Washington Post Columnist Gives Private AIPAC Talks on How to Help Israel in ’08 Election

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
on 17 Comments

According to the AIPAC website, tomorrow in New York, Peter Beinart, a columnist for Time and the Washington Post and a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, will be giving a "briefing" to "discuss Jewish involvement in American politics. He will talk
of the role that the pro-Israel community can play in the coming
elections." Sounds like a pep talk.

I emailed AIPAC about going to the event and Hila Stern, a "leadership" manager, called to say that the briefing is off the record. I imagine the same is true of Beinart’s appearance at the Knoxville AIPAC next month. And I see that Beinart also spoke 2 weeks back in Philadelphia to AIPAC’s "Senate club," people who give over $10,000 to the organization, where he also addressed "the role that the pro-Israel community can play in the coming elections."

Journalists should be allowed to make money from speaking engagements, but I find Beinart’s appearances unseemly. AIPAC is a "controversial" organization (the adjective routinely used for Walt and Mearsheimer’s book in the mainstream media). Or anyway, it’s an important advocacy group on a central issue in the election. I wonder what a Time and Washington Post columnist is  advocating to advocates about.

More important, Beinart’s 2006 book, The Good Fight, urged Americans to make their country great again by going to war against terror in Iraq and elsewhere and in doing so utterly suppressed the Israel/Palestine issue. Israel and Palestine are unmentioned in the index, they show up glancingly in the text. The big lesson of the book is a neoconservative lesson that "tyranny breeds jihad"–not American policies in the Middle East. This argument might be more convincing if its proponents would at least acknowledge a simple fact (best expressed by Mohamed El Baradei) that Palestinian conditions are a "red flag" of injustice across the Muslim world. Beinart’s complete failure to mention the hateful and illegal Israeli occupation of the West Bank is of course consistent with many other pro-war Jewish voices, including Paul Berman, Lawrence Kaplan, Bill Kristol, and Ken Pollack, that murderers’ row of intellectuals who pushed the Iraq war and merged liberalism with neoconservatism ( The New Republic, Dissent, and the American Enterprise Institute). None of them saw the Israeli occupation or Palestinian conditions as a real problem.

The AIPAC notices confirm what I have suspected about Beinart, a pro-Israel agenda. There is nothing wrong with having an agenda; most everyone’s got one. What’s wrong is when journalists hide ideas that are important to them from the public.

Will AIPAC (or Time Magazine or the Washington Post) review the decision to bar reporters from Beinart’s talk?

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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17 Responses

  1. Martin
    March 12, 2008, 10:41 am

    Phil,

    Well I've wondered for a few months whether you were naive, dishonest, of just extra stupid. After your assertion that Peter Beinart "hides" his pro-Israel agenda (and therefore the New Republic does too), I'd have to say you are all three. Is there anyone with an ounce of sense taking you seriously?

  2. Tom
    March 12, 2008, 11:09 am

    Phil, don't let these silly ad homenem attacks get you down. Your blog provides a valuable service. Thank you for your good work.

  3. Jim Haygood
    March 12, 2008, 11:17 am

    .

    Phil, what a find! I'm not sure whether you spotted that after the NYC luncheon, Beinart is headed across the Hudson for a $500 per couple dinner at the Rockleigh (N.J.) country club. Details:

    "Mike Sachs, [AIPAC] Northeast Regional Director, will moderate a panel with Dan Senor, Fox News Consultant, and Peter Beinart, editor-at-large for the New Republic, on 'Election 2008: Implications for Israel and US Foreign Policy.'"

    As always, Israel comes first. The ruinous distortion of U.S. foreign policy is only a secondary concern.

    It's shenanigans like this which produce the corrosive cynicism and distrust of journalists, who masquerade as impartial observers, then show their true colors by shilling for AIPAC. How much do you reckon Beinart is getting paid for this appearance?

    Disclosure is surely the answer, though I don't how to go about it. Obliging Beinart to byline his columns as "Peter Beinart, Jew" is way too crass. But letting him get away with not disclosing his AIPAC affiliation is equally ugly and distasteful. My personal approach is to make sure that Time, the WaPo, and the New Republic don't receive a penny in subscription revenue from me.

  4. LeaNder
    March 12, 2008, 11:57 am

    "My personal approach is to make sure that Time, the WaPo, and the New Republic don't receive a penny in subscription revenue from me."

    And if I read your comments carefully neither does the Times (I don't like "the slime"; by the way! – Media support for the Iraq war and war drumming had the dimensions of mass psychosis, it seems. …)

  5. liberal white boy
    March 12, 2008, 1:31 pm

    Why single out Peter Beinart? The dearth of news coverage on the Rosen Weissman AIPAC espionage trial should tell us about everything we need to know about our ethnocentric media. It doesn't matter whether they give pep talks for the benefit of AIPAC or Israel or not. How can you look at facts like these and speculate about objectivity or professionalism of our media. It is just silly. Is It Time To Demand Affirmative Action In America's Mass Media? link to homo-sapien-underground.blogspot.com

  6. Charles Keating
    March 12, 2008, 3:20 pm

    Phil, keep it up. They are getting worried. Thinking Americans think you'd be a great presidential candidate consultant.

  7. edq
    March 12, 2008, 3:57 pm

    I went to an AIPAC meeting around 1991-1992 that wanted to organize people to lobby for U.S. support for Soviet Jewish emmigration to Israel. The AIPAC representative would not let me take notes because she did not want her organization to be "misconstrued".

  8. James North
    March 12, 2008, 4:45 pm

    Isn't AIPAC in effect bribing Beinart? Why would they need his "advice" on how to lobby the American public — don't they already know much more than he does?

  9. samuel burke
    March 12, 2008, 6:30 pm

    "tyranny breeds jihad"
    racism breeds jihad.
    and in the meanwhile, lives are extinguished slowly, the people suffer and are herded about like cattle, mistreated and diminished in personhood.

    how much time will it take to finally recognize this crime against humanity in what supposedly is rumored about that it is the only "democracy" in the middle east and this could be true as long as you get to redefine democracy.

    do only the most enlightened societies achieve this level of sophisticated extremeism, and lean towards an atempt to conquer the known world.

  10. Montag
    March 13, 2008, 1:27 am

    Phil, you may have lucked out. From the sound of things if you had attended they would have had to kill you afterwards. AIPAC makes the secretive Skull & Bones Society look like shameless exhibitionists.

  11. cogit8
    March 13, 2008, 2:51 am

    The recent 'resignation' of Admiral Fallon is Big News on the anti-war front. Justin Raimondo has written an excellent piece titled Fallon Fired, And We're F*cked. It's not often you see such truthful headlines as this one.

    link to antiwar.com

    It appears the neo-con-men are on the march again to save millions of lives by liquidating millions of lives.

    Phil: I can't remember if you've addressed the issue of Iran and where you stand vis-a-vis the preponderant Jewish attitude (war-like as opposed to dovish).
    Perhaps you could also comment on the "great percentage of Jews who oppose the war in Iraq" who haven't demonstrated any quantifiable opposition to the attrocities which Israel and the U.S. of A. are responsible for.

  12. Richard Silverstein
    March 13, 2008, 3:15 am

    Isn't it strange that a briefing offered by a journalist is off-limits to journalists? If I was a journalist speaking to a group which closed my remarks to my professional colleagues I'd be awfully uncomfortable. Besides, what is AIPAC afraid that Phil will hear that we don't already know AIPAC stands for? Are they afraid someone there will make a nasty remark about Obama that will get into the press?

    Pls. oh pls. someone (not Phil) attend & fill us in on the details…I'm dying to know what's the big secret.

  13. Jim Haygood
    March 13, 2008, 7:03 am

    .

    "Pls. oh pls. someone (not Phil) attend & fill us in on the details…I'm dying to know what's the big secret."

    Pay $500 to eat rubber chicken and spend 5-1/2 hours in group therapy, denouncing Iran as the Great Satan? Eeesh. No.

    However, I may stand outside the gate and heckle the silk-stocking parade of doctors, lawyers and real estate developers as they enter the country club. (Seriously.)

  14. opeluboy
    March 13, 2008, 7:23 pm

    No offense, Mr Weiss, but daily I talk to more and more people who are simply sick of Israel and resentful of the pull American Jews have in this country. This is not the first time in history, or the first country, in which people, rightly or wrongly, have felt this way.

    It is going to hit the fan eventually, and I don't think it will be any fun. not hoping for that, just predicting.

  15. Trevor
    March 17, 2008, 12:51 am

    Hey, if it's good for the Jews- who cares? That's the bottom line. Iraq- good. Patriot Act- good. Bomb, bomb Iran- good. Universal Health Care- bad. Lieberman as Defense Secretary- good. NIE report- bad. Maintaining the Bush tax cuts- good. Torture- good. Obama- bad. More money for Israel- good. More money for schools, roads, hospitals- bad.

  16. Trevor
    March 17, 2008, 12:52 am

    Hey, if it's good for the Jews- who cares? That's the bottom line. Iraq- good. Patriot Act- good. Bomb, bomb Iran- good. Universal Health Care- bad. Lieberman as Defense Secretary- good. NIE report- bad. Maintaining the Bush tax cuts- good. Torture- good. Obama- bad. More money for Israel- good. More money for schools, roads, hospitals- bad.

  17. theone23ord
    March 14, 2009, 11:49 pm

    Please read..

    iamthewitness.com

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