The mainstream media is beginning to call out the radical left-wing Center for American Progress (CAP) and its blog ThinkProgress for their anti-Semitic rhetoric, particularly in their over-the-top attacks on defenders of Israel and critics of Islamist ideology.
For example, Ben Smith of Politico highlighted the following example of extreme anti-Israel rhetoric from a ThinkProgress posting by Matt Duss, a CAP policy analyst and the director of Middle East Progress. Duss wrote his piece last year, following an Israeli raid on a flotilla challenging the blockade of Gaza which resulted in the deaths of nine militants:
Like segregation in the American South, the siege of Gaza (and the entire Israeli occupation, for that matter) is a moral abomination that should be intolerable to anyone claiming progressive values.
Comparing Israeli efforts to defend its citizens against repeated jihadist terror attacks to “segregation in the American South” or apartheid in South Africa is a favorite line of anti-Semitic attack by Islamists in their campaign to de-legitimize the Jewish state. Duss is serving as the Islamists’ useful idiot in repeating the outlandish charge.
Ben Smith also pointed to a recent article by Eric Alterman, a writer for CAP, accusing the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) of campaigning for war in Iran. In another example of AIPAC bashing cited by Smith, the ThinkProgress National Security reporter Eli Clifton claimed last August that “It would appear that AIPAC is now using the same escalating measures against Iran that were used before the invasion of Iraq.”
Even some progressives are pushing back against such irresponsible conspiracy theorist rhetoric. “There’s two explanations here – either the inmates are running the asylum or the Center for American Progress has made a decision to be anti-Israel,” said Josh Block, who is a fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. “Either they can allow people to say borderline anti-Semitic stuff and to say things that are antithetical to the fundamental values of the Democratic party, or they can fire them and stop it.”
While CAP’s top officials did not respond directly to Politico regarding these charges, pro-Palestinian activists have approvingly noted CAP’s anti-Israel stand. “What is actually happening is that the discourse that lot of people in the Palestine solidarity community and activists have been engaging in is starting to break down the walls of the Washington bubble,” said Ali Abunimah, a longtime activist and the co-founder of the site Electronic Intifada.
Josh Block elaborated on his charge of CAP’s “borderline” anti-Semitism in an e-mail quoted in the left-leaning Salon:
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.
Block is a progressive himself. However, his staunch defense of Israel, including a prior stint at AIPAC and his willingness to call out the extreme rhetoric against defenders of Israel appearing regularly in ThinkProgress, has earned him the enmity of other anti-Israel progressives. Free speech that departs from progressive-left orthodoxy is not tolerated in such circles, especially when Block decided to share his extensive documentation of ThinkProgress writers’ extreme anti-Israel bias with the “dark” side – conservative journalists. That’s an act of apostasy worthy of banishment from the progressive echo chamber. As left-of-center commentator Greg Sargent noted in his blog post appearing on the Washington Post website, progressive organizations such as the Progressive Policy Institute, with which Block is now affiliated, are discussing severing all ties with the apostate.
To charge, as Block did, that CAP’s anti-Semitic rhetoric is “borderline” is really too kind to CAP. Its blogging arm ThinkProgress has gone much deeper into anti-Semitic and anti-Christian territory in its unrelenting campaign to paint all critics of Islamic ideology and sharia law as bigoted, hate-mongering “Islamophobes.”
CAP recently issued a report titled “Fear, Inc.: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America,” which is nothing more than a 132-page diatribe whose stated objective is to “expose—and marginalize—the influence of the individuals and groups” that CAP claims are a part of an “Islamophobia network in America.”
ThinkProgress subsequently ran a series of self-righteous postings defending the Fear, Inc. report against all critics. Typical of the hard left, ThinkProgress‘ bloggers believe that anyone who does not see the world as they do is either stupid or bigoted.
The Fear, Inc. report drew an imaginary portrait of a multi-tentacle far-right “Islamophobic network” conspiracy of funders (some identified in the CAP report as donors to Jewish causes), “misinformation experts,” including the Hasidic Jew David Yerushalmi, and media outlets identified as pro-Israel or associated with Israel including this publication (which, CAP said, “gives an amplified voice to a cadre of fellow anti-Muslim bigots”) and the Middle East Media and Research Institute (whose “selective translations of Arab media,” CAP charged, “fan the flames of Islamophobia.”)
CAP threw into its fabricated conspiracy web “hate radio” shows, Fox News, and the Christian Broadcasting Network as examples of other Islamophobia enabling media outlets.
CAP’s Fear, Inc. report also went after what it called “validators” of Islamophobia such as former Muslim Nonie Darwish, who has dared to discuss openly her personal experience as a woman living under the yoke of misogynist sharia-based laws in Egypt for years before coming to the United States. Likewise, it condemned Zuhdi Jasser, a practicing Muslim and physician, whom the CAP report smeared as a “Muslim validator for Islamophobia propaganda.” The truth is that this courageous Muslim doctor has spoken out about the need for the Muslim community to look inward and reject the loud voices of the Islamist ideologues who would impose their rigid beliefs against freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and human dignity.
The report also castigated a Christian woman and founder of ACT! for America, Brigitte Gabriel. CAP’s hard left bomb-throwers accused Ms. Gabriel of engaging in “crude bigotry” and charged that she “validates the Islamophobia network’s manufactured fears and hate campaign directed against Muslims.” The only fears and hate campaign being manufactured here are CAP’s own lies intended to vilify anyone who does not accept their dogma. The truth is that Ms. Gabriel experienced firsthand the Muslim persecution of the Christian minority in Lebanon where she grew up. She has called for “enlightened, educated and westernized Muslims in the community to begin a dialogue to discuss the possibility of reform in Islam just as Christianity and Judaism have been reformed.” CAP, on the other hand, denies that there is any such need for reform. It is guided by such Islamist organizations as the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Council on American Islamic Relations, which the CAP report benignly described as a “civil rights group.”
Of course, the authors of CAP’s Fear, Inc. report did not seriously address the substance of the points raised by any of the critics of Islamism and sharia law, because the facts are not on CAP’s side. Instead, its authors packed the report with adjectives like “sinister,” “hateful,” “purposively deceptive,” “bigoted,” and “racist” to dismiss what the critics, relying on substantial research and evidence and, in some cases, their own personal experiences, have actually said in full context about the Islamist ideology and political-legal system.
After the Fear, Inc. report was issued, ThinkProgress‘ blogger pack circled like wolves to fend off legitimate criticisms of the report. They also carried on a vendetta against a broader circle of Jewish groups with which they disagreed, such as the non-partisan Simon Wiesenthal Center whose founder, Simon Wiesenthal, was a survivor of the Nazi death camps.
Jennifer Rubin, a right-of-center commentator who writes regularly for the Washington Post, posted a column December 11th on the Washington Post‘s website entitled “Simon Wiesenthal Center: Time to clean up the discourse.” She discussed CAP’s vicious blog assault on the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which one of its ThinkProgress bloggers, Ben Armbruster, called a “far-right” organization that had “basically called Obama a Nazi.” This was an outright lie, of course, and is emblematic of the ThinkProgress bloggers’ anti-Semitic, pro-Islamist mind-set, which its parent CAP sanctions.
Ironically, just two days before Rubin exposed Armbruster’s rant against the mainstream, non-partisan Simon Wiesenthal Center, an internationally recognized human rights organization devoted to advancing religious tolerance and combating anti-Semitism, Armbruster demanded that the Washington Post retract an earlier post by Rubin, which Armbruster charged had “smeared CAP and its bloggers as ‘anti-Semitic’ and ‘anti-Israel.’” Sorry, but the shoe fits.
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