MJ Rosenberg reports on Lenny Ben-David, who is leading the smear campaign against J Street, which is being sponsored by the Zionist Organization of America. Which is a big supporter of the illegal colonies in the West Bank. Rosenberg:
At AIPAC, Lenny was in charge of the AIPAC version of oppo research. Lenny compiled files on everyone who criticized Israeli policies in any way and used the material he gathered to destroy careers. Lenny loved his files. He loved sending college kids out to gather negative information about journalists, politicians, rabbis, whatever. I remember Lenny’s file on Washington Post columnist, Richard Cohen. You’d think Cohen was in charge of the Beer Hall putsch.
Lenny loved his files. In fact, Lenny once complained to me that his successor at AIPAC didn’t maintain the files the way he would have. His successor was one Steve Rosen who, I am sure, kept the files beefed up quite nicely. (Steve really knows files).[good line]
Lenny now lives in Israel in the Efrat settlement. He’s been on the payroll of the governments of Turkey, Georgia, oil companies, whoever will pay. He also was a Netanyahu aide. He remains close to AIPAC and to Netanyahu, although, oddly, Lenny was never really that thrilled about Netanyahu.
I wonder who is paying for his current efforts. Someone is. The boy don’t work for nothing although smearing "leftists" (by which Lenny means Jews and others who don’t hate Arabs) is something he would do for fun.
Anyway, it’s nice to know that it’s Lenny, a feckless character if there ever was one, who is running the anti-J Street campaign. If it was Steve Rosen, I’d be worried.
Here is Spencer Ackerman’s expose of Ben-David’s racism. And here is Dan Luban’s analysis of J Street’s political positioning. Smart. Though god knows many of these folks supported the Iraq war and the Gaza slaughter too.
I have to imagine that these are exactly the battle lines that J Street’s leadership is hoping for. From the perspective of winning over the American Jewish community, they could not ask for more than to have their most prominent attacker be not merely an AIPACer and Likudnik, but a settler to boot. The campaign against J Street will only succeed if it can peel off the liberal center of US Jewry; for the battle to turn into liberals against neocons would be the best possible outcome for J Street, which has no aspirations to win over the Commentary crowd. So far, the group seems to have been successful at courting the liberal center — the likes of Martin Indyk, Eric Yoffie, and Jonathan Chait are all appearing at the conference.