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AIPAC met quietly with Dem thinktank to deplore writings critical of Israel, and took its leaders to Israel

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Obama at AIPAC
AIPAC has worked closely with leaders of a D.C. thinktank that has close ties to the Obama administration

Ron Kampeas has a good wrapup report on the CAP bloggers affair, the writers at the Democratic-Party-linked thinktank who were targeted by a smear campaign because they were critical of Israel. Kampeas concludes that the public attack on the writers was so over-the-top that it hurt the accuser, Josh Block, an Israel lobbyist formerly with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

But it also caused the thinktank, the Center for American Progress, to pull in its horns.  Kampeas:

Officials at some pro-Israel groups expressed frustration with the public attack on CAP at a time that they were trying to address their differences with the group through quiet diplomacy. A number of Jewish organizations had been making representations to CAP before the Politico story was published.

“At the highest levels of AIPAC, there is a philosophy of never going to the media with policy disputes,” an AIPAC official said on condition of anonymity.

“We’re not happy this has taken the course it has,” the official added. “We would have preferred it was dealt with quietly.”

Block declined to respond to suggestions by some Jewish communal officials that the issue should have been handled more discreetly. But within minutes of Block being approached for comment, the same AIPAC official, spurred by Block, called JTA and said that he would prefer not having his quote used. But he agreed that since he had said it for the record, it was fair to publish.

The AIPAC official made clear that his organization remained frustrated with CAP. Top AIPAC officials would meet with top CAP officials, the official said, and these meetings would conclude with an agreement by CAP to monitor blog posts more closely. AIPAC recently took CAP officials on an Israel tour, the official noted.

Yet CAP and its Middle East shop in particular would consistently return to what AIPAC perceived as unfair depictions of the policies of Israel and its supporters.

Oh yes why did they keep returning? Because they are good journalists.

Speaking of good journalists, Kampeas also offers details on the campaign against one of the CAP bloggers, Eli Clifton, for a great article he wrote last summer warning that the Israel lobby was pushing for war with Iran. CAP now says that Clifton’s article was “problematic”:

it is the contours of that very debate that trouble pro-Israel groups. Abraham Foxman, the ADL’s national director, singled out an article by Eli Clifton, a Think Progress staffer, that seemed to suggest that AIPAC was driving the country toward war with Iran.

In an Aug. 10 post, Clifton described an AIPAC statement applauding a bipartisan Senate letter urging sanctions on Iran’s central bank as drawing “eerie parallels between the escalation of sanctions against Iran and the slow lead-up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003.”

Foxman said it was legitimate “to say that there are those in the Jewish community who feel very strongly about confronting Iran. But when it’s linked to a conspiratorial view of the Iraq war, ‘It’s the Israel lobby, it’s the Jewish community,’ that parrots a line.”

Sources close to CAP say the organization recognizes how Clifton’s language may have been problematic, and that it would be more useful to describe groups like AIPAC as backing measures that could escalate into military conflict, as opposed to accusing AIPAC of seeking war.

…In a later clarification appended to Clifton’s post, Think Progress said that “Given Iran’s horrible record on human rights abuses and outright hostile and anti-Semitic rhetoric towards Israel, an Iran with nuclear weapons is very concerning and we support responsible measures to reduce that threat.”

This is the whole problem with the “Israel Firster” controversy. That language speaks to a real problem in our politics: that the interests of the American people and the Israelis have been conflated when the United States is issuing warlike threats against Iran. These interests need to be separated. But of course you are not even allowed to diagnose the problem.

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38 Responses

  1. annie
    annie
    February 1, 2012, 10:20 am

    Top AIPAC officials would meet with top CAP officials, the official said, and these meetings would conclude with an agreement by CAP to monitor blog posts more closely.

    and why is cap under any implied obligation to make agreements with aipac?

    But when it’s linked to a conspiratorial view of the Iraq war, ‘It’s the Israel lobby, it’s the Jewish community,’ that parrots a line.”

    yeah, all of a sudden it seems like there is a fair amount of pushback against the meme the neocons drove us into war with iraq. as if..this is somehow new or something. it’s not. bloggers have been saying this and aware of this for years and years.

    it is as if someone decided enough time has past and they are trying to rewrite history and they’re frustrated we haven’t forgotten. or perhaps they want to repeat the same formula with iran and wipe our collective memories this already happened once.

    • Justice Please
      Justice Please
      February 1, 2012, 10:26 am

      Because AIPAC is un-American and does not believe in free speech.

      • Charon
        Charon
        February 1, 2012, 11:35 pm

        Emphasis on un-American. They are a foreign agent. They’ve been pressured to register with the justice department as a foreign agent for decades.

    • pabelmont
      pabelmont
      February 1, 2012, 10:36 am

      Nothing new ? Not to bloggers in general who have nailed neocons adn AIPAC for years, but THESE IMPORTANT THINKTANKS are something else. The 1% do not control everything, but they do aspire to control ALL CENTERS OF POWER.

    • split
      split
      February 1, 2012, 12:34 pm

      “or perhaps they want to repeat the same formula with iran and wipe our collective memories this already happened once” – It won’t happen if you keep reminding the price we have to pay for it. This people (neocons) should end their political career in front of execution squad.

      http://theweek.com/article/index/223423/a-tough-homecoming-for-war-veterans

      • split
        split
        February 4, 2012, 10:48 am

        Disappointed, not one comment in regard of our casualties,…

  2. Woody Tanaka
    Woody Tanaka
    February 1, 2012, 10:22 am

    “‘We’re not happy this has taken the course it has,’ the official added. ‘We would have preferred it was dealt with quietly.'”

    Notice that the problem with this official is that it wasn’t “dealt with quietly” and not that people were smeared by that rat, Josh Block. “Go ahead and demonize anyone who speaks out of line about Israel,” he is saying, “just do it quietly.” Nuts to that.

  3. Dan Crowther
    Dan Crowther
    February 1, 2012, 10:23 am

    “…..it would be more useful to describe groups like AIPAC as backing measures that could escalate into military conflict, as opposed to accusing AIPAC of seeking war.”
    ————-
    That is hilarious. Im still kind of chucklin’….

  4. Justice Please
    Justice Please
    February 1, 2012, 10:24 am

    Great post, Phil!

    ““We’re not happy this has taken the course it has,” the official added. “We would have preferred it was dealt with quietly.””

    Exactly this quiet dealing and backroom secrecy is a major problem not just with AIPAC and other pro-Israeli organizations, but some Jewish organizations as well. They don’t trust the people, and prefer to make their various demands directly to governments and other powerful figures (like business and think tank leaders).

    We the people have a problem with secrecy. We demand transparancy, because it is a free society, not secret backroom dealings, which functions ultimately as the strongest defense against illegitimate policies like those Jews have suffered under historically.

  5. Nevada Ned
    Nevada Ned
    February 1, 2012, 10:24 am

    Sources close to CAP say…

    “it would be more useful to describe groups like AIPAC as backing measures that could escalate into military conflict, as opposed to accusing AIPAC of seeking war.”

    This is a distinction without a difference.
    How about this instead?

    “AIPAC is clamoring for a war of aggression against Iran, waged by Israel and/or the US”

  6. Citizen
    Citizen
    February 1, 2012, 10:30 am

    RE: “This is the whole problem with the “Israel Firster” controversy. That language speaks to a real problem in our politics: that the interests of the American people and the Israelis have been conflated when the United States is issuing warlike threats against Iran. These interests need to be separated. But of course you are not even allowed to diagnose the problem.”

    Yep, Americans must pretend there is no problem with conflating Israel’s and America’s best interests–as if there’s no difference between the two nuclear-armed states. This is all just old wine in new bottles relative to the traditional Jewish principle of not washing Jewish laundry in public–the 98% of non-Jews that form the America. It is also, is in accordance with Israel, a foreign country characterizing itself as the only Jewish nation-state, the only state representing Jews born anywhere, anytime–this naturally puts doubt in any on-lookers mind about the allegiance priorities of any self-identifying Jew, does it not? We all have conflicting loyalties , preferences, tastes–but, as in the proverbial “loose in the toy store”–we all at one point have to decide which toy to choose. It’s about time, the American mainstream media and chattering class starts to detail why they make their choice.

    • Oscar
      Oscar
      February 2, 2012, 7:54 am

      Ok, so if “Israel First” is too emotionally charged a description, how about “America Second, But A Very Very Close Second “? Would that do the trick?

  7. Justice Please
    Justice Please
    February 1, 2012, 10:39 am

    “But when it’s linked to a conspiratorial view of the Iraq war, ‘It’s the Israel lobby, it’s the Jewish community,’ that parrots a line.””

    Congratulations Abraham Foxman, you once again demonstrated that you are an idiot. You are unfit to run any organization, let alone one that wants to serve the commendable goal of combating defamations against minorities.

    Here is a primer for you: Conspiracies are a fact of life, from everyday life to politics. If someone talks about a possible conspiracy, like the push for war with Iraq or Iran, you weigh his arguments and investigate further. You don’t brush any “lines”. That’s what a dictator does, but not someone who claims to like open and democratic societies.

  8. Kathleen
    Kathleen
    February 1, 2012, 10:39 am

    “At the highest levels of AIPAC, there is a philosophy of never going to the media with policy disputes,” an AIPAC official said on condition of anonymity.

    “We’re not happy this has taken the course it has,” the official added. “We would have preferred it was dealt with quietly.”
    ——————————————————–

    As former head of Aipac Steve Rosen who was indicted for espionage and yet never tried or convictd used to say “power operates best in the shadows”

    AIPAC Bares All to Quash Lawsuit by Grant Smith — Antiwar.comoriginal.antiwar.com/smith-grant/…/aipac-bares-all-to-quash-lawsuit/Cached – Similar
    AIPAC Bares All to Quash Lawsuit

    Sex, spies, and videotape

    by Grant Smith, November 15, 2010
    | Print This | Share This | Antiwar Forum
    On Nov. 8, 2010, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) filed a massive 260-page motion [.pdf] in the District of Columbia Superior Court. It asks Judge Erik Christian to dismiss former AIPAC employee Steven J. Rosen’s $20 million defamation suit. In October the court dismissed all counts of the March 2009 lawsuit except for Rosen’s claim of harm over AIPAC statements to the press that he did not uphold its standards of conduct. Rosen and AIPAC have – until now – abstained from filing damaging information about the internal workings of AIPAC in court. AIPAC’s willingness to publicly air some extremely sordid and revealing content to get the remaining count thrown out before an alternative dispute resolution hearing begins in December is a sign that AIPAC is now fighting for its life, or – as one former AIPAC attorney put it – “reason for being.” If Rosen proves in court that AIPAC has long handled classified information while lobbying for Israel, the worn public pretense that AIPAC is anything but a stealth extension of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs – from which it emerged in 1951 – will end forever.

    Rosen filed his civil suit after adverse judicial rulings made his (and coworker Keith Weissman’s) prosecution under the Espionage Act unlikely. Col. Lawrence Franklin pled guilty to passing classified national defense information to persons not entitled to receive it while Rosen and Weissman were indicted in 2005 for their role in the espionage affair. Although prosecutors reluctantly dropped [.pdf] their indictment in May 2009 – as AIPAC carefully notes in its filing – Rosen was never acquitted. Outstanding questions in the defamation suit about classified-information trafficking have now placed AIPAC in a bind. If AIPAC financially settles with Rosen, it will signal to the American people and attentive law enforcement officials that it is honoring a previous compensation deal to pay Rosen off after the spy flap subsided. On May 11, 2010, Rosen revealed an e-mail to Washington Post reporter Jeff Stein asserting that AIPAC promised “when this is over we will do right by Steve.” But it’s now far from clear whether AIPAC has the financial wherewithal or donors willing to honor such a – possibly illegal – commitment.
    ————————————————————-

    And lets never forget about Jane “waddling on over to interfere in the Aipac investigation” Harman. “this coversation did not happen” Harman.

  9. Kathleen
    Kathleen
    February 1, 2012, 10:42 am

    David “axis of evil” Frum is on the Diane Rehm show talking about the Florida results. He was just beating up and undermining Rep Paul saying something like Rep Paul was into this for his own benefit and personal profit.

    The only thing that I can figure is that David “Axis of Evil” Frums comments about Rep Paul are to undermine Rep Pauls anti unnecessary appeal that cuts through party lines. Clearly that is because “Rep stands against an unnecessary military confrontation with Iran based on more unsubstantited claims which David Frum supports.

    • Justice Please
      Justice Please
      February 1, 2012, 12:35 pm

      Of course Ron Paul is scary to people who want to use US citizens as cattle, use their money and children to prop up everything from big corporations to globalist bureaucracies to foreign countries.

      Good to see Frum show his un-American and undemocratic colors.

    • lysias
      lysias
      February 2, 2012, 2:43 pm

      I heard Frum say that. It was disgusting.

      • Justice Please
        Justice Please
        February 2, 2012, 6:08 pm

        We have a corporate media where Ron Paul, who not only is married to his wife for 55 years and has delivered 4.000 breathing human beings, but also returns 100.000 dollars of his congressional budget to the taxpayer every year, is framed as “being in this for his own benefit”.

        Meanwhile, Romney the venture capitalist who has wrecked dozens of companies and is rich beyond human need, just wants to “serve his country”.

        What a mess.

      • lysias
        lysias
        February 6, 2012, 5:16 pm

        I learn from the latest American Conservative that Frum has said that, if Ron Paul is chosen to give a speech at the Republican convention, Romney and his people should be given a chance to vet the speech first. So Frum already knows that Ron Paul is going to have some power in the Republican Party this year. No doubt he very much wants to minimize that power.

  10. brenda
    brenda
    February 1, 2012, 10:50 am

    “But it also caused the thinktank, the Center for American Progress, to pull in its horns. ”

    Col. Pat Lang has a wonderfully evocative description for what happened to CAP:

    http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2012/01/the-gelding-of-cap.html

    I think Lang’s background is US Marines. Not cavalry. But nevertheless he got the correct phrase for what happened here.

    • Bill in Maryland
      Bill in Maryland
      February 1, 2012, 2:32 pm

      Thanks Brenda for pointing that out. Very sad to see CAP lose any of its journalistic virility.

    • optimax
      optimax
      February 1, 2012, 9:48 pm

      Brenda,

      Col. Lang is retired Army, a graduate of VMI. Do not call him a Marine , or the wrath you suffer will be traumatic. He was Specials Ops, liason with Israel and other high offices I can’t remember. I visit his website every day. He’s also a writer with a touch of bohemian.

      • Woody Tanaka
        Woody Tanaka
        February 1, 2012, 11:59 pm

        “Col. Lang is retired Army, a graduate of VMI. Do not call him a Marine , or the wrath you suffer will be traumatic.”

        Oh, god forbid we don’t abide by the meaningless and near arbitrary distinction between the gang he belonged to and some other gang.

    • optimax
      optimax
      February 2, 2012, 12:30 pm

      brenda,

      Maybe I should have put a smiley face after “…will be traumatic” to show it was tongue-in-cheek. But I can’t get meyself to use emoticons. Mark Twain thought an exclamation mark was like laughing at your own joke.

      • brenda
        brenda
        February 2, 2012, 7:06 pm

        :>)

        thanks for the background on Col. Lang. I have a little bit of conversation with him from time to time and I wouldn’t want to get that important piece wrong!

        btw, optimax, did you take a look at the National Journal debate Col. Lang was an invited participant to recently? He and Robert Baer (CIA) lined up together on one side, a neocon on the other side and an extremely interesting analysis by Prof. Michael Brenner (International Affairs, U. of Pittsburgh) — “American foreign policy over the past 11 years has demonstrated a perverse genius for placing the United States in lose/lose situations.”

        Lang mentioned that he and Baer usually help Brenner with his analysis, but Lang has such a cryptic way of saying or not saying things that it’s hard to know exactly what that means…

      • optimax
        optimax
        February 2, 2012, 9:55 pm

        Brenda,

        I didn’t know about the debate. I’m sure it’s on the sic semper website somewhere. Brenner is interesting, always like his comments and analysis. Pat Lang doesn’t spell things out all time, making people think for themselves. Socratic.

  11. Les
    Les
    February 1, 2012, 10:53 am

    The marriage between the Democrats and the Israel Lobby is an arranged one. It is long past time that our media report on just who are the people doing the arranging, whether they are representatives of the Lobby or of the Democrats.

  12. seafoid
    seafoid
    February 1, 2012, 11:25 am

    I used to live in Mumbai in India and there was one evening where the journey home from work was stopped because a herd of VIPS was making its way to the local racecourse to attend the wedding of the son of a local VIP and all traffic had to make way for it. I got out of the car. The racecourse was decked out in the most fabulous material and there were glamorous people descending from cars- thin women and rich looking men and it looked like the real thing. But the city was and is really poor. And in the air there was this smell of untreated sewage as the tide was out . It destroyed the atmosphere. And that for me is a metaphor for Zionism and news management. They can’t manage out the smell.

  13. American
    American
    February 1, 2012, 12:11 pm

    What disgust me in all the hype about Iran and oil and nukes is no one gets down to the real facts for the public. Because if they did the all their jingoisms about the Iran threat would would be exposed as deliberate hysterical lies.
    It’s all hype and spin about how Iran is a threat to the US, the so called threat to Israel conflated as a threat to the US and world implying Iran could nuke us all.
    None of war hawkers will dare mention that if Iran had a nuke or ever got a nuke, it would have to also have a undetectable sub also with ballistic capabilities, or put it on a ship and haul it across the ocean to get within striking range of the US to begin with. The fact that US satellites won’t let anyone take a pee without being detected makes the preparation moves for those two (im)possibilities observable in advance.
    The other thing is, we could live without ME oil, the only ME source we get oil from is Saudi, our two main suppliers are Canada and Mexico and we could up our imports from SA. ftp://ftp.eia.doe.gov/pub/oil_gas/petroleum/data_publications/company_level_imports/current/import.html
    If you get down to real economics, even over an extended period of time the increased fuel cost would be less to consumers and taxpayers then the 10 trillion dollar Iraq/Afghan wars have cost us.

    If you ask the two questions; how could Iran hit the US and why would Iran want to disrupt ME oil and cripple their oil exports revenue? You get the obvious answers, they couldn’t and they wouldn’t unless attacked themselves.
    So having eliminated the threat to the US and the threat to oil flows what does that leave as a reason for the US going after Iran?
    .

  14. HarryLaw
    HarryLaw
    February 1, 2012, 1:05 pm

    One of the businesses we police and if need be shake down has complained and is refusing to play ball, the Capo di tutti has told his capos to deal with it quietly, if it gets out or worse these people get away with it, we are in big trouble.

  15. NorthOfFortyNine
    NorthOfFortyNine
    February 1, 2012, 1:08 pm

    Rosenberg deferred comment on this matter, directing queries to Ari Rabin-Havt, Media Matters’ executive vice president. In an interview, Rabin-Havt said the terminology was beside the point.

    “When we’re talking war and peace, the facts that tweets come up is symbolic of how the conversation has gone awry,” said Rabin-Havt, who said the survival of Israel was critical to him personally. “We should debate this. As Israel is one of our largest recipients of foreign aid, this is an American and Israeli issue.”

    Bravo! -N49.

  16. irmep
    irmep
    February 1, 2012, 1:47 pm

    AIPAC’s parent organization’s (the American Zionist Council) 1962-1963 plan for Public Relations is still operative. Perhaps slot in “cultivation of bloggers” in Section 1, and “Podcasters” in Section 2 (TV, Radio and Films). Section 10, “Visitors to Israel” is still a core program. “Provide suitable arrangements in Israel for handling of American visitors.”

    http://irmep.org/ila/AZC2/011962-1963AZCPlan.htm

  17. Chaos4700
    Chaos4700
    February 2, 2012, 12:15 am

    There’s no room for Progressivism in Democratic Party politics anymore. We just don’t have the money to compete with Israel.

  18. optimax
    optimax
    February 2, 2012, 2:57 am

    Interservice rivalry is different from liberal/conservative rivalry in that it is based on mutual respect. You probably didn’t like “Gran Tarino?”

  19. lysias
    lysias
    February 2, 2012, 2:39 pm

    Stephen Sniegoski’s The Transparent Cabal: The Neoconservative Agenda, War in the Middle East, and the National Interest of Israel lays out the evidence.

  20. February 2, 2012, 9:29 pm

    Hey Phil

    can you start naming names…instead of just calling it AIPAC…

    lets get some names of who is who..so i can contact my senators and congressman and demand an explantion as to why they will stand with israel and not with the american people

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