[lg policy] Group considered close to Obama administration concedes bias against Israel in e-mail.
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Sun Jan 8 17:19:26 UTC 2012
E-mail reveals anti-Semitism at US think tank
By BENJAMIN WEINTHAL
Group considered close to Obama administration concedes bias against
Israel in e-mail.
A senior employee of the US think tank Center for American Progress
(CAP) appears to have admitted in an e-mail sent from his CAP account
that a blogger for the policy organization used anti-Semitic language
to attack supporters of the Jewish state.
CAP advises the Democratic Party on Middle East policy and is an
important source of ideas for the Obama administration.
NGOs slam ‘anti-Semitic’ US think tank comments
Bloggers drag US think tank into scandal
The Jerusalem Post last week obtained the first CAP acknowledgment of
Jew-hatred stemming from a group of Mideast bloggers affiliated with
CAP’s ThinkProgress website.
In the e-mail that the Post obtained exclusively from the CAP account
of Faiz Shakir, who serves as editor-in-chief of the ThinkProgress.org
website and is a vice president at CAP, he wrote, “Yes, I agree
‘Israel Firster’ is terrible, anti-Semitic language. And that’s why
that language no longer exists on Zaid’s personal twitter feed,
because he also knows and understands the implications.”
Zaid Jilani wrote on his Twitter account, where he identifies himself
as a “Reporter-Blogger for ThinkProgress,” that “...Obama is still
beloved by Israel-firsters and getting lots of their $$.”
The e-mail recognizing the anti-Semitism of a CAP blogger was sent
from FShakir at americanprogress.org in December.
US-Jewish and Israeli NGOs accused a faction of ThinkProgress bloggers
that month of stoking modern anti-Semitism. The anti-Israel scandal
saw two CAP writers, Jilani and Ali Gharib, issue apologies for
asserting that American Jews and a non-Jewish Republican senator serve
the interests of the Israeli government over the security of the
Speaking with the Post from Washington on Thursday, Shakir declined to
comment on the e-mail from his account.
He did not respond to a followup Post e-mail sent on Friday.
In a lengthy article on Friday on the Daily Beast news website, Ken
Gude, the managing director of CAP’s National Security and
International Policy Program, denied any anti-Semitism or
anti-Israelism at CAP. He told the Daily Beast that the allegations
were “wildly unfair” and “flatly untrue.”
The Post sent an e-mail to Gude on Friday citing the quote in question
from the email that had been sent from Shakir’s account. He did not
respond to the Post e-mail or to a follow-up telephone query.
Critics accuse CAP of failing to combat rising anti-Israel sentiment
among a group of bloggers who write about the Middle East and have
created an anti-Jewish state environment at the mainstream policy
organization. The e-mail conceding anti-Semitism at ThinkProgress
underscores an internal rift at the think tank.
CAP bloggers have attacked their critics. The ThinkProgress blogger
Ben Armbruster wrote an article last month titled “The Secret,
Coordinated Effort To Smear ThinkProgress As Anti-Semitic And
He authored a second blog entry, “TAKE ACTION: Tell The Washington
Post To Retract Jen Rubin’s Charge That ThinkProgress Is
‘Anti-Semitic.’” Prof. Gerald Steinberg, president of the
Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor, told the Post last week, “Instead of
playing the victim, CAP has an obligation to implement concrete
guidelines demonstrating that this language is unacceptable and that
it will not be used by CAP employees in the future.”
When asked about NGO Monitor’s criticism of CAP and the Shakir e-mail
account statement, Andrea Purse, a CAP spokeswoman, declined to
comment. She wrote the Post last week that the articles in the Post
were not helping “to defeat anti-Semitism.
The attacks and their repetition here do a disservice to all of us who
fight for a strong US-Israel relationship.”
In an e-mail to the Post last week, Matt Brooks, executive director of
the Republican Jewish Coalition, wrote, “The prominence of CAP in the
Obama administration has been recognized by news outlets like Time and
Bloomberg News, both of which describe the think tank as the
president’s ‘Ideas Factory.’ The fact that CAP has staffers who
disseminate this kind of virulent, poisonous anti-Israel material
points to a serious problem – that there is a strain of hostility
toward Israel running through elements of the mainstream Democratic
Matt Duss, director for the Middle East at CAP, compared Israel’s
security policies to the racist “segregated South” in the United
States. Duss declined to respond to queries about this statement on
the ThinkProgress website. The disclosure of the e-mail from Shakir’s
account comes after a series of dire developments for CAP’s
reputation, culminating in sharp criticism from the Anti-Defamation
League, American Jewish Committee and the Simon Wiesenthal Center –
all of which slammed CAP for promoting hatred of Jews and Israel.
Brooks said that “Liberals and Democrats who value their party’s
reputation regarding national security and the US-Israel alliance have
a lot of work to do. Unfortunately, it appears that elements who would
irreparably damage that reputation have a foothold within an important
mainstream Democratic institution.”
David A. Harris, president of the National Jewish Democratic Council,
wrote to the Post that “The words of these individuals [the bloggers]
are deeply disturbing, and they were right to apologize for their
remarks. However those who have not apologized for their remarks
include Rep. Allen West (R-FL), who invoked Joseph Goebbels to attack
Democrats in December, and far too many others on the right who have
dragged abusive Holocaust rhetoric into our political discourse in
Harris said, “In truth, neither the Left nor the Right has a monopoly
on rhetoric that American Jews rightly find disturbing – although
through talk radio, presidential candidates and members of Congress,
the Right seems to be trying to corner the market.”
Steinberg said “it is highly unfortunate when individuals and
organizations play politics with anti-Semitic rhetoric.
“Pointing fingers and saying that others are more anti- Semitic is a
sad attempt to distract from one’s own errors. This rhetoric adds to
the destructive impact, and does nothing to remove this language from
the public discourse.”
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