The right-wing “pro-Israel” lobby has taken off its mask. In the wake of my departure from Media Matters, it is in a celebratory mood. In one column after another, the Israel-is-always-right types cannot contain their feeling of triumph.
Here is one of the most blatant attacks from the Jerusalem Post today, which features the most famous enforcer of the Likud line in America, Alan Dershowitz.
But the others are pretty much the same and generally go something like this:
We got MJ, the anti-Semitic self-hating Jew. We got the Israel hater who calls people like us Israel Firsters, which is a blood libel. We got MJ, the liar, who talks about the power of the lobby and echoes the Walt-Mearsheimer canard that those who criticize Israeli policies will be targeted by this so-called lobby. But we showed him. We got Media Matters to dump him and his voice will not be heard again.
In other words, their exuberance about my leaving MMFA made the lobby crowd forget their oft-repeated line that they do not seek to intimidate critics of Israel into silence. Of course, they do.
I am not going to respond to the lie that I was fired by MMFA. The people saying this are the same people who say I was fired from AIPAC. Neither case is true.
I have only been fired once. In 1987, the American Jewish Committee fired me for defending Israel’s role in the Iran/Contra affair (this was before the AJC became more Likud than Likud).
I wrote an op-ed in the New York Times arguing that Israel wasn’t the guilty party, the U.S. was. That got me fired, although as a token of appreciation, I was taken to breakfast by Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Meir Rossene. He told me that if it was up to him, Israel would give me an award for writing the piece, even though I knew that I’d be fired for it.
But I am not going to belabor the point as to whether I left Media Matters voluntarily or not. Besides, it doesn’t make a difference to the larger question. Why are the “pro-Israel” fanatics claiming victory after consistently asserting that they neither get people fired nor withhold contributions from candidates and Members of Congress for criticizing Israel? Has their happiness over my departure caused them to forget the script?
Then there is the “Israel Firster” issue, which particularly irked the right, especially “liberal Democrat” Alan Dershowitz.
Here is what the famous OJ Simpson lawyer had to say about me leaving Media Matters in the Daily Caller:
“Rosenberg was an extremist,” Dershowitz told the Daily Caller. “He didn’t engage in careful, nuanced critiques of Israel, which is fine. He engaged in hyperbole, name-calling. He just hated, hated, hated, with a passion, almost an eroticized passion of anything associated with Israel. He was like a spurned lover — irrational.”
“So it’s an enormous improvement for Media Matters,” he said.
Dershowitz, you may recall, was so upset about my use of the term that he denounced me in a full page ad that a bunch of GOP operatives, led by William Kristol, took out in the New York Times. That must have cost a hundred thousand dollars or so, demonstrating the importance the right attaches to going after critics of Netanyahu and those who suggest that American Likudniks are not primarily motivated by devotion to America.
In an interview at the time the ad was published, Dershowitz said that he was both a liberal and a Democrat but that unless Media Matters fired me, he would spread the word against … President Obama (on the grounds that Media Matters is close to the president).
I don’t know whether President Obama has any idea that Media Matters has turned the corner against Israel in this way,” Dershowitz said. “I can tell you this: he will know very shortly because I am beginning a serious campaign on this issue and I will not let it drop until and unless Rosenberg is fired from Media Matters, or Media Matters changes its policy or the White House disassociates itself from Media Matters.
I will speak to every Jewish group that invites me, and I think it’s fair to say I speak to more Jewish groups than probably any other person in the world. I spoke to over a million Jews over the years. You know, just last Thursday spoke to 1200, just in the next weeks alone I’ll be speaking and in the past weeks to thousands of American Jews. And believe me, I will not let them ignore this issue.
Think about it. Dershowitz says he is a liberal and a Democrat but would campaign to defeat a Democratic president (with whom he agrees on domestic American issues) because that president may be close to an organization that employed a staffer who opposes policies of the Israeli government.
In other words, the well-being of every American matters less to Dershowitz than getting one critic of Israeli policies fired.
No wonder, he was so upset by the term Israel Firster.
But enough about Dershowitz. Although he is obnoxious and a caricature of a certain paranoid mindset, he is not the lobby. All by himself, he cannot get anyone fired. All by himself, he cannot cause Congress to march in lockstep behind Netanyahu. All by himself, he cannot so intimidate the president of the United States that he backs away from everything he has ever believed about the Middle East because re-election comes first. (Read Akiva Eldar’s brilliant Ha’aretz column on Obama’s transformation.)
No, the problem is not Dershowitz. It is the lobby which consists of AIPAC, the organizations allied with it, and the media figures (including bloggers) who are its willing stenographers and press agents.
They did not succeed in getting me fired at Media Matters.
But they have succeeded in dictating U.S. policy on the Middle East for decades. They successfully pressured the Obama administration to block Palestinian statehood at the United Nations. They ensured that the United States would not raise a word of protest over the 2008-2009 slaughter in Gaza that killed 1400 Palestinians, of which 300 of them were just kids, and almost all civilians. They have cut the legs out from under the Israeli peace movement by demanding successfully that its voices not be heard in Congress. They have enforced silence on the Netanyahu government’s policy of non-stop settlement expansion. And they are now tirelessly working on getting us into a war with Iran.
To put it simply, the right-wing Israel lobby works to synchronize U.S. policy in the Middle East with the policies of Israel. As Vice President Biden has said, again and again, there must be “no daylight, no daylight” between U.S. policies and Israel’s. And there hasn’t been. These policies are causing immeasurable harm to U.S. interests in the Middle East and the very real possibility of another deadly war next on their agenda.
If we could only get them to brag about that publicly as they now are bragging about getting me “fired.”