The Jerusalem Post reports today that Faiz Shakir, vice-president of the Center for American Progress (CAP) and editor of the ThinkProgress.com blog, had admitted that the term “Israel Firster,” which has been used by bloggers at CAP and Media Matters for America (MMfA), is “anti-Semitic.”
The admission was made in an e-mail obtained by the newspaper:
The Jerusalem Post last week obtained the first CAP acknowledgment of Jewhatred stemming from a group of Mideast bloggers affiliated with CAP’s ThinkProgress website.
In the e-mail that the Post obtained exclusively from the CAP account of Faiz Shakir, who serves as editor-in-chief of the ThinkProgress.org website and is a vice president at CAP, he wrote, “Yes, I agree ‘Israel Firster’ is terrible, anti-Semitic language. And that’s why that language no longer exists on Zaid’s personal twitter feed, because he also knows and understands the implications.”
Zaid Jilani wrote on his Twitter account, where he identifies himself as a “Reporter-Blogger for ThinkProgress,” that “…Obama is still beloved by Israel-firsters and getting lots of their $$.”
The e-mail recognizing the anti-Semitism of a CAP blogger was sent from FShakir@americanprogress.org in December.
The term “Israel Firster” evokes old anti-Jewish slurs of “dual loyalty” and implies that Americans of all faiths who support Israel, and especially those who oppose the Obama administration’s hostility to Israel, are disloyal to the United States.
MMfA senior fellow M.J. Rosenberg is particularly fond of the term “Israel Firster,” and frequently uses it–and worse–terms to attack the pro-Israel cause.
Both CAP and MMfA are key to the Democratic Party’s policy and public relations strategies.
The rest of the Jerusalem Post article is a useful summary of the controversy thus far:
Critics accuse CAP of failing to combat rising anti-Israel sentiment among a group of bloggers who write about the Middle East and have created an anti-Jewish state environment at the mainstream policy organization. The e-mail conceding anti-Semitism at ThinkProgress underscores an internal rift at the think tank.
CAP bloggers have attacked their critics. The ThinkProgress blogger Ben Armbruster wrote an article last month titled “The Secret, Coordinated Effort To Smear ThinkProgress As Anti-Semitic And Anti-Israel.”
He authored a second blog entry, “TAKE ACTION: Tell The Washington Post To Retract Jen Rubin’s Charge That ThinkProgress Is ‘Anti-Semitic.'” Prof. Gerald Steinberg, president of the Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor, told the Post last week, “Instead of playing the victim, CAP has an obligation to implement concrete guidelines demonstrating that this language is unacceptable and that it will not be used by CAP employees in the future.”…
Matt Duss, director for the Middle East at CAP, compared Israel’s security policies to the racist “segregated South” in the United States. Duss declined to respond to queries about this statement on the ThinkProgress website. The disclosure of the e-mail from Shakir’s account comes after a series of dire developments for CAP’s reputation, culminating in sharp criticism from the Anti-Defamation League, American Jewish Committee and the Simon Wiesenthal Center – all of which slammed CAP for promoting hatred of Jews and Israel.
Because of the role played by CAP and MMfA in supporting the Democratic Party, and their ongoing effort to disrupt the bipartisan consensus on support for Israel at a time of growing threats from Iran, the issue of antisemitism at CAP and MMfA is more than an “intramural” fight among bloggers, and a warning sign about the way in which the radical left is influencing American foreign policy in the Obama era.