Smear Campaign Against CAP Finds Little Traction

Image from ECI's NYT ad

Today, the Emergency Committee for Israel (headed by Gary Bauer, Bill Kristol, and Rachel Abrams) ran a full-page ad in the New York Times smearing the Center for American Progress as being “anti-Israel” and for purportedly espousing “bigotry and anti-Israel extremism.” As our readers are well aware, these are fabricated smears which completely misrepresent CAP’s established record of incisive analysis and fair, accurate and honest reporting on U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

But it is the ECI that has consistently embraced positions on Israel and the Middle East which are outside the mainstream. Don’t just take our word for it.

Last September, the American Jewish Committee’s director David Harris slammed ECI for turning Israel into a partisan wedge issue and exhibiting behavior “counterproductive to its stated aim of supporting Israel.” The head of the National Jewish Democratic Council said, “ECI’s behavior made it crystal clear that the organization is nothing more than a Republican front group bent on turning Israel into a partisan wedge issue.” And today, the Jewish Daily Forward says of the ECI ad: “[It’s] one of the most virulent anti-Jewish advertisements I’ve ever seen. And it came from other Jews.”

While the ECI is quick to casually throw around divisive language, it is much slower to condemn its own ties to ethnic and religious intolerance. In October, ECI board member Rachel Abrams raised eyebrows for calling Palestinian militants “savages,” “unmanned animals,” and “food for sharks,” in a blog post.

It should come as no great surprise that ECI would choose to join in on the coordinated smear campaign against ThinkProgress. Previously, ECI has taken out ads ripping Obama for treating “Israel like a punching bag.” The attempts to paint progressives as anti-Semitic or anti-Israel has found little traction outside of fringe groups like ECI. Indeed, the misinformation campaign against ThinkProgress was widely denounced by mainstream political voices and journalists:

  • David Harris, National Jewish Democratic Council: CAP’s views on Israel and Iran reflect “mainstream positions and concerns of the American Jewish community — and indeed of most Americans.” Washington Post, January 20, 2012
  • Truman National Security Project: “CAP’s official policy positions stand up well against this smear campaign and are aimed at ensuring a mainstream foreign policy that is strong and principled.” January 20, 2012
  • Matt Bennett, Third Way: “We are baffled and appalled by the charges of anti-Semitism that some have leveled at CAP.” Washington Post, January 20, 2012
  • Joe Klein, Time Magazine: I’m not carrying water for CAP or Media Matters. I’ve disagreed with both in the past and both have criticized things I’ve written (although neither accused me of being a bigot). Calling them anti-Semitic is absurd, though. Calling David Petraeus anti-Semitic because he implied that Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories made life more dangerous for U.S. troops in the region-well beyond absurd, since he was implying an obvious truth. TIME Magazine, January 19, 2012
  • Sarah Wildman, the Forward: “When anti-Semitism is falsely applied, we must also stand up and decry it as defamation, as character assault, as unjust.” The Forward, January 5, 2012