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CAP runs deceptive article blaming settlement project on rightwing Christians

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Irresponsible journalism at the Center for American Progress. A day before the organization feted Benjamin Netanyahu to try to show the Democratic Party’s support for Israel, its website ThinkProgress ran an article titled, “How The American Religious Right Is Making The Middle East Peace Process Impossible.” The piece argues that rightwing Christian organizations are responsible for the settlements in the West Bank; it shows that some Christian groups support the settlements and all the Republican presidential candidates do too. Sheldon Adelson is only mentioned in passing by reporter Jack Jenkins, though that’s the big prize for the Republican candidates.

This is happy horseshit and pure political mystification. The Democratic Party is as mixed up with the settlements as anyone else. The Obama administration vetoed a UN Security resolution against the settlements in 2011. It quashed an effort at the Democratic convention in 2012 to highlight the occupation of East Jerusalem. It has done nothing to punish Israel for greatly expanding the settlements over the last eight years. Remember that Bill Clinton ran to George Bush’s right on settlements in 1992 and won the presidency. Some say that Bush’s opposition to the settlements and the Israel lobby cost him his job.

If the settlements really were a Republican cause, as Think Progress maintains, then it would play out like the abortion issue or the gay rights issue: the Dems could righteously take the leftwing side and rally their base without fear of reprisal– and the middle ground would go along with the Dems because it’s the reasonable position. Same sex marriage and abortion rights are the law of the land. But the Dems don’t take that side, and the policy serves Israeli expansion, because the Dems fear the repercussions inside the Jewish wing of the Democratic Party. Barney Frank saw the settlements firsthand a few years ago and deplored them and was challenged to come out against them, and he refused, his guide Jeff Halper says. Unless you can bring me 5000 Jews in my district who oppose the settlements, it would be political suicide, Frank said then. And that’s the bottom line: the Jewish establishment has refused to condemn the settlements, and the settlements have wide support inside the Jewish community. There’s not a dime’s worth of difference between Sheldon Adelson and Haim Saban; they agree on virtually every issue involving Israel support, and one bankrolls the Republican candidates and the other bankrolls Dems. Saban works with groups that work in the settlements. And Dems will do nothing to alienate Saban and his like. Why isn’t Jack Jenkins investigating Saban’s connections to settlements? (BTW, Barney Frank’s sister Ann Lewis helped censor other writers at CAP who were critical of Israel.)

This is intellectually irresponsible on the part of CAP, because if you are going to take on the settlement project you have to take on the Israel lobby, whose influence transcends party, as CAP demonstrated for all the world when it sucked up to a rightwing fascistic slaughterous prime minister on Tuesday. The head of CAP gave only lip service to the settlement question in her conversation with Netanyahu, and the first questioner from the audience put forward a neoconservative plan to annex the settlements to Israel that was promptly endorsed by a leading Democratic Jewish publication. There was not a word about settlements in Hillary Clinton’s vow in that same liberal Jewish publication to mend fences with Israel and Netanyahu– and a disavowal of the idea that East Jerusalem is occupied.

If the Center for American Progress really cares about Middle East peace, then it should educate people about the hateful occupation (which no Palestinian likes, any more than black people liked Jim Crow and slavery, those great precedents) and the Democratic Party’s role in it, and the Jewish establishment’s support for the settlement project. The Center for American Progress reporter Jack Jenkins studied divinity; he knows that his true obligation is to focus on the beam in the Democrats’ eye before he anatomizes the mote in the Republicans’.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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39 Responses

  1. a blah chick on November 13, 2015, 10:32 am

    “This is happy horseshit…”

    I am so stealing that.

    • amigo on November 13, 2015, 11:23 am

      “This is happy horseshit…”

      I am so stealing that.” ABC

      Did you mean to say, “I am so annexing that”.

      • a blah chick on November 13, 2015, 3:47 pm

        I really would like to know “happy horseshit” in Hebrew. I think it would make a kickass name for a settlement.

      • Marnie on November 14, 2015, 10:11 am

        @abc

        חרא של סוסים שמח
        Chara shel susim sameach!

      • just on November 14, 2015, 11:35 am

        LOLOLOL!

    • Kathleen on November 13, 2015, 11:57 am

      That line jumped out a me too. Loved it. No mincing of words having to do with CAP’s commitment to “horseshit” Playing nice with BB , allowing him to do a full hour “commercial” for Israel which will more than likely fill their coffers with more than “horseshit.”

      And as Max Blumenthal has so wisely pointed out Tanden’s performance for BB, the I lobby and the Clinton campaign who are linked at the hip$ will probably land her a new position in a Clinton administration.

      Until then keep pushing for Bernie. I really do believe Bernie is far more reasonable on foreign policy than Hillary….who is a true blue war hawk.

  2. philweiss on November 13, 2015, 11:18 am

    When you get to be my age, cliches of your youth come out of your mouth and people think you’re original. Fuckin-A!

    • Donald on November 13, 2015, 11:48 am

      Don’t give away your secrets, Phil.

      On the post, you’re right and it goes deeper. I see some liberals who are happy to bash the Christian Right on this and sometimes even talk as though they are the ones somehow forcing Israel to behave in a way that will ultimately destroy them. We’re supposed to feel sorry for Israel because they have these uncouth Christian fundies in their corner. What’s going on is that they don’t want to be accused of anti-Semitism, so if they criticize pro-settlement ideologues they stick to a safe easy target.

      • philweiss on November 13, 2015, 12:31 pm

        absolutely Donald. Jack Jenkins is the religion reporter. He reports on communities’ belief systems that have a political dimension. Let’s see when he goes after the messianic component of Zionism inside even the secular US Jewish community, their deepseated belief in the redemptive element of the state of Israel. This is the big kahuna, as we say in Yiddish.

    • Kathleen on November 13, 2015, 12:07 pm

      “hogwash, horseshit, fuckin A, hooey, hullabaloo, malarkey, bull shit, poppy cock”

      As human rights and social justice activist (spent a great deal of time in Hebron) Art Gish (he never cursed…never) used to say to me when he would hear me say “horse” or “bullshit” “Horse shit is like gold to me” He was an organic farmer for at least 45 years. Would see him down at the county fairgrounds digging and taking home truckloads of horseshit for his beautiful gardens. All a matter of perspective

      • John O on November 13, 2015, 12:33 pm

        “The Bull”, by the incomparable Jake Thackray:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9PG6sITiNEs

        The bull, the bull is the biggest of all.
        He is the boss, he is, because he’s big and we are small.
        But the bigger the bull, bigger the bull, bigger the balls.
        The bigger the bull, the bigger and quicker and thicker the bullshite falls.

    • John Douglas on November 13, 2015, 1:24 pm

      So right, Phil about dating oneself. In story I wrote for my writing group recently I had a character address another as “shit-for-brains”. They thought it was the coolest thing.

      • Kathleen on November 13, 2015, 7:28 pm

        Thanks

    • Zaghlul on November 13, 2015, 5:12 pm

      Haha, haven’t heard that one in some time.

    • Marnie on November 14, 2015, 10:12 am

      One of my favorites.

  3. eljay on November 13, 2015, 11:33 am

    … Barney Frank saw the settlements firsthand a few years ago and deplored them and was challenged to come out against them, and he refused, his guide Jeff Halper says. Unless you can bring me 5000 Jews in my district who oppose the settlements, it would be political suicide, Frank said then. …

    Mr. Frank appears to be suggesting that Jews are influential in American politics. Zio-supremacists tell us that this is not true. Is Mr. Frank anti-Semitic, a Jew-hater and/or merely self-loathing?

    • Emory Riddle on November 13, 2015, 3:00 pm

      Or perhaps looking to cover up the fact he puts what he perceives as in the interest of his tribe before anything else and so pretends to be a hard headed realist politician.

  4. Don on November 13, 2015, 11:36 am

    “I am so annexing that”

    Amigo…that is too damn funny!

  5. Ellen on November 13, 2015, 11:40 am

    This is a foreshadowing of what is to come when Zionists will cry: It wasn’t our fault, THEY (fill in your own blank) made us do it!

    • eljay on November 13, 2015, 11:45 am

      || Ellen: … This is a foreshadowing of what is to come when Zionists will cry: It wasn’t our fault, THEY (fill in your own blank) made us do it! ||

      When the blowback finally hits, I fully expect Zio-supremacists to lay the blame squarely on non-/anti-Zionist Jews:
      – “They should have spoken out more forcefully in support of what we were doing!”
      and/or
      “They should have spoken out more forcefully against what we were doing!”

  6. James McGinley on November 13, 2015, 12:20 pm

    I have been a huge fan of your site. Profoundly grateful for your work. And then this crap article. Are you kidding? Christian Zionists, 50 to 100 million strong, are not a major reason that Congress walks in lockstep to slaughter Palestine? Are you really that ignorant? And if you want to argue that AIPAC is at least as large a problem, fine. But you hammer this courageous article from this writer at cap? Please, retract this horrorable piece. This is atrociousiously destructive.

    • Emory Riddle on November 13, 2015, 3:02 pm

      James.

      The Christian Zionists came very late to this party.

      Seeing as how the Congress walked in lockstep with Israel for many decades before these Xian Zionists became involved in this, can we not definitively conclude you are wrong?

    • JWalters on November 13, 2015, 5:43 pm

      James,

      I see your point, and Phil’s as well. Personally, I’m inclined to see the glass as half full in this case.

      The story documents well the Christian Zionist movement in the U.S., which does exert considerable political influence on Congress, as you state. And it does focus welcome attention on the claimed Biblical basis for the Jews’ right to violently dispossess Palestinians, shared by both Christian and Jewish Zionists.

      It seems to me that the article may have been intended to open a discussion of the Biblical “land grant” claim, and the author and editor felt this could be done more safely in the context of American Christian Zionists, rather than Jewish Zionists. Opening this discussion is a good thing because the Biblical claim being promoted is a lie. (Imagine, lying about the Bible!) The Bible’s “land grant” is NOT unconditional, as claimed. It is VERY conditional, and includes the very real possibility that the Jews could violate the agreement and lose the land. Which they did, rendering the original agreement null and void.

      The only reason this article is “courageous”, as you correctly refer to it, is because of the IMMENSE pressure from the Israel lobby, which is omitted from the story. By normal journalistic standards, such an important factor would not have been so omitted (unless it were already thoroughly covered elsewhere).

      The article does nod to the Israeli influence in it’s opening scene with the Israeli mayor. And it’s possible the headline was written by somebody other than the author. The headline emphasizes the blame-shifting, which Phil focuses on, more than the article itself.

      In the big picture this article is a welcome development, but only if it leads to a discussion of the Biblical land grant belief among the Israelis too. The article does deserve to be called out on its headline, and the editors deserve to have their feet held to the fire on the Israeli part of the picture.

      • Mooser on November 14, 2015, 4:50 pm

        “It is VERY conditional, and includes the very real possibility that the Jews could violate the agreement and lose the land. Which they did, rendering the original agreement null and void.”

        Well, that’s what you say. But the fact is, other people violated it worse, so, by comparison, our deal is still in effect. Besides, isn’t up to God to enforce His own contracts, not a bunch of Christian Zionists. I really doubt any of that “rendering the original agreement null and void” stuff plays a part in their theology. I could be wrong, of course.

      • JWalters on November 15, 2015, 8:07 pm

        It’s certainly true that facts and logic play no part in their theology.

    • Donald on November 13, 2015, 6:40 pm

      Atrociously destructive? Don’t be ridiculous. The Jenkins piece is right to criticize the Christian Zionists, but he goes off the rails towards the end when he tries to make it seem like it’s only the Christian Zionists who are the main problem. How far would they get on this issue if the mainstream Jewish groups criticized Israeli war crimes and loudly warned that Israel had become an apartheid state. Hell, even if they still maintained some liberal Zionist loyalties if they were as honest as, say, David Shulman in the New York Review it would provide cover for Democrats and even sensible Republicans, if any are left, to take a more sensible position.

      You should be criticizing Jenkins for given an incomplete and distorted view.

      BTW, I agree that the Christian Right has a hugely destructive effect on foreign policy and not just on this issue. They supported the death squad right in Latin America and vicious groups like UNITA and Renamo in Africa during the 80’s, for instance. But on those issues there really was a blatant partisan split. On Israel, not so much, for the reasons Phil says and Jenkins obfuscates.

      • traintosiberia on November 15, 2015, 11:27 am

        Israel as a project was started by atheist and secular non observant Jews and they sought support from contradictory antagonistic political ,national,religious,and ideological quarters . Some are still relevant like America,Democracy,Freedom,White Christian Evangelic, and fundamentalist exclusive Judaism
        Some are not like Communism,Nazism,Ottoman power or Persian Shah or European left .
        Evangelism out of all these is the only force that is a force because Zionism has conferred them that aura of power and label . It has no power . It scream,shout,cry,but always end up crying, shouting and screaming with zero result . It is told how successful they were stoping Bush from pursuing Palestinian solution through phone calls ,letters,and e mail.
        It makes them feel good . That e mail didn’t do the job . It was the neocon inside and it was the neocon driven narrative on media that told Bush that he couldn’t win . If the media came out against the anti Paestonian stand of Evangelic ,they way always come put against their ( Evangelic) gay bashing, public display of Christianity school prayer,corporal punishment ,stand on – abortion, intelligent design,contraception policy, sex abuse , and education or proselytization the result would have been different ands public opinion would have been different . Bush Jr could have addressed Palestinian problem despite being called Chamberlain by Sharon at that time . A pseudo consensus was created by Sharon gang . American scoffed at Sharon’s mislabeling but succumbed to his ploys from within.

        Evangelicals are still being maintained given prominence and relevance by the same forces .
        Some can go even further and claim that both IS and Evangelicals get the support and the oxygen to thrive from the neocon Without that support none of them will have impact . Not only that . The impact they have on respective religion is devastating and ultimately self damaging .

    • traintosiberia on November 15, 2015, 11:55 am

      Christian Evangelics and Catholics are berated routinely because of this or that both by CNN,MSNBC and even crabwise indirectly sometimes by WSJ or FOX . But never for their blind obedient reflexive support for Zionism and for any project of the Zionist
      Public attitude to ” liberal causes” have morphed over the years because of the pressure from the media and because of the confidence and the comfort level accrued over the years to politicians teachers,educators pastors,and academicians to discuss openly about those issues .
      Zionist will do a Salilita on academic,a Thomas Helen on MSNBC ‘s helmsman , bring the memories of Carter,Bush sr and Hegel or Deen to aspiring politicians if lines are not toed . Support for Evangelics would be sought duly and quietly.
      This is what is done in third world countries – poor ,half clad,ill educated tribal or religious or villagers would of be bus loaded to populate the meetings of the leaders as show of force . Often these people were paid cash or alcohol,or simply the opportunity to ride a train or bus and see a city . This also help imparting a sense importance to these people. Evangelics are no more relevant than these third world illiterates ,poor,religious people.

  7. philweiss on November 13, 2015, 12:42 pm

    Neighborhood delinquents burned down Mrs. Smith’s shed, destroying her lawnmower, weedwackers, vintage Chevy pickup, and figtree. Turns out my son drank beers in the woods with them before they did it and watched them from afar and admits to me he broke out the windows with rocks to see how high the fire would go.
    What’s my moral errand?

  8. JLewisDickerson on November 13, 2015, 2:35 pm

    RE: Irresponsible journalism at the Center for American Progress. A day before the organization feted Benjamin Netanyahu to try to show the Democratic Party’s support for Israel, its website ThinkProgress ran an article titled, “How The American Religious Right Is Making The Middle East Peace Process Impossible. ~ WEISS

    IN A SOMEWHAT SIMILAR VEIN:
    “For some Israelis, EU label on settlement goods is a boon” | By Joe Dyke | November 12, 2015
    • Lev Haolam organization sells boxes of West Bank products to some 1,000 European supporters of the settlement enterprise

    [EXCERPTS] Some have already begun defiantly slapping labels of origin on their products — and some Europeans are purposely buying those goods in support.

    Many support them for religious reasons — both Christian and Jewish — though that is not always the case. Boldt, for example, is an atheist.

    The 36-year-old mechanical engineer visited Israel with friends in 2009 and “soon realized that Israel is the normal democracy,” he said by phone, adding that his skepticism toward Islam is a driving factor in his views.

    “We already have 21 Arab states. Is there really a need for another? They won’t have equal rights for women there, for example.”

    However, for some already willingly labeling their products, “religion does play a very important part in this,” said Miri Maoz-Ovadia, spokeswoman for the Binyamin Regional Council, which covers over 40 settlements in the West Bank.

    “Israel being the Holy Land, the feeling of drinking wine or eating from Judea and Samaria is something that has a very special emotional meaning for these people.” . . .

    . . . Boldt is one of around 1,000 European “partners” of the Lev Haolam foundation, which sells the boxes they buy to support companies in West Bank settlements.

    Another supporter, 31-year-old Dutch woman Arjanne Kloos, initially bought such products and now runs the Netherlands branch of the foundation, which has over 100 members.

    She says she is motivated by religious conviction and, referring to Jews, because “this is a people who have been through so much, especially in Europe.”

    Lev Haolam founder Nati Rom recently showed a group of 20 Dutch Christian “partners” the land at his home in the outpost of Esh Kodesh, at the end of a path protected by Israeli soldiers. . .

    . . . Claudia Schille, a Lev Haolam foundation “partner” in Norway who sees her support for Israel as a Christian duty, will use it as a chance to seek out settlement products.

    “It is not a boycott, it is a buy-cott,” she said.

    LINK – http://www.timesofisrael.com/for-some-israelis-eu-label-on-settlement-goods-is-a-boon/

    P.S. Lev Haolam seems to be using the Tupperware/Amway model! ! !

  9. Rusty Pipes on November 13, 2015, 2:42 pm

    PEPs will decry the ideological settlers while defending the economic settlers who live in “neighborhoods of Jerusalem.” or in “areas near the green line [conveniently located over aquifers] that everone knows will be part of Israel in a 2SS.”

    My only comment that was ever hidden at Daily Kos was one where I compared the actions of the settlers to the KKK. Within context, I was clearly talking about extremists who had gotten away with a recent lynching or other terrorist activity. The zionist squad claimed that I was smearing all of the poor, decent, Jewish refugees who had been provided with housing in government-built economic settlements. The site administrator backed them up.

    • JWalters on November 13, 2015, 6:47 pm

      I suspect the PEPs who decry the ideological settlers are themselves just as ideological, either subconsciously or in private. How else do they excuse the OBVIOUS massive, criminal violations of all ordinary standards of decency and justice? They are not bothered because, ultimately, deep down, Palestinian lives don’t matter to them. What other explanation is there???

  10. bryan on November 14, 2015, 7:14 am

    Philip – I agree with much of what you say but you are clearly misstating Jack Jenkin’s argument: “The piece argues that rightwing Christian organizations are responsible for the settlements in the West Bank”

    It does no such thing – it merely focuses on the contribution that rightwing Christian organisations make (along with Jewish American and Israelis) to extending and strengthening settlements in the West Bank. Jenkins is quite clear the Christians are not alone: “Often with the blessing of conservative politicians, funders, and pundits, right-wing Christian and Jewish groups in the United States have consistently offered financial assistance for the construction and maintenance of settlements in the West Bank… Although the Israeli government briefly halted settlement construction during the early 1990s, it has continued largely unabated ever since… The chief backer of these settlements is usually the Israeli government itself, but support from foreign religious groups helps the communities survive transitional periods…. U.S.-based organizations slowly transformed into a mechanism for keeping smaller Jewish constructions afloat in the West Bank. Many of these groups are Jewish or not explicitly religious in nature, such as the Jewish National Fund, the One Israel Fund, and the Central Fund of Israel… However, several other organizations are explicitly Christian in their language and outlook.”

    It would be reasonable to argue that Think Progress needs to offer another article giving equal attention to Jewish groups sponsoring and funding settlements, or that Think Progress is making a one-sided attack on overwhelmingly Republican right-wing Christian groups backing settlements – but it is not fair to argue that Jenkins is assigning sole or even major responsibility to the Christian right.

  11. just on November 14, 2015, 11:34 am

    Speaking of “happy horseshit”, here’s some more:

    “Diaspora Jews offer a rare chance for hope in the Middle East

    … This week came an admittedly small sign offering similar hope in a very different context. London’s City University published a new and comprehensive survey of British Jewish attitudes to Israel. Unsurprisingly, it found that Israel is central to Jewish lives: some 93% said it forms some part of their identity as Jews.

    That, incidentally, should be noted by those anti-Israel campaigners who insist there’s no connection between the two, that it’s perfectly possible to despise everything about Israel – the world’s only Jewish country – without showing any hostility to Jews. Jews themselves usually don’t see it, or experience it, that way. Most of them are bound up with Israel, one way or the other. As the great British Jewish novelist Howard Jacobson puts it, Jews see in Israel “a version of themselves”.

    Still, what was arresting about the survey was the level of criticism this same British Jewish community levels at Israeli government policy. Three-quarters regard expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank as a “major obstacle to peace”, with 68% admitting to feeling “a sense of despair” every time there’s a further expansion.

    Around half of those surveyed said they believe the Israeli government is “constantly creating obstacles to avoid engaging in peace negotiations”, with 73% clear that this approach is damaging Israel’s standing in the world.

    The research suggests that Jews are eminently capable of holding two views at the same time that are often – wrongly – held to be contradictory. They are capable of supporting Israel’s right to exist, taking pride in its achievements on the one hand – and lambasting Israeli policy on the other. …”

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/nov/13/diaspora-jews-hope-israel-palestine-irish-americans-northern-ireland

    (The moderators on this gooey- eyed article by Freedland are furiously slashing away)

    • Maximus Decimus Meridius on November 14, 2015, 12:02 pm

      I saw that. Classic Freedland. Smug tribalism, sneering superiority, utterly misplaced optimism (where were ‘diaspora’ Jews during last summer’s massacre?) and of course the implication that criticism of Israel is – yes you’ve guessed it – ‘anti-semitic’. And of course, Palestinians are barely mentioned at all, because for Freedland, they barely exist at all, except as an inconvenience to Israel.

      And I’ve given up commenting on Guardian articles on Israel (comments are rarely opened anyway). Why bother when your comment is going to be zapped within minutes, even though it does not violate their ‘community standards’? And when the author of the piece of Jonathan Freedland – the very embodiment of all that is hypocritical and morally dishonest about ‘liberal zionism’ – then forget all about it.

  12. James Canning on November 14, 2015, 1:50 pm

    Yes, why is Sheldon Adelson only mentioned in passing? Rich American Jews strongly promote illegal Jewish colonization of the occupied West Bank.

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