Rightwing attack dog Josh Block doesn’t work at AIPAC, but speaks for it — and ‘NYT’ and ‘Foreign Policy’ go along with ‘Soviet’ arrangement

Yesterday the New York Times did an article on J Street, the liberal Zionist lobby group that AIPAC regards as a threat, and pretty high in the story, it quoted Josh Block urinating all over the upstart group:

Josh Block, another former Aipac official, called J Street “a gnat” in the Israel debate and “a fringe organization with no credibility.”

This is a now a tradition at the Times. Helene Cooper has quoted Josh Block as a “former AIPAC” official at least three times in the last year or so, and always on critical policy matters:

March  5, 2012:

Aipac leaders praised Mr. Obama for saying that he would not tolerate a nuclear Iran, and for explicitly ruling out a strategy of containment similar to the one used against the Soviet Union.

“The president said some welcome things today on Iran,” said Josh Block, a former Aipac spokesman, “including making clear that he has a policy of prevention, not containment, explicitly pointing to a military option, delivering an extended explanation of why it is in America’s interest to stop Iran, and in particular making explicitly clear that Israel has a sovereign right to defend themselves as they see fit.”

 

February 4 2011:

In an e-mail on Friday to reporters and editors, Josh Block, a former spokesman for AIPAC, the influential Jewish-American lobbying organization, suggested “questions to ask the Muslim Brotherhood & Their Allies.”

The first question on Mr. Block’s list: “Can the Muslim Brotherhood participate in a government where Egypt continues to fulfill Egypt’s obligations to Israel under the Camp David Accords?”

May 22, 2011:

Josh Block, a former Aipac spokesman, e-mailed suggestions to reporters for language he thought Mr. Obama should use to clarify his position on the 1967 lines. The language that Mr. Block suggested would have Mr. Obama saying that “everyone understands the lines as they were in 1949/1967 are not defensible, and no one can expect Israel to accept them as final borders, but they can form the basis for negotiation as they have in the past. As I have said, changes must be mutually agreed, and swaps should compensate for territory exchanged.”

While Mr. Obama did not use that language during his speech on Thursday, that is what he said when he suggested a Palestinian state along 1967 lines with land swaps.

Why does Josh Block have this highly influential standing? He left AIPAC 18 months ago to work for a pr consulting firm, Davis Block.

MJ Rosenberg has said that Block is essentially working for AIPAC but without the official title. And he calls the deception “very Soviet.” Rosenberg tweeted not long ago:

When u call AIPAC & ask to speak to a spokesman, they “no comment” tell you to call Josh Block, the rightist who is their former spokesman. Block gives the AIPAC line but it is attributed to him and not AIPAC. So Soviet.

It seems that with Block on the outside, AIPAC gets to have a rightwing attack dog without having to own up to the ideology, and thereby risk alienating centrist Dems. 

Block of course was the instigator of the rightwing smear campaign of last year — again, when he wasn’t working for AIPAC — that put the Democratic Party thinktank the Center for American Progress back on its heels. That smear campaign also undermined Media Matters, the thinktank where Rosenberg used to work.

Oh, and Foreign Policy is playing the game too. It ran Block’s piece titled “How AIPAC Beat J Street” in March. Again when Block was not working for AIPAC.

Notice how Block and Foreign Policy won’t even use the word “settlements.”

The White House struck a confrontational stance with Israel from the outset, choosing to elevate the issue of Jewish housing construction across the 1949 armistice lines, even in Israel’s capital city of Jerusalem, as the fundamental issue of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.
Posted in Israel Lobby, Israel/Palestine, Neocons, US Policy in the Middle East

{ 16 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. irmep says:

    Former AIPAC officials are highly active and highly useful. If Michael Goland had still been an AIPAC director when he was violating election law to get Alan Cranston elected in California, perhaps the mothership would have been similarly indicted and taken down. Since he was operating “independently” it wasn’t.

    Block seems to be following a long cherished AIPAC tradition. Founder Isaiah Kenen never really left the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, or ever cut off funding from the Jewish Agency in Jerusalem (another org he allegedly “left”).

    If AIPAC didn’t file such horribly misleading/delayed IRS form 990′s, perhaps we’d see that it has now retained Block as an outside spokesperson. Block “left” right before the AIPAC porn scandal, during the organization’s legal counsel’s effort to muddy the waters about what AIPAC meant by saying Steve Rosen was fired because his activities didn’t ‘comport’ with its accepted behaviors during the defamation lawsuit.

    link to original.antiwar.com

  2. MarkF says:

    “the issue of Jewish housing construction across the 1949 armistice lines”

    I guess they think this deception works. Krauthammer in an article back in 2010 used the term “North Jerusalem”. – link to washingtonpost.com – since the reader knows that East Jerusalem would reveal the neighborhood as a settlement.

    Pathetic.

  3. Rafi says:

    they should rename the Times to the Truth

  4. Tzombo says:

    Plus they threw in a bit about ‘Israel’s capital city of Jerusalem’. Not even the US recognizes that claim.

  5. radii says:

    I hope Mark Ames’ ExiledOnline and their new SHAME (Shame the Hacks who Abuse Media Ethics) target Josh Block pretty soon, for he certainly deserves it … SHAME just had a comprehensive take-down of media hack Malcolm Gladwell with their first endeavor … when it comes to paid hacks for israel and the zionists, they are legion

  6. hophmi says:

    Well, taken alone, he’s like Ali Abunimah, someone whom the Times frequently quotes on issues of Israel lobbying. Taken in context, the other quote is from Morris Amitay, an ex-executive director at AIPAC, which should make it pretty clear that AIPAC was not going on the record for this article, so the Times relied on ex-AIPAC source.

    Block is not a rightist, your catchall term, apparently, for everyone right of left. He’s a former Clinton administration White House advisor. He is hawkish on foreign policy.

    How about you simply report his views without labels, like good journalists do?

  7. Mooser says:

    “How about you simply report his views without labels, like good journalists do?”

    Mondoweiss should thank its lucky stars that a sucessful Journalist and writer like you, Hophmi, is willing to offer free critiques and advice. They are worth every penny Mondo pays for them.

    I bet Hophmi can’t understand why an Army or police force hasn’t invaded Mondoweiss headquarters, and made the squatters like him the new owners. There’s just no justice in theis world for Jews, huh, Hophmi?

    Jeez, Hophmi, I can understand why you are so intent on making Jews appear to be brutal, inhumane, and criminal. All in a day’s work for Zionists, always ready to show that Jews can’t live with ordinary humans. And of course, all your experience with persecution and anti-Semitism convinces you that a Jewish State and lots of money will always be the reward for that. That I understand. But do you have to make us look so stupid?

  8. YoungMassJew says:

    Hey guys. I hope I’m not too late to join the conversation/movement. I’m new here and I’ve been reading this blog for a while and I’ve come to the conclusion that I essentially agree with the views expressed by the writers and contributors to this blog. I’ve hestitated to join as I was initially turned off by discussions that seemed to deny and/or justify the Holocaust. I’m very glad that this has been removed from the site. I come to this blog as a young person (barely 22) from a reform Jewish background with a number of interesting experiences that I believe will be helpful in understanding the American Jewish community and how non-Jews relate to individual Jewish people in many different contexts. I know that sounds wordy/ambiguous, but it will make sense once I go into it. Furthermore, there have been a number of posts I’ve read that have caught my attention. If I remember correctly, and please do correct me if I have the wrong person, Annie Robbins had mentioned that she has a feeling that anti-Semitism still does exist to a certain extent, and while I do believe anti-Semitism does not exists in terms of the standard definition (i.e.pogroms, collective responsibility in killing Jesus) there are still microagressions that are out there that I believe I can shed some light on. On the flip side, there is also much philo-Semitism which I believe I can also comment on based on my experiences in living in diverse communitities/environments. And lastly, I remember reading a while back that some believe MJ Rosenberg is exposing the lobby as he does in order to save American Jews from a coming backlash. I share these concerns and is one of the reasons I believe a movement for a just peace in Israel/Palestine is critical.

    • Sumud says:

      YoungMassJew ~ from a regular: welcome!

      Never too late to join a movement.

      What you write about MJ Rosenberg is probably true, in fact I think it is an underlying concern of people like Phil Weiss too – and many others. I think reclaiming judaism from Israel’s attempt to co-opt it is also a large factor. I also see a simple concern among people to speak out and work against wrongs being done. Then, it is a human issue, rather than a tribal jewish one.

      Anyway, jump in!

      • Kathleen says:

        “I think reclaiming judaism from Israel’s attempt to co-opt it is also a large factor. I also see a simple concern among people to speak out and work against wrongs being done. Then, it is a human issue, rather than a tribal jewish one.” Bingo

        The term “liberal Zionist” is so absurd

    • radii says:

      I’d say the vast majority who participate here on Mondoweiss see a slow train-wreck happening before our very eyes and are trying to will a different outcome than carnage – say last-minute switching the tracks so the trains don’t collide … essentially saving jews from their own crazies so the rest of the world doesn’t have to suffer the collateral damage as well

    • Woody Tanaka says:

      YoungMassJew,

      Welcome aboard. Please contribute. The more views we see, the better.

  9. Kathleen says:

    Many “gnats” can have a serious effect. Some gnats are flesh eating and help clean up rotting corpses.

  10. YoungMassJew says:

    I’m not sure where I should begin. Is there anything in my post that has caught anyone’s attention right away that you would like me to discuss/elaborate further? I’m very new to this, so I don’t know when/where (i.e. on this topic of Josh Block, or write my own story on a separate page) it’s appropriate to bring up issues. I’m willing to discuss anything and everything. I just wish to remain anonymous; not that I have anything to hide;I’m simply not comfortable giving my name. Anyway, I’m ready to talk about anything, like my background if you want me to go into that right away.