Power struggle has begun inside Democratic Party over nature of US-Israel relationship

US Politics
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josh block
Josh Block

The effort by former AIPAC staffer Josh Block to smear the Democratic-Party-linked thinktank Center for American Progress as a nest of anti-Semitic bloggers was shepherded in the U.S. by Politico, but Block was the first casualty of the campaign, after his methods became the focus of the story.

Meantime, the effort has gained traction in… the Jerusalem Post! The Post has now run two stories about what it calls “the mushrooming anti-Israel scandal surrounding a group of bloggers working for the US think tank Center for American Progress (CAP).”

The latest JPost hit piece, out yesterday, makes clear the partisan character of Block’s effort. Though Block is a longtime Democrat, his message relies on right-wingers quoting right-wingers (and a few right-leaners). His defense comes from Republican Hill aides:
“I think what we’re seeing play out is a power struggle inside the Democratic Party over the very nature of the US-Israel relationship,” a senior Republican Senate aide told the Post. “There are some forces on the far-Left who insist on perpetuating anti-Semitic stereotypes as a way to achieve their political goals and to change US policy toward Israel. And then you have individuals in the Center-Left, like a Josh Block [the former Clinton administration and AIPAC spokesman who first brought the CAP bloggers’ comments to the attention of Washington news site Politico in December], who are pushing back and saying enough is enough.”
This is what we’ve long pushed for– an argument over the power of the Israel lobby inside the Democratic Party. And will I as an advocate of the Arab Spring in Palestine and the U.S. work with liberal Zionists who oppose settlements to stir the Democratic pot? Yes. (As I will work with Ron Paulians to stir the Republican pot…)
About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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24 Responses

  1. joer
    January 2, 2012, 9:48 am

    The only struggle in the Democratic party concerning Israel is whether they will back Likud or Labor.

    • Philip Weiss
      January 2, 2012, 10:25 am

      alright. is that progress?

      • joer
        January 2, 2012, 10:55 am


      • Annie Robbins
        January 2, 2012, 11:42 am

        apparently the author benjamin weinthal (or is it jpost) just cannot get enough of this story. here he is on dec 28th saying essentially the same thing in his story “Bloggers drag US think tank into scandal”:


        check out didi remez in the comment section

        What kind of operation are you running at the Jerusalem Post, when you don’t reveal to your readers that this “correspondent״ is a paid fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies a rival US think tank?

      • Kathleen
        January 3, 2012, 12:43 pm

        That vote for more sanctions against Iran is not a good sign. Although there are small signs as you keep pointing out

  2. GalenSword
    January 2, 2012, 10:03 am

    Saving American political culture requires stronger medicine. Political discourse in the USA will not be free and open until anti-Zionism is viewed as at least as acceptable as pro-Israel politics.

    Until the US government acknowledges the legitimacy of anti-Zionism, at the very least FBI harassment and political prosecutions of Muslim citizens will continue.

    At the very least it is completely inappropriate for the Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence to be a Zionist subversive and “card carrying” member of the Zionist political economic elite: http://www.treasury.gov/about/organizational-structure/Pages/cohen-e.aspx#.TwGu1fBI60M.facebook .

  3. Annie Robbins
    January 2, 2012, 11:33 am

    josh block, jpost, Republican Senate aide, all of them want to get out in front of the impending argument they DO NOT WANT TO HAPPEN and label it anti semetic!!!!!!

    really, the last thing they want is ordinary americans running around chatting about israel without fear of being called racist. this looming doom and gloom accusation has to hang over all of our heads big time. jpost is humping it!

  4. Dan Crowther
    January 2, 2012, 2:06 pm

    the democrats are the band on the titanic that played its lil diddy as they sank…..

  5. Boycott Israel on Campus
    January 2, 2012, 3:22 pm


    Anyone who relies on some imaginary pro-Palestine wing of the Democrats is removed from the last half-century of history. Worse, if you believe in that, you won’t be demanding boycott or anything else against Israel.

    You’ll just read the tea leaves and wait for the Democrats to save Palestine.

    Of course, that’s what the entire “movement” did in 2008. They got success beyond their wildest dreams– Obama, who once sat at the same table with Edward Said.

    So today we have Obama, feeding Israel more advanced weaponry and bunker-busters than it can possibly use, swearing eternal loyalty to Israel, etc.

    Get ready for the 2012 Obama campaign. For the next year, the “movement” will swoon for Obama again, instead of demanding boycott.

    That’s how Palestine will die. A permanently paralyzed “movement”, demanding no action, ever, against Israel, and praying for some Democrat savior.

    • W.Jones
      January 2, 2012, 6:05 pm

      Yesm that’s likely. Sometimes people say Obama is so disenchanted with Net. that he will do something when he gets elected again. But I am very doubtful. There will be again the same concerns- the democrats won’t want to hurt their campaign funding in other elections going on at that time, and there will be other excuses that come into play, like pressure on the army, fear etc.

      So I am doubtful that Obama will be “the one”. It is a campaign image he gives to different groups to get elected, but having been elected, he doesn’t meet the expectations. Perhaps if there was a strong “movement” he would, but he won’t act on his own.

    • ToivoS
      January 2, 2012, 6:16 pm

      bioc says: Anyone who relies on some imaginary pro-Palestine wing of the Democrats is removed from the last half-century of history.

      There is no pro-Palestinian wing but there is definitely large numbers of Democrats at all levels of the party that seriously question our current support for Israel. These have yet to coalesce into a publicly visible wing but the people are there. Phil’s instincts on this are good. As someone active in the DP, I hope he is right and the questioning does become more public.

      • Philip Weiss
        January 2, 2012, 6:18 pm

        from your lips to Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s ears! id like to think i have influence in the DP, but i dont even get robocalls!

      • ToivoS
        January 3, 2012, 12:16 am

        Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s ears!

        Aha that is the problem. Those ears are out of my (our) reach. One member of our small group of activists (from Iraqi Christian heritage no less) will have Gov Jerry Brown take his calls but none of us can influence the big fundraisers. In the last presidential election cycle we raised directly about 30 K (and a larger group in which we worked raised another 100K) for a number of local and national campaigns, but that is just small potatoes compared to the national fundraisers. In state wide elections even if our support is courted the big money still comes in bigger chunks and those donors move the agenda.

        Having said this, there is still some stirring below the surface. If some of us can convince more Democrats to break “Party Unity” there is a chance to put Israel out there in the public debate.

        Right now with the Santorum, Gingerich, Bachmann boogeymen scaring Democrats it is almost impossible to bring up divisive issues. This thing with Bloch is interesting and, even if I did not see this happening, it does sound like some small events can result in a few bubbles breaking the unity surface.

  6. Pixel
    January 2, 2012, 4:26 pm

    “And will I as an advocate of the Arab Spring in Palestine and the U.S. work with liberal Zionists who oppose settlements to stir the Democratic pot? Yes. (As I will work with Ron Paulians to stir the Republican pot…)”

    Phil, thanks for ALL you do!


  7. john h
    January 2, 2012, 6:24 pm

    Power struggles in parties, do they count for anything, really?

    According to what I have read in Mondoweiss the last few days, what counts is the system, one that is becoming bolder and more dangerous, and both parties are in over their heads.

    I read here that Clinton did more for Israel than any before him (and we know his initial negative reaction), that Bush campaigned just like Obama to not be a nation builder but a respecter of other nations, and as we know each quickly caved in or got talked around. It happened to Truman even before his election. Their own vanity and their own ass were what counted. Obama now has the title of the one who has done the most for Israel, and perhaps for the arms merchants as well.

    Paul has campaigned consistently for decades and is now the closest he has been to the WH. He will not be talked around and seems unlikely to cave in without one hell of a fight. That is exactly why he never has and never will make it there.

    The power, the money, the deceit, the arrogance, are what rule and seem to be set in concrete. How then can we break the shackles??

    • Boycott Israel on Campus
      January 2, 2012, 6:44 pm


      You break the shackles the same way the Civil Rights movement and the Black Power movement did, in the 1960’s.

      You demand simple justice, which seems impossible and unspeakable at the time. But when you say the words in public, they become possible: “Boycott Israel”, and “Cut all Ties to Israel”.

      The alternative of waiting for Debbie Wasserman Schultz to go all-out for Palestine is really a delusion. So is waiting for Ron Paul to fight for Palestine. I promise you that he won’t.

      A hundred students marching to boycott Israel would accomplish a total change in the atmosphere on campuses, and in U.S. political life. That should be easy to understand.

      • john h
        January 2, 2012, 8:38 pm

        A hundred students marching to boycott Israel would accomplish a total change in the atmosphere on campuses, and in U.S. political life. That should be easy to understand.

        Yes BIC, it is easy to understand, but not so easy to believe it will do all you think it will. It’s going to take a lot more than that to “accomplish a total change..in US political life”.

        However, more power to you and to what you are doing, it is not without significance or effect. Go for it.

        You are right about Ron Paul, he will not fight for Palestine. His stand is “above the fray” and he has zilch interest in getting involved in the battles of others. What he fights for is the US alone. That is both a benefit and a drawback.

        What the Civil Rights movement accomplished took many years, and required a previously discounted leader and followers who would not and could not be denied, and enough key people to recognize the writing was on the wall.

        The change it accomplished, however, was only in one area, and not in US political life, except for perhaps a short period around the Vietnam bailout.

        The advent of Jimmy Carter showed there was no change on Israel-Palestine, for example, and to this day he is despised for his stand for Palestine, as are today’s MLK’s such as Jeremiah Wright and Chris Hedges.


        The key people are not there yet, and the leaders are not yet being heard. There is a very long way to go.

  8. dbroncos
    January 2, 2012, 7:37 pm

    The spectacle of seeing our Presidents, Senators, Congressmen/women, and candidates for President jostling for position at the Star of David emblazoned AIPAC podium, as they spurt all manner of “unbreakable bond” ejaculate onto ecstatic audiences, is becoming a distasteful sight to behold for many Americans. The romance in the AIPAC auditorium is not something most Americans feel in their hearts and I think it contributes to the imploding image of Israel – along with the steady beat of bad news that is associated with Israel.

  9. Boycott Israel on Campus
    January 2, 2012, 8:20 pm


    I think you have expressed a kind of magical thinking which is common on Mondoweiss. You think a silent feeling against Israel will somehow burst into public expression? No. Never.

    You get nothing by silent wishing.

    When you publicly demand action against Israel, then you will get some. Not before.

    I hope Phil will not chime in again with another imagined seismic shift against Israel. Like, “This is big. This is really big.” (Followed by some loyally critical remark against Israel by one of its backers.)

    • Kathleen
      January 3, 2012, 12:42 pm

      it is happening and Phil, Adam and the Mondo team are doing their part

      And thanks for all of your work on campuses. Know many folks who have been lighting this fire for a long time. Starting to take hold. Keep pushing…even harder

  10. john h
    January 2, 2012, 8:32 pm
  11. dbroncos
    January 2, 2012, 10:07 pm

    Boycott Israel

    I agree that opposition to Israel’s policies requires expression to turn the tide of American support. Activism, commentary, private conversations are all legitimate forums for expressing the need for a just transformation in I/P. Those expressions are going on all over the country all the time, and no, “silent wishing” won’t accomplish anything.

    There’s a lot more criticism and “publicly demanded action” going on now than there’s ever been. That’s what Phil means when he says “this is big”.

  12. Kathleen
    January 3, 2012, 12:40 pm

    “(As I will work with Ron Paulians to stir the Republican pot…)”

    yep many of us have been.

    Yesterday on the Diane Rehm show there was one yes just ONE mention about Israel nothing about the conflict in the one hour show focused on where the US is headed in regard to foreign policy during the next year. Rehm said something like when will Obama get more “tough on Israel” and of course mentioned “tough on Iran” like that has not always been the case. That was how little the Rehm show was willing to mention this relationship. Pathetic

    Transcript not up yet. Hope they are not changing their format. Used to always put up a transcript

  13. chrisrushlau
    January 3, 2012, 5:09 pm

    We might speculate about the role of scholarship in politics. If politics is the art of the possible, then “seismic” political change happens when a lot of people change their idea of what’s possible. How many of you think the current Egyptian elections are very bad news for the Jewish state?
    Scholarship is wordcraft. There is a general political discourse (the Rehm show can be taken as illustrative of it), there is specialized political discourse (the think tanks, college campuses, things like Noah Weiner of MoveOn saying to me several years ago that they “talk about Palestine behind closed doors”), and finally there is the gold standard of discourse. Let us designate Noam Chomsky as this Bard. The Bard currently believes that Israel is regrettable in a thousand ways but must be endured just a while longer. His tone says this more than his arguments, which always circle around just when they’re about to get interesting. Combine his tone with what he doesn’t say and you have the heart of the defense-in-depth which is Israel. Protecting what? Nothing. A contradiction in terms like “Jewish and democratic state” (Basic Laws, 1991). He sets the standard of what is possible.
    One day people shift their idea of what is possible. They say, “Israel is in a cul-de-sac and the mob is coming down the alley–we’ll either have a change in legal structure or, as Norman Finkelstein was saying about Dershowitz the other day, we’ll blow up the solar system.”
    A defense-in-depth is compromised all at once, all across its echelons. A sudden collapse throughout the system. Suddenly everybody stops resisting.
    I suspect that you could walk up to Netanyahu today and say, “Israel is done,” and he’d say with a smirk, “Don’t tell anyone!”
    He in effect did say that in the home video from ten years ago where he calls US support for Israel absurd.
    This is the battle as the Chinese philosopher describes it: won before the fighting starts.

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