Media Heavies Question ‘Pro-Israel’ Moniker

I understand that the J Street Project, which was launched officially only one month ago, is gathering supporters at a pretty good clip, and now its efforts to redefine what can be considered “pro-Israel” appear to be making some headway, at least in the two of this country’s most influential daily newspapers. Last week, Jeremy Ben-Ami, the group’s founder and director, published a strong essay in the “Outlook” section of the Washington Post entitled “Myths on Who’s Really Pro-Israel.” And Sunday’s “Week in Review” section in the New York Times provided two offerings that raised precisely the same question, the first by Tom Friedman, entitled “Obama and the Jews”, and a much more powerful piece by Atlantic correspondent and New Yorker contributor Jeffrey Goldberg whose partiality toward Israel was made clear, among other things, by his service in its army. Goldberg’s piece is a passionate indictment of the major national Jewish organizations, particularly the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and AIPAC, essentially for confusing being pro-Israel with being pro-settlement, or, in his words:

“So why won’t American leaders push Israel [toward dismantling the settlements] publicly? Or, more to the point, why do presidential candidates dance so delicately around this question? The answer is obvious: the leadership of the organized American Jewish community has allowed the partisans of settlement to conflate support for the colonization of the West Bank with support for Israel itself. …

“The people of AIPAC and the Conference of Presidents are well meaning, and their work in strengthening the overall relationship between America and Israel has ensured them a place in the world to come. But what’s needed now is a radical rethinking of what it means to be pro-Israel.”

While, unfortunately, neither Goldberg, whose recent interview of Barack Obama no doubt helped inspire his Times op-ed, nor Friedman mentioned J Street in their articles, their arguments are entirely consistent with the new group’s mission, and are indicative, I believe, of a growing ferment within the Jewish community over whether its Likud-leaning organized leadership is really promoting Israel’s best interests and the chances of its long-term survival. (I think the growing media attention to key backers, such as Sheldon Adelson, of the Republican Jewish Coalition and Freedom’s Watch, is contributing to this ferment.)

Now that both the Post and the Times have seen fit to publish essays that argue persuasively that the phrase “pro-Israel” that have reflexively attached to groups like AIPAC and the Conference of Presidents and even the far-right Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), perhaps they will employ the phrase more judiciously in their news reporting. Or is that too much to hope for?

Visit for the latest news analysis and commentary from Inter Press News Service’s Washington bureau chief Jim Lobe.

Don’t Miss This Conference!

I am honored to be returning as a speaker to the second annual Future of Freedom Foundation conference on foreign policy and civil liberties, which takes place June 6 through June 8 at the Hyatt Regency Reston in Reston, Virginia, and, as last year, features a fantastic array of speakers.

Last year’s conference was tied for my favorite libertarian event of all time. This year’s gathering promises to be just as good, if not better. Libertarians, conservatives, and liberals alike will address empire, surveillance, torture, constitutional civil liberties, and all the other preeminent issues relating to U.S. war policy. The content will be timely but also timeless, as these issues cut right to the heart of what type of society we live in. I can hardly wait to hear another three days’ worth of stimulating talks on the history, economics, law, philosophy, and politics of American foreign policy and its implications for freedom, prosperity, and international peace.

At a time like this, when the very basis of civilization is at stake, it is crucial that we get together, listen to each other, and help to build a big-tent movement dedicated to restoring the fundamental precepts of our constitutional structure and reversing America’s century-old and accelerating course toward despotism and global hegemony. The stakes are unspeakably high.

When so much of American political life is caught up in meaningless distractions and petty diversions — just witness the presidential campaign for an infinite barrage of examples — and a disastrous imperial consensus continues to dominate both parties and much of the mainstream media, we need nothing more than patriotic and moral leadership focused on the true issues of the day and the current policies’ dire consequences for Americans and foreigners alike. Just as much, we need authoritative and mindful voices to show there is another way.

It is beyond encouraging, then, that FFF has once again managed to put together such a prestigious lineup of journalists, economists, historians, and attorneys on the front lines of the struggle for liberty and against the depredations of the war on terror and imperial executive.

Returning this year will be James Bovard, Karen Kwiatkowski, Joseph Margulies, Justin Raimondo, Sheldon Richman, Lew Rockwell, Robert Higgs, Joanne Mariner, Bart Frazier, Jacob Hornberger, Ron Paul, and Laurence Vance. Marguiles and Mariner are two of the greatest voices and legal minds on civil liberties, and their experience in attempting to restore humanity and the rule of law to the federal government’s anti-terrorist detention policies will surely make for excellent and emotionally stirring talks, as was the case last year. As for the rest, I’m sure most readers recognize their names from their important writings, and perhaps from their outstanding talks last year. They continue to be among my great heroes of the libertarian movement, but I will not go into the very long process here of explaining the details. Suffice it to say if you were to look at my bookcase of favorites, you would see titles by Bovard, Richman, Raimondo, Rockwell, Higgs, Vance, and Paul, and I always make sure to read their articles, along with Kwiatkowski’s, Hornberger’s, and Frazier’s, whenever I see them.

Joining us this year for the first time, from the left, will be the brilliant civil liberties expert Glenn Greenwald, the wonderful anti-imperialist writer Stephen Kinzer, and the indispensable and iconoclastic journalist Alexander Cockburn. The venerable professors Andrew Bacevich and Jonathan Turley, and constitutional expert Bruce Fein, will surely bring the crucial conservative perspective of prudence and moral clarity to the questions of America’s decadent and neo-Wilsonian empire. To round out the panel, the sagacious economist and libertarian writer David Henderson will provide some much-needed economic sense to the questions of war and peace, at this time when so many Americans still don’t see the connection between militarism and wealth destruction. I have found the work of all of these people’s invaluable in my research and efforts to keep up with the news.

I expect my talk will be decent, too, and yet it’s difficult to pitch my credentials when put beside such an overwhelming list of heroes and intellects.

This is not a conference you want to miss. The intellectual sophistication (including that of the attendees!), the friendly atmosphere, the whiff of revolution in the air — this will be an amazing opportunity to share ideas, reflect honestly and thoughtfully on the great national crisis before us, and contemplate the future restoration of liberty and peace to the United States. It will be an incredible time of serious discourse, ecumenical solidarity, and great food. The Hyatt was a beautiful location last year, and I am delighted we will be returning there this year.

If you want to know what’s ailing our fading republic and also want an unforgettable experience of hopefulness and elucidation, you should certainly plan to be there.

Terrorist Cabal on Potomac?

I don’t know for sure that those two were with Hezbollah – or maybe Hamas – but you can’t be too careful in an area perfect for launching kayak attacks on the DC bridges. Unless of course the kayakers drowned before getting that far (as often happens in the Potomac above Washington).

Seems like half the people that throng near this vantage point speak foreign languages. I recognized an Iranian there recently – he was doubly suspicious, since he’s also on an Home Owners Association board. Bound to be some people passing through this area who are already listed on the Terrorist Watch List. Almost none of the cars in the nearby parking lot had yellow “Support Our Troops” stickers.

Where is Homeland Security Czar Mike Chertoff when you need him???

The above photo works better in the full size version here.

Ellsberg’s Excellent Memoirs

I should have read Daniel Ellsberg’s excellent memoirs – SECRETS: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers – long ago. But better late than never.

Here is the lead of a piece I did on the book for the new issue of Freedom Daily :

Daniel Ellsberg is the kind of American who should receive a Medal of Freedom. Except that the Medals of Freedom are distributed by presidents who routinely give them to “useful idiots” and apologists for their wars and power grabs. It should be renamed the Medal for Enabling or Applauding Official Crimes in the Name of Freedom.

Ellsberg knowingly risked spending a life in prison to bring the truth about the Vietnam War to Americans. He had hoped truth would set Americans free from the spell of official lies. But the experience in Iraq indicates that Americans have learned little if anything from the Vietnam-era deceits.

(The Future of Freedom Foundation puts the full text of Freedom Daily articles online a few months after the print/email version appears).

Antiwar Conference in Reston, VA: June 6-8

Come to the wonderful Future of Freedom Foundation conference this June, 6-8, at the Hyatt in Reston Virginia. Here’s my article today discussing why I’m excited. readers will find the slate of 20 speakers rather impressive, including such regular and featured writers as Justin Raimondo, David Henderson, Ron Paul, Andrew J. Bacevich, Glenn Greenwald, James Bovard, Karen Kwiatkowski, Alexander Cockburn, Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr., Robert Higgs, Jacob G. Hornberger, Laurence Vance and me. The rest of the list is as impressive. Go here for details, including registration info.