Rosenberg gets Trita Parsi call for Iran diplomacy into ‘LA Jewish Journal’

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
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MJ Rosenberg
MJ Rosenberg

MJ Rosenberg, the writer at Media Matters who has come under fierce criticism for using the term “Israel Firster,” is holding firm. Earlier today he indicated he was shutting down his twitter feed.

Closing twitter acct to avoid psycho pests. Friends who want to follow me, send email and you’ll get all my writings.

But he promptly reversed the decision!

Never mind. I’m not quitting. Deluged by supporters who worry that they wont see Israel Firster term anymore. Not to worry.

This is brilliant. Note that Andrew Sullivan’s post on Israel Firster– “a plainly true idea”– harps on the idea that I have hammered on here: When a presidential candidate is buoyed by $10 million from a man who says that all he cares about is being a good citizen of Israel and that he regrets wearing an American uniform, not an Israeli one, what other vocabulary do critics of this arrangement have than words like “dual loyalty”? Sullivan:

“All we care about is being good citizens of Israel” said this American citizen. He is saying it was “unfortunate” that he wore the uniform of the US. Now imagine an Arab-American saying that about serving, say, in Syria’s army rather than America’s. Can you imagine the outrage if a leading funder of a Democratic candidate had said that he “unfortunately” once wore the uniform of the US and would rather have worn that of another country?

More on Rosenberg. The LA Jewish Journal has published Rosenberg’s review of Trita Parsi’s new book. “New book: Iran sanctions only if coupled with diplomacy” is the headline. The review is highly critical of the Israel lobby.

Do not back down when AIPAC barks or directs its congressional cutouts to scream bloody murder every time it suspects that the U.S. is considering diplomacy with Iran.

I remember from my days at AIPAC that the thing it was most afraid of was that a president would break with the policy it dictated and explain to the American people why. As the former (and most effective) executive director of AIPAC, Thomas Dine, often said to me, “If the president takes to the airwaves and explains why his position is in the U.S. interest and the position we are pushing isn’t, it will be us who folds, not him.”

Thanks to Jeff Blankfort, who notes: “While the Jewish Journal has historically been on the liberal Zionist side and its founding editor whose name I can’t recall sharply criticized the ADL for its spying activities in the 90s, to the best of my memory, I have never seen an article that contains criticism of AIPAC. Right wing Zionists hate the paper. This will cause them to explode.”

And Blankfort adds that what Dine said would happen in a battle between president and lobby is exactly what happened with George Herbert Walker Bush in 1991, when he challenged Shamir on settlements, and lost the presidential election a year later. “Bush did just that. The trouble is, his party deserted him and the solidarity movement ignored him.”

P.S. One other thing about Israel Firster. As the JTA says, it is a “phrase that many in the Jewish community feel is anti-Semitic.” But some don’t. And I would say that the some who don’t are younger. They don’t remember Father Coughlin, they weren’t there for that. They didn’t live through the second World War. And this is the way of the world. Old phrases die out. And new phrases arise to meet new facts. The new facts here all involve the conflation of American and Israeli interests in having a war with Iran, a very serious issue indeed for which we need strong language. So don’t talk to me about Father Coughlin. No one is throwing Jews out of jobs in the U.S. Let’s talk about the here and now.

No Responses Yet

  1. Les
    February 1, 2012, 11:02 am

    Speaking of jobs, how many Israeli citizens, with or without US citizenship, are on the Federal payroll whose job it is to make US policies that affect Israel? Imagine how our media would react if dual citizens of China, Pakistan, Russia, etc., were employed by our government to make policy decisions regarding their “other” country?

  2. Woody Tanaka
    February 1, 2012, 11:05 am

    “One other thing about Israel Firster. As the JTA says, it is a ‘phrase that many in the Jewish community feel is anti-Semitic.’”

    My response to that is, “Fine. The term may be viewed as antisemitic, but the idea surely isn’t in the modern context. So, to those who object to the term: please come up with a term that would be acceptable, for an American who is putting the interests of Israel before the interests of the US. Because that is the issue (and it is a legitimate one), regardless of what it is called.

    My guess is that they will not come up with one, because they are attempting the trick from Orwell of destroying the idea by destroying the term to describe it.

  3. iamuglow
    February 1, 2012, 11:07 am

    Nice to see Sullivin giving those Adelson quotes a wider audience. Also great that Rosenberg is staying on twitter.

    Even if the Pro-Israel camp seemingly loses the battle over Israel firster…their main objective, is to poision the conversation…to resurrect talk of “neo-Nazi provenance” & to make common sense writers like Rosenberg seem ‘radical’ to the liberal think tanks. Time will tell how successful they were. Today I’m feeling pessimistic.

  4. Dan Crowther
    February 1, 2012, 11:11 am

    “The new facts here all involve the conflation of American and Israeli interests in having a war with Iran, a very serious issue indeed for which we need strong language.”
    ——————-

    I dont get this. How are the US Governments interests not in line with the Israeli stance of inevitable aggression? I agree that an attack on Iran would offend the sensibilities of many in America and Israel, and may mean seriously bad consequences for both groups – but “American Interests” and “Israeli Interests” have absolutely nothing to do with actual Americans or Israelis.

    • yourstruly
      February 1, 2012, 12:12 pm

      not yet, but no reason why this has to be allowed to continue. israel firster gets at what’s in the interest of the american people.

    • Annie Robbins
      February 1, 2012, 9:17 pm

      How are the US Governments interests not in line with the Israeli stance of inevitable aggression?

      another war is not in the nations interest.

  5. pabelmont
    February 1, 2012, 11:17 am

    “what other vocabulary do critics of this arrangement have than words like “dual loyalty”?” How about FIFTH COLUMN and SINGLE-LOYALTY-TO-ISRAEL. Where does “dual” come in to it?

    Suppose a guy came up to you and handed you a revolver-pistol and said, “Here, play Russian Roulette with this, only one chamber is loaded,” would you just naturally assume he was a pal? And would you be eager to point the pistol at your head and pull the trigger? How much would he have to pay you to get you to do it?

    War with Iran, even sanctions if carried too far, are Russian Roulette.

  6. yourstruly
    February 1, 2012, 11:18 am

    i thought we’d settled this israel-firster matter in several recent threads. seems to me that the consensus (excluding israel-firster commenters) was that israel firster is just telling it the way it is, not antisemitic because it’s a generic term (more christian than jewish israel-firsters) and readily understood. the cave in by the IL in ’91, where bush the elder went public on why he opposed a ten billion dollar loan to israel (the money was for expanding w.b. settlements), sticks in my memory. and yes, president obama goes on tv and explains why a diplomatic approach is in america’s best interest, whereas aggressively pursuing war is not, guess who’s going to fold?
    but we shouldn’t press him to take this high road for fear of what, an antisemitic backlash? so we hold back, and iran war breaks out, u.s. ships are sunk in the gulf of hormuz with how many american aboard, and not to expect antisemitism to soar? enough of this thrashing about as to whether or not the term israel firster should be used, because it’s here to stay.

  7. Egbert
    February 1, 2012, 12:03 pm

    How does it go?
    Not all Zionists are Jews
    Not all Jews are Zionists

    So is it the case that:
    Not all Israel-Firsters are Jews
    Not all Jews are Israel-Firsters

    • patm
      February 1, 2012, 1:02 pm

      So is it the case that:
      Not all Israel-Firsters are Jews
      Not all Jews are Israel-Firsters

      Yep, that’s the case. And just one of the reasons it’s a cracking good term!

  8. Tuyzentfloot
    February 1, 2012, 12:04 pm

    The Leveretts are very critical of Trita Parsi’s book, even if he’s advocating diplomacy. They’re calling it neoconservatism without guns. They’re saying he’s pushing an agenda and that the agenda is wrong. They’re not saying he messed up or that he compromized too much (faking agreement with an audience) in order to reach an audience, a common pattern that is a bit less honest than picking your fights carefully. Here is their introduction, their full review is linked to at the bottom of the article: link to raceforiran.com .

    • ToivoS
      February 1, 2012, 2:23 pm

      The Leverett’s critique of Parsi is spot on. Basically Parsi is being Parsi — he is about as far left as one can be and still be considered a beltway insider. Hence, he supports diplomacy along with threats and sanctions that undermine diplomacy. Nevertheless, Parsi is an important voice in any effort to avoid war with Iran. That is the most important issue right now. For a long term resolution, of course, what the Leveretts suggest is really the only one.

      • Tuyzentfloot
        February 1, 2012, 4:21 pm

        I think the disagreement they have with Parsi is about the goal, not chiefly about the means. The Leveretts have in mind a negotiated solution that both the US and Iran can live with. Parsi doesn’t. Therefore sanctions are necessary in order to ram an agreement down Iran’s throat that normally Iran would not accept, one that includes regime change.

      • ToivoS
        February 1, 2012, 6:55 pm

        I work with a couple of Iranian expats. They really hate the Islamist regime and they support Iran’s nuclear program and, of course, are against any war. This leads them to contradictory positions now and then. Reminds me of Parsi’s position. For example, support sanctions one day when angry at the rabid mullahs but oppose them if they are perceived as provoking war.

  9. yourstruly
    February 1, 2012, 12:16 pm

    hey, when father coughlin was doing his racist number on radio, israel didn’t exist, so did he really use the term israel firster?

  10. Opaleye
    February 1, 2012, 1:21 pm

    It’s silly to let the neocrazies tie you up in knots about the term “Israel firster”. If you let them dictate what words you can use, they are already winning and you are giving them far too much credit by taking them seriously. They are the Stalinesque Thought Police but since you don’t live under Stalin, you can ignore them, or better, just call them Israel firsters and be done with it. Mondo could do a series, “Israel Firster of the Week” and unearth all the explicit quotes in which they not only put Israel first, but urge others to do likewise.

    Maybe the neo-Nazis also used the word “America”, so you are banned from using that, too. If the Language Police were honest and actually cared about actual anti-semitism, then it would be fine to engage with them. But they are dishonest and only too happy to exploit the real victims of anti-semitism (eg. Holocaust victims) to achieve their fraudulent ends. There is no point engaging in argument with a dishonest person … do you think they will admit it when you win the debate? You wouldn’t play tennis against someone who tells you that as well as being your opponent, they are also the umpire!

    Sullivan apparently didn’t get the memo from Raimondo about the actual origin of the term. Maybe someone can email him.

    • patm
      February 1, 2012, 2:50 pm

      Mondo could do a series, “Israel Firster of the Week” and unearth all the explicit quotes in which they not only put Israel first, but urge others to do likewise.

      Yes, let’s declare the debate over. Opaleye has come up with an excellent suggestion. We could begin this very day collecting names for an Israel Firster of the Week series. We could help mondo staff with research as well.

      The loathsome Newt Gingrich springs to my mind as a suitable candidate for a profile of this kind.

      • American
        February 1, 2012, 4:00 pm

        “As the former (and most effective) executive director of AIPAC, Thomas Dine, often said to me, “If the president takes to the airwaves and explains why his position is in the U.S. interest and the position we are pushing isn’t, it will be us who folds, not him.”

        I have said that many, many times the bully pulpit is the way to go.
        And the way to avoid what happened to Bush Sr. is to go all the way and in addition explain to public there will be those in congress who will immediately denounce his explanation of US vr Israel interest and why they will…and even name the names.
        You want to talk about turning the tables and a death kneel for the lobby of Israel firsters, that would be it.
        But of course that would take guts and putting America first.
        Don’t see that happening till US-Isr has run it final disastrous lap.

      • patm
        February 1, 2012, 6:06 pm

        You want to talk about turning the tables and a death knell for the lobby of Israel firsters, that would be it.

        I agree completely, American. Is the day coming when Obama will do this? Possibly so, if Mondoweiss and many other groups beat the drum loudly enough.

        I don’t think it’s over-dramatizing to suggest that such a move could lead to Obama’s own death. It would be a very courageous act.

      • Sin Nombre
        February 1, 2012, 11:19 pm

        I think that time and effort has rendered that Thomas Dine/AIPAC position quaint. In fact I’d bet Dine made that statement to Rosenberg some very long time ago, it making sense to have been said even before George Bush I *did* challenge Shamir on settlements and AIPAC did *not* back down.

        Otherwise, some considerable period of time has now gone by since then even, and in no way do I think AIPAC believes that in the normal course of things it would back down from a President going to the bully-pulpit.

        In the first place I think it rightfully considers that it’s got such a grip on things no President is ever likely to even do such a thing. And in the second I think AIPAC feels that even if that happened there would have to be some extraordinary circumstances before it ever folded due to the grip it has on those who matter, and their ability to weather any but the longest popular storm.

        Look at this Iran issue, and the difference even between how the Lobby and Israeli partisans are approaching this and how they approached the idea of invading Iraq.

        With the latter we saw a simply tremendous push to get popular U.S. support for same.

        With the former I at least see very little of that (if not indeed almost an indifference to same), in favor of a fanatical concentration on working at the elite decision-maker level instead.

        And this precisely echoes something I read not long ago from some serious Israeli governmental-type thinker at some Herzliya-type conference where he said that the Israeli government should stop trying to win the P.R. war in Europe especially but the U.S. too essentially because it was already lost in the former and heading for the trash can in the U.S. as well, and instead just concentrate on cultivating or otherwise capturing the West’s elites.

        Tom Dine is a fossil in terms of where things have moved from his day.

      • American
        February 2, 2012, 12:28 pm

        I think the difference SN is in what I said…..if you use the bully pulpit to do this you have to go all the way and cut any retalitation and come back by Isr- firsters in congress off at the pass— by also ‘explaining” congresspeople’s interest (and why) in Israel is not Americans interest.

  11. Annie Robbins
    February 1, 2012, 9:19 pm

    this is a great post phil. i must say i am very pleased with sullivan, he hits all the right notes.

  12. Daniel Rich
    February 1, 2012, 11:00 pm

    While everything goes South, Israel goes East – A dragon dance in the Negev link to atimes.com

    • Chaos4700
      February 2, 2012, 12:20 am

      That dragon is going to swallow the snake whole. They may have DC on their knees before them, but Israel has got no leverage on China whatsoever. And they never will.

      • patm
        February 2, 2012, 8:10 am

        …Israel goes East

        Interesting article, this. Here are the opening paras.

        “There is no record of dragons in the nomadic life of the Negev desert, which dates back at least 4, 000 years (some say 7,000). That may be about to change in the Year of the Dragon.

        The Bedouins of the Negev will soon witness the sight of a Chinese-built railway line snaking its way through the melange of brown, rocky, dusty mountains and the wadis and deep craters, leading north from the resort city of Eilat in the Gulf of Aqaba toward the eastern Mediterranean.

        Having developed strong interests on the two sides of the Persian Gulf divide – Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states and Iran – China is taking an awesome leap as a big-time player in the geopolitics of the Middle East by elevating its ties with Israel to a strategic partnership.

        Paradoxically, just as the United States is hoping to nettle the dragon in the South China Sea and “contain” it in the Asia Pacific, it makes a dramatic, outflanking appearance in the citadel of American geo-strategies in the Middle East. The geopolitical implications are profound.”

      • Bumblebye
        February 2, 2012, 10:51 am

        The intention behind the railway line is to create the Israeli solution to the Suez canal, a bypass route:
        link to middleeastmonitor.org.uk
        Eilat will become a massive industrial port for the transfer of goods, the journey to or from Med ports will be just one hour and fifteen minutes. And Israel will enrich itself on a trade built with US and EU aid.

      • patm
        February 2, 2012, 12:31 pm

        There is no mention of China in the middle east monitor story, Bb. What do you make of the M K Bhadrakumar’s article, “A dragon dance in the Negev” Daniel Rich referred us to?

      • Bumblebye
        February 2, 2012, 1:26 pm

        The two articles are the “pair of shoes” (first one drops, then the other). Both China and Israel benefit enormously by creating the “Suez bypass”, while US and EU pay for it, China constructs it, and then has far better access to cheaper trade routes, as well as (presumably) to the off shore resources – maybe they’re the preferred development partner? More evidence of waning US power. Israel will ignore their posturing over the settlement enterprise as it does every other country’s, after all, it never comes back to bite them (or breathe dragony fire over them).

  13. Daniel Rich
    February 2, 2012, 2:35 am

    @ Chaos4700,

    This might be off topic, but with the US and Europe’s financial and economical decline and major central banks about to fail, is this Sino/Israeli combo the next natural/logical step or is this China’s way to derail its death by a thousand cuts [bases]?

    • Chaos4700
      February 2, 2012, 5:41 am

      China, sadly, is in far better economic shape than we are. And it’s only sad because their government combines the worst aspects of communism with the worst aspects of capitalism.

      We — the Western World, the US and Europe — shouldn’t be risking playing a game of musical chairs with China. Because actors like Israel are going to sell us out and screw us over (which is exactly what they’re doing) and we’re going to lose.

      The United States and modern Europe were not (re-)built to be empires. We won’t survive on that model. China…?

  14. Justice Please
    February 2, 2012, 6:30 pm

    “I remember from my days at AIPAC that the thing it was most afraid of was that a president would break with the policy it dictated and explain to the American people why.”

    As more and more Americans wake up to the facts surrounding I/P, this is a good thing. May be next president use it.

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