Here are a few facts in pursuit of a pattern.
1. The foreground. Frank Gaffney is an Islam-bashing neoconservative who as much as anyone contributed to the thinking behind Donald Trump’s ban on visitors from six Muslim-majority countries.
2. Back in time: Gaffney was exposed in 2011, when Eli Clifton and several other writers at the Democratic-Party-linked thinktank, the Center for American Progress, published a report called Fear Inc that said there was a network of groups spreading Islamophobia. One of them was Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy. Gaffney also showed up when Clifton and Ali Gharib published a report for that same Democratic Party-linked thinktank on the donors behind an Islamophobic film called “The Third Jihad.” Gaffney was one of the leading voices in that film; and the two writers said that some of the donors behind the film also supported Israel and the settler movement.
3. Still five years ago: A pressure campaign was launched by the Israel lobby against the presence of Clifton and Gharib and others at the Center for American Progress– that Democratic Party linked thinktank. The writers were called anti-Israel by a bunch of pro-Israel hacks. I should have said, a successful pressure campaign. Clifton and Gharib both left CAP after they were repeatedly humiliated by the organization. In the process, some writings were scrubbed of criticisms of Israel. For instance, that article about the Third Jihad movie: it lost all its references to Israel.
4. What goes around starts coming around. Two years ago, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tried to submarine Obama’s Iran Deal, and CAP President Neera Tanden rewarded him by inviting the Israeli PM to her Democratic-Party linked thinktank for a public lovefest. The invitation caused an uproar among the enlightened, and somebody (I have no idea who!) leaked Glenn Greenwald CAP emails about the earlier Israel lobby pressure campaign that showed that after CAP published that report by Gharib and Clifton about donors to the Third Jihad/Gaffney movie, Democratic Party consultant/boss Howard Wolfson sent Neera Tanden an email linking the article and saying simply:
“For the love of God!”
Tanden then passed along Wolfson’s benediction to others– translating it for the hard of hearing:
“Is it wise to throw around the Israel issue in this?”
AIPAC had also taken part in the effort to fire the staffers. Greenwald related a choice moment from an email:
[In 2012, CAP chief of staff Ken] Gude wrote an excited email to top CAP officials, including Tanden. The subject was Gude’s meeting with AIPAC’s deputy director of policy and government affairs, Jeff Colman, which Gude gushed was “very positive.”
In light of “the steps we have taken” — the public apologies, the censorship, the denouncing of CAP’s own writers — AIPAC, said Gude, deemed that CAP “now was moving in the right direction.” The AIPAC official singled out several CAP staffers for praise, saying AIPAC now believes “CAP/AF [Action Fund] is in good hands.”
5. What goes around comes all the way around. On Wednesday, Eli Clifton reported at Lobelog that in 2015, AIPAC gave $60,000 to the Center for Security Policy, Frank Gaffney’s group . The $60,000 is embarrassing because AIPAC claims that it fights Islamophobia and bigotry. Clifton turned the gift up in a tax document.
6. The end zone dance. On twitter Wednesday, Eli Clifton called out his former boss Neera Tanden, linking his new disclosure to AIPAC’s role years ago:
.@neeratanden Perhaps a clue as to why ppl affiliated w AIPAC attacked ur staffers who authored Islamophobia report?
Let me throw in a couple of other data points here.
Right after she invited Netanyahu to her Democratic Party-linked thinktank– after the prime minister’s charm offensive to submarine the signature foreign policy achievement of a Democratic president– Neera Tanden crowed (in an email released by wikileaks) that by doing so she had landed a big new donor to CAP, Jonathan Lavine, who loves Israel– even if she had divided the staff in the process. As Greenwald wrote in 2015, this is about money:
Under Tanden, [CAP] has repeatedly demonstrated it will go to almost any length to keep AIPAC and its pro-Israel donors happy, regardless of how such behavior subverts its pretense of independent advocacy…
And it’s about war in the Middle East. As Eli Clifton reported, AIPAC quietly pushed the Iraq war and later claimed that it had not done so. According to Clifton’s latest report, the $60,000 went to a New Orleans address associated with the neoconservative Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs– which Colin Powell said was the “crowd” that convinced Donald Rumsfeld of the urgent need to invade Iraq.
Lots of people are talking about the Deep State these days, whether or not it exists. This is my candidate for the Deep State, or a portion of it anyway. The Israel lobby: which claimed scalps of honest journalists at a Democratic Party thinktank because those individuals were allegedly anti-Israel, which censored their writings, which brings a rightwing prime minister to speak at a supposedly progressive American thinktank, which funds Islamophobic policy in a Republican administration. And the lobby is impervious to elections, it has other bases for its power; which is why Obama couldn’t do anything to all those Dems who sandbagged him on the Iran deal. Which is why, per Edward Snowden’s definition of the Deep State, anti-Iran Treasury officials Stuart Levey and Adam Szubin miraculously survive fundamental changes in administration (Obama kept Levey on from Bush; Trump is keeping Szubin on).
Today T’ruah, the liberal Zionist group, is calling on AIPAC to apologize for the Gaffney gift: “renounce all ties with this dangerous group; and make an equivalent gift to an organization working to protect Muslims, immigrants and/or refugees.”
But let’s be clear: this behavior is utterly consistent with AIPAC’s opposition to the Iran deal, its support for the Iraq war, its support for Israeli settlers and rightwingers. AIPAC doesn’t care. T’ruah should be telling its good friend Americans for Peace Now to leave the AIPAC board: That’s where liberal Zionists have agency. Peace Now always ducks my challenge here, but how will Peace Now feel when the young Jews of the Jewish Resistance put these facts together, and realize that Americans for Peace Now is a member in good standing of the Conference of Presidents board, and therefore a constituent of AIPAC, and a party to the Islamophobic Gaffney gift? The next #IfNotNow demonstration against the “Jewish establishment” could be outside the Peace Now offices, demanding that it cut its ties with these rightwing organizations that fund Islamophobia (ties that Peace Now formed out of a once-understandable need for Jewish solidarity in the face of the goyim; conditions that imho no longer apply).
Thanks to Max Blumenthal.