Rigged Netanyahu ‘conversation’ at Center for American Progress shows it’s twilight of the Israel lobby

US Politics

We don’t know how many people watched the travesty at the Center for American Progress yesterday. CAP president Neera Tanden had a “conversation” with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that was the most polite dialogue you will ever see with a fascistic prime minister who just slaughtered 2200 people in a walled-in territory. Tanden spoke as a supplicant. All her questions were so tentative that Netanyahu could have begun each answer with, “I’m glad you asked that question.”

Tanden bent over backwards not to offend the prime minister. Even her most direct thrust — asking him about his racist appeal to voters on the eve of last March’s election, when he said that ‘Arab voters were coming out in droves’ — she couched. Some in the progressive community were concerned about this, she said. She never called it racism. She used the same Some-have-said locution to bring up the settlement expansion. Imagine a liberal thinktank inviting Lester Maddox or George Wallace to Washington in the 60s and softballing them. . . . It would never have happened.

Yesterday was a display of the Israel lobby’s strength in the Democratic Party. Netanyahu’s audience was obtained by the American Israel Political Affairs Committee — AIPAC — and the room was rigged, the questions were rigged, every moment from start to finish was scripted to make Netanyahu seem acceptable in Democratic circles. The crowd in the room looked like it was drugged. There was no animation, little audible response, no effervescence. The room was stocked with pro-Israel Jews. The only questions from the audience were from stalwarts of the Israel lobby: Morton Halperin of J Street, David Makovsky of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and Greg Rosenbaum of the National Jewish Democratic Council. The arrangement of these three questions, two of them putatively adversarial (a Jewish publication quotes J Street saying it was the first time that J Street had ever had a direct encounter with the PM), was straight out of the history of the Soviet Union.

Max Blumenthal said Tanden was auditioning for her job in the forthcoming Clinton administration, and nailing it. Adam Horowitz said, It’s not entirely surprising that Tanden was unimpressive, given that it’s not her area of expertise, but she cowered and Netanyahu loved it. And by the way, the awkward chairs displayed the Prime Minister’s sizeable gut.

Yesterday was also a display of the downfall of the Israel lobby. This is what it’s reduced to: show-conversations, with a rigged room, inside the Democratic Party. Just about everyone in that room was older. It’s not American democracy on display; it’s the dead hand of an old order.

And that’s the good news. The Center for American Progress could not open the doors to this event because it knows there would be too much rage expressed by the Democratic base — made up of the young, women, and people of color — which has begun to dislike Israel and fear its effects on our foreign policy. Just look at the comments on the New York Times article the other day that called on Netanyahu and Obama to patch up their differences — ordinary Americans get the story:

I get it. I get no Social Security increase but Israel gets a massive increase in military aid despite the fact that Netanyahu has done everything in his power to thwart American efforts to make it less necessary by undermining Oslo and continuing expand settlements and preclude a just outcome. Hillary and all the other candidates agree: unqualified support for Israel is good politics. Protecting American interests: not so much!

The Democratic Party and the Washington establishment can only sustain support for Israel by rigging the room. But those days are ending. Even a faction at CAP itself spoke out against the Netanyahu show-conversation, citing his “crimes.” Everyone in the progressive world knows the emperor has no clothes. The crisis is rocking the Zionist world. Netanyahu’s former ambassador to the U.S. sees the writing on the wall in this lament yesterday:

I predict that, without a diplomat horizon, historians may someday write about how Israel lost its Jewish and democratic character.

Netanyahu came to Washington to demonstrate that support for Israel is not politicized here, that it’s not a Republican cause only. But the visit has had the opposite effect, making it clear to everyone that the coalition is finally falling apart. The CAP show-conversation demonstrates that the battle over the Israel lobby has begun now inside the Beltway. The most powerful institutions in the establishment are in play. Support for Israel is bound to come up in the 2016 primaries in a more urgent fashion than ever, and subjects like Palestinian human rights and Zionism will make it on to the nightly news. The real conversation has moved out of the margins.

PS. This will be fun. Tanden just announced a staff meeting in a week’s time. At the last one, the dissenters spoke up. This one is sure to be even bigger.

Colleagues,

I invite you to a staff meeting, Wednesday, the 18th at 3:30 in conference room D.  I was hoping we could do this sooner, but because of events and other issues, this is the soonest that we can meet.  I hope all will attend.

I am sorry I could not attend our last staff meeting and wanted to schedule one soon for all of us.

I know that recent events have been difficult.  I want to answer questions people have and discuss with everyone where to go from here.

Thanks for all you do.

Neera

26 Responses

  1. Atlantaiconoclast
    November 11, 2015, 1:46 pm

    But we need middle America to also start to turn against supporting Israel. That will only happen once Americans learn the extent to which Israel has harmed US interests, killed Americans, put them in danger, spied on us , etc. If only the Democratic Party contains anti Zionist elements, nothing will change, for the other party will serve as a veto on any corrective action.

    • Krauss
      November 12, 2015, 12:10 am

      “Middle America” doesn’t exist.

      If you look at the numbers, Israel is a massive hit among whites and particularly older whites.

      If you look at the direction America is going, young PoC in particular, it’s a massive stink bomb. This is similar to the issue of gun control. Demographics is what prevents it. Over time, it will be fixed. What we should worry about is educated, young liberals. That is the future base from which America’s media, academia and politics will be drawn from as the U.S. turns into California with permanent liberal control due to demographics.

      And how are we doing there? Just fine, but we could be doing even better. This awkard event at CAP was a massive fail. Blumenthal is correct that Tanden audtioned for her job. It was a sad sight to see her. But the base has since long moved on and the comic nature of this Soviet Union staged-interview clownfest is just too obvious for everyone not to notice: it’s over for the Israel lobby.

  2. Ossinev
    November 11, 2015, 2:12 pm

    What a truly loathsome excuse for a human being.It is vomit inducing to listen to and watch his faux shocked pantomine performance when addressing the “question” of the burning alive of the Dawabsheh family. Apparently he , a brave dynamic PM did what no PM had ever done before, in approving detention without charge or trial of JEWISH ISRAELI suspects for the first time in the colony`s history. Same suspects have almost immediately but not surprisingly been restored to the bosom of their non inciting families whilst the hundreds of Palestinian suspects detained without charge or trial are yes guess what still incarcerated and being “gently” questioned all without compromising sources.

    BOYCOTT APARTHEID ISRAEL

  3. Jasonius Maximus
    November 11, 2015, 2:57 pm

    Watching this interview was like watching a slightly less flamboyant version of a scene from The Hunger Games.

    Scratch that!

    Watching this interview was EXACTLY like watching a scene out of The Hunger Games!

    *Raises three finger salute into the air*

  4. ritzl
    November 11, 2015, 3:33 pm

    Around the time that that lawyer delegation from VA cancelled their trip to Israel I remember reading that the State of VA had an actual state office, funded by taxpayers, to promote Israeli business in the state. Yup that’s right. VA taxpayers fund the promotion of Israeli competition to their own domestic business interests and jobs.

    I’m sure it’s everywhere.

    The Israel Lobby is hyper-extended. Poised to fall, it is.

    • kalithea
      November 11, 2015, 5:34 pm

      The Israel Lobby is hyper-extended. Poised to fall, it is.

      Yeah? In what year?

      Give me hope; but the two-party system is too corrupt to let that happen.

      • ritzl
        November 12, 2015, 4:36 pm

        I won’t speculate on dates but at every turn it and the people who constitute it operate puvlicly against the interests of ordinary, struggling voters. Every turn.

        Someday, hopefully soon, somebody less reviled than Ann Coulter is gong to publicly hark to that in existence and extent, and millions of voter light bulbs will light up. Voila. Electoral anathema for most. Opposition tool for aspiring pols who want to and/or can make the case (and use this influence as a soecific example) that the are running to actually represent the interests of their constituents.

        Built for an inexorable fall. Can’t say when. Hopefully soon, but I’m not looking past the difficulties.

  5. gracie fr
    November 11, 2015, 4:09 pm

    The decision by the Center for American Progress, which calls itself progressive, to host Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu serves as another example of a phenomenon endemic in mainstream American politics called “progressive except Palestine,” observed Josh Ruebner, policy director of the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation.

    With co-sponsor Jewish Voice for Peace, Ruebner and his group organized a picket line in front of the offices of the Center for American Progress in downtown Washington, D.C., during the morning rush hour on Nov. 10. Netanyahu was scheduled to speak at the Center for American Progress in a question-and-answer format later in the day, with the center’s president, Neera Tanden, facilitating the discussion.

    “We, as progressives, are not going to sit by and allow a policy institute that calls itself progressive to be used to promote racist and apartheid policies that the prime minister will be spouting this afternoon,” Ruebner said in an interview on the picket line. “Would the Center for American Progress be hosting an American politician who said Latinos are a demographic threat? Of course not because that’s racist discourse, but the Israeli prime minister is allowed to say that Palestinians are a demographic threat and it’s okay for him to speak at a progressive think tank.”………..

    http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/11/11/progressive-except-on-palestine-activists-target-center-for-american-progress/

  6. Kay24
    November 11, 2015, 4:27 pm

    Of course he is playing to the American audience. He is here with a very large hat in hand, and must do an Oscar winning performance, to show just how well he is coping considering the Palestinian terrorists are all targeting his poor, helpless country. He is doing his part in scamming the American people, to make sure they all support the victims of occupied people.

    No surprise either that the entire comedy show was rigged with the faithful, and not open to all.
    How can they risk the leader of the zionists being protested or asked an honest but difficult question? These zionists are devious to say the least. They operate by doctoring tapes, killing little kids and referring to them as “terrorists” and are pulling one of the most scam over naive, brainwashed (zio media) Americans, who either think Jesus is coming and the Jews will convert, or think the US must protect God’s chosen.

    This is one heck of a con job.

  7. JWalters
    November 11, 2015, 5:28 pm

    An accurate report on this staged “conversation”.

    Netanyahu gave his best impression of kindly uncle Stalin. He lied gently while ignoring Israel’s crimes, cruelty, and the religious bigotry underlying his sense of entitlement. Neera Tanden was subservient, letting Netanyahu talk endlessly without bringing up any uncomfortable facts, laughing at his jokes.

    There were, however, a couple of somewhat direct questions. So it’s possible the purpose was to let Netanyahu put himself clearly on the record as being an abject liar about his intentions regarding the Palestinians, with his talk grotesquely unaligned with his actions, showing yet again he is not a rational actor. That then might factor into the Obama administration’s “reassessment” of the situation.

    And it would not escape Obama’s notice that Netanyahu sees him as a second class person, like an Arab, a Muslim. This would help Obama see through Netanyahu’s bullsh*t.

  8. kalithea
    November 11, 2015, 5:30 pm

    And by the way, the awkward chairs displayed the Prime Minister’s sizeable gut.

    He has a sizeable guy because he’s gorging himself on the misery of Gazans that receive only the rations left behind; and that goes for Abbas as well!!

    Support for Israel is bound to come up in the 2016 primaries in a more urgent fashion than ever, and subjects like Palestinian human rights and Zionism will make it on to the nightly news. The real conversation has moved out of the margins.

    I don’t want to burst your bubble, but have you seen the likely candidates on both sides??

    Shoulder to shoulder with the Palestinians we’re gonna have to claw and scratch our way to justice, my friend. If ever there was a cause that grinds painfully slow and fine; it’s this one, and you can thank your Jewish colleagues still clinging to their Zionism for dragging injustice out in perpetuity.

    All of us who care are in a way cursed; imprisoned in this cause right alongside the Palestinians as we have already invested ourselves in different ways, and even our own rights are being compromised, and maybe that’s a good thing cause we’ll all fight that much harder to bring Zionism down if only to be free of this agonizing frustration.

    • inbound39
      November 12, 2015, 3:20 am

      Yes Kalithea….one wonders how much more obvious it needs to get as to the Zionists being a threat before anyone gets off their chuff and does something about getting rid of them. They have successfully made a laughing stock of America….land of the free…..lol :)

  9. yonah fredman
    November 11, 2015, 7:19 pm

    Phil Weiss making predictions again, including: “Support for Israel is bound to come up in the 2016 primaries in a more urgent fashion than ever.” What does this mean? Does it mean that all candidates with more than 4% support in any polls will declare their support for Israel? But that can’t be what Weiss means, for in the final sentence he writes: “The real conversation has moved out of the margins,” which says exactly the opposite, so he must mean that support for Israel will come under attack in a more urgent fashion than ever. That is not a prediction that he would care to define or back up with dinero, is it?

    • Kris
      November 11, 2015, 7:35 pm

      Just a heads up, yonah:

      It might be wise to spend a little time reflecting on the dangers and unfairness of gambling and games of chance.

      • yonah fredman
        November 11, 2015, 8:03 pm

        Tell me kris, can you discuss any topic without coming off as Little Miss Goody Two Shoes?

      • Rusty Pipes
        November 11, 2015, 8:25 pm

        Or as the saying goes in “My Little Chickdee”
        Wide-Eyed Rube: (pulling up to card table) Say, is this a game of chance?
        WC Fields: Not the way I play it, no.

      • Kris
        November 11, 2015, 9:47 pm

        yonah, remember Proverbs 14:29:

        Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding,
        but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.

      • Mooser
        November 11, 2015, 11:06 pm

        “Tell me kris, can you discuss any topic without coming off as Little Miss Goody Two Shoes?”

        Yeah, “Yonah” is an experienced gambler.

      • Kris
        November 12, 2015, 11:24 am

        Sorry, yonah, it’s a slippery slope.

        One minute you’re reflecting on fairness, and then all of a sudden you’re objecting to ethnic cleansing, occupation, and the use of Palestinians as test subjects for the Zionist entity’s (Israel’s) weapons industry.

    • Mooser
      November 11, 2015, 8:37 pm

      “The real conversation has moved out of the margins,

      “That is not a prediction that he would care to define or back up with dinero, is it?”

      Well, “Yonah” now that you have proposed a bet, put up or shut up!.

      Okay, got your money on the table?
      You lose, “Yonah”: To move “out of the margins” means to move on to the main part of the page, into the body of the text, or discourse. You are wrong from the get-go. How much did you bet? Well, send it to Mondo. You lost, but good. You read it as ‘out to the margins’. But that is not what it said.

      “Yonah” I don’t want to be overly avuncular, but if you think you can make a career of betting on your reading comprehension, you might want to think about another profession. Oh, and successful gamblers are very good, and quick, at all kinds of math, so maybe it isn’t for you.

  10. atime forpeace
    November 11, 2015, 7:49 pm

    This was so well said.

    “a fascistic prime minister who just slaughtered 2200 people in a walled-in territory.”

    • Kathleen
      November 11, 2015, 10:39 pm

      Not a whisper out of Tanden about this slaughter. Not a whisper. She really seemed twisted and somehow diabolical in her approach and lack of challenges. hink

      I think Max Blumenthal nailed it…Tanden just landed her next job…ugly

  11. traintosiberia
    November 11, 2015, 10:22 pm


    “Empires cost money, and the price of ours – which in based on the principle of everything goes out and nothing comes in – is exorbitantly high. Which is probably what led Center for American Progress head honcho Neera Tanden, who is close to Hillary Clinton, to propose charging countries that we invade and conquer for the costs of subjugating and occupying them. Tanden proposed – seriously – that we seize Libya’s oil as the price for “liberating” them, i.e. turning their country into a terrorist version of Disney World.”
    http://www.antiwar.vom 11/11/15 Justin Raimonfo
    She can come up nonchalantly and most piously with the right wing solution for left wing intervention.
    Didn’t Wolfowitz suggest something like this?

  12. tombishop
    November 11, 2015, 10:33 pm

    I don’t know if there is any hope for any evangelical Christians, but they, aligned with the settlers, are the core of the problem. Another big change happening is that the mainstream Jewish community is starting to recognize this. Look at this article in the Zioinist Forward. “Michele Bachmann Calls for Stepped-Up Push to Convert Jews”
    http://forward.com/news/breaking-news/324313/michele-bachmann-calls-for-stepped-up-push-to-convert-jews/

    Go to Right Wing Watch and listen to the audio in this article to see how mentally ill these people are. “Bachmann: Convert As Many Jews As Possible Because Christ Is ‘Coming Soon’

    http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/bachmann-convert-many-jews-possible-because-christ-coming-soon

  13. Kathleen
    November 11, 2015, 10:36 pm

    Neera seemed like a complete amateur or simply bought and sold by the I lobby and Israel…CAP progressive? Forget about it.

    I wish I could be as hopeful as you guys that the rigged conversation, rigged room, rigged questions by the audience weakness. With Clinton basically saying she will go after BDS, with Tanden and her weak kneed organization clearly on board..I don’t think it looks good.

    Anyone hear or see much reaction to Glenn Greenwald’s piece about Ann Lewis being a big part of why the two writers at CAP were let go?

    s

  14. unverified__5kga62lh
    November 12, 2015, 12:05 pm

    pathetic interview

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