I’m pissed. Royally so. If Phil Weiss, Stephen Walt, Glenn Greenwald, Jim Lobe and a whole host of others can be smeared by Tabloid (er, Tablet) Magazine as anti-Israel agents of influence, why was I left out? Does it mean I’m not important enough? Or not anti-Israel enough? Or not eloquent enough?
This post is gonna give you a kick, to read the “quality” journalism practiced by Tablet, a project sponsored by NextBook and underwritten, according to a little Jewish birdie who’s a maven about Jewish foundations, by the Avi Chai Foundation. The latter is a major funder of Birthright Israel. Besides board member “Big Mameh neocon” Ruth Wisse, the foundation shares two major board members with the Tikvah Fund: Arthur Fried (Avi Chai’s board chair) and Mem Bernstein. Tikvah, along with Shelly Adelson, funds the Likudist Shalem Center (think-tank home of Michael Oren and Natan Sharansky), Jewish Ideas Daily, an enterprise my little Jewish birdie calls a “neocon shtick dreck,” and Jewish Review of Books, a right-wing rip off of the New York Review of Books. On Tikvah’s board sits none other than…William Kristol.
The Avi Chai Foundation claims as its spiritual godfather, Rav Avraham Kook, also the spiritual godfather of the Greater Israel movement. The philanthropy notes in its guidelines:
Support will only be given to programs or institutions which express a positive attitude towards the State of Israel
The slash-and-burn Tablet article is written by Lee Smith who’s written the distinguished Islamophobic title, The Strong Horse: Power, Politics, and the Clash of Arab Civilizations. He’s the “Middle East correspondent” of, you guessed it, Bill Kristol’s Weekly Standard. How’s that for keepin’ it all in the family?
Smith really has his journalistic chops down. Instead of proving his tawdry claim that these Israel-critical bloggers are anti-Israel “agents of influence,” he quotes from their comment threads(!). Talk about guilt by association. Smith, of course, neglects the fact that the Talkbacks of the Israeli online news media are among the most vicious, disgusting, racist and genocidal I’ve ever come across. Does this mean that we should accuse Haaretz, Ynet and Maariv of favoring the views of their readers? If so, where does it end? Should we bring Amos Schocken, Amnon Denker and all the editors of these publications up on charges of racism and incitement?
Smith even quotes neocon fellow-traveler Jeffrey Goldberg–not criticizing substantively anything written by the above-charged suspects; rather the latter notes the noxious e-mails he claims (without providing any proof) he receives from their readers whenever they write attacking his views. Goldberg also delivers a patently offensive and unsupported claims that Stephen Walt’s is a “Jew-baiting blog.” Yes, this is what passes for journalism at Tablet.
The only proof offered by Smith that Walt’s blog is Israel-obsessed is a supposed factoid that two non-Israel-related posts generated 13 and 58 comments and an Israel-related one generated 350. And then this rather remarkable little diatribe:
These numbers suggest that the purpose of Walt’s blog is to act as a magnet for the animus of a readership hostile not only to Israel but also to American figures friendly to Israel, especially American Jews.
Actually these numbers don’t ‘suggest’ anything of the sort. They suggest that the subject of Israel is hotly debated online and that there are many readers with strong opinions about it, both right and left.
Not a word from any of the accused of course. Not even a claim from the author that he attempted to contact them and they refused to cooperate (something that would’ve been wise it appears if Smith had bothered to ask). We’ve all heard of “smash mouth” journalism. This is smash-mouth Jewish journalism. The Avi Chai Foundation should be proud.
To return to the beginning of this post, I’m pissed. Why couldn’t I be included as an anti-Israel “agent of influence?” Why do Weiss, Walt, Greenwald, etc. get all the fun? I even wrote a semi-facetious e mail to Tablet’s editor offering to write anything they wished that might get me included in any future smear job Smith or any of their other writers might wish to write. What does a guy gotta do to get any respect from the neocon Jewish tabloid press around here?
For many years, I’ve touted my virtual Jewish club, the Spinoza Society, a home for Jews whose views are before their time; Jews who espouse ideas considered so outrageous that they’re ostracized by their fellow Jews, who are too callow and too herd-driven to consider the truth that lies within them. I welcome all of the smeared as honorary members of my club.
Smith also left out some superb Jewish bloggers who deserve his consideration as fonts of ‘anti-Israel hate’ (please note the irony intended by the quotation marks): there’s Larry Derfner at the Jerusalem Post, Brad Burston at Haaretz, Jerry Haber at Magnes Zionist, Paul Woodward at War in Context, Helena Cobban at Just World News, and Matt Duss at Think Progress among others (and sorry if I’ve left you out and you want to be included among the chosen few). Why do they get short shrift? I guess there’s so much anti-Israel blogging going on and so little column inches to expose it. Maybe if Avi Chair coughs up another couple a hundred thou Tablet could create a new column, ‘Israel Hater of the Week’ or something along those lines. It’s a thought.
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