Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center (Photo: Simon Wiesenthal Center)
The Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) consults with the Obama administration on issues of anti-Semitism and has prompted a White House official to say that comments criticizing Israel from staffers at the Center for American Progress (CAP) were “troubling.” The trouble with that, though, is that the center has no business policing discourse on bigotry when SWC’s actions and discourse are anti-Muslim.
Some major Jewish groups have demanded corrective action by the think tank and asked for answers from friends in the White House.
“The language is corrosive and unacceptable,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. He added that the blog posts and tweets from CAP staffers “are the responsibility of the adults who run the place, not only the kids who play.”
Cooper conveyed his concerns about CAP during a White House meeting last week with Obama’s newly appointed Jewish community liaison, Jarrod Bernstein, who told Cooper that the situation at CAP was “troubling” and not reflective of “this administration.”
The SWC has some audacity to be the ones telling the Obama administration what is “corrosive and unacceptable.”
The center, which promotes itself as a “Jewish human rights organization,” is building a Jerusalem branch of its Museum of Tolerance on top of a historic Muslim cemetery. As I reported last year:
The Center for Constitutional Rights, which has filed a petition with several international bodies to halt construction of the museum, says the project has resulted in the “disinterment of hundreds of graves.”
A three-part investigation by the Israeli daily Haaretz documented the building of the museum, reporting that “hundreds of skeletons that were buried in Jerusalem’s central Muslim cemetery over a period of some 1,000 years” were “cleared away from the site swiftly and clandestinely during five grueling months of nonstop work.”
Additionally, the SWC prominently came out against the Park 51 Islamic center in lower Manhattan, and has screened a film at its California branch that the Council on American Islamic Relations said “portrays Muslims as a ‘fifth column within the United States.’”
The hypocrisy of the self-anointed bigotry police is by no means limited to SWC. Throughout the Jewish establishment there exists those who speak up for Israel and against anti-Semitism while at the same time encouraging or staying silent on bigotry against Muslims.
The standard army of low-level smear merchants has continued attacking these CAP and M[edia] M[atters] writers as anti-Semites. Last week in Haaretz, Marty Peretz’ long-time assistant, Jamie Kirchick, ironically claimed that it was Block and other neocons who are the victims of “McCarthyism” even as Kirchick, in the same column, advanced the witch hunt to expose hidden anti-Semites in America’s think tanks and media outlets (an even greater irony is found in Kirchick’s self-anointed status as anti-bigotry crusader despite his long-term work for Peretz, probably the single most flagrant bigot and unapologetic spewer of hate speech in mainstream American discourse: but since it’s aimed at Arabs and Muslims, it’s all permissible).
The Obama administration thinks that the situation at CAP is “troubling.” More troubling, though, is their consultations and agreement with a group known to be anti-Muslim.