Last month Israel lobbyist Josh Block smeared several writers who work for two Democratic Party-linked organizations-- Center for American Progress (CAP) and Media Matters-- as anti-semites. Since then, CAP has done little to stand up for its writers' comments, and today a writer targeted by Block has left CAP, the Washington Post reported.
Zaid Jilani confirmed to me that he's leaving. The job was long in the works, and he's excited: he is going to United Republic, a nonprofit that fights the corporate influence in politics. "I moved to a new spot I like and I wish everyone well at the Center for American Progress," he says.
I still regard this news as a big setback. Jilani is a fabulous young journalist. He should be allowed to voice a critique of the Israel lobby inside the Democratic Party machinery. As Glenn Greenwald says today, there's racism in the focus on Jilani and Ali Gharib, another wonderful young journalist. The New York Post went after Jilani yesterday and focused on a tweet of last summer:
“Waiting 4 hack pro-Dem blogger to use this bit.ly/qT9eH2 2 sho Obama is still beloved by Israel-firsters and getting lots of their $$"
Though today's Washington Post piece by Peter Wallsten continues Block's campaign by trying to paint the writers as outside the mainstream, an effort CAP is only too willing to assist:
Jason Isaacson, an official with the American Jewish Committee, which often collaborates on policy issues with CAP, pointed to “very troubling things that have been written on a pretty regular basis by certain people associated with the organization.”
“For any serious policy center there are certain lines of fairness and objectivity and good sense that should not be crossed, and yet, disturbingly, those lines have regularly been crossed,” Isaacson added.
Officials from the center counter that the “inappropriate” language came only in personal tweets from staffers — not on CAP’s Web site or its Think Progress blog. The tweets were deleted and the authors apologized.
Officials said the center is staunchly pro-Israel....
Though Wallsten says this: "Some young liberal Jews are expressing disaffection from a country their parents had taught them to revere."
The New York Post column yesterday by neoconservative Alana Goodman showed once again that rightwingers are able to pressure the Dems/Obama on this question because they are the conservative members of the Jewish family. She battened on to a Jilani reference to Israeli "apartheid."
CAP hasn’t distanced itself from these comments or even acknowledged that they’re anti-Israel. If it deems them acceptable public comment, one wonders what the internal dialogue is like at the think tank — and among the alumni who have gone on to the Obama administration.
At a minimum, the controversy highlights how progressive groups are working to undermine traditional Democratic support for Israel.
Glenn Greenwald says the anti-Semitism charge is being used to staunch criticism of the idea of attacking Iran:
So according to Block, you are not allowed (unless you want to be found guilty of anti-Semitism) to use “policy rhetoric that is hostile to Israel” or — more amazingly — even to “suggest that Iran has no nuclear weapons program.” Those ideas are strictly off limits, declares the former AIPAC spokesman. Apparently, then, America’s National Intelligence Estimates of 2007 and 2010 are both anti-Semitic, since they both concludedthat Iran ceased work on developing a nuclear weapon back in 2003 and that there is no conclusive evidence demonstrating it resumed; to cite those reports and to embrace their conclusions makes you an anti-Semite, since you’re not allowed to “suggest that Iran has no nuclear weapons program.” Israel’s government is also evidently suffused with anti-Semites,
Let me say here, I think this is a great battle. And it is mortal combat. People get hurt. I met Jilani at Netroots last summer and have the highest opinion of him. He will be successful despite these attacks. And if pro-Israel hoodlums don't think that they have not given this young man a great object lesson in how politics works, and thereby armed him for more effective writing in the future, well-- they shall harvest the whirlwind.