Commentary Magazine


M.J. Rosenberg Out at Media Matters

Under pressure from the pro-Israel community, embattled former Media Matters for America fellow M.J. Rosenberg has finally parted ways with the left-wing media watchdog group. As Contentions has reported, Rosenberg was one of a handful of staffers at Democratic-affiliated Washington think tanks who used terms like “Israel-firster” and other dual-loyalty charges to attack Israel supporters and members of the Jewish community.

WFB’s Adam Kredo reports on Rosenberg’s resignation:

Months of public pressure and outrage from across the pro-Israel spectrum forced Media Matters for America staffer M.J. Rosenberg to tender his resignation Friday from the left-wing media watchdog group.

Rosenberg is the notorious proprietor of the term “Israel-firster,” a phrase with origins in the white supremacist movement that many consider anti-Semitic. During his tenure at MMFA, Rosenberg proudly used the term in his weekly columns and on his Twitter feed in an attempt to paint pro-Israel lawmakers and American Jews as being more loyal to the state of Israel than America.

In a final post titled, Last Media Matters Column, Rosenberg signed off by admitting that he had tarnished the liberal group’s image.

“The reason for this step is that it disturbed me greatly to see an organization to which I am devoted facing possible harm because of my critical writings about Israel,” he wrote. “I have no doubt that the crowd that opposes any and all criticism of Israeli government policies will continue to turn its guns on Media Matters if I am associated with it.”

Rosenberg maintains he wasn’t forced out, and says he chose to leave because he felt his position opened the organization up to attacks. Either way, the implication is that Rosenberg’s continued affiliation with MMFA was damaging its image. His decision is best for both sides. Rosenberg saves face by saying he left on his own accord, and MMFA gets rid of one of its biggest headaches.

A little credit for MMFA. Breaking with Rosenberg is an acknowledgement that the organization may want to move closer to the center on Israel issues. But that credit only goes so far – after all, MMFA still defended Rosenberg for months after Ben Smith first drew attention to his anti-Semitic, dual-loyalty slurs in a Politico article. There have been no public apologies from the organization, and there were no apparent attempts to rein in Rosenberg’s continued attacks on Israel supporters during the past several months. Instead, the two cut ties on the afternoon of the first night of Passover, which is kind of like making a public announcement at 5 p.m. on New Years Eve.

Well, good for Rosenberg, who will undoubtedly find fringier outlets to promote his anti-Semitic “Israel lobby” conspiracies. And better for Israel policy writers, who no longer have any obligation to write about or pay attention to him. But maybe it wouldn’t have had to end this way if Rosenberg and MMFA hadn’t taken the cowardly way out – if admissions of wrongdoing, or apologies were made. Instead, they cut ties as quietly and unrepentantly as possible. And by doing so, the organization will continue to carry a small mark of shame.