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’.