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:
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.