Analysis: Why did Rosenberg leave MMFA?
Dershowitz: I have won this issue. Rosenberg has been fired... the campaign has succeeded.
An Israeli official seen walking on AIPAC's stage. Photo: JASON EED / REUTERS
The departure of former Media Matters for America fellow M.J. Rosenberg electrified the blogosphere and many news outlets over the last few weeks in the United States because of the sudden departure of the writer who had been engulfed in an alleged anti-Israel scandal.
The Jerusalem Post interviewed a top US Mideast expert and a popular conservative US blogger about Rosenberg’s separation of employment from MMFA.
While Rosenberg denies that MMFA discharged him because of his alleged use of anti-Israel rhetoric, critics argue that his tirades against Jewish and non-Jewish supporters of Israel, including the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), became an out-of-control hot potato for the Obama administration. MMFA is considered to be a pro-Democratic party and pro-Obama media watchdog organization, leading to suggestions that the liberal group sought to avoid damage to Obama’s reelection campaign and to prevent alienating pro- Israel Democrats.
The Harvard Law professor and pro-Israel advocate Alan Dershowitz told Aaron Klein’s WABC Radio show on Sunday, “I have won this issue. Rosenberg has been fired. He’s no longer with Media Matters. As far as I am concerned the campaign has succeeded.”
Dershowitz, a Democratic party heavyweight who supported Obama?s first presidential election, announced a campaign in late February to force MMFA to dismiss Rosenberg. Ben Smith,the editor of BuzzFeed in New York, reported on Klein's interview with Dershowitz and first exposed the anti-Israel allegations against MMFA in December.
Rosenberg generated widespread criticism for his use of extremist rhetoric for US supporters of Israel. He embraced the phrase “Israel firster” to denigrate advocates of Israel’s security as prioritizing the interests of the Jewish state over those of the US. White supremacists and American neo-Nazis also use the terminology “Israel firster” to stoke hatred of Jews and Israel.
In an email to the Post on Monday, Josh Block, a Democratic political consultant and Middle East policy expert, wrote, “The calls for transparency and accountability are growing and not going away. They know that, and M.J. Rosenberg understood that, and his departure was an effort to avoid that very discussion. The real unanswered question for Media Matters is who hired that crank in the first place, knowing full well what bile he was peddling, and who made the decision to turn the organization in such a radicalized, hateful direction?” Block served as a spokesman for AIPAC and the Clinton administration.
Rosenberg, a former AIPAC staffer who has been sidelined by Washington’s bipartisan political establishment because of his alleged anti-Israel positions, declined to respond to a Post email query.
Jeff Dunetz, the editor-in-chief of the pro-Israel blog “Yid With Lid” and writer for the late Andrew Breitbart’s website Big Journalism, wrote the Post on Monday by email: “Rosenberg still clings to the story that he wasn’t fired, he quit. And there is no evidence that he was fired. However if he did leave on his own he may be the first person in history to quit a $129,568 salary per year job in a rotten economy just because he wanted to start a blog. I believe MJ Rosenberg was hired by MMFA at the request of the White House.”
Dunetz continued that “After all his role had nothing to do with the MMFA ‘mission.’ Rosenberg wrote about Middle East policy only, as opposed to the rest of the organization which focuses on media coverage of policy. We know that Media Matters was coordinating with the White House on many issues. They hired Rosenberg at a time when important domestic issues were dominating the headlines. Obama’s relationship with Israel was only intermittently covered outside the Jewish Community and not anywhere near to the extent of those Domestic issues, but no single-issue Senior staff was hired to comment or publicly lobby for the President’s positions on the other issues such as health care or energy policy.”
Other bloggers and writers accused Rosenberg of being a “Jewish anti- Semite.” Writing on the website of Big Journalism, Ben Shapiro noted “Anti- Semitic Senior Foreign Policy Fellow M.J. Rosenberg is leaving far-left, Obama-connected Media Matters for America.”
The popular Israeli blogger, Carl in Jerusalem , wrote on his website Israel Matzav, that a video exposing Rosenberg’s hate speech played a decisive role in his termination. “In an earlier post, I reported that Jewish anti-Semite M.J. Rosenberg is leaving Media Matters. You didn’t really think he was leaving voluntarily, did you? According to an anonymous tipster, this video, entitled ‘Who said it, Media Matters or white supremacists?’ is what got MJ fired,” wrote Carl.
A production video showing parallels between statements from M.J. Rosenberg and American neo-Nazis and white supremacists surfaced online in April.
According to Post sources, the anti- MMFA and Rosenberg video was sent to MMFA and viewed by Rosenberg’s former employer. It is unclear who produced the video.
The two minute and 41 second video shows footage of American neo-Nazis
claiming Washington is controlled by the “Jewish lobby” with a television interview from Rosenberg, arguing that a pro-Israel group is trying to “intimidate congress.”
Multiple Post email queries and telephone calls to Media Matters executive vice president Ari Rabin-Havt and spokesperson Jess Levin were not returned.
In a follow-up to his resignation letter on the MMFA website, Rosenberg wrote in an April 7 Huffington Post article, “A day after leaving Media Matters for America, I feel a need for an explanation beyond what I posted at the MMFA site. It was provoked by all the right-wing ‘pro-Israel’ types who don’t believe I quit and insist I was fired because I attacked the dual holy of holies: Israeli government policies and the Israel lobby.”
He added: “They are wrong. I left on my own, despite the protestations of MMFA management. But, in a way, the right-wingers are correct. I left MMFA because I did not want an organization that does such great work exposing Fox News and bringing down Glenn Beck and now leading the anti-Limbaugh effort to be hurt because of my stands on the Middle East.”
Though Rosenberg announced his departure from MMFA, subscribers to his email on his website are directed to “Foreign Policy Matters.” MMFA representatives Rabin-Havt and Levin declined to comment on the connection between Rosenberg’s email direction list and the Foreign Policy Matters section of the organization.