‘Tablet’ is mobbed up with neocons

Israel/Palestine
on 18 Comments

Yesterday Tablet smeared me and several other bloggers as Jew-baiters (a "scurrilous" piece righteously punctured by Jerry Haber here). A few connections. According to its latest (2008) IRS Form 990, Tablet’s parent, Nextbook, shares two board members (Arthur Fried, president, and Mem Bernstein, vice president) with the Tikvah Fund board, of which William Kristol is also a member. Tikvah’s central interest is said to be Israel’s leading neocon think tank, the Shalem Center, which my canary tells me Tikvah funds to the tune of several million dollars annually. Remember that Shalem gave us Michael Oren and Daniel Gordis (and Sheldon Adelson, Zionis Maximalis, funds Shalem too).

It’s worth noting that various contributors to Tablet include holdovers from the now defunct neoconservative rag, the NY Sun, including Seth Lipsky, who extolled the virtues of Sarah Palin’s support for Israel in a recent Tablet piece. And you’ll see Jeffrey Goldberg, Leon Wieseltier, and the turbulent Ruth Wisse among its contributors too.

The writer who smeared the bloggers, Lee Smith, has described Bethlehem as part of Israel. At 17:00, in this youtube, he talks about "Israeli Arabs living inside Israel… particularly in Bethlehem." Here at his website on the neocon Hudson Institute, Smith links the frightening Daniel Pipes’s review of Smith’s recent book, which Pipes describes as "a tool to comprehend the Arabs’ cult of death, honor killings, terrorist attacks, despotism, warfare, and much else."

Yes Tablet, which calls itself a "new read on Jewish life," has some bandwidth. A lot of openminded people work there. Today Tablet has a pretty good piece about Jewish anti-Zionists at the US Social Forum. Recently Tablet ran a historic piece by Daniel Luban on the failure of liberal Zionism.

P.S. Max Blumenthal demolishes Smith’s piece here. Excerpt:

Behind Smith’s crude invective lies a deep concern that non-Zionist academics, bloggers and reporters have secured platforms for their views at major online media outlets and inside the academy. They are effectively challenging his Orientalist perspective on the Middle East, which holds that, for instance, the “bloody and violent culture” of Arab leaders is the sole source of violence in the region. There was once a time when such views prevailed in the academy, and when criticism of Zionism was easily dismissed as a cover for anti-Semitic hatred. Smith seems keenly aware that the times are changing, even if his arguments read like the somnambulistic babbling of Alan Dershowitz from ten years ago.

About Philip Weiss

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

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18 Responses

  1. DICKERSON3870
    July 22, 2010, 11:40 am

    RE: “Sheldon Adelson, Zionis Maximalis” – Weiss
    MY ADMONISHMENT: Be nice, Phil!

    RE: “the somnambulistic babbling of Alan Dershowitz” – Blumenthal
    MY ADMONISHMENT: Be nice, Max!

  2. DICKERSON3870
    July 22, 2010, 11:51 am

    RE: “Yesterday Tablet smeared me and several other bloggers as Jew-baiters…” – Weiss
    MY COMMENT: Speaking of “Jew-baiters”, take a gander at this interesting response (comment) to Lee Smith’s Tablet column, “Mainstreaming Hate”.

    Jordy2010 says:
    Jul 21, 2010 at 8:16 PM
    Arent Jewish far-left loons the same kind of monsters who organized the Soviet-Union and are responsible for the deaths of over 100 million human beings???? I see no difference between them and neo-nazis…… when they come into a chatroom they all hate Jews!!! The Mossad shud take care of anti-Israel jews…… [My emphasis. - J.L.D.]

    LINK – link to tabletmag.com

    • seanmcbride
      July 22, 2010, 3:35 pm

      Is Lee Smith responsible for inciting the murder of Jews?

      According to Lee Smith, bloggers and authors are responsible for the sentiments of their commenters.

      Jordy2010, a fan of Lee Smith, seems to be urging Mossad to assassinate Jewish critics of Israel.

      So: are Lee Smith and Tablet Magazine (including Alana Newhouse) responsible for the views of Jordy2010?

      And: might Mossad, or unofficial vigilante groups, indeed run ops against influential critics of Israel like Philip Weiss, Andrew Sullivan, Stephen Walt, Glenn Greenwald and Jim Lobe? I seem to recall that critics of that stature (Michael Lerner? Tony Judt?) have received quite a few death threats over the years.

      What are we really dealing with here? The Dubai assassination is of course fresh in everyone’s mind — an act that was applauded by many pro-Israel activists, some of whom even offered their services for future ops of this kind.

      • DICKERSON3870
        July 22, 2010, 4:47 pm

        RE: “And: might Mossad, or unofficial vigilante groups, indeed run ops against influential critics of Israel” – seanmcbride
        FROM WIKIPEDIA: Jewish Defense Organization

        The Jewish Defense Organization (JDO) is a militant Jewish organization in the United States.
        The JDO was founded in the early 1980s by Mordechai Levy after a violent feud with the Jewish Defense League’s former leader Irv Rubin…
        …Rand Corporation terrorism authority Bruce Hoffman, noting that “terrorist organizations almost without exception now regularly select names for themselves that consciously eschew the word `terrorism’ in any of its forms,” includes the JDO as an example.[5]…
        …The JDO is right-wing in its stance on Israeli defense and foreign policy issues…The JDO has targeted Jewish organizations that it deems to be insufficiently supportive of Zionism
        …The JDO takes no stance on most domestic US issues unless they relate directly to anti-Semitism, or Zionism. An exception to this rule is the gun control, which the group strongly opposes…
        …Mark “Mordechai” Levy is the founder and leader of the JDO, and the only JDO member to receive substantial notice in the press. He spends much of his time promoting the JDO’s Camp Jabotinsky, which provides self-defense and gun training for young Jews at a facility in the Catskills. Levy is an avid follower of Ze’ev Jabotinsky, after whom the camp is named, and often repeats Jabotinsky’s motto: “Better to know how to shoot and not need to, than to need to and not know how.”[25]…

        SOURCE – link to en.wikipedia.org

      • seanmcbride
        July 23, 2010, 9:34 am

        If a global vigilante group is in fact operating to “neutralize” people that zealots like Lee Smith fear and hate, probably in sophistication it resembles Mossad more than the JDO. Think of the scope of the Dubai assassination. That is a different league entirely.

      • Chaos4700
        July 23, 2010, 9:48 am

        I take it donations to JDO are tax deductible to boot, right?

  3. Avi
    July 22, 2010, 12:30 pm

    I think it’s important to take into account ALL readers of these article, not just the well-informed ones.

    “Israeli Arabs living inside Israel… particularly in Bethlehem.”

    Therefore, it’s important to emphasize the fact that the above claim by Smith Lee is false. Bethlehem is part of what is commonly known as the occupied West Bank or Occupied Palestinian Territories.

    Such obvious lack of knowledge concerning the region explains Lee’s article and its merits. I’m not sure what’s worse, the fact that he received Pipes’ blessing on the book or whether Pipes finds it to be good scholarly research. Probably both.

    • annie
      July 22, 2010, 2:54 pm

      it’s not a lack of knowledge Avi, it is subterfuge. it is a MO if you say something repeatedly people will accept it as truth or at a minimum project the idea it is equally as valid and therefore open to dispute. it is the same as referencing the occupied territoies as ‘disputed’ because they dispute them even tho the term has legal implications.

  4. seanmcbride
    July 22, 2010, 12:42 pm

    Regarding Alana Newhouse: any relation to the billionaire Newhouses? Yes? No?

    And does Richard Silverstein have his facts in order about Tablet’s ties to the Avi Chai Foundation? (See his recent post on Tikun Olam.) It appears to be a hard-right religious Zionist outfit, in the tradition of Rav Avraham Kook.

    • wondering jew
      July 22, 2010, 1:08 pm

      The father of religious Zionism is Rabbi Avraham Kook. His son, Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook is the one to whom one usually attributes the hard right religious Zionism.

      • seanmcbride
        July 22, 2010, 1:31 pm

        Thanks for the clarification: I read Ehud Sprinzak’s “The Ascendance of Israel’s Radical Right” some years ago on this topic, but had forgotten the details on the Kooks.

        In any case, I get the impression that Tablet Magazine to some degree may be under the influence of the hard-right religious Zionist tradition via the Avi Chai Foundation (if Silverstein’s facts are in order).

  5. seanmcbride
    July 22, 2010, 12:43 pm

    Lee Smith on bombing Syria

    link to cnas.org

    BEGIN QUOTE
    The second problem I have with Lee’s book is what I believe to be an underdeveloped understanding of American force and its limits. About three years ago, I was having a beer with a friend in Kramerbook’s when Lee walked in. We all three knew each other from Beirut and soon began talking about the intransigence of the Syrian regime. Lee shocked us by suggesting quite seriously that one option would be to bomb the presidential palace in Damascus or perhaps the residence in Latakia. I had breakfast with the same friend on Easter Sunday, and I checked with him to make sure I had remembered this conversation correctly. (I had.) What shocked me is that Lee had not seemed to think too seriously about the political effect he intended to achieve with this act of force.
    END QUOTE

    • DICKERSON3870
      July 22, 2010, 6:33 pm

      RE: “What shocked me is that Lee had not seemed to think too seriously about the political effect he intended to achieve with this act of force.” – Abu Muqawama
      FROM TED RALL, 07/22/10:

      …Umberto Eco’s 1995 essay “Eternal Fascism” describes the cult of action for its own sake under fascist regimes and movements: “Action being beautiful in itself, it must be taken before, or without, reflection. Thinking is a form of emasculation.”…
      …Robert O. Paxton defined fascism as “a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion.”…

      SOURCE – link to commondreams.org

  6. Avi
    July 22, 2010, 1:51 pm

    Does Stephen Walt think he has the credentials to argue against an Israeli archeologist and a scholar to the extent that Walt can dismiss one of the “bloggers” on his website as “wing-nuts” for stating that which is common knowledge for those who are familiar with Israel Finkelstein and Neil Silberman?

  7. Richard Witty
    July 23, 2010, 4:26 am

    I thought that Walt’s comments were more useful, but also with holes.

    His thesis is largely that he was misrepresented, that what was represented were commentators’ attitudes, not the authors, and that as an author he bore little responsibility for how his arguments were or could be used.

    I think its clear that his arguments, and Phil’s were misrepresented. It was a careless generalization, a smear.

    And, at the same time, I DON’T hold that Phil or Walt or Silverstein are innocent in the process, that commentators’ comments are not their responsibility or do not result from their actions.

    Relative to Walt and Mearsheimer, they clarified that they were applying an actual realist observation to the relationship of the US to Israel and the rest of the world, and the role of Israel advocates to cement the particular policy decisions evolving/devolving.

    The first publication in the LRB was not realist in the slightest, but partisan advocacy. The verbal defense of their article, mostly by Mearsheimer was amplifyingly partisan, and so selective in his supporting facts, as to resemble propaganda (beyond even partisan judgement).

    And worse. His presentations had a distinctively vindictive tone (maybe he was just personally defensive to attacks on his reputation). And worse, the content of a partisan/propagandistic article entitled “The Israeli Lobby”, is a MINOR diversion from overtly fascist themes that have played for centuries.

    If he/they were not aware that their theme was close to the fascist (even if definitively distinct), then they were ethically negligent.

    In heated partisan argument, partisan and ethnically targeted WAR (in the real world), to just circle the wagons rather than address the issues raised that might be plausible, is itself intellectual negligence.

    • Citizen
      July 23, 2010, 1:15 pm

      Witty’s comment here is filled with unsupported hasbara statements.

  8. Rowan
    July 23, 2010, 5:27 am

    That Blumenthal article is the one where he classifies me among one or two others as a “semi-literate comment troll” who writes “screeds”.

    Of course, in the debate about USAian-jewish journalism and its limits, nobody debates the statement Lee Smith took me to task for: that the USA is entirely controlled by jews of one variety or another. Since to even think this, let alone to say it, is ‘anti-semitic’, in the sense that the paid spokespersons of ‘the jewish community’ consider that it exposes them to possible hatred or hostility, the question of whether it is a true statement or a false one need not be debated.

    If I expand the statement to “every significant institution in the USA is either directly controlled by jews, or is controlled by their nominees, or is subject to jewish veto and penalties if it in any way incurs jewish disapproval,” then I think it is easily proven to be entirely true.

  9. Citizen
    July 23, 2010, 1:13 pm

    Looks like Jeffrey Goldberg has made up some samples of anti-semitic blog comments–the comments don’t show the date or the commenter’s name or pen name; they sure don’t look like any comments I’ve seen on Mondoweiss:
    link to theatlantic.com

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