‘Politico’: battle has begun for the soul of the Democratic Party over love affair with Likud

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
on 9 Comments
Obamaaipac
  Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama addressing AIPAC in 2008 (above). Is the Democratic Party consensus on Israel splintering?

A very important piece at Politico: Ben Smith acknowledges the tremendous significance of critics of Israel inside two Democratic Party establishment-linked orgs.

Two of the Democratic Party’s core institutions are challenging a bipartisan consensus on Israel and Palestine that has dominated American foreign policy for more than a decade.

The Center for American Progress, the party’s key hub of ideas and strategy, and Media Matters, a central messaging organization, have emerged as vocal critics of their party’s staunchly pro-Israel congressional leadership and have been at odds, at times, with Barack Obama’s White House, which has acted as a reluctant ally to Benjamin Netanyahu’s Israeli government.

The piece is important for while it grants a platform to AIPAC and Democratic Party Israel lobbyists– Josh Block, who once worked for Ted Kennedy– to pee all over the trend, Smith knows that the splintering I am constantly predicting has begun, and begun where the neocons began their work, in thinktanks. The key players in this piece are MJ Rosenberg and Matt Duss, both effective insiders who are accused of fostering an agenda, but who are merely standing up for an open debate on our foreign policy.

Notice that Center for American Progress distances itself from these new voices:

CAP officials have told angry allies that the bloggers don’t speak for the organization, and senior fellow Brian Katulis – whose work is more standard Clinton-Democrat fare – stressed that in an email….

“There’s a distinction here that we have between the policy work that we do and the blogging work that we do,” he said. Middle East Progress “is clearly a progressive blog and it does respond to arguments that are made most forcefully by conservatives and it responds in that way.”

The director of CAP’s national security program, Ken Gude, also drew a distinction between the blog, which is CAP’s loudest megaphone, and its less confrontational policy work.

I love where Smith quotes MJ Rosenberg saying that Jennifer Rubin has dual loyalties. Brilliant. (When only Eric Alterman, John Judis, Hannah Arendt, and Joe Klein have had the courage to speak openly about dual loyalty previously– Arendt saying that Zionism commanded “double patriotism.”)

The push here is coming from the Democratic base, which includes many non-Zionists. I was at the Nation Institute dinner the other night, and there were many non-Zionists there. We’re in the house. You can’t get rid of us. Smith again:

Duss’s deputies hail from farther to the left: [Eli] Clifton and his colleague Ali Gharib came to CAP from Inter Press Service; their work is still published, by agreement with the Center for American Progress, on the blog of the Inter Press Service’s Jim Lobe, a stalwart of a range of foreign policy views well to the left of the Democratic Party.

Duss dismissed his staffs’ intellectual roots – “they’re just two very good reporters” – or the implication that they were saying anything radical.

“That recognition – there are two narratives here, there are actually two sides to this – it’s a sad statement on the debate in DC that just saying that gets you qualified as anti-Israel,” he said…

The end of the piece is given to Ali Abunimah. And he provides the context– in essence, the Democratic Party cannot marginalize a narrative of self-determination any longer.

“What is actually happening is that the discourse that lot of people in the Palestine solidarity community and activists have been engaging in is starting to break down the walls of the Washington bubble,” said Ali Abunimah, a longtime activist and the co-founder of the site Electronic Intifada. “But political intimidation from Israel’s supporters is still a much more powerful force than any change in thinking at the CAP.”

About Philip Weiss

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

Other posts by .


Posted In:

9 Responses

  1. Tristan
    December 7, 2011, 12:42 pm

    Zionism commanded “double patriotism.”

    That’s truly quaint. And Herman Cain didn’t have an extra-marital affair, he exhibited “double fidelity”.

  2. Dan Crowther
    December 7, 2011, 12:52 pm

    Like segregation in the American South, the siege of Gaza (and the entire Israeli occupation, for that matter) is a moral abomination that should be intolerable to anyone claiming progressive values,” wrote Matt Duss

    Wait, so merely paying lip service to “progressive” values does not a progressive make? what a radical idea.

  3. pabelmont
    December 7, 2011, 3:30 pm

    [Men] “who are accused of fostering an agenda, but who are merely standing up for an open debate on our foreign policy.”

    Isn’t a belief (and standing up for it) in free debate, “an agenda” in today’s USA (esp. in the so-called Democratic Party)? Aren’t we all supposed to toe a party-line (as in USSR’s good old Stalinist days of blessed (and, of course, universally kindly) remembrance?

  4. American
    December 7, 2011, 4:55 pm

    “But political intimidation from Israel’s supporters is still a much more powerful force than any change in thinking at the CAP.”

    This is true. As several former congressmen said……congressmen get bombarded with 5,000 pro Israel phone calls from the AIPAC phone tree machine on every issue that could remotely affect Israel.
    I don’t know how many like myself make calls concerning Israel and I/P, but I’ve done it continuously for years. ….sad to say I’ve seen no results from it. But if there were enough calls from our side of the issue we might seen some change.
    I would really like to see all the separate anti occupation, Pro Palestine State groups come together and actively work to attract people to their ranks and get themselves organized into a big enough force to compete with AIPAC.
    I don’t know why no one has done this unless it is fear that “being officially organized” and registered as a “Lobby” would get it labeled as a anti semitic organization. However I don’t think AIPAC could get away with that smear because of the various Jewish groups themselves who would be part of such an organization.
    Maybe this isn’t or won’t be necessary, maybe the zios are in melt down already.
    We will see.

  5. yourstruly
    December 7, 2011, 5:38 pm

    as jewish anti-zionism takes off, zionists of all religious persuasion will feel intimidated by the massive opposition building against israel. immediately evident will be the circle-the-wagons defensive mentality of the settler-entity’s u.s. backers. “how can we be traitors”, they’ll ask, “when there’s no light between america’s & israel’s interests?” ineffectively now, however, as anti-zionists, coming on like gangbusters, completely capture the narrative, such that, within a year – palestine, just and free. and the zionist entity israel? past tense*.

    *the entity, not its people

  6. Bill in Maryland
    December 7, 2011, 9:17 pm

    Gosh, isn’t this now finally enough of an opening for Chris Matthews’ producers on MSNBC? Just assemble a panel with Matt Duss and MJ Rosenberg or Ali Gharib and Eli Clifton to face off with Josh Block and Jennifer Rubin to talk about the role of Israel in American politics. Let the Americans hear these issues out in the open.

  7. Kathleen
    December 8, 2011, 9:56 am

    “are challenging a bipartisan consensus on Israel and Palestine that has dominated American foreign policy for more than a decade.”
    Six decades

    Weiss “Smith knows that the splintering I am constantly predicting has begun, and begun where the neocons began their work, in thinktanks.”

    The splintering began decades ago due to efforts by Senator Fullbright, Congressman Findlay, Carter etc. Incremental and clearly building the last five years. But there has been a steady and persistent drip drip drip within the party. Have been part of several citizens lobbying groups for decades. We have met with many Ohio and other Reps amazing what they have said “off the record” about the influence of the I lobby. What they really feel about the Israeli Palestinian conflict.

    New America Foundation and other think tanks where Steve Clemons, Flynt Leverett others are breaking away sure have increased the “splintering .”

    Clearly there is a real crack in the wood and a steady stream of light is coming in.

  8. yourstruly
    December 8, 2011, 4:39 pm

    are we at one of those biblical moments where the forces of good battle the forces of evil?

    as to which way it goes, isn’t the battle for justice in palestine turning out to be the decider?

    if so, who, if any, are the chosen people?

    might not it be each and everyone who supports justice for palestine?

    a monumental struggle, if ever there was one

    one decisive victory

    all it’ll take

  9. seafoid
    December 8, 2011, 5:32 pm

    The ultimate question is always how does this development relate to global capitalism ? The Democratic party has no soul.

Leave a Reply