As you surely know, the Center for American Progress, a thinktank with links to the Democratic Party, has been the target of a two-month-long smear campaign by neoconservatives because the Center employs writers who have at times criticized Israel. The unfortunate success of this campaign has been an ongoing demonstration of the power of the rightwing Israel lobby inside the Democratic Party.
Well, here is a stunning new development, involving a big news story: the controversy over that Islamophobic film, the Third Jihad, which has been used as a training film by the New York Police Department.
This film is a production of the Israel lobby. Yesterday Eli Clifton and Ali Gharib, two of the bloggers at the Center for American Progress who are in the crosshairs of the neocons, published a piece exposing the donor list for the film's maker, the Clarion Fund. Several times in their piece, Clifton and Gharib spoke about rightwing Israeli connections to Clarion, and at our site Alex Kane hopped on their reporting to point out the obvious: the agenda of Clarion Fund is to justify Israeli colonization of the West Bank.
And financing the Clarion Fund are a familiar host of philanthropic organizations that are tied to West Bank settlements, according to a Think Progress document Ali Gharib and Eli Clifton released yesterday.
The agenda of the people behind this film is clear: protecting Israel's illegal settlement project and entrenching further U.S. support to Israel and its colonies.
Well, Kane can say it, but Gharib and Clifton evidently can't. Daniel Halper reports at the Weekly Standard on changes made to Gharib and Clifton's piece after it was published. Halper reports two major scrubs. Here's a paragraph from the original version of story:
The film, the Third Jihad, was created by the shadowy Clarion Fund, which did not return the Times’ requests for comment. Clarion was started by Israeli-Canadian Raphael Shore, who, along with other early Clarion employees, is tied to the Israeli orthodox evangelist organization Aish Hatorah, which works within Israel’s right-wing and settler movements. The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg has referred to Aish Hatorah as “Jewish extremists.”
A few hours later, that paragraph went on a very strict diet:
The film, the Third Jihad, was created by the shadowy Clarion Fund, which did not return the Times’ requests for comment.
A second paragraph in the original read like this:
But the Third Jihad is not Clarion’s latest project: its focus since shifted to Iran with the 2011 doc Iranium. Written and directed by Alex Traiman, an Israeli-American resident of an ideological settlement in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, “Iranium” prominently features hawkish experts from two right-wing Washington think tanks, Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy and the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
This one also got a new look:
But the Third Jihad is not Clarion’s latest project: its focus since shifted to Iran with the 2011 docIranium. Written and directed by Alex Traiman, “Iranium” prominently features hawkish experts from two right-wing Washington think tanks, Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy and the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
The piece originally contained four explicit references to Israel. Now it contains only one, at the end, an aside about Gingrich. This is a shocking effort to remove any description of the Israel lobby from a major ideological and political undertaking. Anyone who has had anything to do with Aish knows that it is a rightwing pro-Israel group. Imagine, that the Center for American Progress cannot say so!!
(Halper, who works for a neocon shop, gleefully credits the changes to a "grownup" at the Center for American Progress. I am also guessing, without any inside knowledge, that a minder did this, and that the reporters did not change their minds.)
And you wonder why Robert Reich doesn't even dare to guess why Sheldon Adelson is giving money to Newt Gingrich. Our politics are broken because our media are broken... because our leaders are corrupted.
P.S. Eric Alterman takes the CAP bloggers' side against the smear campaign today in the Nation. Good for him! These folks need some solidarity now. They are the point of the lance in the mainstream, and they are getting whomped on.
P.P.S. This is hardly the first presidential election that Clarion's pro-Israel agenda has been news. Gharib and Clifton first blew the lid off that agenda when they were at Inter Press Service during the 2008 election and Clarion was up to no good with an earlier movie, Obsession.
A group of hard-line U.S. neo-conservatives and former Israeli diplomats, among others, are behind the mass distribution, ahead of the November U.S. presidential election, of a controversial DVD that critics have denounced as Islamophobic.
That piece was explicit about the Israel lobby. But the Democratic Party can't hear that.