The author of this article is JP Benjamin
The chronology could not really be clearer. In the immediate aftermath of the Knesset passage of the bill restricting funding for human rights organizations within Israel, followed by Secretary of State Clinton's criticism that was extended to condemnation of the treatment of women in Israel, and the unprecedented official protest against the Israeli policy lodged by the US ambassador, there has been a strong and harsh backlash, obviously whipped up, assailing organizations and people in the US that have been critical of the Occupation, the Netanyahu government's destruction of the peace process, and the right-wing within Israel. From the Ben Smith article in Politico on December 8 on the Center for American Progress and Media Matters for publishing critical material of current Israeli policy and its ideologues ("vitriol"), to Jennifer Rubin (who has openly called for the mass murder of Palestinians and has been protected by Washington Post editors and its publisher), to Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic (a former Israeli prison guard who has proclaimed himself the oracle on all matters pertaining to Israel and that criticism of him is ipso facto rejection of the Jewish State and ipso facto objectively anti-Semitic, encompassing perhaps his service in the Bush administration choir on links of Al Qaeda to Saddam Hussein, etc.), et al (the usual suspects), there is a broad and systematic effort to limit discussion and debate about Israel and the Middle East that reflects the campaign inside Israel, including on the following subjects: the collapsed peace process and who is responsible; the complexities of the Arab Spring; the diplomatic rather than ultimate military path towards Iran; the emergence of Turkey and its chastising of Israeli policy on Gaza, especially after the killings on the Mavi Marmara; the influence of Likud through AIPAC and other organizations on the US political process, the US media and the US Congress; the rise of the new right around Islamophobia; the influence and role of Israel on US detainee policy and the militarization of domestic policing policy; the assault on Secretary of State Clinton for her remarks on the threats to democracy within Israel, as well as the nearly complete silence in the US from the Democratic Party, liberal intellectuals and pundits, defending her and the administration, as well as freedom for human rights groups within Israel; and the effort to discredit anyone operating outside the limits set by those that insist on the narrow spectrum of discussion, far different from within Israel itself.
Please read the articles below:
Clinton criticism sparks Israeli anger
(AFP) – 4 days ago
JERUSALEM — Israeli ministers reacted angrily on Sunday after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was quoted expressing concern over the future of Israel's democracy and the rights of women in the Jewish state.
Clinton's remarks, made Saturday behind closed doors at the Saban Forum in Washington, made headlines in most Israeli newspapers, which reported them without explaining how they obtained the comments.
Top-selling Yediot Aharonot said Clinton had expressed concern about a slew of "anti-democratic" bills proposed by right-wing members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government.
She also described shock at hearing that some buses in Jerusalem were gender-segregated and that some religious Israeli soldiers refused to attend events where women would sing, the newspaper added.
Israeli lawmakers, particularly right-wing members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government, have in recent months championed a series of bills criticised by local rights groups as an attempt to rein in left-leaning NGOs and journalists.
Among the most controversial of the proposed laws is one that would limit foreign funding for certain NGOs -- legislation that leftist activists say targets groups opposed to Israeli occupation that report on violations of Palestinian human rights.
Asked about the Israeli reports, a senior State Department official confirmed that Clinton was "concerned about the NGO law" and Israeli "conservative comments on women." The official spoke on condition of anonymity.
The comments sparked a quick backlash in Jerusalem, where Israeli ministers holding a weekly cabinet meeting accused Clinton of hyperbole.
Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz called Clinton's reported remarks "totally exaggerated."
"Israel is a living, breathing liberal democracy," he was quoted as saying by Israeli media.
Steinitz reportedly acknowledged that gender segregation was a problem in Israel, "but to claim there is a threat on Israeli democracy is a big stretch."
Environment Minister Gilad Erdan also acknowledged some concerns about growing calls for gender segregation by Israel's ultra-Orthodox community, but suggested Clinton direct her attention elsewhere.
"Elected officials all over the world should first worry about their problems at home," he said.
And Interior Minister Eli Yishai of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, defended the Jewish state, saying it remained the "only democracy in the Middle East."
"I assume that whatever will be done here will be within the measure of the law," local media quoted him as saying.
The NGO bill has already attracted international criticism, and Israeli daily Haaretz reported that the US ambassador to Israel, Daniel Shapiro, had relayed Washington's concerns about the legislation to Netanyahu's staff.
A similar message was relayed by Germany's ambassador several weeks earlier, the newspaper said.
Copyright © 2011 AFP. All rights reserved
- Published 23:00 04.12.11
- Latest update 23:00 04.12.11
Likud MK Akunis: Every word Senator Joseph McCarthy said was right
Ofir Akunis, who sponsored the bill to limit foreign funding to human rights groups, says he only meant Senator McCarthy was proven right by exposing Soviet agents in the U.S., but adds he strongly opposes McCarthyism.
Likud MK Ofir Akunis, who sponsored the bill to limit foreign funding to Israeli human rights organization, stood behind Senator Joseph's McCarthy's actions in the 1950s. Speaking on Sunday on the "London and Kirshenbaum" television show on Channel 10, Akunis said McCarthy – who in the 1950s presided over a committee that investigated Americans suspected of harboring Communist views – said "was right in every word, the fact is -there were Soviet agents."
According to the bill, which was proposed by Akunis and has been backed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, political NGOs in Israel would not be allowed to receive donations exceeding 20,000 shekels provided by foreign governments and international organizations, such as the UN and the European Union. According to the bill, "inciting activity undertaken by many organizations, under the cover of human rights work, has the goal of influencing political debates, and the character and the policies of the state of Israel."
Speaking to Haaretz later on Sunday, Akunis said he was referring to McCarthy's claim that several Soviet agents infiltrated the U.S. "I didn't say McCarthyism was right, or that every word that McCarthy said was right." He added that he does not support McCarthyism or political persecution of citizens suspected of being disloyal to the state. "God forbid, absolutely not," he said.
"I am far less extreme than what some columns say, and I am not part of the legislation against the judiciary. I have one law that is right and just, that says that a foreign country will not transfer money to another country." Akunis said the bill "is far from being fascist or ant-democratic. It is also not a law that targets the freedom of assembly."
Akunis referred to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's criticism of the bill, which she voiced on Saturday, and said that "the Foreign Agents Registration Act in the U.S. is much harsher than the (current) bill, especially in light of the amended bill which clearly defines what constitutes a political organization."
- Published 14:46 20.07.11
- Latest update 17:02 20.07.11
Livni: Bill to probe NGOs is anti-democratic, hurts Israel
Contentious bill on probe of human rights groups sparks stormy debate in Knesset; Netanyahu believes majority will vote down measure proposed by Yisrael Beiteinu following pressure on Likud MKs.
The contentious bill calling for investigation into funding of human rights organizations in Israel sparked a stormy debate in the Knesset on Wednesday when it was presented for a vote. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office believes that it has gathered enough votes to prevent the passage of the bill.
Opposition leader Tzipi Livni was vocal in her condemnation of the proposal Wednesday, saying it damaged Israel's interests.
"A dark wind is blowing through the country - created by Netanyahu's coalition," Livni said during the Knesset debate."Beyond being an anti-democratic [proposal] it also harms the interests of the State of Israel…. The idea that MKs want to investigate citizens who are not party to their views is horrifying."
MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List-Ta’al) sarcastically praised Lieberman’s initiative for bringing Israel “one step closer to 1984,” suggesting the probe would constitute a Big Brother-like infringement on democratic values. Tibi further stated that “the current Knesset outdoes itself, over and over, in its McCarthyist ways”.
The bill has been harshly condemned by organizations such as the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, which has openly refused to participate in any such investigation, and instead will continue to “act firmly in the pursuit of human rights for all.”
Americans for Peace Now also spoke out against the bill, stating that American Jews “must do everything…to stop these appalling attacks on what makes the Jewish state so central to our value-system."
Throughout Tuesday night, Netanyahu's office applied pressure on Likud MKs to vote against the bill that was put forth by the Yisrael Beiteinu party.
An analysis by Haaretz has determined that the draft law will fall short by a few votes, assuming that Likud MKs who oppose the proposal show up to vote against it. The precise voting patterns for some parties in the Knesset, including Habayit Hayehudi and United Torah Judaism, are not known.
Netanyahu has said he would vote against the bill but even before his announcement it became apparent that most of his Likud cabinet colleagues opposed it. The majority of Likud MKs, however, are thought to support the measure.
The Yisrael Beiteinu initiative was revived in light of the recent passage of the controversial boycott law, a Likud party proposal, which allows a person or an organization to be sued if they call for the boycott of Israel or the settlements.
Coalition member Yisrael Beiteinu said it would demand a roll call vote, in which each MK is asked to state how they voted, rather than relying solely on a secret ballot. That might keep some right-wing MKs who nevertheless oppose the investigative committees from voting in order to avoid damaging their popularity with their constituents. Likud party workers have been lobbying their party's MKs to support the draft bill.
Kadima has said it would impose party discipline in voting against the bill but it remains to be seen whether all MKs will report for today's vote. The votes of Kadima MKs Otniel Schneller and Yulia Shamalov Berkovich are specifically not known at this stage.
- December 8, 2011
- 10:23AMFormer AI
- PAC Spokesperson Rallies Conservatives to Attack CAP, Media Matters as Anti-Semitic
- Post by Sarah Posner
- Justin Elliott has the goods on Josh Block, the former AIPAC spokesperson who now works at the centrist Progressive Policy Institute and the lobbying firm Davis-Block. Following a story yesterday by Politico's Ben Smith on bloggers at Media Matters and the Center for American Progress who report on and analyze matters pertaining to Israel and U.S. foreign policy in a way not officially sanctioned as "pro-Israel" by the neoconservative foreign policy establishment, Block urged a conservative listserv to "amplify" the story as portraying the bloggers as anti-Semites.
Smith's story painted Media Matters blogger M.J. Rosenberg, himself a former AIPAC staffer, and bloggers at the Center for American Progress, including Matt Duss, Eli Clifton, and Ali Gharib, as articulating views outside Democratic Party orthodoxy on Israel.
Notably, Rosenberg was depicted as having free reign to express his views at Media Matters, but the CAP writers were portrayed as articulating a view not representing the policy positions of their employer. CAP subsequently published a blog post pointing out inaccuracies in Smith's piece, noting that CAP's (and its bloggers') position in favor of a two-state solution is the "consensus view" and not outside the Democratic mainstream. The post accused Smith of cherry-picking posts as examples of what conservatives charged were "anti-Israel"--read, anti-Semitic-- views. Smith then made a number of corrections to the article.
Conservatives, though, wasted no time in hailing Smith's story as exposing "the anti-Israel left" (a headline in the Weekly Standard), and the "anti-Israel claptrap" (Jennifer Rubin) promoted by liberals.
Meanwhile, Newt Gingrich, if elected president, would like to engage in a joint military operation with Israel to attack Iran, a scenario his pal John Hagee sees as an essential, biblically prophesied step toward the Second Coming of Christ, and in the real world would otherwise not be "good for Israel." (Hagee, too, is hailed as "pro-Israel," despite his apocalyptic scenario in which Jews die or convert to Christianity. Block, when he worked at AIPAC, dismissed concerns about Hagee's theology as fantasy that would never come to pass, thereby justifying embracing his support.)
Elliott's explosive story lays bare the McCarthy-esque tactics the supposedly "pro-Israel" camp in Washington is willing to deploy. Block writes in his email to the listserv (which, with a brilliant lack of self-awareness, is called the Freedom Community):
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.
One can only hope that the opponents of free speech in a rational discussion of Israel and U.S. foreign policy will be the ones who emerge as morally compromised, rather than the bloggers and columnists they are smearing as anti-Semitic. As Rosenberg tweeted moments ago, "At the proverbial end of the day, Ben Smith's story on CAP and Media Matters (and our influence) will be viewed as very significant."