Monthly Archives: January 2008

Spat between McCarthyites: Daniel Pipes vs. Israel Academia Monitor

Hat tip to my friend Mitchell Plitnick for this good one. (Bookmark his new blog at mitchellplitnick.com)

The somehow old-fashioned (as in HUAC old-fashioned) Israel Academia Monitor, which specializes in publishing lengthy lists of names of Israeli professors who have signed peace petitions, and whose latest report is lovingly titled “Our Inner Scourge:The Catastrophe of Israel Academics”, has severed ties with US-based soulmate Daniel Pipes. Besides his notorious hatred of Muslims, he is best known for the McCarthyite (and that is not hyperbole–ask any professor) group, CampusWatch. Is the fight over ideology or tactics? Neither, it’s over money.

This email went out hours ago:

From: e-mail@israel-academia-monitor.com
[mailto:e-mail@israel-academia-monitor.com]
Sent: Wednesday, January 30, 2008 11:15 AM
To: undisclosed-recipients:
Subject: Important email concerning Daniel Pipes

(1) The research and work undertaken by Israel Academia Monitor involves a great deal of time and effort and therefore over the last three years we have sought donations from readers to help us in our task.
(2) Because we are a small not-for-profit group based in Israel we sought an American partner NGO in order to help American donors gain tax-deductible status on their donations.

(3) During the last couple of years the Philadelphia-based Middle East Forum, under the chairmanship of Daniel Pipes, received small donations on our behalf, taking a commission for this.

(4) However, since our first ever really sizeable donation was pledged last summer, Dr. Pipes has refused to pass this on to Israel Academia Monitor, nor has he handed over another smaller payment donated to Israel Academia Monitor in December, despite our repeated requests and pleas to do so.

(5) Instead in recent weeks Dr. Pipes has written us threatening emails with ultimatums in an attempt to seize control of Israel Academia Monitor.

(6) Israel Academia Monitor is thus terminating any connection with Dr.Pipes with immediate effect. Please ignore the previous address for donations given on our website. A new Israeli address has been placed on
the site under the “how to donate” section instead of Dr. Pipes’Philadelphia address.

Thank you for your attention.

Sincerely,

The directors and staff of Israel Academia Monitor

http://israel-academia-monitor.com

Obama fights nasty whisper campaign

This is Support!(Apologies for a prolonged absence due to an unexpected health crisis. I expect a full recovery, and look forward to catching up on the many critical stories that Muzzlewatch is dedicated to covering.)

We may never know what Obama really thinks about the Israeli-Palestine conflict. At one time, he was known to be relatively balanced in his approach, but as his political ambitions grew, his positions on Israel/Palestine predictably drifted rightward.

In contrast, Hillary Clinton, her once infamous embrace of Soha Arafat excepted, has clearly established her bona fides as the Israel right-or-wrong candidate of choice among hawkish Democrats.

Unable to escape the sneaking suspicion that Obama, who once said, “No one has suffered more than the Palestinians,” could never be a true friend of (the hawks of) Israel, he has predictably become the target of a nasty whisper campaign, in the form of an email. The email, which was sent to institutional Jewish leaders across the country and has blazed across the internet, relies on extreme anti-Muslim prejudices to paint Barak Obama as unfriendly to Israel, and hence the Jews:

Let us all remain alert concerning Obama’s expected presidential candidacy. The Muslims have said they plan on destroying the US from the inside out, what better way to start than at the highest level – through the President of the United States , one of their own!!!! Please forward to everyone you know. Would you want this man leading our country?……

The actual source of the campaign remains a mystery–it is possible that Republican dirty tricksters have decided that Hillary Clinton would be easier to beat in a final matchup with a Republican candidate, but this is just conjecture.

Nonetheless, the increasing traction of the attack campaign prompted a letter from from seven Jewish Senators and a rare public statement from leaders of nine major Jewish organizations defending Obama:

As leaders of the Jewish community, none of whose organizations will endorse or oppose any candidate for President, we feel compelled to speak out against certain rhetoric and tactics in the current campaign that we find particularly abhorrent. Of particular concern, over the past several weeks, many in our community have received hateful emails that use falsehood and innuendo mischaracterizing Senator Barack Obama’s religious beliefs and who he is as a person.

At the same time, a confidential memo questioning Obama’s support for Israel written by an American Jewish Committee staffer was leaked to the press. (The AJC stated that “no element” of the memo should be considered official AJC policy.)

In a tight race, every vote counts, so Obama has confronted the attacks on multiple levels. Hours ago, he directly responded to charges in an audio conference with Jewish media outlets. You can listen to it here. He also published an entire web page dedicated to answering the false charges.

He also released a seemingly gratuitous letter to the United Nations regarding their impending condemnation of the illegal and disastrous Siege of Gaza. The letter caused great anguish among peace activists, presumably, not because it demanded the UN also condemn the rocket assault on the residents of the working class town of Sderot, who have suffered mightily over the years from some 6,000 quassam rocket attacks, without benefit of substantive protection from their own government.

The ire was caused, rather, by Obama’s absurd assertion that a) Israel has any right whatsoever to engage in collective punishment of 1.5 million people, and b) his inference that doing so in any way serves to protect the people of Sderot. Far from it, Israel’s increased attacks on Gaza invariably lead to greater attacks on Sderot. Recently, Hamas offered an unconditional cease fire with Israel that would have dramatically improved the lives of Sderot’s residents, but Israel refused.

_________________________________________________

TAKE ACTION ON SIEGE OF GAZA HERE.

Back from break: The issue that dare not speak its name in presidential debates

Hat tip to Philip Weiss for uncovering Mother Jones’ documentation of the obvious: feeling subject to a settler-mentality lobby that is firmly planted in the US, the media and politicians collude in their own “don’t ask, don’t tell” approach to US foreign policy in Israel-Palestine. It’s hard not to envision candidates and major league media outlets as the infamous can’t hear-can’t speak-can’t talk monkeys.

Remember back when Howard Dean, running for president with a former president of AIPAC, no less, as his campaign co-chair, had the audacity to suggest a more “evenhanded” policy regarding Israel and Palestine. Within seconds, 34 Democratic members of Congress (and Abe Foxman) rushed to admonish him a warning letter affirming our unique, and anything but even-handed friendship with Israel. How DARE you suggest, well, balance?

Well, now we’ve got a parade of debates between presidential hopefuls, the perfect opportunity to once and for all get some clarity on candidates’ positions on the occupation, on Gaza, on Sderot, on peace negotiations. Right?

Wrong.

Justin Elliott at Mother Jones reports on 11 Democratic debates:

In nine of the 11 debates, the terms Israel, Palestinians, and Gaza were either never uttered or were mentioned once or twice peripherally. For instance, Joe Biden said at the October 30 NBC debate that Pakistan has missiles that can reach Israel. The two exceptions were the November 15 Democratic debate in Las Vegas, where Bill Richardson, unprompted, briefly outlined his ideas for a two-state solution, and the December 4 Democratic radio debate on NPR, in which moderator Robert Siegel posed the single question about Israel of the past 11 debates. Unfortunately, the query was effectively avoided.

What is shocking and new is that any reporter even dared to ask a candidate about these things at all. Even then, NPR’s Robert Siegal hedged his bets, affirming the “rationality” of supporting illegal settlement growth and land grabs in a question presented first to John Edwards:

“When we do things that policymakers in Washington may think are rational, like very strong support of Israel, that also upsets a lot of those 1 billion Muslims you’ve described. How would you, Senator Edwards … answer the complaint that the U.S., in its support of Israel, is so pro-Israeli, it can’t be an evenhanded, honest broker of matters and is anti-Muslim?”

And still, Justin Elliott at Mother Jones writes:

Edwards proceeds to ignore the question, makes a point about Ahmadinejad and says to improve relations with Muslims we must “help make education available to fight global poverty.” He makes no mention of Israel/Palestine. Siegel then turns to Obama. The senator says we need to close Guantanamo and talk not just to our friends but to our enemies. He, like Edwards, doesn’t touch the Israel issue. To their credit, Dodd and Kucinich do a much better job at engaging.

So in the past 11 debates the grand total of references to the Gaza Strip is zero. Considering that Israel is our biggest ally in the Middle East and the biggest recipient of U.S. aid in the world, isn’t it about time the candidates were asked what they think of our ally’s destructive policies in Gaza? Will any moderator have the courage to pose the question?