If you name your group ‘Emergency Committee for Israel,’ do you get to call people bigots when they say you’re an ‘Israel Firster’?

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
on 46 Comments
MJ pic
MJ Rosenberg

Here’s the latest in the Media Matters controversy. Alan Dershowitz, who teaches constitutional law at Harvard, has gone on Fox News to push his campaign to have MJ Rosenberg fired by the liberal thinktank Media Matters for daring to suggest the Iran war campaign originates with “Israel firsters.”

Dershowitz says that Media Matters has “crossed the line” into anti-Semitism. Fox:

Dershowitz, though, argued that Israel’s and America’s interests are aligned, [Reader is this true?] and said Rosenberg was effectively accusing people like him of “treason.”

“It’s the oldest of charges … accusing Jews of dual loyalty, and it can’t be tolerated, whether it comes from the left or the right,” he said. “The tent is not big enough to include people who have engaged in bigotry against the Jewish people.”

But Media Matters has made its reputation by taking on Fox. Do you really think that the Media Matters funders care what Dershowitz says on the network? I sure hope not.

Oh, and by the way: MJ Rosenberg schooled a generation of us on the Israel lobby. Journalists, academics, activists– this brave, funny, salty, menschy journalist who can’t go a D.C. lunch without telling you to read Chaim Grade or I.J. Singer on the Jewish experience in central Europe– Rosenberg taught them about the Israel lobby. He spent years at AIPAC, and later the Israel Policy Forum, working for the two-state solution. Now I have to wonder, Where are those journalists and academics, when Rosenberg is taking the spears?

On to the neoconservative Emergency Committee for Israel, which ran a full-page ad in the New York Times yesterday saying that anyone who says Israel Firster is a bigot.

I need to ask a common sense question: If you name your American organization “The Emergency Committee for Israel,” is it fair for you to accuse people of bigotry when they say you are Israel Firsters?

Liberal Spencer Ackerman is upset that the Emergency Committee is using him in the ad.

But a month ago, Ackerman, a liberal Zionist, attacked anyone who uses the term “Israel Firster,” saying it was an anti-Semitic trope. And Ackerman singled out MJ Rosenberg. He wrote:

For months, M.J. Rosenberg of Media Matters, the progressive media watchdog group, has been throwing around the term “Israel Firster” to describe conservatives he disagrees with….

“Israel Firster” has a nasty anti-Semitic pedigree

Well then yesterday, the Emergency Committee for Israel quoted Ackerman’s attack on Rosenberg in its full-page ad in the Times, and it used the quote above.

And Ackerman said he didn’t like being quoted by the Emergency Committee:

just to clarify: to be clear, what I wrote is public, and ECI is within its rights to use whatever. Had ECI asked me, though, this is what I would have told them: Guys, c’mon. Here I am, trying to carve out a space for liberal Zionism, and that includes calling out anti-semitic dogwhistles when they get on my nerves. You guys aren’t liberal Zionists, and we disagree on a lot of shit, but I would hope you’d agree that as long as we’re all Zionists, it’s better for liberal Zionism to exist than not exist. Putting my quote in your ad will make liberals suspicious of me, which in turn makes it harder for me to make a case for liberal Zionism. How is that helpful? Besides, people who read New York Times print ads probably have no idea who I am, but I guess that’s your business.

Gosh, what to say? We still in Kansas?

46 Responses

  1. pabelmont
    March 2, 2012, 11:24 am

    “If you name your group ‘Emergency Committee for Israel,’ do you get to call people bigots when they say you’re an ‘Israel Firster’?”


    BTW, who is Ackerman to say (or argue) that Zionists are better off with liberal Zionism than without it? I mean, sure, he can say it, but does he expect these ECI folks to listen? or care? These folks are extremists. They say that TALK about 1SS is annihilative, anti-Semitic (but they say nothing about whetehr the settlement program is annihilative of Palestinians or of 2SS peace possibilities. What do they want with “liberal” Zionists and their Israel-destroying, Israel-emasculating talk of 2SS?

    The ECI folks are either in denial or propagandists pure and simple.

    • Pixel
      March 2, 2012, 12:50 pm

      It is a great title, Phil, and great point. I’d never made the connection.

    • Citizen
      March 3, 2012, 6:16 am

      pabelmount, re: Ackerman’s clarification: I thought I was reading a parody by Atzmon.
      I’m sure he will have a field day with this little storm, which perfectly illustrates his take on Jewish Zionists, Anti-Zionists, Liberal Zionists.

  2. mjrosenberg
    March 2, 2012, 11:27 am

    Thanks, Phil.
    Yeah, Spencer Ackerman is something else.

    • Donald
      March 2, 2012, 12:09 pm

      “Yeah, Spencer Ackerman is something else.”

      Something incoherent. This has been one weird performance. I liked him when he had turned against the Iraq War, but he’s really shoved his foot deep into his alimentary canal. What do you say about a guy who criticizes others for using inflammatory rhetoric and then has a picture next to his article comparing people like you to Hitler? What’s he going to do next? Accuse you of cruelty to animals and then find some puppy to kick?

      • LeaNder
        March 2, 2012, 12:38 pm

        this is the most peculiar part of it: Putting my quote in your ad will make liberals suspicious of me . But his initial action didn’t achieve exactly the same? Hmmm? What does he think about his readers?

  3. Dan Crowther
    March 2, 2012, 11:49 am

    That picture of rosenberg is great man – you can just tell he’s thinkin’ “would you hurry up with the damn photo, my beer’s gettin warm!”

    Ackerman the human pretzel, eh?

    • Annie Robbins
      March 2, 2012, 11:51 am

      great teeth! that’s the first thing i thought when phil posted that photo yesterday.

      • Citizen
        March 3, 2012, 6:18 am

        Look like Pat Boone?

  4. Annie Robbins
    March 2, 2012, 11:49 am

    Putting my quote in your ad will make liberals suspicious of me

    a tad whiny of ackerman. maybe it was taking on rosenberg, greenwald, max blumenthal and mixing in a little david duke under the hitler graphic that made some of us suspicious.

    • seethelight
      March 2, 2012, 1:29 pm

      A whole lot whiny of Ackerman. How could a writer who tries to look smart actually be so dumb? He didn’t realize he was diving into the deep end of the pool. Next time, Spencer, write about what you know.

      • Annie Robbins
        March 2, 2012, 1:48 pm

        he bit off more than he could chew, tassling with the heavyweights of the movement. silly boy trying to play big shot.

  5. Annie Robbins
    March 2, 2012, 12:03 pm

    Rosenberg was effectively accusing people like him of “treason.”

    “It’s the oldest of charges … accusing Jews of dual loyalty

    it’s so transparent when these crutches are employed. note the little insertion of ‘effectively’. that was fox’s faux pas, i watched the video and he said ‘essentially’ accusing of treason. same thing tho. and he also said ‘they’ call ‘any’ supporter of israel israel firsters, which is a blatant lie. i can’t help but notice block’s agenda is on full swing, exactly what he wanted. what bloviators. and notice how he threw in hitler and stalin.

    • Citizen
      March 3, 2012, 6:22 am

      Effectively, essentially, apparently, ostensibly–the general TV public does not even notice these types of qualifiers; that why, in other areas, they should always have a lawyer read over any contract before they sign it.

  6. Bill in Maryland
    March 2, 2012, 12:30 pm

    Thanks a lot Phil and we love you MJ!
    Spencer Ackerman’s discomfort is fascinating. There will no more room in the middle for Liberal Zionists as the Great Schism proceeds- no more straddling, Ackerman, Beinart, Ben-Ami. Pick a side, liberal American Jews:

    Rosenberg/Weiss/Horowitz/Blumenthal/Vilkomerson on one side
    Dershowitz/Kristol/Foxman/Rubin/Krauthammer on the other

    • seafoid
      March 2, 2012, 3:50 pm

      Rosenberg/Weiss/Horowitz/Blumenthal/Vilkomerson on one side
      Dershowitz/Kristol/Foxman/Rubin/Krauthammer on the other


      digital photography
      Kodak film

      vs old man trousers pulled up way above the waist

      vs age

      vs death

      • Cliff
        March 2, 2012, 5:19 pm

        My all-star debate line-up would be

        Fink, Victor Kattan, Joseph Massad, Chomsky, Amira Hass, Ilan Pappe


        Whoever the best represents the most presentable form of Zionism in such a debate.

    • Citizen
      March 3, 2012, 6:25 am

      Haha, Bill, where would you put Ben Stein? Dick Morris? With Bill Kristol?

  7. Pixel
    March 2, 2012, 12:39 pm

    AD was trying very hard not to “appear” hysterical but hysteria is driving their message in the wrong direction and it’s dangerous.

    This is not the kind of thing you put out on Fox. I mean, who are the people watching? Sure, AD can get an airing there any day but obviously he’s forgotten who he’s talking to.

    My impression is that they’re “Mr. and Mrs. Middle America” – Gung-ho, rah-rah, “US Do or Die”. I’d say the majority have no idea what he’s talking about. It’s probably the first time they’ve ever heard of “dual-loyalty” and “Israeli Firsters”. Now, he’s planted that in their minds.

    I watched the video trying to listen as if I were Mr. and Mrs. Middle America. What I “heard” AD say, what I “took away” from his message was the exact opposite of what he intended.

    Fox viewers focus on key words and are prone to knee jerk reactions. What they heard was, “Jew, Jewish, Israel, Israel, Israel, dual-loyalty, Israel, Jew, loyalty to the US, Israel first, Jewish, Israel, Jews Israel first,” and the names, photos (and video interview with) of a bunch of Jewish guys.

    What they took away was:

    “Jews? Jewish? Loyalty to the US? ISRAEL first????
    This guy’s right, they are UNAmerican!”

    These folks aren’t going to parse out the details, the subtleties, the nuances of what AD said and where he’s coming from. He’s just gotten their dander up. It’s the kind of thing that you share with your friends at the beauty parlor and the local bar. Nothing is more motivating for a large swath of America than indignation, outrage, and the question of people’s patriotism.

    I honestly believe that, singlehandedly, AD just increased the level of anti-semitism in this country several fold. Heartbreakingly, that’s where all of this is leading.

    • seafoid
      March 2, 2012, 3:54 pm

      They really went after MJ Rosenberg in the NYT and there was such a rabid intensity about the assault and I wonder if they know what they are doing.

      I thought it was like a grown man running across town in a rage in his pyjamas determined to thrash his kid. And everyone watching. And he can’t catch the kid. And nobody knew that this man was like that before.

      It’s never this open. They must be desperate.

      • Citizen
        March 3, 2012, 6:28 am

        Wait ’till R Crumb does a comic book about it.

    • yourstruly
      March 2, 2012, 8:55 pm

      which shows once again that it’s israel firsters who are stoking antisemitism, they and the israel entity that they serve. the mw community (among others) has a difficult task ahead, turning the public on the i/p conflict, in part by exposing israel firsters (christians as well as jews) for the traitors they are, and by doing so, as a windfall benefit, showing the public that there are plenty of jews who are not israel firsters.

      • Citizen
        March 3, 2012, 6:32 am

        The real windfall benefit for everyone would be no war with Iran. Wonder what S Adelson thinks about it? Perhaps he will have Newt say something as things heat up–Newt is desperate and will say anything Adelson wants if the casino king will toss him more change.

        • yourstruly
          March 3, 2012, 11:12 am

          thanks citizen, no war with iran will be something to celebrate

  8. atime forpeace
    March 2, 2012, 2:22 pm

    Phil you are on top of your game, you picked up the scent a long time ago and now things are starting to show themselves for what you saw them from the beginning of your quest, excellent observation.

    I am giddy as a school boy on the last day before summer school.
    This sh-t needs to be exposed it is a festering wound in the soul of the United States body politic.

    I keep thinking about that scene from animal house where Belushi starts the food fight in the cafeteria.

    Be careful Americans do not hear the rest of the story Dersh my boy, food fights tend to get out of control.

    • American
      March 2, 2012, 3:00 pm

      Is Phil seeing what he foresaw? Probably so & Let us pray.
      MJ’s statement on here the other day is as good as it gets.
      Put him a national TV with that statement and he would win by a landslide.

      • atime forpeace
        March 2, 2012, 3:31 pm

        Yes sort of like a picture developing on an old kodak picture, or like a ghost taking shape, first you might see smoky wisps then you start to notice a shape and eventually voila, le ghost.

        Phil had a premonition, and it is happening.

        is our children learning? GW Bush.

  9. American
    March 2, 2012, 2:46 pm

    Well something sure is going crazy. Not too long back they were in a uproar about NOT letting Israel into the public conversation and ‘keeping disagreements private.’
    Now they’re on full page NYT ads and Faux news.

    I think either they believe their own hype about how deeply the American masses support Israel and don’t see how Israel firstdom really appears to your average non fringy, non fanatic Americans.
    Or they are so consumed by their internal fight to take down dissenting Jews they didn’t even think about what the public would take away from their public display.

    • Citizen
      March 3, 2012, 6:37 am

      American, likely both. I noticed in that 45 minute recent interview with Obama that he believes the American masses have special sympathy for Israel. The only other two things Obama states as his conviction are that political supporters of Israel are very influential, and that Iran should not be allowed to get the bomb because it would start an arms race in the fragile ME. Actually Obama has never lived or worked daily amid “middle America.”

  10. atime forpeace
    March 2, 2012, 2:49 pm

    So on Fox news Dershowits makes an appeal to the white house to dissasociate themselves from Mediamatters because it will help Obama get reelected?

    And fox really fell for this?

    On Fox news, really? Making an appeal to help get Obama reelected.
    So if Republicans want to sink Obama they should hope that he stays with media matters, is Fox news now trying to get Obama reelected, trying to make him more electable? trying to get him to make a decision which will help him get a second term in the whitehouse.

    Or is it about keeping both parties chained to Israeli foreign policy concerns first and foremost, Israel first.

  11. American
    March 2, 2012, 4:12 pm

    OT…but important. Sign this or Send a few dollars or both. Please.

    **URGENT: only 75 hours left to add your name. Click here.* [ link to salsa.democracyinaction.org ]*
    * *
    I don’t have much time, and I need your help.

    In just a few days, thousands of AIPAC (American-Israel Public Affairs Committee) supporters will gather in DC for their annual policy conference billed as “three of the most important days affecting Israel’s future.” President Obama, Newt Gingrich, Prime Minister Netanyahu and most members of Congress will be there, thinking they are talking to America’s Jews.

    *But you and I have a chance, right now, to let them know that’s not true. * [ link to salsa.democracyinaction.org ]

    I won’t be in the room. And neither will you. In fact, most American Jews, our friends and relatives will not be in that room- and with damned good reason. Because AIPAC doesn’t want us there. AIPAC wants the leaders they’ve assembled to think that their support for bombing Iran and unconditional aid to Israel is the Jewish point of view. We can’t let that happen.

    *That’s why I want you to join me in showing the world leaders attending the conference a message, loud and clear* [ link to salsa.democracyinaction.org ]. AIPAC doesn’t represent me. It doesn’t represent you. And it doesn’t represent millions of Jews who can’t bear the increasing violence perpetrated in our name. Here’s how:

    Starting Monday, March 5, Jewish Voice for Peace has rented a giant truck so that when members of Congress go to the AIPAC Gala, or when their staffers show up for work the same morning they are flooded with thousands of volunteer AIPAC lobbyists, they’ll get our message:

    *AIPAC speaks for AIPAC, not for the Jews.
    AIPAC supports war with Iran. American Jews don’t.*

    The truck driving around the conference grounds will make it clear that AIPAC doesn’t represent us. Not when they bang the drums of war with Iran, not when they support Israel’s occupation, not when they intimidate members of Congress, and not when they ask for unconditional military aid for Israel.

    I want your name on that truck. We only have 75 hours to gather as many name as possible to leave no doubt that there might be a few thousands AIPAC supporters inside the conference, but there are hundreds of thousands outside of it, in every way. Will you add your name?

    I’m sending this March 2 and we’re hoping to get 1,000 names by 1pm on Monday. *Please, click here to join us, and please circulate this request* [


    Cecilie Surasky, Deputy Director
    Jewish Voice for Peace

    P.S. If you don't want to add your name but do want to help us pay for the truck, *go here.* [ link to salsa.democracyinaction.org ]

    • yourstruly
      March 2, 2012, 9:14 pm

      just contributed

    • Citizen
      March 3, 2012, 6:45 am

      I signed it.

  12. American
    March 2, 2012, 4:15 pm

    We said trucks with signs on them would be a good idea so here it is.

  13. piotr
    March 2, 2012, 4:49 pm

    You, MJ Rosenberg are a self-hating traitor because you do not appreciate constructive initiatives of board members of ECI like “feed the fish” program (proposal by Rachel Abrams to feed “sharks and stargazers” with freshly captured terrorists).

    I tried to investigate ECI a bit, and it seems to me that this is a pure astro-turf, simple a vehicle to slap some acronym on full-page ads funded by anonymous fat cats. Even so, one should quiz all quoted people if they agree or disagree with “bad Rachel”.

  14. Keith
    March 2, 2012, 7:10 pm

    The ‘Emergency Committee for Israel’? What next, the war on anti-Semitism? What passes for reality has taken a Kafka-esque turn for the worse.

  15. Les
    March 2, 2012, 10:14 pm

    If Dershowitz thinks Israel comes first, shouldn’t he be voting in their elections instead of ours?

  16. DICKERSON3870
    March 2, 2012, 10:27 pm

    RE: “Alan Dershowitz…has gone on Fox News to push his
    campaign to have MJ Rosenberg fired by the liberal thinktank Media Matters…” ~ Weiss


    M J Rosenberg
    Public Figure
    100 “likes”
    TO “LIKE” – link to facebook.com

    Best way to tell Dershowitz to go to hell (1) picket his classroom or (2) tell your friends to follow MJ Rosenberg on twitter.
    MJ Rosenberg
    TO FOLLOW – link to twitter.com

  17. Blake
    March 3, 2012, 3:15 am

    I have seen MJ Rosenberg call himself an “Israel firster” on aljazeera. Its all so petty. Douchebag supreme has got zero life

  18. Daniel Rich
    March 3, 2012, 9:03 pm

    Daniel Rich’s law/rule: any prolonged discussion about Israel will eventually lead to the usages of ‘anti-semite’ and ‘holocaust,’ which, in turn, sets in motion Godwin’s law/rule and thus renders the arguments of those who bring them forward void.

    Godwin’s law – link to en.wikipedia.org

  19. atime forpeace
    March 3, 2012, 9:21 pm

    Going back to Feb of 07 the smell of Israel/U.S separation was in the air.

    Prof. Alan Dershowitz – “Israel must be ready to lose U.S. support in the coming years”

    Famed Harvard Professor speaking at 7th Annual Herzliya Conference

    Speaking via satellite to the 7th Herzliya Conference of The Institute for Policy and Strategy (IPS) at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya, Harvard Professor Alan Dershowitz warned Israel that they might have to go it alone in the coming years.

    He pointed to 4 recent events that, according to Dershowitz, could bring about a “perfect storm” in the otherwise close relations between the U.S. & Israel.

    The first event was the publishing of Former president Jimmy Carter’s book “Palestine: Peace not Apartheid” about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This book has received a lot of attention and despite the panning it took in the media; Dershowitz says it legitimizes certain negative stereotypes including the “Jewish controlled media” and the disproportional involvement by the Jewish lobby in American politics. This, according to Dershowitz is coming from a man (Carter) who’s received millions of dollars from anti-Israel & anti-Semitic organizations.

    The second event is the rise of anti-Israel discussions in academic circles and on campuses around the U.S.. This legitimizes in the academia what Carter’s book legitimizes publicly. The “trash academics” as Dershowitz called it is becoming more prevalent. This could threaten the education of future American leaders.

    The third event is the Media War being fought by Hizbullah & Hamas against Israel. The battle for media attention is being fought in earnest by these and other anti-Israel groups. Dershowitz did not voice his opinion as to which side is winning that war but made it clear that it is an important factor in U.S./Israel relations.

    Finally, a recent statement from Former Democratic Presidential Candidate and Supreme Allied Commander of NATO in Europe, General Wesley Clark recently hinted at Jewish involvement in U.S. foreign policy by saying “New York ‘money people’ are pushing the U.S. into war with Iran”.

    All of these events point to statements that in the past wouldn’t only be heard in Europe. Dershowitz’s advised Israel & Jewish groups to continue to fight against the negative image that is being perpetrated by these and other factors but he also warned that “Israel must be prepared to lose American support in the coming years both diplomatically and economically. “My message to Israel is ‘be strong’ and be prepared to go it alone.”

  20. hophmi
    March 5, 2012, 1:17 pm

    “I need to ask a common sense question: If you name your American organization “The Emergency Committee for Israel,” is it fair for you to accuse people of bigotry when they say you are Israel Firsters?”

    Absolutely. If you start an Emergency Committee for Somalia to help victims of famine there, is it fair for you to accuse people of bigotry when they say you care more about victims of hunger in Somalia than you do victims of hunger in Appalachia?

    • Woody Tanaka
      March 5, 2012, 1:39 pm

      “If you start an Emergency Committee for Somalia to help victims of famine there, is it fair for you to accuse people of bigotry when they say you care more about victims of hunger in Somalia than you do victims of hunger in Appalachia?”

      What a nonsensical argument. The Emergency Committee for Isreal isn’t some humanitarian group trying to help victims of famine, but a political organization attempting to carry water for a foreign government in the United States.

      • Chaos4700
        March 5, 2012, 1:59 pm

        It’s funny that hophmi can’t seem to tell the difference between a lobbyist who gets paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to corrupt democracy, and a volunteer who goes out of their way to save a child in need.

        I guess that sort of blindness makes it easier to live with himself.

  21. hophmi
    March 5, 2012, 1:48 pm

    “What a nonsensical argument. The Emergency Committee for Isreal isn’t some humanitarian group trying to help victims of famine, but a political organization attempting to carry water for a foreign government in the United States.”

    It’s your argument that doesn’t make sense. What does it have to do with whether ECI is humanitarian or not? Are you asserting that humanitarian organizations are not political? If you make a choice to raise money for a cause in a foreign country when your own country has the same problem, why is not OK for someone to accuse you of favoring that country over your own?

    If I support a political cause that primarily benefits other countries (let’s say NATO, whose non-American members get a lot more from the US than they give) does that mean it’s OK to accuse me of caring more about Europe than the US?

    Can I call you guys Palestine-firsters?

  22. adin
    March 9, 2012, 10:49 pm

    I speak as an American Jew and a highly decorated Vietnam veteran. Alan Dershowitz’ threatening, un-American, and cruel threats against MJ Rosenberg must be repudiated. He, AIPAC, ECI, Cantor, and the militaristic right wing leadership of Israel do not speak for me. AIPAC has made an unholy alliance with the rabid right wing of the purged Republican Party. By the way how may Jews in congress are Republicans? One: Cantor. Why do you think that is? When the Republicans are through using Israel for their own crass political ends, their anti-Semitic, racist core will re-emerge.

    Dershowitz is an agent of a foreign country it seems to me. Since when is Israel an ally of the US? Israel are being used by the neo cons for reasons beyond comprehension. And Bibi thinks he is using them? It seems to me that time will prove these mindless militarists the big losers as they push down this road of madness. Neither the right wing Republicans nor the current regime running Israel have the best interests of the US at heart. They both are stooges for one another. In time, both Americans and Israelis will reject them both.

    There is no upside to a preemptive war with Iran. Dershowitz is a clear and present danger to both the US and any chance of peace in the Middle East.

    MJ Rosenberg, an example of courageous and honorable behavior, has shown himself to possess the core values of Jewish culture and life, while Dershowitz is the anti-thesis. And Dershowitz–only he can know what madness runs through his veins.

    I am proud to stand with MJ Rosenberg.