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Pajamas Media’s Tilt Toward Israeli Right

The blogworld is buzzing about a new development: a group of political bloggers is banding together to create Pajamas Media, an aggregated blog (think HuffingtonPost) featuring authors of many stripes, though almost all are on the rightward end of the spectrum. Their purpose is to persuade the visitors to all of these separate blogs to come together and spend their time at Pajamas Media buying products offered there (Dave of Israelly Cool in his diatribe against this post doesn’t seem to understand that I’m speaking of ads–so let me spell it out to ya Dave). A multi-author blog will (the founders hope) give the new site the heft needed to bring major online advertisers to the venture and pay the participants handsomely for their efforts.

There is much skepticism of the viability of this project both from the right and left of the web’s political dial. But I’m more interested in the ideological tilt of the venture. One of the founders is Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs fame. Many of you will know about LGF. But for those who don’t, I find it a biliously anti-Muslim, stridently pro-Israel site in which anyone who deigns to criticize Israel receives the “tar and feather” treatment. Think of David Horowitz and Frontpagemagazine in an IDF uniform.

There are two progressive bloggers participating: David Corn (he’s even on the editorial board of PJM fer chrissakes!) of The Nation and Marc Cooper of the LA Weekly. After reading some of the passages below, I wonder how these two can stand to be in the company of some of these bloggers.

Micah Sifry writes some very tantalizing bits about the unseen hand/s behind the venture:

…A quick glance at its overall contributor list shows one obvious ideological tilt, one that won’t make the hawks in Israel’s Likud party or their neo-con friends here unhappy. No word on who exactly is bankrolling this new venture, but my guess is it’s someone who wants more “pro-Israel” voices out there. One person’s bias is another person’s market opportunity, I guess.

What’s interesting about the bloggers in this group who write about Israel is that their views are not just pro-Likud, they’re extreme right Likud, farther even to the right than Ariel Sharon himself. This is yet another example of Jewish bloggers who are far to the right of the Mideast consensus in their communities (whether it be Israel, Australia or the U.S.).

So, either Charles Johnson has created a serious business venture which just so happens to have enlisted many of his dagger-wielding cronies in the “Israeli Right or Wrong/anti-Semites Behind Every Tree” blog community; OR he and his sugar daddy have created a venture designed to promote Israel’s far Right and dressed it in a fig leaf of ‘divergent’ blogging opinions (by including Cooper and Corn).

Let’s take a look at some of the blogging partners who’ll be featured and get a feel for their political viewpoint:

Little Green Footballs (Charles Johnson)

In a cursory glance around this shmatte (“rag” in Yiddish) of a blog, I could only find this relatively tame (for LGF, that is) anti-Muslim post from chief footballer, Johnson:

Islamofascist Fun-Haters

The Religion of Peace celebrates Ramadan in Somalia by destroying a movie studio. (Hat tip: Ethel.)

Michael Ledeen

Ledeen is one of the infamous group who engineered the Iran arms for hostages deal. He made very comfortable bedfellows with international arms traffickers like Manucher Ghorbanifar. Ledeen was also the bright light who suggested, according to the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs website that “Ledeen argued that now is the time for Iranian liberation.” Meaning he called for a U.S. invasion of Iran. That’s even farther to the right than George Bush and Dick Cheney are willing to go (at least publicly)! Though one could argue that privately all three are probably in perfect accord–a notion that is even scarier.

Here are some more scary thoughts (again from the JINSA site) from Ledeen about the Mideast peace process (which he doesn’t believe in):

I cannot think of a single case in human history in which simply people sitting down at a table and ‘working it out’ has accomplished peace. So far as I can tell, every time there’s been peace, real peace in the world, it has happened the old fashioned way. One side beat up the other side and there’s a winner and a loser. The winner imposes terms on the loser and those terms are called ‘peace’.”

“Look at the great peace conferences in history — winners impose terms on the losers and that’s what peace is only unserious people could possibly believe that you can get peace by sitting real antagonists around a table and saying, ‘Well, now why don’t you all try to work this out? Let’s reason together.’ They’re not interested in reasoning together. They’re interested in winning. That’s what serious leaders want. We don’t have peace in the Middle East because the Palestinians, the Iraqis, the Syrians, the enemies of Israel, want to win. They’re not interested in peace. They’re interested in victory.”

“A successful operation is one that wins. A failed operation is one that loses. And it doesn’t matter what the national consensus is going in, the only thing that matters is the national consensus coming out. If you win, you’re going to have a big national consensus in favor of your policy whatever it was, and if you lose, you’re a bum and it doesn’t matter how well you rationalize. It’s all about winning and losing; what leaders are supposed to do is figure out how to win, and if they lose, they’re failed leaders, pure and simple.”

Or try this even more odious point of view:

“Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show we mean business”

Solomonia (Martin Solomon)

Solomon is one of the bloggers behind the David Project which attempted singlehandedly to destroy an entire academic program within Columbia University because of its alleged anti-Semitic teaching practices. Solomon is also on the warpath regarding Rashid Khalidi, one of the world’s leading Mideast academics, who holds a chair at Columbia:

Rashid Khalidi is the ‘Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies’ at Columbia University. The chair has provoked much controversy, starting with the controversial nature of the academic it is named for and the suspicion that it will serve as a highly political position — exacerbated by the fact that Columbia at first refused to release the names of the donors behind the chair. Finally, after doing so under great pressure, the controversial nature of some of the donors was revealed — including one donation from the government of the United Arab Emerates [sic].

Don’t you just love the quotation marks around the title of his academic chair? As if they could somehow discredit the value of the chair and its holder. People like Solomon view “good academics” as ones who always have good things to say about Israeli government policy. The bad ones are, well, “highly political” (in case you didn’t realize–that’s a really BAD thing in Solomon’s eyes). I’ve worked at two universities as a fundraiser and our practice is not to vet every donor BEFORE they get a chance to make a contribution. Again, Solomon’s rule appears to be that you can’t give a gift to Columbia (and especially not for a chair to be held by Khalidi or named after that scandalous anti-Semite, Edward Said) if you’re an Arab critical of Israel. Does that mean that no Jewish donor who’s made an anti-Muslim comment can contribute toward a chair in Jewish Studies?

Atlas Shrugs (Pamela)

This is typical of the obsessive compulsive disorder you’ll find regarding Pamela’s need to find Jews as always aggrieved and always victims:
atlas shrugs screenshot

Or this example of her obssessive compulsive disorder in finding anti-Semitism and the imminent demise of the Jewish people in everything she reads about Jews:
Atlas Shrugs screenshot

Middle East Journal (Michael Totten)

Totten writes articles in the Lebanon Daily Star like this one Lebanon and Iraq: Partners in Freedom (that slogan could’ve been penned by Karen Hughes, our new ‘ambassador of goodwill’ to the Arab world), which argues that both countries are blessed with a nascent democracy. Here’s a brief bit of Totten’s wisdom which he distributes freely to any Lebanese who’ll listen: “A democratic Arab world is all but inevitable…”

And this is the same fellow who reacts with petulant outrage (I am Not a Spy) when Lebanese who meet him accuse him of being a U.S. spy! I think we have another Stephen Vincent in the making here and I just hope this guy makes it out alive. I think he’s an utter fool (but one who doesn’t deserve to die for his blatant ignorance). If I could say one thing to the poor guy it’d be: “T.E. (as in Lawrence), come home!”

Israelly Cool (Aussie Dave)

This blog is typical of the Israel-apologia LGF philosophy. Within his Moderate Arabs category, he lists the post Wanted: More Like Him about a self-confessed (and proud) Palestinian “collaborator”:
israelly cool screenshot

Which is really funny in light of this exchange also at Dave’s blog:

Do you hate all Muslims?

Of course not. I hate the Islamic terrorists, and I make a point to distinguish between them and “moderate” Muslims, for whom I have the utmost respect.

So, Dave, to be a “good Muslim” must you be an Israeli collaborator? I guess you never heard the term “a good Negro” used during the 1960s. The term “moderate Muslim” as used by Dave is equally patronizing and betrays his utter ignorance and disdain for an entire people (Palestinian) and religion (Islam). His Israeli-exclusivist view of the universe allows him to have empathy for only one people to the exclusion of all others. Actually, he doesn’t bestow his empathy upon all Israelis. Only those on the far-right who toe the proper ideological line.

Protein Wisdom (Jeff Goldstein)

Here’s what passes for wisdom over at Protein Wisdom. In a discussion of Palestinian suicide bombings, he writes this witty and urbane passage:

…Exploding Arabs absolutely cannot be good for the environment — what with all that heat and those burning chemicals and what not.

Which means the Jews are to blame for the CO2 blanket, as well — which in turn is responsible for killing furry forest dwellers of all stripes.

A banner spotted at yesterday’s “peace march” in D.C.: “Jews: killers of all things cuddly!”

(Okay, so I made that up. But mark my words: it’s coming…)

The Big Picture (Vic Rubinfeld):

We’re really blessed in this country to have the Judeo-Christian tradition of wanting to love each other and help each other have better lives and to enjoy life and be good to each other. As opposed to the tradition of some Islamofascist localities where they do the reverse – sending their own children off to be blown up.”
The Big Picture

Don’t you just love it when people like this dragoon Judaism and its traditions into a culture war between Christianity and Islam? I say: “leave us out of it.”

The Corner, (John Podhoretz)

Podhoretz Jr. apparently doesn’t believe in a peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. Here’s what he had to say about the 1991 Madrid Conference (and by inference all subsequent negotiations like Oslo and Camp David):

When the administration of Bush the Elder complained in public that Israel wasn’t interested in peace, that complaint alone forced the Israeli government to betray its own principles and join an international conference in Madrid whence began the “peace process” whose end result is the bloody war on civilians we see today.
MiddleEastFacts.com

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Nathan Hamm October 26, 2005, 10:25 PM

    So, either Charles Johnson has created a serious business venture which just so happens to have enlisted many of his dagger-wielding cronies in the “Israeli Right or Wrong/anti-Semites Behind Every Tree” blog community; OR he and his sugar daddy have created a venture designed to promote Israel’s far Right and dressed it in a fig leaf of ‘divergent’ blogging opinions (by including Cooper and Corn).

    Then I must be some very odd sort of cover. Mine is a fairly unknown blog in most circles, so I don’t bring any kind of big name balancing credibility. I don’t really discuss Israel unless it has something to do with Central Asia somehow. I certainly wasn’t quizzed on my politics coming into the venture.

    I agree that most of those affiliated share political views. But I think that if some liberal bloggers started such a venture it’d skew heavily left too at the outset. And for the exact same reasons–already existing loose networks coalescing and conservative aversion to having anything to do with “such horrible people.”

    Personally, I took it as an opportunity. The liberals who are going to hate me already do, and the hardcore lefties who like me aren’t going to stop for this. My politics are my own, and being part of PJ won’t get me to start posting on Israel, the Middle East, or even US politics. To chalk this whole venture up to some kind of conspiracy and characterize folks like me as dupes is just silly.

  • Richard Silverstein October 26, 2005, 10:49 PM

    I reviewed all the blogs featured at the PJM site including Nathan’s. I found his to be the only one I could actually take seriously. From my brief review, it appeared that he had a serious scholarly/journalistic intent. Plus, as he says above he doesn’t write about Israel or Palestine. That’s why I chose not to include his blog in my review.

    But I assure Nathan he is the exception to the rule. And I’d also guess that Simon/Johnson et al see Nathan’s participation (like Corn’s and Cooper’s) as a feather in their cap since his blog has 1,000% more authenticity and sourcing than their own.

    Nathan: there already is a liberal-counterpart to PJM called the Huffington Post. I don’t find overly ideological progressive hacks there as one does find [the obverse] at PJM.

    And as Nathan admits, he’s more of a peripheral member of PJM & I’m sure not privy to whatever arrangement financial or otherwise which Roger Simon & Charles Johnson might’ve made with other parties (i.e. a sugardaddy). In order to find out more, we’ll have to wait to see if Micah Sifry’s reveals more about what he knows about PJM’s backing.

  • Nathan Hamm October 26, 2005, 11:30 PM

    From my understanding of my role, PJ is not at all like the Huffington Post. If there are going to people doing exclusive blogging at PJ, I’ve not heard about it (but I’ve not paid much attention). I may be receiving a check from the company, but I still consider myself to be self-employed as it were. They get to use my content and advertise on my site, and I get some green.

    I’d love to see more out of Sifry than “I’m guessing it’s someone who believes x, y, and z backing the operation.” But still, it doesn’t worry me all that much. I can think of plenty of institutions I like though I think their backers are absolute political loons.

    All of the talk of a big, evil conspiracy is just getting a little tired, especially where it’s getting rubbed off on everyone involved. And though you mentioned that some of us are just peachy, that’s the way these posts always come off. (Especially when Michael Totten gets thrown in there. I know the guy. I’m slightly conservative myself, and I’d have to place him noticeably to the left of me.)

  • Dave October 27, 2005, 7:49 AM

    “Don’t you guys ever tire of this out-of date-dreck?”

    The only “out-of-date dreck” I am tired of is you, Silverstein.

  • Richard Silverstein October 27, 2005, 8:34 PM

    The only “out-of-date dreck” I am tired of is you, Silverstein.

    Gee, Dave is back. Too bad all he has to offer is tired one-liners instead of substance & discussion of issues.

    If you’re tired of me buddy no one made you come here. You can go back & play with your pajama partygoers over at yr place & never have to hear a word that dissents from your comfortable self-enclosed world view.

  • Richard Silverstein October 27, 2005, 8:50 PM

    All of the talk of a big, evil conspiracy is just getting a little tired,

    Nathan: I didn’t use the word “conspiracy,” you did–TWICE. Perhaps you’re thinking of someone else who’s raised some objections to PJM. But you should be more accurate before you sling criticisms at me.

    I said that many of the PJM bloggers featured at its site were extreme right wing pro-Israel types. I quoted Sifry who said that he has a source claiming there is a sugar daddy who deliberately wants pro-Israel bloggers included as part of the project. That’s it.

    That being said, I certainly think that Johnson has an agenda & wants to advance his strident right-wing anti-Muslim/pro-Israel views & he sees this project as an excellent way of doing so. It may be that there will be a few bloggers at the site worth reading. I’m not saying the site will be all-Sharon all-the-time. But it will have a distinct tilt in that direction deriving fr. those blogs I feature above.

    If you say Totten is to your left then you are considerably more than “slightly” conservative (though your conservatism is much more calibrated than some of yr other partners). The posts of his I’ve read are apologias for Bush Mideast policy (& I’m not talking about his Israeli-Palestinian policy which at times is cogent & creditable).

    I’m certain that you know of Michael Ledeen & what scum he is. Can you honestly say you feel good about sharing a site with him?

  • Nathan Hamm October 28, 2005, 5:48 PM

    Nathan: I didn’t use the word “conspiracy,” you did–TWICE. Perhaps you’re thinking of someone else who’s raised some objections to PJM. But you should be more accurate before you sling criticisms at me.

    Richard, we’re not dancing, so there’s no need to prance around this way. You strike me as a sharp guy, so I can only assume you are trying to get me to back off in the face of some sleight of tongue. I’m simply being concise in distililng down a series of your charges. You suggest that someone of a particular ideological bent is funding the site presumably to get out a particular message. You further argue that I and a handful of others on the site were brought on as cover–that we are dupes. Forgive me for boiling this down to you thinking there’s a secret plot involving a few individuals in the offing.

    I’m certain that you know of Michael Ledeen & what scum he is. Can you honestly say you feel good about sharing a site with him?

    As comfortable as I am sharing a country with being on the same radio show as Kos tonight. Or as comfortable as I am sharing the country with folks I disagree with. What I don’t go in for is treating people like lepers for their political beliefs. Ledeen, like many ideologues, is not my cup of tea. But I generally don’t call people I disagree with “scum.”

    If you say Totten is to your left then you are considerably more than “slightly” conservative (though your conservatism is much more calibrated than some of yr other partners). The posts of his I’ve read are apologias for Bush Mideast policy (& I’m not talking about his Israeli-Palestinian policy which at times is cogent & creditable).

    Like I said, I know him. When I say he’s to the left of me, I’m talking about the totality of our political opinions. You apparently only take into consideration one’s foreign policy views. I think you’re misreading Michael, but I’m not going to convince you otherwise.

    Personally, I think Roger and Charles are looking to make some money. As I’ve already pointed out, this isn’t like HuffPo where we will be logging in and posting exclusive content (at least I’ve heard nothing of the sort). The content will reflect the members’ content. If more people came in from the left, the content would reflect that.

  • Jeff G October 28, 2005, 6:16 PM

    for my being “self-congratulatory” in my post. I think Jeff’s getting carried away with his rhetoric. The post doesn’t congratulate me or anyone else. It casts a critical eye at bloggers like Jeff and, poor boy, he doesn’t like that.

    Actually, I could care less that you cast a “critical eye.” But that’s not what you’ve done. Instead, you’ve selectively quoted. Sure, I’m pro-Israel. But I spend very little time commenting on it. Instead, I spend a lot of time doing satire or linguistic / rhetorical analyses.

    I suspect you looked at my name and figured I fit your sad little narrative.

    Listen — you want to be critical of me, fine, do it. But do it honestly. Instead we get an ill-conceived post that likely won’t convince anyone other than those who are predisposed to thinking the world is made up of Jewish conspiracies — an who like to cite Jews saying such so that they can claim they’re not anti-semitic.

    You’re a useful idiot, Dick. That’s it. And I just ask that if you want to engage me on on a particular issue, do so, rather than try to use me a piece of some grander conspiracy of which I am not a part.

  • Richard Silverstein October 28, 2005, 8:51 PM

    Nathan:

    Richard, we’re not dancing, so there’s no need to prance around this way.

    Geez, I hope I don’t “prance” when I “dance,” not a pretty sight.

    You appear to have an academic background in central Asian studies while my own is in literature. So you’ll have to forgive my focus on language, words & their meaning. It’s important to me. I make no claim that I’m the most precise, thorough or brilliant thinker in the world. But those things [language, etc.] are important to me & you’ll have to bear with that.

    I can only assume you are trying to get me to back off in the face of some sleight of tongue.

    I don’t follow. You used the term “conspiracy” & made it appear as if I was accusing PJM of being one. I pointed out that I never used the term & then clarified what I did mean. I have no idea what you mean by “sleight of tongue.” If you mean that I want you to back off using the term “conspiracy,” I merely ask that you be more precise when you attribute ideas or attitudes to me. As far as I’m concerned, using the term “conspiracy” is not precise or “concise.” It may characterize your true feelings & that’s fine. But look for some other PJM critics who’s actually called it a conspiracy & vent your feelings at them or else vent your feelings at me based on what I actually said.

    You further argue that I and a handful of others on the site were brought on as cover–that we are dupes

    Again, I did not say you were a dupe. I said that Charles Johnson and his cronies were taking advantage of the participation of more serious bloggers as a sort of window dressing which allows them to say (as they have disingenuously) that their enterprise has no particular ideological slant and contains divergent views.

    Forgive me for boiling this down to you thinking there’s a secret plot involving a few individuals in the offing.

    Now you’re being too cute by half. I said nothing about a “secret plot.” Now, you’re implying that you were not off base in “boiling down” my thinking to that phrase. Again, if I want to “boil down” my thinking I’ll do it myself. I’d ask you not to do it for me especially if you distort my intent.

    You clearly know very little about Michael Ledeen–who he is and what he’s done. Either that, or you don’t care about his egregious deeds. Just a smattering of his statements are available above. Do you mean to tell me you’d say there’s no difference between Kos & Ledeen? As far as I know, Kos has not advocated “beating up” on countries smaller than our own just for the hell of it (seems we were doing a bit of that at Abu Graibh now weren’t we?). Kos hasn’t been in the middle of negotiating sleazy international weapons deals for rogue nations. Kos hasn’t been an ardent advocate for one of Iraq’s sleaziest–Ahmad Chalabi. I could go on.

    “Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show we mean business”

    You probably chalk this brutish talk up to a guy who’s being overly dramatic. If this and Ledeen’s other depredations don’t disturb you, then I hate to say it but it sounds to me as if you have very little moral perspective on the suffering that ideas like this cause to real people. In that case, the two of you will be very happy together.

    I generally don’t call people I disagree with “scum” either. But in this case, it’s a description Ledeen so richly deserves.

    The content will reflect the members’ content. If more people came in from the left, the content would reflect that.

    Have you asked Charles & Roger who they’ve invited “from the left” besides Cooper & Corn? The only way the content can become diverse politically is if the founders decide they want it to be. I see no evidence that they’ve made a serious attempt to have any balance. They don’t have to–that’s their perjogative. But if their choice is to have the balance they currently have, then they can’t credibly argue that they have no ideological slant.

  • Richard Silverstein October 28, 2005, 9:08 PM

    Jeff: I’m not sure what Jeff’s accusing me of. I went to his blog & reviewed a number of posts he’s written about Israel and found the passage I quoted. Did I misquote you Jeff? Is there some context I was missing? If so, go ahead & tell us. Instead all you can muster is: “Actually, I could care less that you cast a “critical eye.” But that’s not what you’ve done. Instead, you’ve selectively quoted.”

    I didn’t “selectively quote” you. I quoted an entire passage leaving nothing out. If you’re all lathered up about it maybe you should’ve thought first before you wrote such a gross and offensive “humorous” take on “exploding Arabs.”

    I spend a lot of time doing satire…

    Yes, the passage I quoted from you is “satire” all right. Satire that is patently offensive to the majority of human beings (though not to you because when you were born God must’ve forgotten to hand out seychel (“judgment”).

    Oh & I guess calling me “Dick” is meant to be satire too when that is not the name I go by? Funny, funny. If I called you “Jeffie” or “Goldy” what would that prove other than that I hadn’t gotten emotionally much beyond the 6th grade and that I was an ass. Since you have attempted such assinine “satire”, what does that make you?

  • Nathan Hamm October 28, 2005, 11:19 PM

    Well, two of us distill your broader comments to posit there being a conspiracy here. I appreciate your desire for precision in language. I share it. I don’t think that my characterization of… well, your entire post… to mean that there’s a conspiracy. Perhaps you can just chalk it up to an unfortunate consequence of our wicked conservatism, but Jeff and I both seem to agree that you are positing a conspiracy though avoiding the word. (And I’m sorry, but I really do take you to be charging that those of us not interested in Roger’s and Charles’s purported political objective in the business to mean that we have been duped. After all, to be quite clear, I was not “invited” in any sense I understand the meaning of the word.)

    As for Kos and Ledeen, I take them both to be ideologues who, on occasion say reprehensible things. We could go off into a whole discussion of my views on foreign policy (boils down to morals being something we should shoot for while realizing moral perfection is a childish myth), but why go off on a tangent. But don’t underestimate the impact of Kos’s ideas on people. Your post, while I would never dare to trace it back to Kos himself, is part and parcel of a disturbing attitude in modern American liberalism as practiced by Kos–a gleeful embrace and championing of political apartheid. But, my point is that, as distasteful as I find Kos, I don’t find my having been on the same radio show as him this evening to reflect on me personally any more than Ledeen and I receiving a check from the same company does.

    As far as membership goes, from what I understand as someone whose contact with PJM has been more or less reading emailed updates and sending in forms as requested, the desire right now is to prove viability. As I mentioned before, no one sent me a personal invite and the initial members are to a great extent self-selected. As a somewhat conservative person (or someone who cares about making money) myself, I wouldn’t hold up the launch of my business until I achieved what those who despise my beliefs to be proper ideological balance.

  • Richard Silverstein October 29, 2005, 12:17 AM

    Hey, I care about making money too (though I don’t make much). Does that make me “conservative?”

    Kos and the big bloggers are making money as well & they’re not “conservative.” I’d be a tad more careful with the labels…