-

Amb. Chas Freeman:

And of course, there were no... At that time, I swallowed the "a land without people for a people without land." [crosstalk 00:26:44].

Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro:

By the way, the evangelicals said that before Zionists.

Amb. Chas Freeman:

I wouldn't doubt it.

Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro:

The Christians said that before them.

Amb. Chas Freeman:

I wouldn't doubt it.

Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro:

Yes.

Amb. Chas Freeman:

It's extraordinarily racist, which is another objection I had, too. I have never in life seen such blatant expressions of racism as I have in Israel. And I was in Mississippi in the good old days of the Civil Rights struggle. But all the same tropes. "We know these people. You don't." And so forth and so on [inaudible 00:27:16].

Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro:

Before 1967, Frank Luntz said this I heard, nobody was against Israel.

Amb. Chas Freeman:

True.

Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro:

People are saying that anti-Zionism, they're anti-Semites, but before 1967, Israel almost had no opposition from anybody.

Amb. Chas Freeman:

Well-

Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro:

The Arabs. The Arabs, the Russians, and-

Amb. Chas Freeman:

Sure, but the Russians were a mainstay of early support for Israel.

Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Amb. Chas Freeman:

And then, the French. And then, in the 1960s, United States displaced both. But of course, people objected being thrown off their land and out of their homes, but it's not unusual. But aside from that, I think you're right. I think people looked to this new state with hope. And of course, the Leon Uris business, the beautifully written myth. Which, as you say, it's too bad. Israel did not succeed in creating a safe Haven for Jews.

Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro:

Lord Shaftesbury and Alexander Keith in the 1840s said, "A land without a people for a people without a land."

Amb. Chas Freeman:

Is that right?

Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro:

Yeah, before Israel Zangwill said it and-

Amb. Chas Freeman:

[inaudible 00:28:46].

Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro:

... before any Jewish Zionist ever said it.

Amb. Chas Freeman:

That's just European colonialism being blatantly expressed. But anyway, settler states; and we're one, of course.

Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro:

Yes.

Amb. Chas Freeman:

I have some American Indian blood, but not enough to count. But settler states are cruel to the people they settle on, and that just is inevitable. And they all are very good at rationalizing what they do. Manifest Destiny.

Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Amb. Chas Freeman:

Zionism. Anyway, I think there's no reason to be taken in by any of these things, and I commend you for your forthright stand on the issues. And it's good to know that there's one other person in the world who has some views similar to mine.

Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro:

Oh, I could introduce you to many.

Amb. Chas Freeman:

No, I know, but I'm being facetious.

Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro:

Yeah, no, it's just that the press... We don't get a lot of press. And I remember many times, we've had rallies of upwards of 20-30,000 people, 15-20,000 people easily, but we don't get any press. We don't get any press. You won't see us, people like me, on Fox News or on CNBC.

Amb. Chas Freeman:

Oh, thank God. Thank God. Yaakov, you don't belong on Fox News.

Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro:

I know. I know that.

Amb. Chas Freeman:

[crosstalk 00:30:22].

Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro:

I need views like mine. I don't belong there, I know. We are subject to the discourse. The national discourse is determined by the media, which is a terrible thing. And as I said at the beginning, the only solution for an individual to retain his own personality... Because a person is only his thoughts. Everything else is possessions of his. A person is his thoughts.

Amb. Chas Freeman:

Yeah. [crosstalk 00:30:52].

Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro:

And if a person doesn't retain intellectual independence, he's a slave.

Amb. Chas Freeman:

Yeah.

Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro:

He's a slave. And he gives up his self and he gives up his individuality and there's nothing left of him. The only way to succeed is to forget about conventions and forget about popular myth or political correctness, and just stick to the facts as you see them; and make sure before you express an opinion, you see a lot of them. A lot of those facts. Just do what's right and seek the truth, and the chips fall wherever they fall.

Amb. Chas Freeman:

What I find particularly reprehensible is that more and more intelligent people who I know are intolerant of views that contradict their own. I think you have an obligation to hear, to listen, to read opinions that differ from your own. And if you disagree with the main thesis, you may yet find kernels of wisdom in the presentation. You may learn things that you didn't know, and you can exercise your own judgment. But if you rule out reading, if you don't want hear, if you won't listen, where is the wisdom to come from?

Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro:

You know what the Zionists do though? They actually pretend that they portray the other side, and they'll tell people... I'll tell you a story. I recently had a discussion, on a video, with a professor. She taught a course on Zionism in anti-Zionism in Georgetown University. Einat Wilf. She was a member of the Knesset. And I told her this view, that Orthodox Jews have been opposed to Zionism from the get-go because [inaudible 00:32:58]. We are a religion. The only thing that unites the Jewish people is not culture... We all have different cultures. There are Ethiopian Jews. German Jews. The only common denominator is our religion, and that's all that unites us.

Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro:

Zionism said, "No. Land, language, and culture." It was taking a religion and making it into nationalism. And she says, "No, that's not the Orthodox Jewish view. Orthodox Jewish rabbis, that's not what they say." I'm like, "What?" "No, that's the enlightenment... Orthodox Jewish rabbis, they're waiting for the Messiah. That's not the Orthodox view." I said, "What? Excuse me." Every Orthodox rabbi has said this. And this is what was taught in Georgetown University as the anti-Zionist Orthodox view. So when you say, "Listen to other opinions," some student goes to a university and says, "Hey, well, I heard the other views. They taught it to us in university." But that's part of the Zionist hasbara. That's part of the propaganda.

Amb. Chas Freeman:

I don't know if it's still around, but there was a fantastic hasbara handbook that was put for [crosstalk 00:34:10].

Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro:

Yes, I've seen it. Yes. Yes. Uh-huh (affirmative).

Amb. Chas Freeman:

And it's very much in that vein. And I didn't know anything... I was blessedly ignorant, I think. I didn't know anything about pilpul as a debating technique.

Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro:

Do you know anything is what?

Amb. Chas Freeman:

Pilpul. Which I gather-

Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro:

Pilpul. Uh-huh (affirmative).

Amb. Chas Freeman:

Yeah. I gather it's a debating technique where basically you evade the main issue by raising peripheral details and such.

Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro:

Pilpul actually just means... Literally it means "pepper."

Amb. Chas Freeman:

Uh-huh (affirmative).

Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro:

And it means to be smart, and it means to come up with smart arguments. Nothing in the surreptitious type or sneaky type way that you describe. The Zionists took pilpul, which is a traditional Jewish, it just means "debate," but clever type of debate.

Amb. Chas Freeman:

Oh. Right.

Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro:

And the Zionist took that and degraded it like they did to most of the Jewish religion, the parts that they don't like, and said, "You know what? We're not interested..." That was the whole idea. The Zionists, "We're not interested in pilpul, debates, discussions, sitting in the study hall night and day. We're interested in being soldiers and politicians and walking around in sandals like a sabra." So they degraded pilpul and made it into a derogatory term. But you'll only hear that from a Zionist.

Amb. Chas Freeman:

I've certainly observed it. But perhaps I should join your congregation and see what it's really like.

Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro:

So, thank you. Thank you, Ambassador Freeman. You've been, as always, an invaluable source of enormous information. Be well.

Amb. Chas Freeman:

Thank you, Yaakov. I wish the same for you and your community. You have a great what's left of the weekend. I hope you have a terrific time. And again, my best wishes to you and all the people who you value.

Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro:

Thank you. You too, Chas. It's always great talking to you.

 

Chas Freeman Profile Photo

Chas Freeman

Ambassador Chas Freeman is a career diplomat (retired) who was Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs from 1993-94, earning the highest public service awards of the Department of Defense for his roles in designing a NATO-centered post-Cold War European security system and in reestablishing defense and military relations with China. He served as U. S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia (during operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm). He was Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs during the historic U.S. mediation of Namibian independence from South Africa and Cuban troop withdrawal from Angola.
Ambassador Freeman worked as Deputy Chief of Mission and Chargé d’Affaires in the American embassies at both Bangkok (1984-1986) and Beijing (1981-1984). He was Director for Chinese Affairs at the U.S. Department of State from 1979-1981. He was the principal American interpreter during the late President Nixon’s path-breaking visit to China in 1972. In addition to his Middle Eastern, African, East Asian and European diplomatic experience, he had a tour of duty in India.