Media Matters Hurts Obama
It’s the kind of anti-Jewish hate speech you’d expect to find on a neo Nazi website or in a Patrick Buchanan column: American Jews who support current Israeli policies are accused of dual loyalty and called “Israel Firsters” because they place their loyalty to Israel above their loyalty to the United States.
AIPAC (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee) fares even worse:
“saying AIPAC is guilty of dual loyalty is giving it credit for one more loyalty that it holds.”
In other words, this widely respected American organization, and the hundreds of thousands of Jews (and Christians) who support it, including senators, congressmen and other elected officials, have absolutely no loyalty to our nation; their sole loyalty is to the foreign nation of Israel.
This false accusation of disloyalty to their own country finds its roots in the Biblical villains Pharaoh and Haman who accused the Jews of Egypt and Persia of disloyalty. It was a central tenet of Nazism, Stalinism and other anti-Semitic regimes that made the Jews pay lethal consequences for their alleged dual loyalty. Today, it is the mantra of David Duke, Patrick Buchanan, Reverend Jeremiah Wright and Jew haters of every race, religion and national origin.
In fact I first came across some of these hateful quotes about “Israel firsters” and “dual loyalty” on an actual neo Nazi website called Reporters Notebook, which features Holocaust denial claptrap and anything that demonizes Israel and those who support the Jewish state. Surprisingly, however, the quotes were attributed, not to the usual suspects, but to a spokesman for Media Matters, a hard left Democratic media attack and watchdog group, with close connections to the Obama White House, that started out as an antidote to Fox News, but has now turned much of its attention to Israel. The author of these hateful quotes is MJ Rosenberg, who is the Senior Foreign Policy Fellow of Media Matters and its official voice on issues relating to the Middle East and Israel. Speaking at a symposium (with Stephen Walt, the author of The Israel Lobby), Rosenberg explained why Media Matters hired him:
“Until I got there [Media Matters] had nothing on foreign policy. They hired me specifically to be involved with this issue, with the Palestinian issue, with [the issue of] stopping the war with Iran.”
And Rosenberg has become involved with a vengeance, using as his primary weapon the poisonous charge of “Israel firsters” and dual loyalty.
Let there be no doubt that Rosenberg’s accusation of dual or singular loyalty to a foreign country is an anti-Semitic canard historically reserved for Jews. Rosenberg doesn’t accuse Arab Americans who support Hamas and Hezbollah—America’s sworn enemies– of being “Palestinian Firsters”. Nor did he accuse Irish Americans who supported the Sinn Fein of being “Irish Firsters. ” And the bad old days when observant Catholics were accused of dual loyalty with regard to the Vatican are, thankfully, long past. But Rosenberg defends his charges of disloyalty to America against those who sincerely believe that is in America’s interest to support Israel against threats from Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah and other enemies of both nations. Indeed, he boasts of having “popularized” the term “Israel Firsters.”
In addition to demonizing supporter’s of Israeli policies as Israel Firsters, Rosenberg has espoused numerous hateful positions regarding Israel that are in direct conflict with the way President Obama presents himself and his administration to the pro-Israel community. He has called Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu, whose brother was killed by terrorists, a “terrorist,” and Israel’s peace-loving President Shimon Peres, an “uberhawk on Iran” who has “undermined” President Obama. He has denied that Ahmadinejad has ever threatened to wipe Israel off the map, suggesting it was a mistranslation, despite Iranian Revolutionary Guard posters in English demanding “Israel should be wiped out of the face of the world.” He had criticized those who call for punishing sanctions against Iran and has claimed that “if Iran gets the bomb, we are fully capable of containing a nuclear Iran…”
Rosenberg has compared the violence of weapons wielding anti-Israel activists on the Gaza flotilla with “civil rights demonstrators who sat down at segregated lunch counters through the south” and the blockade of Gaza with Jim Crow segregation. (I don’t recall any rockets being fired at schools from Birmingham.)
And he has defended Helen Thomas against charges of anti-Semitism for saying the Jews should “get the hell out of Palestine” and criticized President Obama for “diss[ing] her,” calling instead for her to be “salute[d].”
It should come as no surprise therefore that Rosenberg’s hateful remarks are featured on neo-Nazi hate sites, along with those of David Duke and Patrick Buchanan.
Media Matters, whose spokesman on foreign policy is MJ Rosenberg, is currently associated with the White House where it has met with officials close to the president and with which it has frequent strategy calls. It is well funded by many Democratic contributors, including several prominent Jewish supporters of Israel, who are apparently unaware of Rosenberg’s rants.
Nor do I believe that President Obama is aware that an organization that claims close ties to his administration is saying such bigoted things about AIPAC, which is headed by his close friend Lee “Rosy” Rosenberg (no relation to MJ), and about Jewish supporters of Israeli policies, most of whom voted for him and are probably hoping to vote for him again. Indeed some of the positions that Rosenberg condemns as disloyal to America—punishing sanctions against Iran, the unacceptability of a nuclear armed Iran, support for Israeli security—are President Obama’s declared positions.
To allay all doubt on where the Obama Administration stands on these issues, President Obama should quickly dissociate himself and his administration from Rosenberg’s hate speech. Unless Media Matters fires Rosenberg, the President should also distance himself from Media Matters. He will be asked about this issue when he speaks to Jewish or pro-Israel audiences and when he is interviewed or participates in debates. He should be prepared with a strong answer, just as he was when he was asked about Reverend Wright.