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Isikoff expose of Gingrich backer — ‘All we care about is being good citizens of Israel’ — puts ‘Israel firster’ issue in mainstream

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Video of Gingrich supporter Sheldon Adelson saying he “unfortunately” wore the uniform of the American military not the Israeli army, and that he wants his son to be a sniper for the Israeli army (4:45 on). “All we care about is being good citizens of Israel.”

The last day has seen a remarkable battle in the mainstream discourse. We have won the battle of “Israel firsters.” It may be a controversial phrase, but it is not anti-semitic. 

Yesterday Tablet sought to forever disqualify the use of the expression “Israel firster” by running two pieces linking the idea to Hitler. (Spencer Ackerman, and Lee Smith). So Tablet joined Israel lobbyist Josh Block, in his two-month-old smear campaign aimed at the Center for American Progress, by arguing that It is anti-semitic to say that an American Jew who propagandizes for Israel has loyalty to Israel.

The Center for American Progress has been wobbly under the attack, but MJ Rosenberg at Media Matters refused to fold. He knows this idea is both true and important. And his shop stood up for him. In recent days Rosenberg has gotten backup from Glenn Greenwald in a big piece, from Jerry Haber, and from Richard Silverstein. The smart set.

The most important blow was delivered yesterday by Mike Isikoff in a great piece of reporting on Sheldon Adelson at NBC, featuring the video above. Isikoff squarely addresses the issue of Who benefits from an attack on Iran— by reporting that Adelson has Israel in his heart. The thrust of the piece is that Adelson has conflated Israel’s interest and the United States, and that’s wrong. This graphic from Adelson’s Israeli newspaper says it all. The translation in Isikoff’s piece says that Gingrich states that Obama is risking a second Holocaust with his Iran policy.

Gingrich ad in Adelsons newspaper
Gingrich ad in Adelson’s newspaper says Obama is denying a potential Holocaust in his Iran policy

Here are key moments of Isikoff’s reporting:

But while Adelson and Gingrich have bonded on the issue of a hawkish Mideast policy, especially over the threat of a nuclear Iran, some of the casino mogul’s comments could prove embarrassing. 

In a talk to an Israeli group in July, 2010, Adelson said he wished he had served in the Israeli Army rather than the U.S. military—and that he hoped his young son would come back to Israel and “be a sniper for the IDF,” a reference to the Israel Defense Forces. (YouTube video of speech

“I am not Israeli. The uniform that I wore in the military, unfortunately, was not an Israeli uniform.  It was an American uniform, although my wife was in the IDF and one of my daughters was in the IDF … our two little boys, one of whom will be bar mitzvahed tomorrow, hopefully he’ll come back– his hobby is shooting — and he’ll come back and be a sniper for the IDF,” Adelson said at the event….“All we care about is being good Zionists, being good citizens of Israel, because even though I am not Israeli born, Israel is in my heart,” he said toward the end of his talk.

Gingrich, who stirred controversy recently by calling the Palestinians “an invented people,” appeared on the cover of Adelson’s Israeli newspaper blasting the Obama administration for its policies on Iran. 

“The Obama administration is denying reality,” reads the headline in Hebrew. “The refusal to confront evil could cause a second Holocaust.”

When Gingrich was questioned about the money from Adelson this week, he immediately cited the casino mogul’s backing of Israel as a major reason he had received his support. 

“Sheldon Adelson is very deeply concerned about the survival of Israel and believes that the Iranians represent a mortal threat to Israel and the United States,” Gingrich said in an interview while on the campaign trail in Florida.  “And he is deeply motivated by the question of having a commander-in-chief strong enough and willing to make sure the Iranians do not get nuclear weapons.”

Asked if he had promised the casino mogul anything in exchange for the money to the super PAC, Gingrich replied: “I promised him that I would seek to defend the United States and the United States allies.”

So a major mainstream outlet, NBC, has said that the motivation of Israel supporters in pushing an attack on Iran is fair game.

P.S. Ackerman called me “a leftwing polemicist” in his piece opposing those who say “Israel firster.” This is interesting. A polemic is defined by Webster’s as “an aggressive attack on or refutation of the opinions or principles of another.” But wait, Ackerman’s own blog is called “Attackerman”!

So here is a journalist who bases his own reputation on polemics who suddenly turns around and deploys the word as a term of abuse! And why? Because of the sacred cow of Israel. I believe Ackerman is a Zionist, he thinks Jews need a Jewish state. And so his religious ideology trumps all other attachments, even his professional self-definition. 

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of

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73 Responses

  1. GalenSword on January 28, 2012, 11:12 am

    The founding Zionist intelligentsia never expected wealthy Jews to settle in Palestine.

    From Let us search our ways (1881) by Peretz Smolenskin.

    [English explorers] have established that the [Land of Israel] is very good and that, if cultivated with skill and diligence, it could support fourteen million people. Even if we assume some exaggeration (though in truth there is none) and that there is room for only half that number, Eretz Israel can nonetheless contain all those who might wish to take refuge there. Not all Jews will go there — only those who are destitute or persecuted will look for a place to which to emigrate. It would be enough if only one million of our brethren would go, for it would be a relief both to them and to those remaining in the lands of the dispersion.

    Smolenskin based Zionism in the mobilization of Jewish wealth in contrast to Jewish revolutionary radicalism, whose goal was the mobilization of the proletariat without regard to ethnicity.

    Our Jewish philanthropists should therefore not tarry, if they really want to help their less fortunate brethren. They should hasten to buy land and let Jews settle on it to begin a new life. We can be sure that money will not be lacking, if only men of sufficient vision can be found to initiate this project in the right spirit, with a desire to help their people. In all countries there exist such Jews, many more than we know of, who strive to help their people with all their might and main. Only one thing is lacking — a united purpose. As soon as we succeed in achieving unity for this great work, fruition will not be long in coming.

    • Hostage on January 28, 2012, 1:46 pm

      We can be sure that money will not be lacking, if only men of sufficient vision can be found to initiate this project in the right spirit, with a desire to help their people.

      Well Caroline Glick is more like a megamouth shark – trailing and swallowing schools of unsuspecting diaspora shrimp and compressing them with her huge tongue in order to suck the life essence out of them. In her latest screed, she’s way pissed-off that any of us would dare consider ourselves safe here, much less perceive America as anything other than an impermanent and disposable feeding ground. God forbid that we should adopt an anti-semetic, anti-Zionist view and consider that our first or only loyality is owed to America.

      You seldom find even one person who can make a living publishing delusional shit like this about their racist fantasies of power, revenge, and omnipotence. The Zionist community has produced legions of these shallow intellects to stroke their over-sized egos here in the US and in Israel.

      • American on January 28, 2012, 3:52 pm

        Ugh. Glick is going to spontaneously combust into bodily flames some day.

        Telling US Jews to flat out publicly reject US interest for Israeli interest? And saying their condition will ‘improve’ if they do and others disapproval be damned?
        But neither is this too far from someone like Eric Alterman saying the US should take the hit for Israel if it ever came to it.
        This zionism is pure ’emotions’ on speed and steroids , not rationality.
        It’s exhausting.

      • American on January 28, 2012, 4:03 pm

        Funny note—-years ago, at least 10, I sent Glick a email in response to one of her columns about some Israeli attack on Palestines. This was before I was fully versed on the whole zionist mentality and didn’t know any better. It was polite and expressed my opinion that Israel would lose the world sympathy it had by such acts.
        She emailed me back telling me to go to hell , that Israel didn’t need any sympathy. I should have saved it and framed it. LOL

      • Hostage on January 29, 2012, 8:43 am

        But neither is this too far from someone like Eric Alterman saying the US should take the hit for Israel if it ever came to it.

        Uri Avnery has explained the role of the diaspora in original Zionist teaching (none) and the thinly disguised contempt Zionists have for most of us. The establishment of a Zionist State has created politicians and apparatchiks like Glick who simply want to control US foreign policy. They get nasty and anti-semitic when they can’t do that. They start defaming everyone with Hitler analogies if we insist that loyalty to America comes first or demand that Israel mind its own business:

        AND BACK from the Manifesto of Marx and Engels to the “Jewish State” of Theodor Herzl, the official “Visionary of the State”.

        Herzl’s Zionist vision was quite simple: the Jews, all the Jews, must go to the Jewish State. Those who do not will be Germans, Britons, Americans or members of any other nation, but definitely not Jews.

        In the Zionist school in Palestine we were taught that the essence of Zionism is the negation of the Diaspora (called Exile in Hebrew). Not just the physical negation, but the mental, too. Not only the demand that every single Jew come to the Land of Israel, but also a total repudiation of all forms of Jewish life in Exile, their culture and their language (Yiddish/Jewish). The absolutely worst thing we could say about anybody was to call them an “Exile Jew”. Herzl’s own writings exude, in places, a strongly anti-Semitic odor.

        And lo and behold, “Zionist” Israel is embracing the Diaspora, loving the Diaspora, kissing the Diaspora. The Zionist Executive is sending emissaries to the Jewish communities throughout the world in order to reinforce their “Jewish culture”.

        The leaders of the “Zionist State” depend to a large extent upon the Diaspora and use it for their own purposes. The Exile-Jewish AIPAC ensures the subjection of the US Congress to the will of the Israeli government. The “Anti-Defamation League” (which should more properly be called the “Defamation League”) is terrorizing the American media in order to prevent any criticism of Israeli policy. In the past, the United Jewish Appeal was essential for the economic wellbeing of Israel.

        For years, the foreign policy of Israel has been based upon the power of the Jewish “exile” community in the US. Every country, from Egypt to Uzbekistan, knew that if it wanted aid from the American Congress, it had first of all to acquire the support of Israel. In order to get access to the American Sultan, they first had to get past the Israeli gate-keeper.

      • Bill in Maryland on January 29, 2012, 7:51 pm

        Thank you Hostage for highlighting Caroline Glick’s opinion piece. What she writes is a barefaced call for betrayal of U.S. interests by American Jews if I ever saw one:

        To oppose Iran’s nuclear program effectively, American Jews are required to oppose these strongly supported US policies. And at some point, this may require them to announce they support Israel’s right to survive and thrive even if that paramount right conflicts with how the US government perceives US national interests.

        That is, it may require them to embrace Zionism unconditionally.

  2. mudder on January 28, 2012, 11:18 am

    Greenwald in his superb takedown of Goldberg writes

    In general, I try to avoid terminology that is gratuitously inflammatory — meaning, language that is unnecessary to make a point and that is more likely to distract from the point with side controversies than focus attention on the point itself (by contrast, I don’t try to avoid language that is necessarily inflammatory: meaning language that is necessary to make a point even if it offends). That’s why I generally avoid using the term “fascist” to describe contemporary politics, or avoid comparisons with Nazis, or avoid using the term “Israel-Firster”

    I disagree with those who claim that the use of the term “Israel-Firster” is anti-semitic. But I would much rather give up that term in discussion than the term “apartheid”, which also inflames, but necessarily so.

    • on January 28, 2012, 12:20 pm

      “I would much rather give up that term [Israel-Firster] in discussion than the term “apartheid”, which also inflames, but necessarily so.”

      I think just the opposite. Apartheid forces one to conjure up what the term meant originally; apply it to the present situation; compare and contrast elements to determine which are parallel and which are not; and only then arrive at an understanding of what is happening. By that time, the issue is fogged with overlays of black people being “necklaced” and European white people etc etc. Too many images and reference points.

      Israel-Firster focuses directly on the subject and, from an American point of view, focuses on an essential part of the offense, thereby giving rise to forms of eradicating the phenomenon. That is, Israel Firster communicates that one is standing on American soil, American systems and opportunity, American security, American infrastructure, American institutional backing, paid for by American taxpayers, but using all of that privilege for the benefit of another state NOT the United States.

      That’s essentially a theft of the good will and hard work of the American people. Why should anyone tolerate it?

      One solution it gives rise to is to deny certain financial benefits to persons or institutions who act as “Israel Firsters.” For example, if Sheldon Adelson donates money produced in the USA to a cause to benefit Israel, he should not be permitted to take a tax deduction for that contribution. The rationale behind a charitable giving tax benefit is that the United States is benefiting from that contribution and it would be unfair to claim a double-contribution to the US commonweal. But if the money is to benefit a states outside the United States, the people of the United States should NOT be called upon to subsidize that contribution, and the donor should not be permitted to take a tax benefit for the donation.

      That principle should apply to all contributions to entities outside the United States, from all persons and institutions in the United States — ie. if UJF contributes money to settlements in occupied territories, it should not convey a tax benefit to the donor organization.

      • Citizen on January 28, 2012, 2:00 pm

        teta mother me, I agree whole-heartedly. Of course, I don’t even agree with tax exemption of any government recognized religious group, which makes the rest of us pay for their respective delusions in multiple ways.

      • American on January 28, 2012, 2:20 pm

        I agree with teta, the apartheid label might cover aspects of Israel, but it doesn’t do anything for the core of the Isr problem — the US Isr-firsters influence in US government and politics.
        You can’t change Israel without changing US policy toward Israel—unless you just wait for it all to blow up at some point.

      • Taxi on January 28, 2012, 3:03 pm

        Go the whole hog guys: Apartheid israeli firster.

        It’s got everything, minus the kitchen sink.

      • patm on January 29, 2012, 10:04 am

        ‘Israel firster’ is easier to explain and to comprehend than ‘apartheid’.

        It also leads directly to the issue of loyalty, not religion, and thus is a safer term. You cannot easily get to ‘Jew hater’ from this term.

    • Kathleen on January 28, 2012, 1:01 pm

      Oh come on I have heard Greenwald use inflammotory language about Bush, Cheney etc. This claim of his is a bunch of hooey. One of Greenwalds best takedowns was when he and Dylan Ratigan took Cliff May down on

      The Ahmadinejad game
      Debating Iran on MSNBC with a perennial war supporter

      Cliff May vs. Glenn Greenwald (and Dylan Ratigan) on MSNBC …

      Saw this on Dylans the night it was aired. Dylan never touched the issue again. Bet he was slammed.

      This was one of the best discussions ever about Iran, the I/P issue on MSNBC. Glenn is amazing!

      Dylan is amazing during this interview. He brings up the dead in Iraq and Cliff May responds by calling him “anti American” Whoa Dylan really rips it up. Really rips it up…like no one I have ever heard on MSNBC. Bet he was really hammered he has barely ever whispered about this issue again.

      • Kathleen on January 28, 2012, 1:16 pm

        Just listened to that Dylan Ratigan/Glenn Greenwald take down of Cliff May’s “warmongering” Actually watching it again. Dylan was the one to really take Clff May down. But Glenn definitely jumped in and stated solid facts.

        Have never ever witnessed this kind of take down of present or former warmongers by Chris Matthews, Rachel, Ed, Al Sharpton and definitely no take down of warmongers that Jon Stewart has repeatedly had on his program . Dylan wins the prize for truth telling on this issue. With Glenn Greenwald (with much less to lose in this situation) coming on strong and true too.

      • Citizen on January 28, 2012, 2:02 pm

        Kathleen, I agree, for one.

    • mudder on January 28, 2012, 4:07 pm

      Among those who have not shirked from the apartheid label are Desmond Tutu, F W DeKlerk, Jimmy Carter, and Ehud Barak. Some have couched the label in terms of the future, say if the present policies continue, but the use of the term is positive. All know that the analogy isn’t perfect, but the analogy is indeed powerful.

      • muzz al atesta on January 28, 2012, 6:31 pm

        “At the onset of international “Israel Apartheid Week” in solidarity with the embattled Palestinian people, I want to start by quoting a South African who emphatically stated as far back as 1963 that “Israel is an apartheid state.” Those were not the words of Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Tutu or Joe Slovo, but were uttered by none other than the architect of apartheid itself, racist Prime Minister, Dr. Hendrik Verwoerd.
        He was irked by the criticism of apartheid policy and Harold Macmillan’s “Winds of Change” speech , in contrast to the West’s unconditional support for Zionist Israel.”

        Ronnie Kasrils, south african jewish veteran of the struggle against apartheid
        Ronnie Kasrils

      • Hostage on January 28, 2012, 8:02 pm

        Some have couched the label in terms of the future, say if the present policies continue, but the use of the term is positive.

        The only lawyer in the bunch is DeKlerk. Here’s what Michael Ben-Yair, Israel’s Attorney General from 1993 – 1996, had to say:

        “We enthusiastically chose to become a colonial society, ignoring international treaties, expropriating lands, transferring settlers from Israel to the occupied territories, engaging in theft and finding justification for all these activities. Passionately desiring to keep the occupied territories, we developed two judicial systems: one — progressive, liberal — in Israel; and the other – cruel, injurious – in the occupied territories. In effect, we established an apartheid regime in the occupied territories immediately following their capture. That oppressive regime exists to this day”.

        — See The war’s seventh day by Michael Ben-Yair

      • MRW on January 29, 2012, 2:29 am

        Great catch, Hostage.

      • Djinn on January 29, 2012, 4:53 am

        It’s not just an analogy. Apartheid does not just refer to the system of minority control in South Africa, it is a crime under international law. One which Israel is demonstrably committing.

  3. tombishop on January 28, 2012, 11:54 am

    When using a word like “fascist” I think we have to distinguish between using it as an epithet and using it as a scientific term. As an epithet ( “a word, phrase, or expression used invectively as a term of abuse or contempt, to express hostility, etc. “) it is inflammatory and has little content. It usually is just part of shouted name-calling. It is easy to fall into when it is something you are passionate about.

    As a scientific term, however, ( definition of fascism: “a governmental system led by a dictator having complete power, forcibly suppressing opposition and criticism, regimenting all industry, commerce, etc., and emphasizing an aggressive nationalism and often racism.) it can be necessary to use the term to analyze political and economic phenomena. If put in that context, if we want to name things what they are, I don’t think it is an exaggeration to say the governments of Israel and the U.S. are showing advanced tendencies towards fascism.

    • seanmcbride on January 28, 2012, 1:01 pm

      Neoconservatism is a classical fascist movement.

      • Citizen on January 28, 2012, 2:04 pm

        Yes, seanmcbride, it is. AND so is PEP in terms of complicity.

  4. yourstruly on January 28, 2012, 11:55 am

    max ajl’s “one state, two states: who is the subject of the palestine liberation” (yesterday’s mw) insists that “pinning the blame for the occupation merely on the lobby and the foreign influences on our government is a raw appeal to racist-white power jingoism which won’t liberate palestine.” does this mean he’s against using the term israel firster? even when israel-firstness is what stokes antisemitism? it’s not as if jewish israel firsters can’t be identified by their names, nor that to attack jews antisemites need cues from anti-zionists. meanwhile, even though the appropriate use of israel firster is a potent tool (otherwise israel supporters wouldn’t be shouting foul play), can it be inferred from his statement above that he’s opposed to its use? but letting israel-firsters get away with their perfidy, is that going to help liberate palestine? besides, since it’s the anti-american element of israel firstness that stokes antisemitism, isn’t he blaming the messenger here, & putting the cart before the horse?
    clarification please, ajl

    • Bumblebye on January 28, 2012, 2:30 pm

      Maybe we should plump for “Zionist Firster” since it is that toxic ideology which is causing all the distress. And because it is clearly not a high values ideology. Adelson exemplifies it with Israel as his “Golden Calf” and US as his arena of exploitation.

  5. Kathleen on January 28, 2012, 12:25 pm

    Chris Matthews has been out in front on this Adelson/ A greater Israel issue.

    Finally Isikoff dipping in his toes. But no one in the MSM is touching how much Adelson gives to Israeli chaities, money that ends up being used to build illegal settlments etc, that is more than likely tax exempt, that this money undermines UN resolutions, international treaties and US national security. Phil have you heard any mention of this? Any deeper investigation or reporting into where Adelsons money to Israel ends up?
    About 1,500 casino workers lost their jobs. Adelson built a spectacular new hotel in its place, the Venetian, but locked out the state’s powerful Culinary Workers Union, which resulted in street protests and lawsuits.

    From the article “About 1,500 casino workers lost their jobs. Adelson built a spectacular new hotel in its place, the Venetian, but locked out the state’s powerful Culinary Workers Union, which resulted in street protests and lawsuits.”

    Adelson’s persistent efforts to destroy unions which built the middle class are also shameful.

    Ackerman/Attackerman is so pro Israel he cannot see or write straight about the issue

  6. Bill in Maryland on January 28, 2012, 12:32 pm

    If one woke up early today to watch MSNBC, one would have witnessed another chink in the MSM wall. The Nation’s very sharp Chris Hayes, on his MSNBC show UP w/Chris Hayes, had a whole segment on Sheldon Adelson and, while it did dwell a lot on the casino angle and how Adelson made his billions, Chris Hayes to his credit did not shy away from the Israel angle but discussed this in a very fair and thorough way I thought. (The segment can be seen here starting at about 27:30). So Chris Hayes has ventured out into important territory where Chris Matthews and Rachel Maddow fear to tread! Go Chris Hayes!

    • annie on January 28, 2012, 12:53 pm

      thanks bill, good coverage

      • Citizen on January 28, 2012, 2:06 pm

        Yes, Thanks for the information, Bill.

    • seanmcbride on January 28, 2012, 1:00 pm

      Why is Rachel Maddow so cowardly in discussing Israel and the Israel lobby? She is hardly the bold and independent thinker she claims to be.

      • Kathleen on January 28, 2012, 1:11 pm

        She has completely been a coward. I keep saying that if all the Palestinians were gay she would be all over it. She has broken down a bit by having Former President Jimmy Carter on for a fairly long interview with him. Providing him with space on her program to say the things that she is unwilling or ordered not to touch. Keep pushing her. Keep bringing up the hypocrisy. She and Richard Engel covered the Arab Spring jumping over the decades long peaceful Palestinian protest.

        She has yet to have Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett on her program to discuss the situation with Iran based on facts

      • seanmcbride on January 28, 2012, 1:49 pm

        I would like to see Jimmy Carter and Zbigniew Brzezinski being interviewed *as a team* all across the mainstream media. These were the visionaries who worked tirelessly to produce a peace agreement between Israel and its neighbors that brought enormous benefits to Israelis.

        And, yes: is the allegedly bold progressive Rachel Maddow too timid, too weak, to give a platform for the views of the Leveretts? Philip Giraldi? Chas Freeman? Stephen Walt? What is wrong with her?

      • Citizen on January 28, 2012, 2:09 pm

        Yeah, Maddow would be all over it with her snarks if all the Palestinians were gay/lesbians. She’s a perfect example of why so may otherwise smart and caring Americans (especially females) will not push for Ron Paul.

      • American on January 28, 2012, 2:32 pm

        Maddow is in it for the paycheck, she has no ethics.

        Remember the female reporter from MSNBC or CNN who covered I/P once? I can’t think of her name right now, but she did broadcasts from Palestine trying to present both sides of the story. She also covered the Iraq war in the early days.
        She was disappeared from US media for being too unbaised. I think she was Canadian and is now working in Canada. I wish I could remember her name.

      • peeesss on January 28, 2012, 10:30 pm

        Could it be Caulfield, or something similar. I think she just got an assignment on A US cable network.

      • American on January 29, 2012, 1:41 am

        Eureka! I found her. Ashleigh Banfield

        Ashleigh Banfield – Wikipedia, the free – Prior to joining the network, Banfield worked for MSNBC and reported from … of journalistic work, and criticized media coverage of the Iraq War in April 2003

      • MRW on January 29, 2012, 2:38 am

        American, peeesss,

        Ashleigh Banfield. She was creamed by the head of NBC News for discussing the dangers of embedding reporters in the military.

        The same reason why Adam Curtis’ BBC The Powers of Nightmares is banned from being shown in here in the US. Part 3 of the series would take some heads off. I’ve been showing it to 14-year-old school kids…and (1) they are sooooo thankful because they realize they don’t have to be afraid, (2) they’re pissed at being lied to, and (3) I take infinite delight in watching the light dawn in their young heads by empowering them to question the BS they’re fed.

        Edit: I start with Part 3. I don’t even have to urge they watch the other parts.

    • Kathleen on January 28, 2012, 1:22 pm

      I watched and commented over at Facebook at the UP facebook page . Hayes was chicken shit to go very far. Did you hear him bring up Adelsons donations to Israel? How these donations could or all ready have been used to expand illegal settlements. How this undermines US National security, international law and UN resolutions Have you witnessed Hayes have Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett on to discuss Iran based on facts? Hayes walks as carefully around the I/P issue and Iran as all of the other MSNBC host. SO FAR. Give him a push

      • seanmcbride on January 28, 2012, 1:29 pm

        I just tweeted Rachel Maddow: @maddow Is there any chance that you will take a close look at Sheldon Adelson’s Israeli connections? Or is that topic verboten on MSNBC?

      • MRW on January 29, 2012, 2:41 am


        Tweet this site to her.

      • Kathleen on January 28, 2012, 1:35 pm

        Heard the Up program this morning. Went over there to comment earlier. Just listened again. Hayes stepped in there …connection with Israel, push for war with Iran. But no one is touching millions given given to Birthright Israel and possible donations to Israel that ends up building illegal housing in E Jerusalem and the West Bank. How these donations are tax exempt. How these donations undermine international agreements, UN resolutions and US National Security. Dig in Chris Dig in

        I believe later on in the program they also bring up that Rep Maloney and many other Reps voted to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem years ago

      • Bill in Maryland on January 28, 2012, 2:20 pm

        The panelists on the UP w/ Chris Hayes show this morning also discussed the important point (from minute ~36:30 to 38:30), which I first read here on Mondoweiss, that the effect of Adelson’s money is to provide “ballast” to pull Romney and the whole GOP field to the right on Israel, not so much that Gingrich is likely to win.

  7. seanmcbride on January 28, 2012, 12:49 pm

    Zionism (Jewish *ethnic nationalism*) has made Spencer Ackerman stupid. Ethnic nationalism is a debilitating drug that produces massive cognitive warp among its addicts.

    I can’t wait to hear how Ackerman, Lee Smith, Jeffrey Goldberg and others of their ilk handle the Sheldon Adelson controversy. Will they try to sweep it under the rug? Pretend it doesn’t exist?

  8. seanmcbride on January 28, 2012, 12:57 pm

    “This graphic from Adelson’s Israeli newspaper says it all. The translation in Isikoff’s piece says that Gingrich states that Obama is risking a second Holocaust with his Iran policy.”

    Pushing the Holocaust button is what set Andrew Adler in motion, when he called for the Israeli Mossad to assassinate Barack Obama in the Atlanta Jewish Times..

    This is the cultural and political *context* which explains the behavior of Andrew Adler.

    What could be a better example of Israel Firstism and America Lastism than for a pro-Israel activist to call for the assassination of an American president by Mossad? We know who have been pushing the buttons of pro-Israel activists like Adler.

  9. seanmcbride on January 28, 2012, 1:36 pm

    “While the Center for American Progress has been wobbly under the attack, MJ Rosenberg at Media Matters refused to fold. He knows this idea is both true and important. And his shop stood up for him. In recent days Rosenberg has gotten backup from Glenn Greenwald in a big piece, from Jerry Haber, and from Richard Silverstein. The smart set.”

    Thank God for the smart set, the truth-telling set, the courageous set. These people are in the vanguard of rescuing the Jewish tradition from the hole in which a false messianic movement has dug it. Eventually they will be honored as heroes by their fellow Jews.

    • seanmcbride on January 28, 2012, 1:43 pm

      This is what I predict: a critical mass of Jews will eventually come to the conclusion that the democratic and pluralistic culture which dominated American society during the last half of the 20th century, and which enabled a Jewish Golden Age, is the best framework for protecting Jewish culture and inspiring Jewish success and achievement. Zionism, which is a self-ghettoizing ethnic nationalist movement, is a dead end — probably a catastrophic dead end. And this is why we need an anti-Herzl to lead Jews out of the wilderness and back to the promised land, which at the moment is rapidly slipping out of their grasp.

      • yourstruly on January 28, 2012, 2:36 pm

        could phil and adam be the ones?

      • seanmcbride on January 29, 2012, 11:40 am

        It would put too great a burden on them even to toy with that notion. :)

  10. Citizen on January 28, 2012, 1:42 pm

    Look at any study stats on who R the main US boots on the ground defending America anywhere–it’s white males from rural and lower middle class–with a HS education, and often with a family tradition of US military service as a born citizen owed deal. Virtually no jews involved, if you are thinking of US & Israel having the same interests.

  11. yourstruly on January 28, 2012, 1:48 pm

    since israel firsters come in a variety of ethnic, religious and political persuasions, isn’t the term itself generic? take the republican candidates, based on their statements on these debates, aren’t all of them self-acknowledged israel firsters? and none of them is jewish. so why are zionists so upset about being labeled israel-firsters? because the truth sometimes hurts? especially when it strikes at where one is most vulnerable. perhaps being called out for what they are makes them cringe, as well they should?

    • Citizen on January 28, 2012, 2:18 pm

      Yes, yourstruly, it’s always fun to watch how the GOP wannabees especially talks about the Iranian threat, how they struggle to make it seem as if America is actually threatened by Iran getting the bomb, or by anything it does in the ME. Their verbal confusion over whether its more Israel or America that is so direly threatened is a hoot. A joke, except their struggle to come off as ethical and moral and holding a full set of brains–is lethal.

      • Duscany on January 29, 2012, 2:09 am

        I agree with your points. But watching the Republican candidates abase themselves with assertions of eternal love and support of Israel doesn’t make me laugh. I rather feel embarrassed for America (and furious at the stupidity of the GOP candidates).

        Doesn’t the GOP understand that unemployed blue collar Americans in western Pennsylvania and Ohio watch these speeches too? Don’t they know how it makes Americans feel to hear all this talk about love for Israel (and no comparable concern about the problems of unemployed Americans)? You’d think the Republican candidates might at least once in a while mention their burning desire to help the people of Ohio and western Pennsylvania (assuming of course they have any such feelings).

    • American on January 28, 2012, 2:48 pm

      Yea it is generic, that’s why it’s perfect… can be applied fairly to anyone; zio orgs, Jewish and gentile politicians, mouthpieces, religious fanatics……a disease without regard for race, religion or ethnic orientation so to speak…….:)

    • Charon on January 30, 2012, 1:19 am

      And it’s important to make it known the term is generic and applies to many who are not Jewish. The channeling Hitler thing and interest groups trying to equate it with ages-old canards about dual loyalty is ridiculous. Those are European canards which pre-date Western secularism and were also used on groups like the Roma. The USA is a secular melting pot which never used those canards.

      The truth does hurt and it is important to tell the truth. There really are Israel-firsters who have dual-loyalty issues putting Israel’s interests above our own and many of them are not even Jewish so the old canard thing is baseless.

  12. American on January 28, 2012, 2:08 pm

    I can only say this….If the goal of those opposed to the I/P occupation and the US-Isr tail wag dog relationship is to get the backing/involvement of the public to pressure politicians on these issues, then the use of Israel-firster is the best way to describe that special interest to them.
    The reason I say this it because, according to what I see/hear/am told, is the majority of the US, in particular the 45% of registered voters who have now left both parties and partisanship behind, are incensed over basic issues, economics, jobs and others,of which the OWS is a good but small example. And they believe all these troubles are cause by Washington’s complete disregard for the average American in favor of special interest and elites and political self interest. Americans just plain want to “come first” in this government and they want this country to come first in all decisions. All but the Israel and r-wing religious lunatic fringes take exception to a foreign country put “first’ ahead of them, particularly when it is one that is a huge burden on this country. This is an core part of the attitudes in Paul phenomenon right now.

  13. Sin Nombre on January 28, 2012, 2:52 pm

    Not that this Isikoff piece isn’t a good thing, but notice that it has taken being a (very) Right-wing-near-or-total-Nutter like Gingrich (who like Nixon makes it a point to lambaste the mainstream media) for this kind of mainstream piece to begin to mention what it did about Adelson.

    If I’m not mistaken, Adelson was a big backer of Mrs. Clinton before, and yet we didn’t see this kind of reporting then. And I have no doubt that before the Republicans just fairly recently (in the form of their candidates today largely) started clearly trying to outdo the Democrats in expressing their fealty to Israel to get campaign money that Adelson was a big backer of other Democrats too. And, once again, where was this kind of reporting then? Or about the makeup of what is said to be 60-80% of the funders of the entire Democratic Party?

    A good thing this Isikoff piece, but we’ll see if it’s just a meaningless blip or whether it’s followed up in *any* way that might tend to make it non-partisan, like asking Newt at a debate about taking contributions from or employing in the White House individuals with dual citizenship, which might then be asked of *everyone* else.

    I’m dubious.

    P.S.: Phil, in response to Ackerman’s calling you a Lefty polemicist, would be interesting for you to ask him about the specific boundaries he honors in *his* writings refusing to accurately report on things and indeed protecting the misrepresentation of things.

    In his Tablet piece he has after all said it’s wrong to call someone an “Israel Firster” *regardless* of whether they are. (Such as Adelson even admits).

    So what else specifically does he refuse to report truthfully? What other demands to not be accurately identified does he honor?

  14. on January 28, 2012, 3:04 pm

    One little thing about the use of “Israel” for the colonial Zionist entity: using that religiously loaded word, which obviously carries some acceptance not to say recognition of the racial supremacist colonial occupier, is being used by the lobby to rouse the ignorants.

    It also creates the impression that whoever uses the word somewhat agrees that there might be any connection between Judaism and Zionism.

    The words to use are Zionist Lobby, Zionism-firsters, etc.

    • annie on January 28, 2012, 10:40 pm

      what word? israel? i do not think it is a religiously loaded word. it’s the name of a state.

      • john h on January 29, 2012, 2:05 am

        I think it definitely is a religiously loaded word, annie.

        The name Israel has the name of God (el) in it, and tells anyone who knows anything (that might exclude some!) that it is the state Jews live in.

        Further, it reminds Christians of whatever stripe of their heritage as a religion that came from Israel and Jews, two words that are very prominent in their holy writings.

        And yes, I think sardelapasti (welcome, by the way!) has a valid point with regard to Zionism and Judaism. The two are essentially in opposition to each other, as the majority of earlier rabbi’s realised. Nowadays the two use each other for their own ends, much as Zionism and Christian Zionism do. Each of these three has its own agenda.

        However, I am ambivalent about using Zionist lobby or Zionism-firsters, and not yet convinced that would make much if any difference.

      • john h on January 29, 2012, 2:29 am

        Just to add to my last paragraph.

        I am no longer ambivalent and I am now convinced that using Zionist lobby or Zionism-firsters would be all negative and not positive at all.

        The issue here is loyalty to the US and not making another country or state the default point. Zionism is not a country or state but an ideology. Therefore to use it instead of Israel in this context is to play right into its hands, which would be a losing game.

      • annie on January 29, 2012, 4:50 am

        Zionism is not a country or state but an ideology. Therefore to use it instead of Israel in this context is to play right into its hands


      • American on January 29, 2012, 1:12 pm

        “I am no longer ambivalent and I am now convinced that using Zionist lobby or Zionism-firsters would be all negative and not positive at all.” ..John h

        I am not against using the term zionist state for Israel but do agree it is mostly useless if we are talking about using it for the general public in the Israel issue.
        I can’t remember how long it took me to run into Zionism when I first starting digging around to try and figure out what was the deal was with USA-ISR-I/P and US Jews, but it took me a while.
        Zionism is a lot of education to have to give to the average Joe and too much to pick apart, except that in mentioning it, it might spur them to do the research on their own and understand more about both the nature of Israel and the exact group that influences USA policy.
        But right– for the main stream they don’t have to understand any of that, understanding that Israel comes first in US ME policy ( and gets a third of our foreign aid) that affects all Americans is enough.

      • llama lady on January 30, 2012, 1:36 pm

        El was actually the Canaanite god of creation. Doesn’t that throw Zionism into the blender?

      • john h on February 1, 2012, 4:40 pm

        El is a Semitic word meaning “deity” and was used of many gods.

        This included Yahweh, the god of the Jews. In the Tanakh it is often used as an abbreviation of their term “elohim”, for the supreme god.

        Zionism has taken the names Israel and Zion, which have spiritual meaning, and allied them with itself, a secular ideology. Zionism is by nature in the blender…

        I would swallow my pride,
        I would choke on the rinds,
        but the lack thereof would leave me empty inside,
        swallow my doubt
        turn it inside out
        find nothing but faith in nothing.
        Want to put my tender heart in a blender,
        watch it spin ’round into a beautiful oblivion.
        Rendezvous, then I’m through with you

  15. annie on January 28, 2012, 3:54 pm

    wow, great article phil. awesome. you’re blowing me away with your israel firster coverage. blowing blowing blowing.

  16. atime forpeace on January 28, 2012, 7:28 pm

    Phil can you be accused of fanning the flames of anti something-tism or other?

  17. piotr on January 28, 2012, 10:22 pm

    I have a big grudge against American because he made me curious about the most recent opus of Caroline Glick, and now my brain is close to bursting. But if I could suffer, so can you. folks. Three salient paragraphs (they are in that order, but with some verbiage in between):

    As for the Jews, Netanyahu embraced Zionism’s core principle: “With regard to threats to our very existence, we cannot abandon our future to the hands of others. “With regard to our fate, our duty is to rely on ourselves alone.

    Both then-president George W. Bush and later Barack Obama determined that an Israeli military strike against Iran’s nuclear weapons program does pose a high-level threat to the US. As a consequence, both administrations have taken concerted steps to prevent Israel from attacking Iran.

    To oppose Iran’s nuclear program effectively, American Jews are required to oppose these strongly supported US policies.

    Back to me voice: Netanyahu correctly determined that Israel should NOT rely on American help so it is IMPERATIVE for Jews in America to demand that help? Israel should not eat the cake and it is a treason to our 3000 (4000? it is a bit hazy, make it ab orbi condita) years worth of ancestors if we do not demand some humungous amounts of the cake?

    Truly, every true friend of Canada should support Caroline (loon is the national bird up there).

    • patm on January 29, 2012, 10:19 am

      Wrong about the national bird, piotr. Right about the Glickster having fans among Canada’s many Israel-Firsters.

      “Many countries have adopted a species of bird as their national official bird. So what is Canada’s official national bird?

      Many Canadians, when asked, say the loon since it is on our dollar coin and represents the land of lakes in the north which is typical in much of Canada. The common loon was adopted as the official provincial bird of Ontario in 1994. Other official provincial bird species are the Steller’s jay for British Columbia, great horned owl for Alberta, sharp-tailed grouse for Saskatchewan, great grey owl for Manitoba, snowy owl for Quebec, black-capped chickadee for New Brunswick, osprey for Nova Scotia, blue jay for Prince Edward Island, Atlantic puffin for Newfoundland and Labrador, gyrfalcon for Northwest Territories, rock ptarmigan for Nunavut and common raven for Yukon. The American robin is the state bird for Connecticut, Michigan and Wisconsin.

      Still can’t think of Canada’s national bird? It turns out that we don’t have one.”

  18. Citizen on January 29, 2012, 10:15 am

    Democracy Now had a good recent show on Gingrich and his big backer:

    Too bad Democracy Now is totally unknown to Dick and Jane.

  19. Les on January 29, 2012, 1:32 pm

    As a Jewish Zionist, Ackerman, as did Adelson, declared the US to be his second country.

  20. Justice Please on January 29, 2012, 5:59 pm

    Good for Isikoff and NBC. I hope many Americans have watched it.

    If you care about America, put the message out: “Newt Gingrich gets paid to work for another government. We won’t put him in jail for that, but we certainly won’t elect him.”

  21. Les on January 29, 2012, 8:17 pm

    You have done a super service by making this video available. Something tells me it won’t be mentioned, let alone discussed, by the Times, NPR, etc.

  22. crone on January 30, 2012, 1:46 pm

    Putting Israel First
    The War Party’s Achilles’ heel

    by Justin Raimondo, January 30, 2012

    The campaign to lure the US into attacking Iran has one big problem to overcome before the War Party can taste success: the rather obvious fact that such a war would benefit Israel, and not the United States. This is why Israel’s partisans in the US constitute the spearhead of the pro-war agitation, why AIPAC has made this a consistent theme for the past few years, and why the billionaire Sheldon Adelson, aside from funding the Newtster, has poured untold millions into the same project. Hardly a day goes by without some Israeli government official reiterating, once again, that Iran represents an “existential threat” to the Jewish state, and threatening to strike the first blow if Uncle Sam fails to wake up in time, while Israel’s amen corner dutifully echoes the same line.

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