By Michael Collins Piper
A leading critic of Representative Ron Paul (R-Texas) is purveying smears of “anti-Semitism” against some influential liberal groups by unfavorably comparing their stance to the nationalist, America-first point of view expressed by The Spotlight, the predecessor of AMERICAN FREE PRESS.
The liberal groups—which are closely associated with the Obama administration—are perceived, like the president and Paul, to be insufficiently supportive of Israel. Washington insiders see this as the latest effort by the Israeli lobby to undermine Obama’s already shaky support among Jewish voters.
A key propagandist involved in the affair is James Kirchik who won widespread media favor for authoring a hit piece on Paul, accusing him of purveying racism and anti-Semitism in Paul’s privately published newsletter—and, yes, attempting to “link” Paul to The Spotlight, among other supposedly horrible things.
One of a select few in the media whose writings appear in both the “liberal” New Republic and the “conservative” Weekly Standard—which, despite differences on domestic issues are otherwise vigorous advocates for Israel (and both of which published Kirchick’s attacks on Paul)—Kirchick used the forum of Israel’s daily Ha’aretz to sling his latest mud.
Describing The Spotlight as “one of the most notorious newspapers ever published in America,” and “for many years the country’s premier hate rag,” Kirchick complained that The Spotlight charged there were high-ranking political figures who, in The Spotlight’s estimation, placed “Israel first.” Now, to Kirchick’s dismay, he claims such liberal groups as the Center for American Progress (CAP) and Media Matters for America (MMA) are echoing such terminology, which, he says, “is an indication of just how deep the rhetoric of the far right has seeped into the discourse of the mainstream left.”
In fact, what this means is that people on both the traditional “right” and “left” are getting fed up with inordinate Israeli lobby influence on American foreign policy.
The items in controversy were not even published or endorsed by CAP, but, instead, appeared on the private Internet accounts of two CAP staffers. Yet supporters of Israel cite these items in an effort to smear CAP, and, by extension, the Obama White House.
One of the CAP staffers referred to “Israel firsters”—and he has since left the CAP staff. The second “controversial” item described a member of the Senate as more loyal to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)—the lobby for Israel—than to his own constituents. Associates of CAP and MMA were also slammed for openly discussing the clout of Jewish campaign contributions in the American political process, as though such discussion was beyond the pale.
The attacks on the liberal groups originated with Josh Block—a former AIPAC functionary—who packaged an assembly of CAP-connected writings, calling them an “outrageous vilification of pro-Israel Americans.”
The fact that CAP is—as The Washington Post has noted—“closely aligned with the White House” and “an idea generator for Obama’s Washington” is being repeatedly bandied about, to the point that it is now “complicating the president’s reelection outreach to some Jewish voters,” reflecting what another influential Washington daily, Politico, has called “Obama’s Jewish problem.” That problem is that key Jewish groups and leaders view the president to be insufficiently supportive of Israel, and their views are reverberating in the American Jewish community at large.
While—responding to the attacks—CAP declared the private writings of its staffers to be “inappropriate” and rushed to assert its own support for Israel, the Post noted that “the critics are not mollified.” The Post cited Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, who said “the language is corrosive and unacceptable” and Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), who said the statements were “anti-Semitic and borderline anti-Semitic,” adding that the ADL was concerned “this . . . think tank . . . does influence the administration.”
The Post said the controversy “could add friction to the already tense relationship between Obama and many pro-Israel Jews,” which, of course, was reflected in the recent call by a prominent figure in the Atlanta Jewish community for Israel’s intelligence service, Mossad, to assassinate the president.
On December 7, 2011, The Washington Times reported that Doris Wise Montrose—the president of the Children of Jewish Holocaust Survivors—charged that there was an “ongoing campaign by the White House to undermine Israel.” At the same time, Morton Klein, the president of the Zionist Organization of America, alleged evidence of “the hostility of the administration to Jews in Israel and its misplaced sympathy for Muslims and radical Muslims.”
Michael Collins Piper is an author, journalist, lecturer and radio show host. He has spoken in Russia, Malaysia, Iran, Abu Dhabi, Japan, Canada and the U.S.