Arianna’s friends

on 27 Comments

Arianna Huffington’s recent trip to Israel/Palestine has been getting some attention on this site and has done very little to displace the moniker Huffpep (progressive except Palestine). I hadn’t followed the trip very closely, but I did come across this interesting nugget on her last post:

On my way to the airport in Tel Aviv, I stopped at the Dallal Restaurant for dinner with Gidi Grinstein and his wife, and my friend Dan Adler, an LA based entrepreneur and former CAA executive, who was also flying back to the U.S.

Why is this interesting? Well, it opens very serious questions about who Huffington was meeting with and who she gets her information from on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict (and the broader Middle East). Here is Gidi Grinstein being interviewed by Jeffrey Goldberg in 2008:

Talk about the importance of settling the Palestinian problem.

I think that we have been very successful in containing the Palestinian issue. What I mean by containing is that day-to-day decisions of the vast majority of the Israel population are unaffected by our conflict with the Palestinians. This is precisely the opposite of what the Palestinians wanted to achieve. They wanted to bring chaos.

Nice. In the same interview Grinstein refers to the settler movement as "a very important voice of our people." Grinstein is founder of the Reut Institute which is a leading think tank that works with the Israeli government.

Even more interesting to me is Dan Adler, the former entertainment agent who ran the recent campaign to discredit and misrepresent the protests at the Toronto International Film Festival. Working under the sponsorship of the Los Angeles’ Jewish Federation and United Jewish Appeal of Toronto, Adler coordinated the counter ad which misrepresented the protest as a boycott and put out the spurious claim that it was a blacklist.

This wasn’t Adler’s first time running interference for the Israeli occupation. Back in 2002, during the height of the second Intifada, Adler helped pull together a similar group of Hollywood A-listers to support Israel. Part of this effort included organizing a $10,000-a-seat get together with Benjamin Netanyahu. From the September, 2002 LA Times article "In Hollywood, a Small Break in the Silence on Israel":

Last May, after a rash of suicide bombings in Israel and the Israeli army’s incursion into Palestinian territory, former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had breakfast with some Hollywood players. These weren’t his usual conservative hosts but mostly liberals, among them TV legend Norman Lear, "Rock the Vote" co-founder and record executive Jeff Ayeroff, and film director Jon Turteltaub.

Most had paid $10,000 apiece for this sit-down, money that was to seed a new Hollywood group seeking to somehow help Israel in the court of public opinion.

After listening to what some perceived as Netanyahu’s right-wing politicking, though, many were overwhelmed with the sense that Israel was in desperate need of a distinctly Hollywood commodity: the public relations blitz. . .

Unofficially spearheaded by Dan Adler, a 39-year old Creative Artists agent who organized the Netanyahu breakfast, the effort, dubbed Project Communicate, this fall will launch a marketing push on college campuses. The idea is "to create defenders and advocates of Israel," says Adler, the son of a Holocaust survivor whose group is trying to navigate Hollywood’s political divisions by adopting a non-ideological stance.

Project Communicate turned to college campuses after Adler had an disturbing discussion with Jehuda Reinharz, president of Brandeis University and his wife, Shulamit. Adler explained:

"It was a real eye-opening and discomforting experience, because it was obvious that the students could really understand the sympathetic plight of the Palestinians, and the responsibility of the government of Israel to take more responsibility to try to find a solution," Adler said. "But there was not appreciation for Israel’s vulnerability."

Project Communicate immediately got to work bringing the p.r. blitz to college campuses and collaborated with none other than Frank Luntz to figure out the best way to re-frame the conflict. From a 2002 Jewish Journal article on Project Communicate:

When Benjamin Netanyahu visited Los Angeles in May as part of The Jewish Federation’s Jews in Crisis campaign, a group of 25 entertainment industry creative people and executives from across the political spectrum held a breakfast meeting with the former prime minister. Since that time, Project Communicate has identified college students as its first priority, commissioning prominent political consultant Frank Luntz to report on the issues, arguments and ideas that can effect pro-Israel attitudes on campus.

Whoever is making the case for Israel — organization or individual, student or teacher, Jew or non-Jew — convincing Americans of any position requires the right words, the right language and the right framing. At the behest of Project Communicate, the American Jewish Committee and other organizations, Luntz went beyond college students, examining a range of U.S. attitudes toward the situation and the language that works to persuade Americans.

Luntz will be familiar to close followers of the issue because he has stuck with the program, most recently working with the Israel Project on its infamous hasbara guide, but Project Communicate didn’t make it. In the end it couldn’t find the funding to continue, but evidently Adler kept at it. Many of the names associated with that earlier effort reappeared in the ad to smear the Toronto Protest, including writer Michael Tolkin and executive Sherry Lansing. Seems like Adler is close to Huffington as well.

Does this help explain the fact that Huffington reporting from Israel/Palestine was almost entirely uncritical of the occupation? Perhaps. It does seem that the time with Grinstein may already be paying dividends, as Huffington is now appearing on cable news saying Iran is "challenging the existential presence of Israel." So much for the liberal media.

27 Responses

  1. Chaos4700
    September 29, 2009, 9:35 pm

    I’ve gotten fewer and fewer postings from my latent accounts from the Palestinian commentators at “Huffpep” that I follow.

    I’m telling you right now, there was a big and very noticable shift in January. There was some (perhaps anemic, but still) attempts at being equivocal and giving both Palestinian and anti-occupation perspectives on Huff Po before then, but part way during Operation Cast Lead somebody really clamped down on HuffPo and turned it into a Zionist protectorate.

    I know it’s too easy to sound like I’m merely disgruntled — yes, I’ve had like three accounts banned — but I’m not the only one who noticed it, by far. At least a few other regulars were able to slip in sideways comments about the biased comment moderation while I could still post there I made posts every now and then pointing out how lopsided comment moderation had become .

    I recall on one article, out of approved comments 40% were from one specific, rabidly pro-Israel / anti-Muslim commenter who routinely used racial epithets, swore in German to get insults past comment moderation, and literally rejoiced in any article that talked about Afghan civilians getting killed. As many comments had been approved, more than that were still sitting in the queue waiting approval.

    Too bad for Huff Po in where they’ve dropped anchor. I hope they’re not altogether too shocked when the tide rises and their boat ends up getting dragged under the waves.

    • Mooser
      September 30, 2009, 10:03 am

      Are you sure it was German? Whenever I swear or epithet in Yiddish it’s taken for German.

      • Chaos4700
        September 30, 2009, 10:15 am

        Oh it was German. I know German. They were complete sentences in German. I know Yiddish and German are pretty similar, and I don’t really know much Yiddish at all but from what I’ve been told, you can’t necessarily speak in one language and expect to be understood by someone only speaking the other.

        Topping it all off, the guy was an Eastern European immigrant who moved to the German speaking world, from what he’d claimed earlier. I was rather amused — and perhaps a little offended — that someone like that was trumpeting not just Western society by German supremacy as well.

      • Chaos4700
        September 30, 2009, 10:17 am

        By the way, I need to clarify that the last sentence of that first paragraph was not meant to be as snarky as it might sound. I’m referring specifically to someone speaking in German not necessarily being understood by someone only knowing Yiddish and vice versa.

      • Mooser
        September 30, 2009, 11:24 am

        As you probably know, many words common between the two, but obviously, as you say, it was German.
        Anti-Muslim bigotry has simply become common currency in the US.

  2. Dan Kelly
    September 29, 2009, 9:57 pm

    Great work exposing the players, Adam. Thank you.

  3. Cliff
    September 29, 2009, 10:26 pm

    So in more ethnocentric news, look at this LATimes piece on Roman Polanski:

    link to

    Directors Martin Scorsese, David Lynch and Woody Allen are among dozens in the film industry to sign a petition calling for the immediate release of Polanski. Academy-Award winning film producer Harvey Weinstein, also a signatory to the petition, wrote in the UK Indpendent calling the original plea deal in Polanski’s case a “miscarriage of justice.”

    “Whatever you think about the so-called crime, Polanski has served his time,” Weinstein wrote.

    There’s the Hollywood Liberals. “So-called” crime?

    ‘Let them eat cake’, says Weinstein.

    • Mooser
      September 30, 2009, 10:04 am

      Woodt Allan and Roman Polanski, now there’s a pair!

  4. Citizen
    September 29, 2009, 11:47 pm

    Polanski needs Woody’s endorsement like a hole in the head. Polanski of course did not serve his time at all. Can I stick your 13 year old daughter after I get her drunk and full of pills? Hollywood will protect me forever.

    The Polanski deal was the talk on Fox News last night, and Hannity went on, claiming total shock, I tell you, total shock:
    Irish Catholic Hasbara Hannity shocked when Traficant brings up the Israel Lobby as controlling our foreign policy on FOX News–“We have developed serious
    enemies due to Israel Lobby’s control of US congress–our boys are coming home in body bags”– about half way into the video clip Traficant spells it out; Hannity calls him a conspiracy nut; Traficant said the same thing
    on Greta V S show but unlike Hannity, she just mostly listened–and got taken to task for that…

    link to

    What the f*** is it with these thick mick mental midgets like Hannity & Chris Matthews? I can say that as I’m Irish.

  5. MRW
    September 29, 2009, 11:52 pm

    Then Arianna’s gone…down the river. She’s hooked up with the right-wing rednecks now and there’s nothing we can do: HuffPo is IOT. She’ll throw a one-sentence nod at the end of something about how things should be fairer, but more than that? Nah.

    • Todd
      September 30, 2009, 1:31 pm

      With all of the cavorting that media and celebrity types have done over the years with the Zionist types, I have never seen anyone accused of hooking up with the right-wing kikes. My guess is that it wouldn’t go over so well. Wana guess what label you would be branded with?

      • MRW
        September 30, 2009, 7:05 pm

        Hunh? I call Likudniks right-wing rednecks; ditto Yisrael Beitenu. Period. Same as I called Bush and his ilk. They are political rednecks. And I’ve said it many times before on this board.

  6. MRW
    September 30, 2009, 12:05 am

    Good piece, Adam.

  7. MRW
    September 30, 2009, 1:00 am

    Just watched the Arianna clip on Glenn Greenwald’s page. One of Arianna’s breathless reasons for why Iran is a “grave threat to Israel” is that Iran doesn’t accept Israel’s history: The holocaust.

    Let pretend that’s 100% true. So one country doesn’t accept the history of another…that creates license for the historically challenged country to bomb the non-believer? Over not buying their history? That’s a reason? I must be in fucking Neverland here. The insanity we’re being sold. The idiocy.

    • Dan Kelly
      September 30, 2009, 9:05 am

      It’s mind-boggling, and what’s even scarier is that many “well-educated” people in this country will listen to Arianna’s “reasoning” and not even think twice about it.

    • Mooser
      September 30, 2009, 10:06 am

      That “Iran denies the Holocaust” is always being trotted out as a self-evident reason to destroy them. It is exceptionally stupid, but it seems to make sense to them.

      • MRW
        September 30, 2009, 7:08 pm

        Yeah, it was as if I heard the inherent stupidity for the first time (so that says something about my brainpower, or lack thereof.) I deny there’s a Halloween. Shoot me. I deny there was a WWI. Shoot me. I deny Christmas. Run a stake through my heart.


  8. Tuyzentfloot
    September 30, 2009, 2:45 am

    I knew Luntz only through the work of George Lakoff. Luntz as the adviser on republican messaging. See eg this article: link to

  9. Todd
    September 30, 2009, 12:20 pm

    When I hear claims of holocaust denial, I’m reminded of the arguments of the last decades between Jews and Poles about what really happened at Auschwitz. Then I toy with the idea that limiting the suffering to mainly one group is also a form of holocaust denial.

    For some reason, I don’t expect Poland to declare war on Irael or world Jewry.

  10. wondering jew
    September 30, 2009, 12:59 pm

    Taken alone a denial of history is not a cause for war. It is only when combined with other factors: 1. parading missiles festooned with “death to Israel” proclamations, 2. speaking of Israel disappearing from the page of history, 3. the philosophy of the Iranian revolution and its founder’s statements, 4. the history of war: supporting Hamas and Hezbollah and responsibility for the bombing of a Jewish center in Buenos Aires in 1994, that their historic view demonstrates a deadly intent.

    • Todd
      September 30, 2009, 1:02 pm

      And all of that is a threat to the United States in what way? Would you say that Israel has any role to play in Iran’s supposed animosity towards Israel?

    • Mooser
      September 30, 2009, 1:54 pm

      wondering Jew, as a sincere Zionist and fervent Jew, I can assure you that the Zionist project has G-d’s complete blessing, and no harm can ever come to the Jews of Israel. The fact that they are worried about Iran is very distressing. It shows an alarming lack of faith in the protection of Zionism by the Almighty!
      Why do you think the British and French colonial protectorates were allowed to lapse? Israel is under divine protection, and there is no reason to worry.
      You’ll just make yourself ill.

    • Mooser
      September 30, 2009, 1:56 pm

      But I’m a little confused, wondering. Are you saying Israel should declare war on Iran, or that America should declare war on Iran in Israel’s behalf?
      I mean, Israel defended by Gentiles from America? Is that right?

  11. Mooser
    September 30, 2009, 2:02 pm

    Wondering, of course if you are on your way down to sign up for the American Army or even the IDF to fight Iran, don’t let us stop you! Please carry on. You could blog from Tehran.
    Cause you’re not one of those people who, having seen Israel lose its colonial protectors (shoulda thought twice about that King David thing, fella) is always looking to drag some other poor schmuck in as your , well, shabbes Goy. I know you’re not like that.
    Besides, you got any oil in Israel to sell us? Oh, that’s disappointing. Guess we’ll just have to work things out with Iran.

    But like I said, if you want to go and fight with Iran, don’t let us stop you. Chances are you could get into a Special Forces unit operating on the border right now, tough guy.

  12. Kathleen
    September 30, 2009, 6:28 pm

    ARianna reaching out and opening up on this issue. Her site truly was occupied territory a couple of years ago. Good sign

  13. Todd
    September 30, 2009, 10:36 pm

    MRW September 30, 2009 at 7:05 pm
    “Hunh? I call Likudniks right-wing rednecks; ditto Yisrael Beitenu. Period. Same as I called Bush and his ilk. They are political rednecks. And I’ve said it many times before on this board.”

    I admit to despising the term redneck, but I am only half-serious in my response to your post–and I certainly wouldn’t want anyone censored. However, I do find it interesting that redneck would be the slur to use against Bush, his ideological handlers or the Likudniks.

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