Monthly Archives: September 2008

Likudnik group tries to throw US elections? 15-50 million dollar anti-Muslim campaign in swing states


We told you about the 28 million copies of anti-Muslim propaganda film Obsession being distributed to newspaper subscribers in swing states only.  (Several papers said no due to its content, most were happy to take the money and run.)

No one knew much about the Clarion Fund, the mysterious group behind the production except that they coincidentally shared staff and offices with Aish Hatorah, a group that says it is dedicated to the preservation of Jewish identity, but which also runs a number of programs that promote a right-wing Israeli narrative like media watchdog, and the controversial Hasbara fellowships program which funds activities on 80 US campuses.

‘It seems that the Clarion Fund, from what we can tell, is just a virtual organisation that is a front for Aish Hatorah,’ Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).

Well IPS (Inter Press Service), which first established the link between the Clarion Fund and Aish Hatorah, just published this explosive investigative piece, Neo-cons, Ex-Israeli Diplomats Push Islamophobic Video,revealing that the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET), working with Clarion, organized the distribution, according to EMET spokesman, Ari Morgenstern. EMET is a nonprofit, non-partisan think tank essentially dedicated to educating policymakers about Israel’s and US’s shared war on terror.

Well known anti-Muslim crusader expert Steve Emerson says on their site, “Emet is dedicated to providing the truth about the Arab war against Israel to members of Congress, the media and the general public.There is no more important mission than this.”

Right wing extremists, even by US policy standards, they completely oppose the idea that Israel make any concessions, including withdrawing settlers or returning land, in the search for peace. Advisory board members include Daniel Pipes, James Woolsey, Caroline Glick and 3 Israeli diplomats. They seek a total change of US foreign policy.

Gharib and Clifton of IPS write:

Morgenstern also declined to specify the cost of the DVD distribution, but did say, ‘it costs a great deal — it’s a multi-million-dollar effort.’ Outside experts have estimated the cost of the operation, including reproduction and distribution, at between 15 million dollars and 50 million dollars.

Read the entire article here. It’s really worth it. Neo-cons, Ex-Israeli Diplomats Push Islamophobic Video

Oh yeah, CAIR has filed a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission. Stay tuned.

Extremists try to kill Israeli peace advocate, Peace Now head also under protection

Israel’s Public Security Minister Avi Dichter called the pipe bomb blast that [lightly] injured Haaretz columnist and peace advocate Prof. Ze’ev Sternhell earlier today an “assassination attempt” and a “nationalistic terror attack perpetrated, in all likelihood, by Jews, which pushes our society many years backward.”">Ze\'ev SternhellIsrael’s Public Security Minister Avi Dichter called the pipe bomb blast that [lightly] injured Haaretz columnist and peace advocate Prof. Ze’ev Sternhell earlier today an “assassination attempt” and a “nationalistic terror attack perpetrated, in all likelihood, by Jews, which pushes our society many years backward.”

The LA Times reports that Israeli leftists say this isn’t about a few nuts, but is part of an escalation of attacks, linking it to increased settler violence against Palestinians.

Israeli leaders including Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Ehud Barak lined up to decry the attack as an affront to Israeli democracy.

A vocal critic of Israeli treatment of the Palestinians and the settler movement who also identifies himself as a super-Zionist, earlier this year he won Israel’s most prestigious honor, the Israel Prize. But it also caused an angry outcry from many in the illegal Settler movement, likely leading to this attack on his home where the bomb exploded. (Many Israelis talk openly about how the conflict with the Palestinians serves at least one important function, uniting Israelis so they can postpone confronting their own massive and growing secular/extremist religious internal divide.)

Shortly after the bombing, police found “fliers offering more then NIS 1 million to anyone who kills members of left-wing human rights organization Peace Now.” That’s about $300,000. Police are now offering protection to Peace Now head Yariv Oppenheimer.

BELOW: Video of recent settler attacks on Palestinian village of Asira, which Israeli leftists say is part of overall escalation of violent attacks, including the assassination attempt on Sternhell. The video is posted by Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, which opened its first US office yesterday.

DailyKos (and others) get free trip to Israel, but won’t touch Israel-Palestine

Back in April, we were very upset to learn that the Israeli Foreign Ministry was organizing an all-expenses-paid trip to Israel for progressive American leaders and bloggers, led by the director of the National Jewish Democratic Council. (See the video above for folks you’ll recognize from outfits like HuffingtonPost, DailyKos, MyDD, and MoveOn. Let us know if you recognize any progressive Israeli leaders like folks from Rabbis for Human Rights, New Profile, ICAHD, or Tayush or… ).

Apparently, this was the first trip to Israel for the bloggers. Participants went to Sderot to see the devastation wrought by Qassam rockets, but needless to say, the group didn’t bother to head to the West Bank or Gaza beyond a meeting in Ramallah with the PA’s chief negotiator.

We wrote to some bloggers to urge that them to visit the Palestinian Occupied Territories, but got no response. At the time, most were keeping their names secret. (We think it was shame–how many of these folks actually wrote about the propaganda educational trip they were on? The few who did deserve kudos for their transparency. )

Israel, AIPAC and private philanthropists have long funded free trips to Israel as a way to shore up support for Israel’s so-called “war on terror”. What was so shocking was the ease with which left bloggers and leaders allowed themselves to be purchased with the promise of a free trip. (There’s no doubt about the objective of the trip.)

Now, Richard Silverstein at Tikun Olam points out, that the issue has been deliberately cleansed from one of the internet’s most influential liberal blogs.

Silverstein reports a recent interaction with a blogger who apparently has some sort of official capacity at DailyKos beyond a Diarist:

I introduced myself to the visiting blogger as a local political blogger who writes about U.S.-Israel relations and the presidential election. I asked her whether her blog (remember, I didn’t at the time know it was DK) ever covered the foreign policy implications of the Israeli-Arab conflict.

She shook her head sagely and said: “No.” I asked her why. “Because there’s just no upside in it for us. Too much dissension and disagreement.”

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Bernard Avishai on Obama’s Jews: why tolerate old-guard leadership?

October’s Harpers has an excellent piece by The Hebrew Republic author Bernard Avishai who reminds us of the complex, varied and yes, enlightened Jewish world that is rendered invisible by major institutional Jewry. The ascendancy of a post-race Obama marks a massive generational and cultural power shift in the US. Avishai suggests it might also mark a similar ousting of the old guard among Jews.

Obama’s Jews
By Bernard Avishai

Last May, as he claimed the Democratic nomination, Barack Obama was ahead among Jewish voters 2 to 1. Yet, according to cable-and-blog wisdom, that was a serious problem for him. Jews—you know, “the demographic”—had voted 3 or more to 1 for Clinton, Gore, and Kerry. Jews are only about 2 percent of the population, but they make up almost 4 percent of actual voters. There are, famously, almost half a million Jewish voters in southern Florida alone. If, say, 100,000 defected to McCain, Obama would likely lose the state, even if the chads don’t hang this time. Jews are also nearly 5 percent of the Pennsylvania electorate, which Kerry carried by only 2.5 percent.

After the 1968 election, when Jews voted almost 5 to 1 for Humphrey over Nixon, the late Milton Himmelfarb groused in Commentary that Jews earned like Episcopalians and voted like Puerto Ricans. Are Jews finally growing aloof from the Democratic nominee—come to think of it, like Puerto Ricans—because he is African American? Will his fate hinge, as CNN’s Jack Cafferty suggested, on “a few old Jews in Century Village”? As Obama himself joked at a February meeting with Jews in Cleveland (Ohio is another shaky “battleground”), doesn’t every Jewish family have an uncle skeptical of the schwartzer?

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Rabbis/profs and AIPAC say campus anti-Semitism hysteria overblown

On August 22, LA’s Jewish Journal front page featured Brad Greenberg’s re-hashing of old charges of anti-Semitism on the campus of UC Irvine. (We’ve covered some of the ongoing controversy here.)

It begins by showcasing how pro-Israel students recently countered Palestinian Awareness week. Their answer, iFest, included a chance to win an ipod for students willing to memorize a list of Israeli accomplishments. That one undoubtedly well-intentioned organizer repeats the same old racist trope about how Israelis made the desert bloom (because the “primitive Arabs” just couldn’t figure out how to do anything beyond rubbing stones together) beautifully illustrates the complex layers of deeply embedded racism that get lost in the hysteria-mongering:

“I see a desert turned into an oasis, not only culturally or economically or politically but literally,” said Zack Sher, a self-described “Larry David, curly hair, matzah ball soup on the weekend kind of Jew,” who was promoting his spiritual homeland from inside a pink gorilla suit. “This is our chance to give Israel some positive visibility.”

So this week, 5 Jewish  UCLA professors and rabbis wrote to the Jewish Journal to say, “Enough already!”

It is unfortunate that The Jewish Journal would choose to run as its cover story two weeks ago an article by Brad Greenberg that preys on the deep and recurrent fears of some in our community of a rampant anti-Semitism on our college campuses (“Quiet War on Campus,” Aug. 22).

There was nothing newsworthy about the article, no recent event or episode to prompt it. The episodes and anecdotes recounted in the story were months and, in most cases, years old — and have been amply rehashed in the Jewish press.

Indeed, the chief novelty that we discerned in Mr. Greenberg’s article was his willingness to report that “the amount of anti-Israel activity on campus is so negligible that it is almost impossible for students to find unless they are looking on all but maybe three campuses a year” —and this from the director of student programs at AIPAC [the American Israel Public Affairs Committee], an organization that is usually not deemed to be slack in defending Israel.

Judge puts kibosh on Seattle anti-occupation/anti-war ballot initiative

A Seattle judge recently declared inappropriate Divest from War’s I-97 initiative effort, requiring Seattle’s employee pension fund to divest from companies that profit from war and occupation in Iraq and the Palestinian Territories.

Plaintiffs in the case included the City of Seattle, the Washington Israel Business Council, and the right wing group, Stand With Us.

Proponents, who were well on their way to collecting sufficient signatures to get the prop on the ballot, must now figure out how they will continue their campaign.

Campaign and Phinney Neighbors for Peace member Karen Jones said

This is a blow to grassroots democracy in the city of Seattle. This ruling says that there is one
aspect of city operations that is not subject to legislative oversight, giving way too much
power to the pension board. However, this campaign is in no way over.

This does not appear to be an obvious case of muzzling. Apparently, state law says only the city’s retirement board gets to make decisions regarding investments. That means even a ballot initiative can’t trump the board. Yet, Seattle’s city council once passed a resolution which got the city to pull stocks from companies profiting from South African apartheid. And a current councilman has asked the pension fund’s managers to consider a Darfur-related proposal.

Still, when voters are being given the right to have a say over everything from who can and can’t marry, to who can have abortions, one has to wonder who exactly is defining the term “appropriate.” Since it is taxpayer money, an initiative giving citizens some say about how their monies are spent seems entirely appropriate.

Millions of free anti-Muslim DVDs delivered over weekend to newspaper subscribers in swing states

“But we’re non-partisan!” claims the mysterious Clarion Fund, funders of the unprecedented campaign. Tikun Olam reports that the infamous propaganda film arriving in some 28 million American homes over the next few weekends, Obsession, was already being given to young Jews on free Birthright trips to Israel. The Republican Jewish Coalition has also been giving copies to rabbis and other Jews.

Jews on First has a lot more on the kooky right and the “shadowy” Clarion Fund.

Sure, if you’ve got more-money-than-G-d it’s OK to buy 28 million DVDs to send to anyone you want. It’s a free country, isn’t it? Yeah, but this slickly manipulative film, complete with sinister soundtrack, isn’t about thoughtful debate. It’s about demonizing an entire religion, and its some 1 billion adherents (and, as illustrated by attacks on Obama, their progeny), in order to reinforce an outmoded world view/foreign policy that it’s either US or THEM. Far from making Americans safer, this kind of trash only strengthens extremists, on both sides.This is also the kind of thinking that helped get the declining Empire into the mess we’re in. Brute force as a way to achieve peace in the Middle East. Yeah, Palestinians, traditionally among the most secular of Arabs, are just causing all this trouble because they HATE the West. It has nothing to do with, oh, stealing land and resource, and repression. No.

Face it: blatant, stupid, bigoted, unconscionable propagandistic Islamophobia is completely socially acceptable.

And now, it may help swing an election.

We should be ashamed.

Dershowitz boasts about getting Jimmy Carter shunned by Democrats

You gotta love Alan Dershowitz, a man who says about fave-ex-president Jimmy Carter there’s “a special place in hell reserved for somebody [who] has literally become such an anti-Israel bigot,” but who  publicly promises to give anyone a reward who can identify any “prominent Jewish leader who has ever equated legitimate criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism.” (SEE YOUTUBE VIDEO BELOW)  And the definition of is is?

Having handily dispatched Norman Finkelstein through his campaign to deny him tenure at DePaul, Dershowitz has a new, and much more profitable nemesis: Jimmy Carter. Dersh is already hawking his upcoming book, The Case Against Israel’s Enemies—Exposing Jimmy Carter and Others Who
Stand In the Way of Peace,
with a title so crassly Orwellian that it might even make the McCain campaign blush these days (Remember that little peace agreement with Egypt Carter made happen? What a peace-hater! See also MJ Rosenberg’s new piece on why Israel seems to merely “yawn” at the idea of full, warm relations with its Arab neighbors.)

Dershowitz, an undeniably tremendous debater but a man with no academic background in Middle East affairs, is now claiming the Democrats deliberately shunned Jimmy Carter at the recent convention because of his criticism of Israel policy. Carter says his absence at the convention was his own decision.

In fact, Dershowitz boasts his lobbying of the DNC was partially responsible for the decision to break tradition and distance themselves from a living Democratic president.

In this case, Dershowitz may be telling the truth. Has anyone seen favorite-target-of-the-pro-settler-right Obama linked in any way with Carter? It’s fairly obvious Dersh and friends have made Nobel prize winner Carter kryptonite to the Obama campaign. Not that it takes much in this environment. And they’re not done yet.

Brandeis to the West Bank, Yalies want to end the special relationship

And now about Brandeis, a great school with a truly mysterious motto.

When the world as we know it nearly collapsed when Palestine: Peace not Apartheid author Jimmy Carter (he had some other job too, but can’t quite remember… oh, it doesn’t matter anyway) spoke at Brandeis in ’07, a strange thing happened. Students there gave him a standing ovation. In turn, he challenged them to go to the West Bank to see and judge for themselves. What a novel idea. Something, oh, just a handful of our elected officials might try considering. It’s like checking on your investments.

A number of students, occupying various points on the political continuum, took Carter up on his challenge. The result, now available, makes for captivating reading.

Imagine that– human beings openly grappling with difficult moral, political and cultural/religious questions. How refreshing.

Phil Weiss doesn’t have to imagine. He just got back from Yale where he says (unintentionally patronizingly- Phil you can do better!) that “our children are ahead of us.” He means all-grown-up Yale students who invited John Mearsheimer to debate the merits of the “special relationship” between Israel and the US. In fact, the Union voted to end it, the relationship that is, 44 -25.

Weiss delightedly observed that

… the invitation to Mearsheimer came from a Yale Political Union exec named Laura Marcus, who has hopes of going to rabbinical school and who disagreed with many things he said but had the grace and self-possession to withstand his words somehow when so many of her elders cannot. That the argument rarely mentioned the factor I just did, religion. That there was no rancor or name-calling, over several hours, with fabulous speeches from Conservative Michael Pomeranz (against Mearsheimer), the Party of the Right’s Will Wilson for Mearsheimer, and my fave, Brit ringer Joyce Arnold of the Independent Party thundering that the U.S. had lost its ability to press Arab countries about women’s freedoms because our relationship with them is so “poisoned” by the special U.S.-Israel one. That no one ran out of the hall yelling about pogroms….

I don’t have video of the debate, but hope this entertaining moment from the archives between Abe Foxman and Mearsheimer on PBS Newshour might suffice.

The News Hour – AIPAC Debate – Part 1

A Few Summer Highlights

A few summer highlights and one scary chart.

  • Because of its terrible Nazi history, Germans don’t have the unfettered right to free speech we have here. Which gets really interesting when one prominent anti-Zionist German Jew files a restraining order against another prominent German Jew for calling her anti-Semitic.
  • Meanwhile, folks we at Muzzlewatch consider real anti-Semites are using the muzzling argument to defend their right to be loved by the left.
  • The Jewish Telegraphic Agency is at it again. Back in 2001, their investigation of funding for nonviolent Palestinian NGOs who attended Durban nearly led to a congressional investigation of the Ford Foundation. And it did lead to dramatic changes in funding guidelines. Well, “Durban II” is coming, and the department of “Delegitimizing Virtually All Forms of Resistance” is ready to roll.
  • While US-based Muslim and Arab charities are getting shut down for suspected links to groups like Hamas, Reuters reports that Americans can still get a juicy tax break by supporting pro-settlement groups. Really?
  • Alas a Blog has some interesting dialogue about the new UK report on anti-Semitism.
  • Richard Silverstein has a great piece on the slow-motion car crash aka ADL head Abe Foxman who comes to the defense of Sarah Palin and Jews for Jesus after condemning, um, Jews for Jesus. Of course, what happens in Obama’s church is another matter. Partisan? Not moi! Meanwhile, Jerry Haber says one of Palin’s first stops was not with the anti-abortion group she was scheduled to meet, but AIPAC.
  • Free Madonna! Hat tip to Jewschool for telling us that the Simon Wiesenthal Center has their knickers in a twist over Madonna’s new concert video backdrop which seems to compare Republican presidential nominee John McCain to Hitler. It’s a good time to revisit Glenn Greenwald’s analysis of ALL those Fox news types who regularly compare Demos to Hitler and Nazis while SWC and the ADL remain strangely silent.
  • From the Washington Post (via smart thinking by Kung Fu Jew at Jewschool) this fascinating and terrible chart (no Kadima data available. WaPo says Israeli politicos “who maintain an uncompromising stance against ceding land to the Palestinians have typically found generous support for their views in the States.” This is why it was so, uh, poignant to watch Olmert eat up the standing ovation he got at the United Jewish Communities General Assembly a few years ago, while getting single digit approval ratings at home.