A senior employee of the US think tank Center for American Progress (CAP)
appears to have admitted in an e-mail sent from his CAP account that a blogger
for the policy organization used anti-Semitic language to attack supporters of
the Jewish state.
CAP advises the Democratic Party on Middle East policy
and is an important source of ideas for the Obama administration.
NGOs slam ‘anti-Semitic’ US think tank comments
Bloggers drag US think tank into scandal
Jerusalem Post last week obtained the first CAP acknowledgment of Jew-hatred
stemming from a group of Mideast bloggers affiliated with CAP’s ThinkProgress
In the e-mail that the Post obtained exclusively from the CAP
account of Faiz Shakir, who serves as editor-in-chief of the ThinkProgress.org
website and is a vice president at CAP, he wrote, “Yes, I agree ‘Israel Firster’
is terrible, anti-Semitic language. And that’s why that language no longer
exists on Zaid’s personal twitter feed, because he also knows and understands
Zaid Jilani wrote on his Twitter account, where he
identifies himself as a “Reporter-Blogger for ThinkProgress,” that
“...Obama is still beloved by Israel-firsters and getting lots of their
The e-mail recognizing the anti-Semitism of a CAP blogger was sent
from FShakir@americanprogress.org in December.
Israeli NGOs accused a faction of ThinkProgress bloggers that month of stoking
modern anti-Semitism. The anti-Israel scandal saw two CAP writers, Jilani and
Ali Gharib, issue apologies for asserting that American Jews and a non-Jewish
Republican senator serve the interests of the Israeli government over the
security of the United States.
Speaking with the Post from Washington on
Thursday, Shakir declined to comment on the e-mail from his account.
did not respond to a followup Post e-mail sent on Friday.
In a lengthy
article on Friday on the Daily Beast news website, Ken Gude, the managing
director of CAP’s National Security and International Policy Program, denied any
anti-Semitism or anti-Israelism at CAP. He told the Daily Beast that the
allegations were “wildly unfair” and “flatly untrue.”
The Post sent an
e-mail to Gude on Friday citing the quote in question from the email that had
been sent from Shakir’s account. He did not respond to the Post e-mail or to a
follow-up telephone query.
Critics accuse CAP of failing to combat rising
anti-Israel sentiment among a group of bloggers who write about the Middle East
and have created an anti-Jewish state environment at the mainstream policy
organization. The e-mail conceding anti-Semitism at ThinkProgress underscores an
internal rift at the think tank.
CAP bloggers have attacked their
critics. The ThinkProgress blogger Ben Armbruster wrote an article last month
titled “The Secret, Coordinated Effort To Smear ThinkProgress As Anti-Semitic
He authored a second blog entry, “TAKE ACTION: Tell The
Washington Post To Retract Jen Rubin’s Charge That ThinkProgress Is
‘Anti-Semitic.’” Prof. Gerald Steinberg, president of the Jerusalem-based NGO
Monitor, told the Post last week, “Instead of playing the victim, CAP has an
obligation to implement concrete guidelines demonstrating that this language is
unacceptable and that it will not be used by CAP employees in the
When asked about NGO Monitor’s criticism of CAP and the Shakir
e-mail account statement, Andrea Purse, a CAP spokeswoman, declined to comment.
She wrote the Post last week that the articles in the Post were not helping “to
The attacks and their repetition here do a
disservice to all of us who fight for a strong US-Israel
In an e-mail to the Post last week, Matt Brooks, executive
director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, wrote, “The prominence of CAP in
the Obama administration has been recognized by news outlets like Time and
Bloomberg News, both of which describe the think tank as the president’s ‘Ideas
Factory.’ The fact that CAP has staffers who disseminate this kind of virulent,
poisonous anti-Israel material points to a serious problem – that there is a
strain of hostility toward Israel running through elements of the mainstream
Matt Duss, director for the Middle East at CAP,
compared Israel’s security policies to the racist “segregated South” in the
United States. Duss declined to respond to queries about this statement on the
ThinkProgress website. The disclosure of the e-mail from Shakir’s account comes
after a series of dire developments for CAP’s reputation, culminating in sharp
criticism from the Anti-Defamation League, American Jewish Committee and the
Simon Wiesenthal Center – all of which slammed CAP for promoting hatred of Jews
Brooks said that “Liberals and Democrats who value their
party’s reputation regarding national security and the US-Israel alliance have a
lot of work to do. Unfortunately, it appears that elements who would irreparably
damage that reputation have a foothold within an important mainstream Democratic
David A. Harris, president of the National Jewish
Democratic Council, wrote to the Post that “The words of these individuals [the
bloggers] are deeply disturbing, and they were right to apologize for their
remarks. However those who have not apologized for their remarks include Rep.
Allen West (R-FL), who invoked Joseph Goebbels to attack Democrats in December,
and far too many others on the right who have dragged abusive Holocaust rhetoric
into our political discourse in recent years.”
Harris said, “In truth,
neither the Left nor the Right has a monopoly on rhetoric that American Jews
rightly find disturbing – although through talk radio, presidential candidates
and members of Congress, the Right seems to be trying to corner the
Steinberg said “it is highly unfortunate when individuals and
organizations play politics with anti-Semitic rhetoric.
and saying that others are more anti- Semitic is a sad attempt to distract from
one’s own errors. This rhetoric adds to the destructive impact, and does
nothing to remove this language from the public discourse.”