The Washington Post is reporting that two “top” thinktanks in Washington (whatever top means!) may cut ties with former AIPAC spokesperson Josh Block following Justin Elliott’s story showing that Block had tried to bring down critics of Israel at the Center for American Progress by calling them anti-Semites in an email circulated privately to rightwing journalists.
The Shakespeare phrase, “hoist on his own petard,” has never had such a perfect application….
This is a big story with big ramifications about what can and can’t be talked about in Washington. Two interpretations from smart friends in the news biz:
If, in fact, the Truman National Security Project (with a heavyweight foreign policy board/advisory council) and Progressive Policy Institute get rid of Josh Block, or even require him to provide a true public apology for anti-semitic smear tactics, it could (will?) signal a significant change in the debate over Israel: And it is this: Unsubstantiated charges and innuendos of anti-semitism in discussions about Israel for the purpose of shutting down debate, smearing opposing views, etc. are no longer tolerated, and a price will be exacted. This could be the flare in the night sky that gets everyone’s attention.Hopefully this will be begin to reverse a trend of many decades when unproven accusations and innuendos of anti-semitism against journalists, politicians and academics resulted in loss of jobs, damaged reputations and shunning by friends.Andrew Sullivan also wrote about Josh Block on his blog today. Blacklisting Netanyahu’s critics. Sullivan has come a long, long way from his days as a Marty Peretz admirer.
A second smart friend:
This whole incident, along with the WSJ op-ed attempting to parlay the Center for American Progress’s hospitality to criticism of Israel into donations from the few wealthy Jews who care enough about Israel, lay bare that (now) four tropes about the lobby, which we’ve been told never to discuss, are actually true:- The lobby smears critics as anti-Semites to silence them. (via Josh Block in Ben Smith’s pages [story that led to the Justin Elliott revelation])- The lobby is a loosely affiliated network that can coordinate and organize (via Josh Block’s email disclosed in Elliott’s piece)- The lobby wants war with Iran (via Josh Block in re: the criticism that Center for American Progress is too easy on Iran; when even the Washington Post ombudsman says the solid evidence does not prove Iran has a nuke weapons program — Anti-Semites?)- The lobby uses its political weight, not from the masses of American Jews, who are liberal, and care about many issues, including, yes, Israel, but through a small class of the wealthiest donors (via WSJ’s play)