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Front-page ‘NYT’ piece on foreign influence on D.C. thinktanks leaves out Israel

on 24 Comments

This is crazy. A front-page piece in the New York Times titled “Foreign Powers Buy Influence at Think Tanks” highlights the influence of Arab governments on programming at Brookings and a dozen other D.C. thinktanks and has not a word to say about Israel.

An accompanying graphic lists 50-some countries that seek to manipulate US policymaking and public opinion through thinktanks, but Israel is off that list too!

Haim Saban started a center at Brookings that’s all about Israel; he moved to the U.S. from Israel and is an ardent Zionist. This doesn’t count as foreign influence. From the Times:

“It is the self-censorship that really affects us over time,” the scholar said. “But the fund-raising environment is very difficult at the moment, and Brookings keeps growing and it has to support itself.”

The sensitivities are especially important when it comes to the Qatari government — the single biggest foreign donor to Brookings.

The piece notes that Michele Dunn quit at the Atlantic Council after criticizing aid for Egypt.

After she signed a petition and testified before a Senate Foreign Relations Committee urging the United States to suspend military aid to Egypt, calling Mr. Morsi’s ouster a “military coup,” Bahaa Hariri [son of the late Rafik Hariri and generous donor] called the Atlantic Council to complain, executives with direct knowledge of the events said.

Ms. Dunne declined to comment on the matter. But four months after the call, Ms. Dunne left the Atlantic Council.

Great story. Can you think what would happen to a think tank intellectual who called for cutting aid to Israel?

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-06.

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24 Responses

  1. pabelmont on September 7, 2014, 11:31 am

    Of course, Israel is not on the list b/c it doesn’t buy influence, and AIPAC is not on the list b/c it is not a foreign power.

    AIPAC is of course a Fifth Column, but that’s something else entirely.

  2. just on September 7, 2014, 12:04 pm

    Never forget Martin Indyk, either.

    On the increasingly unbearable MTP, I did not hear one peep about Israel.

    All of it is mind- numbing– which is exactly their scheme.

  3. David Doppler on September 7, 2014, 12:58 pm

    My thought in reading the article (which included Norway and Japan, not just Arab governments) was that these governments, and/or the lobbyists and think tanks serving them, all learned how to do this from Israel, AIPAC, and their various think tanks.

    I saw it as a sort of threat by the establishment of the NYTimes directed at Netanyahu or Israel more generally: if you don’t clean up your government, and its policies toward the Palestinians, the lever-pulling in DC is all going to come out, and it will be very ugly. It’s too obvious an omission. Note the historical reach back to the origins of the Foreign Agents Act in the late 30s, enacted to foil Nazi propaganda efforts in DC. No one interested enough in these matters to read the whole article could possibly be unaware of the influence purchased by prominent Israeli Zionists in DC think tanks, nor to have missed Netanyahu’s bitch slap at Obama during Protective Edge (aka sheer cliff) “don’t ever second guess me,” nor to have missed Israel’s helping itself to US munitions without White House or State awareness, with Israel’s supporters in DoD saying, legally, we didn’t need to inform anyone! Obama’s cravenness in the face of this performance testifies loudly to Israeli power in DC; this article trumpets its power in the media; and the implicit message is: make peace with the Palestinians stop empowering your racist fringes, or it will all fall apart.

    • Boomer on September 7, 2014, 3:11 pm

      I don’t read it that way David. You may be privy to elite circles that read it in such a fashion, but to me it just says “Israel is different: it is too powerful to be mentioned.” What’s more, it says, “Israel isn’t foreign.” For its supporters–including the NYT bosses–it’s “our thing.”

    • Mooser on September 8, 2014, 3:31 pm

      ” if you don’t clean up your government, and its policies toward the Palestinians, the lever-pulling in DC is all going to come out, and it will be very ugly.

      Cause nobody knows about it yet?

      Funny, I guess some people will never give up the idea of the NYTs being “anti-Israel”.

  4. Citizen on September 7, 2014, 3:09 pm

    Shmuley’s tweeting the subject NYT article. I skimmed the article when it first came out and noticed Denmark was mentioned at lot. Couldn’t miss Israel was not once mentioned. Recall AIPAC got around the Kennedy Brothers trying to make the original Zionist organization register as an agent of a foreign government? Israel directly funded that ZOA organization. So it morphed into AIPAC, with no direct connection, especially funding connection to Israel, and set up to not give any money to US political campaigns–instead AIPAC just orchestrates the funding by a myriad of Jewish Establishment agencies across the nation–they then distribute political donations according to which candidate is viewed (by AIPAC) as the most pro-Israel. No other foreign country has such a 5th column operation with the USA.

    • lysias on September 7, 2014, 6:41 pm

      I wonder if that morphing into AIPAC happened as a result of the advice of Abe Fortas, LBJ’s legal adviser, who had prevented an investigation into the way LBJ stole the 1948 senatorial election in Texas. Of course, the assassination of JFK in Nov. 1963, which took away most of Bobby Kennedy’s power as well, undoubtedly played a role.

  5. Citizen on September 7, 2014, 3:15 pm

    Too AIPAC has that subsidiary; if memory serves, in the same office building as AIPAC & manned by the same people–disguised as an Educational organization; this is the agency that gives US congress folks their free trips to Israel.

    These other countries have to get smart like Israel’s big supporters here. Yet, even if they try such shell games, is there enough big money and tunnel visioned Americans to support them? What other ethnic group in USA rubber-stamps and raises big funds for its “homeland?” The Danish Americans? LOL

    • just on September 7, 2014, 4:16 pm

      I think you mean Norway!

      • Citizen on September 7, 2014, 8:08 pm

        @ just, Oops, yes, not Denmark–Norway. Thanks for catching my blooper.

  6. ivri on September 7, 2014, 4:44 pm

    Here is a simple explanation, which apparently eludes many: Israel is not considered anymore in the political US circles as a foreign country – it is family now. After all, how many countries get a unanimous Senate support in times of war as was recently then case (in the Gaza war)? Clearly, you would only do that for your own country – so here you have it. How did that happen? There are all kinds of fascinating explanations but I skip that so as not to make it too painful.

    • lysias on September 7, 2014, 6:42 pm

      If it’s a 51st state, it’s a 51st state that does not have to practice equal protection, or separation of church and state.

      • Mooser on September 9, 2014, 11:09 am

        “If it’s a 51st state, it’s a 51st state that does not have to practice equal protection, or separation of church and state”

        Gosh, you haven’t noticed that the right wing in America (which Zionism is part of) wants the US to be a ‘confederacy’ instead of a ‘Union’ or Republic’? If there’s one thing the right wing wishes to destroy, it’s a Constitution which insure equal rights in all the States.

        Israel could very easily be part of an American Confederacy.

      • Mooser on September 9, 2014, 11:12 am

        And of course, any American Zionist who wants to claim they are not right-wing is free to do so. I can’t stop you from making a fool of yourself.

      • Exchequer on September 11, 2014, 3:50 am

        51st State? Never. Remember the old saw in Israel: ‘Why would we ever settle for two senators when we have a hundred?’

    • Shingo on September 10, 2014, 8:22 am

      Israel is not considered anymore in the political US circles as a foreign country – it is family now.

      Yeah, like a pedohpile uncle who secretly violates his nieces and nephews when no one is looking.

      Clearly, you would only do that for your own country

      No, clearly some political self interested hacks who have sold out their country would do that for the right price.

  7. piotr on September 8, 2014, 1:49 am

    The last NYT has a weird article about Qatar. It says that there is a big rift between Qatar and the other Gulf monarchies on the issues of support of Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and fund raising for Islamic fighters, terrorists if you will. It also says that Emirates hired a public relation company that plies stories of Qatar supporting terrorists, allowing fundraising to be conducted there. Then proceeds with long description of that fundraising, following the script of the named PR company.

    The weird thing that NYT mentions that the script is distributed by Emirati funded PR, and yet proceeds with it, not mentioning ironies and absurdities in the script. After all, the main difference in terrorist funding is that in Qatar it is done with publicity, while Saudis, Emiratis and Kuwait use intelligence agencies. And everything is coordinated by Turkey, and CIA. You can bet your last cow that it is not the support of taqfiris that caused the row between Qatar and other royals.

    Another weird article is “Who Killed the Russian Opposition?” by Sergei Rosanov. For years the West was lionizing Russian “democratic opposition” while its influence kept waining. The opposition kept carping that the nationalistic policies are not sustainable, that they will provoke Western pressure etc. and the result was that the population was increasingly nationalistic and the opposition reduced to minute corner of public opinion, with only “Moscow Times” to sustain them. The increasing irrelevancy drove the “democrats” to despair. In an article in “Moscow Times”, a “democrat” moaned that Russia “is a dangerous place, which takes much more than it gives, for reasons that I do not accept”. Rosanov is merciless: “This threat is a dog that never bites. Certain Russians oppositionists feel sidelined and powerless and therefore they threaten to leave, which makes the rest of Russians even less attentive to their views.”. One of the biggest mistake at the beginning of Obama presidency was a decision to pressure Russia. “International players, notably President Barack Obama, put pressure on Russia, in part because of the encouragement of the Russian opposition. The result was disastrous for the White House: Russia lost faith in Mr. Obama (and most other international players) and hence became less inclined to heed his advice or take a chance with his proposed policies.”

    Mindful of Russian sensibilities, comments were not enabled for the Op-Ed by a certain Rosanov, ” the political editor at The Russian Journal and a fellow at The Russian People Policy Institute.”

    At this point the sense of unreal became unbearable and Piotr realized that in a bout of dislexia he read all instances of “Israel, Israeli” and “Russia, Russian”.

  8. PeaceThroughJustice on September 8, 2014, 9:31 am

    “What little information the organizations volunteer about their donors, along with public records and lobbying reports filed with American officials by foreign representatives, indicates a minimum of $92 million in contributions or commitments from overseas government interests over the last four years.”

    Just taking AIPAC ($90M), WINEP ($9M), and the ADL ($45M), we’re at $144M. And that doesn’t include the AJC, the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, the 153 Jewish Federations, or the individual contributions of people like Haim Saban, Sheldon Adelson, Bruce Kovner, and Paul Singer to the think tanks like Brookings, AEI, Hudson, Manhattan Institute, etc.

  9. ahmed on September 8, 2014, 9:47 am

    The article manages to avoid mentioning Israel by its very clever and too-cute-by-half framing… It is only looking at direct donations and grants from foreign governments. As far as I can tell, the Israeli government doesn’t have to fund its lobbying arms, they are all funded by various American Zionist groups.
    But to not mention the frenzied lobbying on behalf of Israeli interests, is a travesty.

  10. Donald on September 8, 2014, 12:43 pm

    I haven’t read the piece yet, but when I do and have the time, I’ll write Margaret Sullivan about this. Others should do the same, if you have time. She seems pretty reasonable and open about NYT flaws most of the time.

  11. joemowrey on September 8, 2014, 4:28 pm

    I’m not sure why anyone still expresses amazement at the lengths the NYT will go to to propagandize Israel, or any other foreign policy issue for that matter. Robert Parry has an excellent piece out about the blatant whitewashing being done by the Times as concerns the Nazis extremists in the Ukraine.

    Isn’t it high time we accepted the fact that the NYT is nothing more than our own Empire’s version of the Soviet era Pravda? By constantly writing about this rag as if it were anything else, and by constantly quoting it and referring to it, we are only legitimizing and enabling its lies and misrepresentations. The NYT should be left out of any serious discussion because the information it publishes is pure fictional nonsense, intended to confuse and misdirect.

  12. bilal a on September 9, 2014, 3:53 am

    These are not Lobbying Fees, rather Israeli Lobby shakedowns

    Howard Mendelsohn of ”The Camstoll Group affiliated once with the Neocon Washington Instittue for Near east policy, ‘ in a Wikileaks memo was shown to be pressuring the UAE on financial compliance while working for the US Treasury,
    He then gets a job at Camstoll , which also employs neocon former Israeli and Saudi financial attaches earning Camstoll millions in fees from the same UAE officials he once regulated. His fees include services such as calling Eli Lake of the Daily Beast,Alana Goodman of the Free Beacon (formerly of neocon Commentary), also of the Islamaphobe CSP, while also pressuring mainstream reporters such as Mark Hosenball of Reuters. A shakedown of the UAE earning millions for a media government circle.

    Why would the UAE payoff millions to Islamaphobe Neocon former Treasury agents for calling their Israeli lobby friends in the hack media, and who did Mendelsohn meet with on his trip to Geneva ?

    the Office of Intelligence and Analysis Howard Mendelsohn, along with GRPO officers and Treasury analysts, met with senior officials from the UAE’s State Security Department (SSD) and Dubai’s General Department of State Security (GDSS) to discuss suspected Taliban-related financial activity in the UAE. Prior to these meetings, GRPO and Treasury passed to SSD and GDSS detailed information on the financing of the Taliban and other terrorist and extremist groups based in Afghanistan and Pakistan

    Received by NSD/FARA Registration Unit 07/3112014 5:20:22 PM
    Howard Mendelsohn
    1/31/201414 Alana Goodman Free Beacon
    1/1412014 Eli Lake Daily Beast
    112712014 Eli Lake Daily Beast
    3/412014 Eli Lake Daily Beast
    31512014 Eli Lake Daily Beast
    3/3112014 Karen DeYoung Washington Post
    412812014 Mark Hosenball Reuters
    6/3/2014 Mark Hosenball Reuters
    6/5/2014 Mark Hosenball Reuters
    6/912014 Danny Glaser Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing, Treasury
    6/16/2014 Mark Hosenball Reuters Telephone
    6124/2014 William Wechsler DAS, Special Operations

    1/122114- 1124/14 American.Express Mendelsohn Geneva Trip Expense Reimbursement (Airfare, Taxi, Hotel, Meals) $ 3,642.13

    Max Blumenthal ‏@MaxBlumenthal
    UAE lobbyists in DC held discussions w/ @elilake @ErinBurnett & others who then painted Qatar as terrorist mega-haven

    Prior to joining PNC, Mr. Mendelsohn served as Acting Assistant Secretary and Deputy Assistant Secretary for the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis. As Acting Assistant Secretary, Mr. Mendelsohn led the office of about 150 intelligence professionals and was responsible for the operation of all intelligence and counter intelligence functions including oversight of analytical production, risk assessment, security and strategic planning and oversight for the allocation of resources and budget.

    As Deputy Assistant Secretary, he was responsible for leading efforts to evaluate intelligence and financial information relating to U.S. national security interests and worked with Treasury Department principals and Intelligence Community colleagues to assess, develop and advance strategies to deny hostile states and other illicit actors access to the U.S. and international financial systems. Prior to that position, he served in various senior analytical and investigative positions in OIA and OFAC focused on countering illicit financing.

    The Camstoll Group Ben Davis
    2008 – 2009 (1 year) Jerusalem U.S. Treasury Financial Attache US Treasury
    Established Treasury Department Attache position in Jerusalem. Maintained bi-lateral relations with Palestinian Authority government on banking, development, and national security issues. Created and managed multiple programs to promote legal and financial sector reforms in the Middle East and closely collaborated with the Palestinian and Israeli banking sectors to promote compliance with international banking standards.

    Matthew Epstein is CEO and Howard Mendelsohn is a managing director of The Camstoll Group, a strategic advisory firm focused on illicit finance, regulatory and national security issues. Mendelsohn previously served as the deputy assistant secretary for the Treasury Department’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis. Epstein served as the Treasury’s financial attaché in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates

    Actions of U.S. Allies Crucial to Strengthening Impact of Sanctions on Iran Howard Mendelsohn
    December 13, 2011 The Washington Institute

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