One of the mantras of those who seek fairness in the Israel/Palestine conflict is “progressive except Palestine,” or PEP. It describes public figures who score well on any list of progressive issues, then go right on Palestine. Bill de Blasio is PEP.
The other day we noted that the NY Democratic mayoral hopeful with the huge lead in the polls had praised the late racist Israeli rabbi Ovadia Yosef, which put him to the right of Republican candidate Joe Lhota.
Well, today Brigid Bergin of WNYC did an excellent report on de Blasio’s hawkish stance on Iran. The piece specifically contrasts de Blasio’s rightwing position re Iran– the only foreign policy issue he stuck his neck out on as NY’s public advocate– with his leftwing work as a young man in Nicaragua.
The piece says that de Blasio’s positioning helped him with bundlers and voters.
Note de Blasio’s close connections with Matthew Hiltzik, the wired-inside-the-Jewish-community p.r. guy who has worked for Hillary Clinton and Harvey Weinstein and promotes Israel when he gets a chance. And with Dov Hikind, the Brooklyn city councilman who is a rightwing supporter of Israel.
From Bergin’s report:
In March 2012, de Blasio also made an unusual foray into foreign policy when he launched an online campaign targeting car companies that did business with Iran.
It was called the Iran Watchlist and it was the only foreign policy platform de Blasio took on as public advocate. It was also politically advantageous. The move bolstered de Blasio’s support in a politically-active Jewish community…
The campaign was a joint effort between the public advocate’s office and Iran 180, a coalition organized by the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York (JCRC), and United Against a Nuclear Iran (UANI), a nonprofit advocacy group aimed at preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. ..
“This was.. part of an ongoing dialogue about some of the goals, some of his goals as public advocate and some of the things he wanted to achieve,” said Matthew Hiltzik, the founder of the strategic communications and consulting firm Hiltzik Strategies.
De Blasio and Hiltzik became friends 13 years ago while working together on Hillary Clinton’s first Senate campaign. Hiltzik oversaw outreach to Jewish voters while de Blasio was the campaign manager…
Bergin reports that de Blasio tweeted the above image of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the wheel of a Nissan cab that Mayor Mike Bloomberg had declared the taxi of tomorrow. But Nissan sells cars in Iran, which made it a target for de Blasio boycott call:
— Bill de Blasio (@BilldeBlasio) April 4, 2012
More on de Blasio, Hikind and the Nissan:
He and Assemblyman Dov Hikind stood outside the New York City Autoshow to protest the city’s selection of the Nissan NV-200 for the Taxi of Tomorrow, a 10-year contract worth an estimated $1 billion. Nissan is one of the car makers on the Iran Watchlist….
Two major players from the taxi industry who also opposed the [Nissan] plan were among the biggest bundlers in de Blasio’s mayoral campaign. Jean Barrett, executive director of the Metro Taxi Board of Trade, raised $49,000 from 41 donors. Evgeny Freidman, president of the Taxi Club, raised $49,450 from 11 donors.
Bergin should have noted that Freidman is a big supporter of the Israel Defense Forces, and of trips to Israel for Russian American youth. Still, this is a fine report. All I’ve ever asked for from the mainstream media is smart reporting on the politics and generosity of the Israel lobby. Bergin’s skeptical-but-straight report is a great sign.