Meet the Chernicks

Israel/PalestineMiddle EastUS Politics
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A few weeks back Juan Cole created a data point to explain the neocons:

They have more assets than is visible on the surface. They have perhaps half of America’s 400 billionaires on their side.

I am deeply grateful to Cole for that assertion. Even if it’s imprecise, even if it’s off, it’s obviously based on knowledge of how the discourse works and it’s got a large truth in it: it explains the fiendish persistence inside the political establishment of neoconservatism. I wish Chris Matthews would have Cole on and ask him why he believes this, ask him who gives money to Yale and why Yale wouldn’t have Cole but Yale would have a conference that attacked Palestinian identity formation and "self-hating Jews."

Long preamble. Politico follows the money on the Islamic center opposition campaign, though it buries the neoconservative angle, the juicy one, deep in the story, who’s funding the opposition:

there’s also big money behind the mosque opposition, as highlighted by the relationship between Horowitz’s Los Angeles-based nonprofit, Jihad Watch — the website run by Spencer “dedicated to bringing public attention to the role that jihad theology and ideology play in the modern world” — and Joyce Chernick, the wife of a wealthy California tech company founder.

Though it was not listed on the public tax reports filed by Horowitz’s Freedom Center, POLITICO has confirmed that the lion’s share of the $920,000 it provided over the past three years to Jihad Watch came from Chernick, whose husband, Aubrey Chernick, has a net worth of $750 million, as a result of his 2004 sale to IBM of a software company he created, and a security consulting firm he now owns.

A onetime trustee of the hawkish Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Aubrey Chernick led the effort to pull together $3.5 million in venture capital to start Pajamas Media, a conservative blog network that made its name partly with hawkish pro-Israel commentary and of late has kept up a steady stream of anti-mosque postings, including one rebutting attacks by CAIR against Spencer — who Pajamas CEO Roger Simon called “one of the ideological point men in the global war on terror.”..

The David Horowitz Freedom Center had a budget of $4.5 million last year, according to its tax filings, of which $290,000 came from the conservative Bradley Foundation, which also gave $75,000 to the Center for Security Policy last year. Horowitz has received an average of $461,000 a year in salary and benefits over the past three years, while Spencer has pulled in an average of $140,000, according to the center’s IRS filings.

To its credit, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency then followed up that report:

Aubrey and Joyce Chernick, Politico reported, have over the years contributed to, among other groups, the Jewish Federation Council of Greater Los Angeles; the Anti-Defamation League; the Zionist Organization of America; MEMRI, a group that distributes translations of inflammatory Arabic language material; the Investigative Project on Terrorism, a group that tracks what it depicts as the threat of radical Islam;  the American Jewish Congress; CAMERA, a group that tracks what it says is anti-Israel bias in the media; the Central Fund for Israel, a clearinghouse for moneys directed to pro-settler groups; and a number of conservative think tanks.

Aubrey Chernick, additionally, was at one time a trustee of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Finally, Laura Rozen also follows up on it, showing the Chernicks’ links to the Hudson Institute, Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, and…. inevitably… the Central Fund of Israel, which funds settlers in the West Bank, including their "urgent security needs," and is administered by a 6th Avenue fabric store. Read Rozen’s list of Chernick contributions for her delicious twist on religiosity and secularism:

Similar donations in 2007 and 2006, including $190k in 2007 to the Hudson Institute; $200k in 2006 to the Zionist Organization of America, and $250k to ZOA in 2005; $60k in 2005 to the Central Fund of Israel, a U.S. nonprofit that funds settler security and other programs in Israel, and on whose board (listed in 2008 as vice president) is Itamar Marcus, who heads Palestinian Media Watch; $25k in 2005 to fund projects by Tariq Ismail at the Council for Secular Humanism (the funding for Islamic secularism contrasting with the foundation’s generous funding of Jewish religiosity, including Aish HaTorah of Los Angeles); $120k in 2005 to the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, on whose board Chernick’s wife Joyce Chernick served

Notice that Richard Silverstein has described Aubrey Chernick’s funding for StandWithUs, the Israel lobby group, and the neoconservative website Pajamas Media ($7 million, slightly more than the seed funding for this website) and pointing out that Jim Koshland of the Levi Strauss family was in on the deal– Silverstein speculates so that Koshland could get into the good business graces of the dynamic Chernick. Oh and Alex Kane posts on the Chernicks here.

About Philip Weiss

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

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