January 18, 2012

So What Else Is New?

We applaud Ms. Goodman for pointing out the latest activities of the White House's Israel-bashing crowd (see below), but to her, or more importantly to the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee and the Simon Wiesenthal Center, we say: So what else is new, and where have you been for the last 5+ years?!

President Obama's affinity to rabid Israel and/or Jew-haters was well known long before he was elected. Remember Rev. Jeremiah Wright? Not to mention venomous Israel-haters like Robert Malley, Rashid Khalidi, Zbignew Brezinski, Richard Falk, George Soros, Samantha Power, Rosa Brooks, Bill Ayers, et al to new but a few Obama acquaintances? These individuals were all known Obama friends/colleagues/associates/advisors before Mr. Obama was elected president.

So whom did these Jewish organizations think Mr. Obama would do business with AFTER he was elected? Mr. Obama received close to 80% of the Jewish vote, a clear indication that these groups failed (or simply didn't bother) to educate their constituents.

As for "traditional Democratic support for Israel," well, that ship has long sailed. The Democratic Party of today is not the Democratic Party of yesteryear, and the sooner American Jewish organizations join the 21st century, the better. Time to hold all political parties accountable, be they traditional or not.

New York Post  |  January 18, 2012

The White House's Israel-Bashing Pals

By Alana Goodman


Last December, a top anti-Semitism watchdog group accused the Center for American Progress, a prominent Washington think tank, of peddling anti-Israel and borderline anti-Semitic material on its Web site and Twitter feeds. Six days later, President Obama met for coffee with the man who oversaw the offending content – Faiz Shakir, the site's editor-in-chief.

That the president met with Shakir amid the ballooning scandal illustrates just
how close the administration is with CAP. Now that association may come back to haunt the White House, as three leading Jewish groups – the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee and the Simon Wiesenthal Center – have accused CAP and its staff of publishing "anti-Israel," "hateful" and "toxic anti-Jewish" material.

The Jewish organizations' ire is directed even more strongly at Media Matters for America – another influential, activist liberal Washington group. But CAP's failings are more significant, because it has been a revolving door to the administration.

CAP founder John Podesta piloted Obama's 2008 presidential transition team and now holds a State Department advisory role; founding board member Carol Browner served as Obama's energy czar. CAP Action Fund President Jennifer Palmieri just joined the White House as deputy communications director.

And Shakir has had multiple meetings with White House officials, including one last August with the National Security Council's Quintan Wiktorowicz.

Making these close ties to the administration especially troubling is CAP's intensely anti-Israel slant.

Speaking with the Jerusalem Post recently about CAP and Media Matters, the American Jewish Committee's Jason Isaacson said, "Think tanks are entitled to their political viewpoints – but they're not free to slander with impunity . . . References to Israeli 'apartheid' or 'Israel-firsters' are so false and hateful they reveal an ugly bias no serious policy center can countenance."

The Wiesenthal Center found the writers "are guilty of dangerous political libels resonating with historic and toxic anti-Jewish prejudices." The ADL noted: "Most of their blogs come from a perspective of blaming Israel for the lack of progress in Israeli-Palestinian affairs and minimizing or rationalizing the Iranian threat."

The controversy reached a new height over the use of the term "Israel firster." The phrase, popularized in White Power newsletters in the 1970s and '80s, accuses American supporters of Israel of being more loyal to the Jewish state than to their own country. Later adopted by fringe pro-Palestinian groups, the slur has since become common on extremist white supremacist and anti-Israel Web forums.

Then it surfaced in writings put out by Media Matters and CAP. "Waiting 4 hack pro-Dem blogger to use this [link] 2 sho Obama is still beloved by Israel-firsters and getting lots of their $$" wrote Zaid Jilani, a reporter for CAP's site, on Twitter last July.

At Media Matters, Senior Fellow MJ Rosenberg openly delights in using the term. "Cool. A major journalist, who I won't name, gives me credit for making term 'Israel Firster' acceptable. I wish. But I'll do my best," he wrote on Twitter.

While Rosenberg continues to use the term, the uproar prompted CAP's Jilani to apologize, saying he hadn't realized the connotations. CAP's blog avowed, "We don't endorse the term 'Israel firsters' or demonize the Jewish state on ThinkProgress. Further, there is no anti-Semitic or anti-Israel 'hate speech' written anywhere on this blog."

But American Jewish groups disagreed. The ADL pointed to a CAP article that suggested the Israel lobby had pushed America into war with Iraq. In another, its Middle East Progress director, Matt Duss, called "the entire Israeli occupation" of Gaza "a moral abomination" like the Jim Crow South.

The AJC noted the odious "Israeli apartheid" references, such as a Jilani tweet: "So DC 'liberals' are going to spend a lot of time defending Obama against the charge that he's not supportive enough of Israeli apartheid."

CAP hasn't distanced itself from these comments or even acknowledged that they're anti-Israel. If it deems them acceptable public comment, one wonders what the internal dialogue is like at the think tank – and among the alumni who have gone on to the Obama administration.

At a minimum, the controversy highlights how progressive groups are working to undermine traditional Democratic support for Israel. Whatever problems Republicans had with demagogues like Pat Buchanan back in the '90s, such fringe ideas are increasingly unwelcome in the GOP. Will the Democratic Party similarly reject these ideas now – or tolerate anti-Semitic canards and the demonizing of Israel by its top institutions?

Alana Goodman is the assistant online editor of Commentary.

Original article here.


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