The odious ‘Israel first’ libel
Attacks against AIPAC are a disgrace
The author says that it is deeply reprehensible to suggest that American Jews are more loyal to Israel than to the U.S.
It’s the kind of virulent 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.”
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 than it holds.”
In other words, this widely respected American organization, and the hundreds of thousands of Jews (and Christians) who support it, have absolutely no loyalty to our nation; their sole loyalty is to the foreign nation of Israel.
This false accusation of disloyalty to country was a central tenet of Nazism, Stalinism and other anti-Semitic regimes. Today, it is the mantra of Jew haters and neo-Nazis.
So who is spouting this hateful rhetoric today?
I first came across some of these vile quotes about “Israel firsters” and “dual loyalty” on an actual neo-Nazi website. Surprisingly, however, they were attributed not to the usual suspects, but to a spokesman for Media Matters, a hard left Democratic media attack and watchdog group that started out as an antidote to Fox News, and that still has close connections to the Obama White House.
The author of these hateful quotes is MJ Rosenberg, who is the senior foreign policy fellow of Media Matters. Speaking at a symposium, 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 “Palestine firsters.” Nor did he accuse Irish Americans who supported the Sinn Fein of being “Ireland firsters.”
But Rosenberg defends his charges of disloyalty to America against those who sincerely believe that it 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.”
Not surprisingly, the “Israel firster” charge is just one of many odious and wildly inaccurate positions Rosenberg has espoused regarding Israel.
He has called Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a “terrorist,” and Israel’s peace-loving President Shimon Peres an “uberhawk on Iran.”
He has denied that Iran’s Mahmoud 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.”
And he has defended former veteran White House reporter Helen Thomas against charges of anti-Semitism after she said the Jews should “get the hell out of Palestine” and criticized Obama for “diss[ing\] her,” calling instead for her to be “salute[d\].”
Media Matters 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 Obama is aware that an organization that claims close ties to his administration is saying such bigoted things about AIPAC, which is headed by Obama’s 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.
The President should quickly dissociate himself and his administration from Rosenberg’s hate speech. And unless Media Matters fires Rosenberg, the President should also distance himself from Media Matters.
He will no doubt be asked about this issue when he speaks to Jewish or pro-Israel audiences and when he is interviewed or participates in debates.
Obama should be prepared with a strong answer, just as he was when he was asked about the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
Dershowitz is a professor at Harvard Law School.