Yesterday I reported on the hard left’s anti-Israel contingent, which is in part housed at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank. The story was broken by Ben Smith, who quoted Josh Block, a well know pro-Israel activist. The left has now struck back, using the left-wing Salon to attack Block. In an odd hit piece (which actually supports Block’s point), Justin Elliott makes much of an e-mail Block sent to reporters to alert them about the Politico story in which he is quoted. Trying to get coverage of a story in which one is featured is entirely commonplace, but in Elliott’s eyes Block is now a member of the right-wing cabal. He finds it nefarious that Block should encourage journalists to follow up on the story.
This is frankly bizarre. Block is a self-identified Democratic activist whose pro-Israel credentials are well known. He’s actively worked for years to elect scores of Democrats. Of course he wants the anti-Israel left to be exposed. Of course he wants pro-Israel Democrats on record as distancing themselves from the CAP-housed bloggers who peddle in anti-Israel attacks and out-and-out anti-Semitic hate speech.
The entire Block e-mail is illustrative:
Ben Smith is a good reporter and his story is important in exposing what these people are doing. It is not a good story for CAP and Media Matters.
READ the story carefully and see below that some good, but not exhaustive, examples of CAP and MEDIA MATTERS outrageous vilification of pro-Israel Americans, Jews, Members of Congress, and pretty much anyone who thinks Iran with nuke is a problem, or supports a strong US-Israel relationship.
This kind of anti-Israel sentiment is so fringe it’s support by CAP is outrageous, but at least it is out in the open now — as is their goal — clearly applauded by revolting allies like the pro-HAMAS and anti-Zionist/One State Solution advocate Ali Abunumiah and those who accuse pro-Israel Americans of having “dual loyalties” or being “Israel-Firsters” — to shape the minds of future generations of Democrats. These are the words of anti-Semites, not Democratic political players.
This kind of hate speech has no place in the political discourse, let alone one FUNDED, SPONSORED AND DEFENDED by a group claiming the mantle of the Democratic party.
I wonder if Steny Hoyer or Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid or Chuck Schumer or Dick Durban [sic] or James Clyburn agree with CAP? I wonder if they will say they disagree and condemn this stuff and expect better. You know how I feel. . . and ask them how they feel about this discourse from CAP and Media Matters.. . .
Salon couldn’t understand how Block could say such nasty things about the anti-Israel left. So Block explained to Salon today:
Those who accuse pro-Israel advocates and American Jews of having “dual loyalties” and being “Israel Firsters” are engaged in anti-Semetic [sic] hate speech. Period. These are age-old canards and anti-Semetic [sic] smears that go back centuries, suggesting that Jews are disloyal, alien and cannot be trusted. This kind of rhetoric has no place in civil dialogue and anyone’s politics, but especially among progressives.
The organizations who pay the salaries of those using such hate speech. . . and who have clearly had it brought to their attention, must either confront it and end it, or take full responsibility for it. In this case, that choice belongs to both CAP and Media Matters. This is a free country and people can say what they want, but the question for those organizations is whether they are an appropriate home for such discourse.
I called Block, who has been quoted by Right Turn and just about every other publication that reports on Israel, and asked him what he thought of the Salon piece. He told me:
“In the same way CAP and Media Matters face a choice of confronting the hate speech being propagated by their people or embracing it, likewise, they face the same choice when it comes to the hostile-to-Israel and anti-Israel rhetoric, the attacks on Democratic members of Congress and the anti-reality positions their people are arguing on Iran. People are free to say what they want, as fringe as it may be, but the question for these institutions is whether or not they want to be the home for such caustic rhetoric. When these clowns were writing for IPS [Inter Press Service] it fit the bill, but for groups who aspire to be mainstream democratic institutions, it is wildly inappropriate.”He also pointed out that the European Union’s accepted definition of anti-Semitic hate speech applies to much of the CAP bloggers’ rhetoric, such as holding Israel to a dual standard while demonizing the Jewish state; use of the term “Israel firsters” and baseless accusations that American Jews are out to start a war
I suppose the anti-Israel left would like to distract attention from CAP and the original Ben Smith story. But it simply isn’t news, certainly not negative news for either Block or the media, that he is encouraging Democrats to pursue a pro-Israel agenda. That’s what Block has done his entire career. What is news and what remains a troublesome story for the Democrats and for CAP specifically, is why a supposedly respectable liberal think tank that doesn’t overtly favor the anti-Israel left nevertheless supports those bloggers who peddle in anti-Israel and anti-Semitic filth.