‘WaPo’ says Block could be casualty of ‘anti-Semites’ accusation

josh block
Josh Block

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)

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.
Posted in Israel Lobby, Israel/Palestine, Media, Neocons, US Politics

{ 27 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. mig says:

    whatever top means!

    Top of the bottom ?

  2. Phil,

    AIPAC clones are not the roadblock to starting a big loud movement to boycott Israel.

    Here’s the roadblock: Dread, unreasoning fear of Zionists (not just of AIPAC). Don’t feed that fear.

    Not one group on any campus is ready to demand boycott against Israel.
    Not even 3 people on any campus are ready to demand any action against Israel.

    Just make a sustained push for a Boycott-Israel resolution, at your campus government, or at your city council. That will earn publicity and would start the ball rolling.

    Try to remember: there are so few hard-core Zionists, they can’t do more than whimper, against a room full of human rights activists. Just don’t hand the Zionists a veto over your own mouth. Ignore them and forge ahead.

    That’s how the Wayne State University students approved a resolution for total divestment against Israel:

    link to 4.bp.blogspot.com

    So get out of bed, stop crying about AIPAC and go demand a boycott resolution against Israel, at any forum you like.

    • I agree, people just need to push it, and they are. I have friends active with the energized and growing SJP movements (students for justice in Palestine). They are now an active group on sooooo many campuses, and networked. When I was at BU, there was nobody. Me and a friend went to the first ever divestment conference at UMich link to michigandaily.com

      Back then I noted that any traction with significant *actual* divestment was a dream, and I supported the movement mainly to get the topic out there- as a tool to get the issue exposure. But it is almost ten years later and things are changing fast. Further, the ENTIRE coming generation of activists, those with a head on their shoulders, cannot escape college without finding out about Palestine… the truth about Palestine. This is a new phenomenon and will begin to thwart Israeli BS in alternative media, the general public, and even MSM.

      Small divestment victories keep coming through, and in time it will reach critical mass, especially if the media gives Israeli criminality just a little airing. And especially after the next Israeli war. I swear the next Gaza and/or Lebanon massacre (if US-Iran thing does not happen first) will tip the scales. People with a brain (and heart) are fed up, and for those that no longer fear the antisemitism smear, they will be stating their minds when they see the torn the limbs and dead civilians…

    • stevieb says:

      Excellent advice.

  3. Bumblebye says:

    What *is* a petard?
    A small bomb used to blow up gates or walls.
    petard from middle french peter, to break wind.
    link to en.wikipedia.org

    So Block’s plans to smear critics of Israel blows up in his face, and leaves a lingering pong that settles not only over him but over those who play the same dirty tricks.

    Edit – must have been one of those skunkwater grenade thingies.

  4. hophmi says:

    1. All lobbies smear their critics. It is no different with civil rights organizations, who sometimes smear critics as racist, or Muslim organizations who smear critics as Islamophobic. That said, the point is inaccurate; not all critics of Israel or the “lobby” are smeared as antisemites, only though who engage in age-old antisemitic conspiracy theories about Jews running the country, or controlling US foreign policy, or controlling the financial markets, or those who accuse the organized Jewish community of things they ignore in similar communities, and Israel of things that are much more serious problems in other nations without saying a word about those other nations.

    2. “The lobby is a loosely affiliated network that can coordinate and organize” And? I would assume any decent group with an agenda can coordinate and organize.

    3. “The lobby wants war with Iran” BS.

    4. “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” A half-truth. Most Jews support the right of Jews to self-determination.

    • Philip Weiss says:

      hop who wants war with iran? name the war coalition

    • Cliff says:

      The Israel lobby is infinitely more powerful than the Muslim organizations you attempt to draw a parallel to.

      link to mondoweiss.net

      Oh look, those Muslim organizations exerting their influence! A TV show about regular boring, Muslim Americans.

      On TLC.

      Who WATCHES TLC??

      But yea, keep disassembling hoppy.

    • pabelmont says:

      Hop — you write “not all critics of Israel or the “lobby” are smeared as antisemites, only though who engage in age-old antisemitic conspiracy theories about Jews running the country, or controlling US foreign policy, or controlling the financial markets.”

      You make it sound simple, or decent, but it is neither.

      I usually say something like this: the Jewish part of the Lobby consists of a very, very few very, very rich Jews of conservative or reactionary views who may pretend to “represent” American Jews through power/money manipulations within the big Jewish organizations, but who represent no-one and buy/rent whom they can. Do I think they (AIPAC and friends) control Congress? Sure! remember the 9876 standing ovations for Bibi in Congress? come to think of it, remember him being invited (or inviting himself) to speak to congress? Could anyone else do that? And, does money buy/rent/control Congress? (Hint: Is the Pope a Catholic?)

      Now if we accept that these very, very few very, very rich Jews control Congress: is it correct to say that “some Jews control Congress”? (yes); is it correct to say that “Jews control Congress”? (maybe); and is it correct to say that “The Jews control Congress”? (no) .

      So, assuming my premise, which statements are standard old-meaning anti-Semitism?

    • Mooser says:

      “1. All lobbies smear their critics. It is no different with civil rights organizations, who sometimes smear critics as racist, or Muslim organizations who smear critics as Islamophobic.”

      Hey Hoppy, you inveterate liar, want to give me an example of “civil rights organisations” who have “smeared” their “critics” as racist? How’s about an example of the same thing for “Muslim organisations”? If you can come up with one, wipe it off first, cause I know where it will come from.

      All you have succeeded in doing is projecting exactly what you feel Zionist organisations are doing: “smearing” their “critics”. You are defending “smearing” because that’s what they do. You’re not denying they “smear” their critics, just trying to excuse them, and as usual, from the lowest level, by immediately accusing somebody, anybody, of the same thing.

      My God, what a pathetic spokesman for a pathetic regime you are. And how blithely you expose yourself as completely alienated from decency, let alone justice.

      Anyway, I’m waiting for the examples which support your pathetic contention.

      • So true mooser, a common Zionist tactic, which actually admits egregious wrongdoing, in an ineffective attempt to defend it. Defending the indefensible is the name of the game, and I must say I pity them now.

        More novice Zionists love to point out the irrelevant treatment of Native Americans a few hundred years ago (drawing some equivalence to an historic wrong we all know was horrid and genocidal), or the too common “why focus on Israel, what about Tibet! Africa!…..” (again intrinsically admitting something is “off”, but seeming to imply it is worse elsewhere, so why don’t you ignore our war crimes).

    • Mooser says:

      “Most Jews support the right of Jews to self-determination.”

      They very well may. But if they do, why do you think they will support what Israel is doing? What you are counting on is that if you smear anyone telling them about it, they won’t listen.
      Hophmi, I think I have lot’s more faith in American Jews than you do. When they know, and understand, what Israel is doing, they will want it stopped, regardless of whether they support “Jewish self-determination” or not.
      BTW, how will you explain to them the fact that in America, where Jews are a tiny minority, we do so well, and in Israel, where Jews are a supremacist majority, they can’t get anything right, right down to impovershing Jews to support the occupation.

    • Chaos4700 says:

      Do you think we need to invade Iran to stop a nuclear program, hophmi? Answer me straight. Do you think we need to invade Iran to stop their nuclear program?

      (Also, that poorly constructed argument of hophmi’s was #4 Everybody Sucks! for those keeping score at home)

    • RoHa says:

      “Most Jews support the right of Jews to self-determination.”

      If they think that Jews have such a right qua Jews, they are flat-out wrong.

    • stevieb says:

      No, they’re not the same.

      One is acutally true, and mostly provable. The other examples you give are usually not – i.eMuslim organzations aren’t usually ‘smearing’ anybody with these accusations, as Islamophobia is a serious problem in our popular media, I think it can be said.

      Nor is concern over Jewish political control necessarily an antisemtic trope. Not if this concern is based in fact, and/or the solution is based in politics and justice and the rule of law.

      I’m confused by your last claim – that “Most Jews support the Jewish right to self-determination’ – What is this Jewish ‘right to self-determination’ refering to? Everybody, in principle, has the right to self-determination in a functioning democracy – you surely aren’t talking about Israel(I hope)….

  5. Sin Nombre says:

    I don’t think this think-tank cutting of ties with Block is due to any revulsion with him simply smearing of people as anti-semites whatsoever. No doubt he has been doing this openly before, and as Phil noted in an earlier thread on this subject after this story came out the two *other* think-tanks who he was essentially attacking didn’t even respond by complaining about being so smeared. Instead, as Phil noted in an earlier thread, they behaved like the dutiful sheep today do when being so accused, essentially “throwing under the bus” their people who Block was specifically after, and then making sure to further go “genuflecting” to Israeli/jewish sensibilities otherwise.

    What Block’s real crime was in the eyes of the think-tanks that *he* was associated with was the public revelation of his inciting the members of that neo-con/journalist list-serve to go and put pressure on people like Steny Hoyer and Pelosi and Schumer.

    Think of the reaction in those think-tanks that Block had been associated with: “My God, what the hell is going to be the reaction of Hoyer and Pelosi and Schumer towards us if we don’t fire Block! They genuflect like crazy towards Israel and us all the time, and yet here if we don’t fire Block it looks like we are bragging about getting them to do so under our pressure tactics! You *never* brag about having someone under your thumb. You *never* humiliate those who whore for you…”

    So this firing of Block has absolutely nothing to do with that smearing per se. And that smearing is of such vast importance no matter how much it’s attacked it isn’t going to stop. It’s like the second of two absolutely crucial components: First is the Double-Standard, and the second is The Smear for those who don’t accept it.

    Thus, dream on friend-of-Phil’s who thinks this is going to signal *any* change in the debate over Israel or any discussion about jewish matters in the U.S. Like the Double-Standard, The Smear is holy. It is untouchable. It is inviolable. It is beyond any and all questioning. It is eternal. It is the indispensable end-all compliment to the Double-Standard’s be-all. It is the Omega to the Double-Standard’s Alpha.

  6. Has anyone successfully sued an accuser for having been labelled an “anti-Semite”?

    • yes philip, case approaching in canada , Ed Corrigan. patm posted about it recently.

      • Is there a solid example of defamation made by that charge in the USA, that has hurt somebody in a tangible way, that would make it into a good test case?

        • MRW says:

          Happened in Colorado. Jeffrey Blankfort wrote about it, I think. Jeffrey?

        • American says:

          Yep, Jeff did. It concerned some neighbor dispute about bushes, of all things, and the Jewish neighbor accused the other neighbor of starting it because they were Jewish.
          The non Jewish neighbor then sued the Jewish neighbor for the smear and somehow the ADL got involved.
          ADL lose the law suit and got fined 10 million dollars in damages for the non Jewish couple.
          There was another similar one somewhere but don’t remember the details.

      • Successful or pending?

      • dahoit says:

        With all the hate speech by just about all groups of immigrants,the act of just singling out alleged anti-Jewish hate will only exacerbate the anger of Americans or Canadians towards Israel and their Jewish Zionist supporters here or there.
        Definite over reach which will backfire as all the moron pundits will scratch their heads in bewilderment at alleged anti semitism,as hypocrisy is beyond their grasp.

    • Charon says:

      There was also somebody in Hollywood, like a director or cinematographer or something. I can’t find his name. He not only won his case, but was compensated because the judge said even a false accusation of antisemitism was a career-killer in Hollywood.

  7. MRW says:

    I wrote this three days ago on the Lobby blinks! thread:

    MRW says:
    December 10, 2011 at 4:17 pm
    You’re right, gazacalling. I think this is huge. I think this is the crack. We’re not seeing the results or consequences yet, but this is the crack in the bell.

    Phil, your friend’s quip about this being the flare in the night sky is dead-on.

  8. Rusty Pipes says:

    Interesting that one of the people that Block was targeting with his smear campaign was MJ Rosenberg. One of Rosenberg’s well-known takeaways from his experience in AIPAC was the concept of the “night flower”:

    The government’s case against [AIPAC's Steve Rosen] was too weak to prosecute but his whole career has been cloak and dagger. I say that as the person who received the famous memo from Rosen in 1982. “A lobby is like a night flower. It thrives in the dark and withers in the light.”

    Block’s action has exposed the lobby’s functioning. In fear of the night flower’s withering further in the harsh glare of the light, Block’s tactics are being repudiated, even by people who have a trackrecord (an easily googled trackrecord) of using such tactics themselves. For example, I can’t forget Lanny Davis’ words and actions during the Honduran coup when I hear him objecting to smearing people now.

  9. jayn0t says:

    A technique used by Zionists is to attack liberals who are not really very staunch critics of Israel, making them look more critical than they really are. In this case, an AIPAC spokesman attacks Eric Alterman and a Democrat-affiliated body as anti-semitic. This leads themselves and other left-wingers to believe they must be anti-Zionists.