This is a shocker. The New York Times has thrown in completely with the biggest Israel lobby group, AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, in its battle with President Obama. The Times‘s front page story titled “Fears of Lasting Rift as Obama Battles Pro-Israel Group on Iran” is a public relations release for AIPAC, written by Julie Hirschfeld Davis.
The clear thrust of the article is that Obama should pull in his horns, now. We are told that it is “dangerous” when Obama “denounced the deal’s opponents as ‘lobbyists’ doling out millions of dollars to trumpet the same hawkish rhetoric that had led the United States into war with Iraq.”
“Dangerous” to whom? Why are there “fears” of a lasting rift? Why not “hopes” of a lasting rift? Davis violates basic Journalism 101 and shows clear bias. Many American political communities have sought this rift, from the American interest crowd to the Palestinian solidarity crowd to the liberal Zionist crowd to the anti-Zionist crowd, because they all share an interest in stopping another war in the Middle East. None of those groups is represented in the article.
The heart of the article is the anxiety on the part of Israel supporters that the White House and the pro-Israel group are becoming lasting enemies. Obama’s got to chill:
The tone of the current dispute is raising concerns among some of Mr. Obama’s allies who say it is a new low in relations between Aipac and the White House. They say they are worried that, in working to counter Aipac’s tactics and discredit its claims about the nuclear accord with Iran, the president has gone overboard in criticizing the group and like-minded opponents of the deal.
“It’s somewhat dangerous, because there’s a kind of a dog whistle here that some people are going to hear as ‘it’s time to go after people,’ and not just rhetorically,” said David Makovsky, a former Middle East adviser for the Obama administration and now an analyst at the Washington Institute for Near East Studies.
Wait a second! AIPAC is spending $20-40 million to defeat the president’s signature foreign policy achievement. It is acting in concert with a rightwing foreign leader. This same group, and same foreign leader, lobbied for the Iraq war, an unending disaster in US foreign policy. Why not “go after” them? Instead, the Times is publishing pure propaganda for the rightwing Israel lobby, several of whose members are quoted in the article — Makovsky, Malcolm Hoenlein, and Marshall Wittmann.
The article does not ask the opinions of a whole host of foreign policy experts who are deeply pleased by Obama’s critique of AIPAC, from Yousef Munayyer to John Mearsheimer to Rebecca Vilkomerson. The article mentions J Street, the Jewish lobbying group that supports the Iran Deal, but does not quote it or any other liberal Zionists.
Nor does Davis ask for comment from the White House official who told Reuters that Obama’s leading opponent on the Iran Deal, Senator Chuck Schumer, was taking his questions from the lobby group:
Schumer came to meetings with a list of questions, but “those questions were lifted straight from AIPAC” a senior U.S. official said, referring to the pro-Israel lobbying group. “He came into it with a certain mindset.”
Why shouldn’t there be a rift? Many of us are welcoming it. The article doesn’t quote Grant Smith, who believes along with the late Senator Fulbright that AIPAC is an agent for a foreign government.
The article doesn’t mention a central fact David Bromwich does at Huffington Post; AIPAC can direct campaign contributions to public officials, so they become Netanyahu’s “marionettes.” He cites the junket that 50 Congresspeople are taking now to Israel:
Their trip was bought and paid for the charitable arm of AIPAC. The lawmakers obeyed the command of Prime Minister Netanyahu to visit him instead of their own constituents in early August if they want support in the future by prominent Jewish donors. A gesture of more abject servility cannot be imagined.
The point of view of the Times article is very similar to that of former Israeli ambassador Michael Oren, who in his new book breathes a sigh of relief when AIPAC’s annual conference doesn’t boo Obama in 2011. The rightwing foreign official didn’t want a rift between the Israel lobby group and the White House, and neither does the New York Times.
The article is also an insult to the American Jewish community, which right now is trying to generate diversity rather than march in lockstep devotion to the Jewish state. Just read Laura Rozen of Al Monitor, who writes:
KC Rabbi [David M.] Glickman emailed his congregation he has views on Iran deal but recognizes issue divisive & won’t be speaking at services on them
Recognize many congregants hold opposite views . . . ‘been troubled by the level of vitriol in the Jewish community surrounding this debate’
Glickman and Rozen surely both decry AIPAC’s actions to defy the president. These voices aren’t heard from.
We are experienced students of both Israel/Palestine and NY Times bias, but we are both surprised by this article. It is evidence of a battle inside the newspaper, and the establishment generally, over which side it is on. Yesterday the Times editorial page editor came out strongly for the Iran Deal. Davis’s article is supporting the president’s opponents, the AIPAC warmongerers. The battle inside the establishment will only be won when leading voices call out the rightwing Israel lobby for what it is, a support system for a foreign prime minister.