Israel is bedding down with the American loony-Islamophobe right as Ambassador Ron Dermer will accept the “Freedom Flame” Award next month from Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy (CSP). After starting his political career as a low-level bureaucrat in the Reagan administration, Gaffney has cornered the market in anti-Muslim nativism. As the Carly Simon song lyrics go: “No one does it better.” Among his other outrageous claims: Muslims and Islam are a mortal danger to the Republic; that Hillary Clinton top aide, Huma Abedin is a card-carrying member of the Muslim Brotherhood, etc.
Gaffney’s claims are so outrageous that they even caused a rift in the Conservative Political Action Coalition (CPAC), a leading conservative forum sponsored by the American Conservative Union. CPAC banned Gaffney from speaking for two years because he charged Grover Norquist’s wife, Samah, with being a Muslim Brotherhood member. He also claimed his “passion” for his Palestinian wife persuaded him to convert to Islam. Gaffney claimed that the couple are part of a conspiracy that will permit the Brotherhood to infiltrate CPAC. He has also speculated that Pres. Obama was a Muslim and alleged that “jihadis” were voting for him. He called for reviving the House Un-American Activities Committee to investigate the Islamist jihad infecting U.S. institutions. He said that the Council on Islamic Relations (CAIR) is a Hamas front. He also praised the website of a white supremacist as “wonderful.” Even the ADL, no shrinking violet when it comes to supporting the agenda of the pro-Israel right, calls Gaffney’s claims “anti-Sharia hysteria.”
Gaffney has allied himself with the Kahanist Islamophobe David Yerushalmi in their state legislative campaign to ban Sharia law (sixteen states have introduced such a bill). I was once deposed by Yerushalmi in a libel lawsuit I subsequently successfully defended. During the proceedings, which heavily involved discussions about Kahanism, the Orthodox attorney whose family birth name was “Beychok,” called Meir Kahane, “the Rov.” Use of this honorific is roughly equivalent to acknowledging that he is a disciple of Kahane. Yerushalmi also once threatened to sue me for libel, later withdrawing the threat.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors American hate groups, has designated the CSP officially as an “extremist” organization. The Center said this award:
“Not only further legitimizes this organization, but could be read as an endorsement of anti-Muslim hate by the Israeli government.”
Let’s remember that the day before the last Israeli election, a desperate Bibi Netanyahu aired an SOS dog-whistle to Israeli far-right voters warning that the Obama administration was plotting to overthrow him and busing “Arab” voters to the polls in droves. This single message so frightened the Israeli far-right that voters who had been toying with voting for Naftali Bennett or Avigdor Lieberman returned to the Likud fold and preserved his prime ministership. The Obama administration denounced Netanyahu’s speech as racist but, as usual, took no further action against him.
In even more disturbing vein, after Bibi won the election he apologized and took everything he’d said back, as meant in ‘good clean fun.’ He reasserted his ersatz support for a two-state solution. Hillary’s response to all this was to affirm the need for a peace process, any peace process, even if it was a “Potemkin village.” That is indeed precisely what Obama administration policy has been for the past two years or more.
Returning to Dermer and the Award, his defense came from his press aide, who argued that a man who hosts an annual Iftar dinner couldn’t possibly be an Islamophobe (!). Some of Dermer’s best friends are apparently Negroes and Mohammedans (but only the “good” ones).
Joining Dermer on the daïs in receiving the Award will be Mort Klein, the leader of the Zionist Organization of America. He has the distinction of being rated the most overpaid American Jewish communal leader ($460,000 per year) in a Jewish Forward survey (Gaffney earns $275,000). Klein is one of the most rabid and vicious demagogues among national Jewish leaders. He once circulated a false claim that Bishop Desmond Tutu equated “the Jewish lobby” with “Hitler.” The Minneapolis Jewish Community Relations Council used the fabricated quotation to pressure a local university into rescinding a speaking invitation to Tutu.
There is an old saying: “if you lie down with dogs, you’ll get up with fleas.” But Israel, currently governed by the most racist government in its history, already has fleas. Those it’s lying down with will only add to the infestation.
It should be no surprise that Dermer is accepting an award from the loony right as his boss, Bibi Netanyahu accepted the Herman Kahn Award from the Hudson Insitute last month. Kahn was the Cold Warrior who argued in the 1960s that America should launch a nuclear first-strike against Russia. He was the model for the memorable anti-hero of the film, Dr. Strangelove.
There’s an interesting discrepancy between the publicly filed IRS 990 for CPS and the version featured on the group’s website. The latter 990 has a Schedule B-Schedule of Contributors, which lists the amounts donated but omits their names. The public 990 does not feature this portion of the return. But Salon has filled in the missing data with its 2014 report listing five-figure donations from a Who’s Who of major U.S. defense contractors (who no doubt had their weapons systems approved by Gaffney when he worked for the Pentagon under Reagan). Among them were GE which, when asked, explained that its donation was part of the company’s commitment to:
“…diversity and inclusiveness as an essential part of our productivity, innovation and competitive advantage.”
This is reminiscent of Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg who, when asked why homophobe-misogynist-radical libertarian Peter Thiel remained on the company’s board, said it was because of its commitment to ideological “diversity.”
Foundations like Harry Bradley and Sarah Scaife Foundations, which are listed in Fear Inc. (pdf) as the leading funders of the U.S. Islamophobia industry, are also major CSP donors.
Past recipients of the Freedom Flame Award have included the lions of the neocon pro-Israel right: John Bolton, James Woolsey, Allen West, Richard Perle, Jeanne Kirkpatrick and William J. Casey.
Frankly, given that Sheldon Adelson has endorsed and funded Donald Trump’s candidacy, I’m rather surprised Bibi hasn’t also doubled down on the Republican candidate. After all, Gaffney and Klein are kissing cousins of Trump. There isn’t the least flicker of daylight between them on political subjects ranging from Muslims to immigrants to terrorism. My guess is that Bibi believed that Trump’s “presentation” was too incendiary, even for him. Now that the polls are neck and neck in the final days, I’m betting he’s kicking himself he didn’t throw in earlier with Trump.
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