“Israel-Firsters” Vs Center for American Progress
Our readers will be as fascinated as we are by an article by Peter Wallsten, titled “Think tank faces anti-Israel claims” in the Jan. 20, 2012 paper edition of The Washington Post. The online edition titles the article “Center for American Progress, group tied to Obama, under fire from Israel advocates.” http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/center-for-america-progress-group-tied-to-obama-accused-of-anti-semitic-language/2012/01/17/gIQAcrHXAQ_print.html Wallsten’s article shines a spotlight on the intense pressure major Jewish organizations can exert on think tanks, journalists and public officials. The organizations have demanded “corrective action” and we know heads may roll at CAP.
What were the offenses? A CAP writer referred to “Israel-firsters,” a term used to describe Americans, both Jews and non-Jews, who are more loyal to Israel than to the United States. Major Jewish groups are characterizing that language as “anti-Semitic.”
Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of J Street, told the Post “that Jewish groups ‘should tread lightly’ when they make accusations of anti-Semitism. ‘Because when they do need to use that word, people won’t take you seriously.’”
Another CAP staffer described a U.S. senator (we’re not sure which one!) as showing more fealty to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, AIPAC, than to his own constituents.
Yet another offense upsetting pro-Israel organizations was an August ThinkProgress post titled “AIPAC’s Iran Strategy on Sanctions Mirrors Run-Up to Iraq War Tactics” by Eli Clifton. <http://thinkprogress.org/security/2011/08/10/292724/aipac-iran-iraq/?mobile=nc>
CAP officials are trying to mollify critics saying the “incidents in question were an anomaly,” according to the Post.
We’re sorry to hear that because the Washington Report agrees with David Harris, president of the National Jewish Democratic Council, who “described CAP’s views on Israel and Iran as reflecting ‘mainstream positions and concerns of the American Jewish community — and indeed of most Americans.’”
We suggest our readers contact the Center for American Progress (see e-mail addresses below) to offer their support. Let them know that Americans who care deeply about an even-handed U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East can also exert pressure.