Commentary Magazine


Topic: board member

More J Street Donors Revealed

The Jerusalem Post has the latest on J Street’s unusual donors:

According to records filed with the US Federal Election Committee on October 20 and October 21, J Street recorded hundreds of donations from Americans of all sorts, most Jewish and some Muslim. But several names jumped out from the 2,100 pages.

Lenny Ben David, who wrote the item, mentions Genevieve Lynch, a member of the National Iranian American Council’s board.

Lynch, the NIAC board member and a member of J Street’s Finance Committee, is listed contributing $10,000 in October. At one point last year, J Street and NIAC leaders worked together to block anti-Iran sanctions measures proposed by Congress. Belatedly, J Street changed its position and supported sanctions.

Nancy Dutton earmarked last week $250 for the Democratic Senate candidate in Pennsylvania, Joe Sestak. Her late husband Fred served as a Saudi foreign agent in Washington for 30 years. (During the 1982 AWACS debate he was believed to be responsible for the line, “Reagan or Begin?” which strongly suggested American Jews’ double loyalty.)  After Fred’s death, Nancy picked up the pricey Saudi gig.

Oddly enough, the donors have a decidedly anti-Israel perspective:

Another new name on the J Street PAC’s list of contributors is  M. Cherif Bassiouni, a well-known professor of law at DePaul University. Bassiouni is also an unlikely candidate to contribute to a purported “pro-Israel” organization.  Several years ago he complained in an article in the Harvard International Law Journal, “A large segment of the world population asks why Israel’s repression of the Palestinian people, which includes the commission of ‘grave breaches’ of the Geneva Convention and what the customary law of armed conflict considers ‘war crimes,’ is deemed justified, while Palestinians’ unlawful acts of targeting civilians are condemned? These are only some contemporary examples of the double standard that fuels terrorism.”

Now, the jig has been up for some time that J Street allies itself with foes of the Jewish state. The latest is simply more evidence, as if any were needed, that J Street’s pro-Israel label is fraudulent and its sponsored candidates are those it perceives to be most helpful to its — and its allies’ — mission.

The Jerusalem Post has the latest on J Street’s unusual donors:

According to records filed with the US Federal Election Committee on October 20 and October 21, J Street recorded hundreds of donations from Americans of all sorts, most Jewish and some Muslim. But several names jumped out from the 2,100 pages.

Lenny Ben David, who wrote the item, mentions Genevieve Lynch, a member of the National Iranian American Council’s board.

Lynch, the NIAC board member and a member of J Street’s Finance Committee, is listed contributing $10,000 in October. At one point last year, J Street and NIAC leaders worked together to block anti-Iran sanctions measures proposed by Congress. Belatedly, J Street changed its position and supported sanctions.

Nancy Dutton earmarked last week $250 for the Democratic Senate candidate in Pennsylvania, Joe Sestak. Her late husband Fred served as a Saudi foreign agent in Washington for 30 years. (During the 1982 AWACS debate he was believed to be responsible for the line, “Reagan or Begin?” which strongly suggested American Jews’ double loyalty.)  After Fred’s death, Nancy picked up the pricey Saudi gig.

Oddly enough, the donors have a decidedly anti-Israel perspective:

Another new name on the J Street PAC’s list of contributors is  M. Cherif Bassiouni, a well-known professor of law at DePaul University. Bassiouni is also an unlikely candidate to contribute to a purported “pro-Israel” organization.  Several years ago he complained in an article in the Harvard International Law Journal, “A large segment of the world population asks why Israel’s repression of the Palestinian people, which includes the commission of ‘grave breaches’ of the Geneva Convention and what the customary law of armed conflict considers ‘war crimes,’ is deemed justified, while Palestinians’ unlawful acts of targeting civilians are condemned? These are only some contemporary examples of the double standard that fuels terrorism.”

Now, the jig has been up for some time that J Street allies itself with foes of the Jewish state. The latest is simply more evidence, as if any were needed, that J Street’s pro-Israel label is fraudulent and its sponsored candidates are those it perceives to be most helpful to its — and its allies’ — mission.

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A Friend on a Friend

Bret Stephens, our valued contributor and Wall Street Journal columnist, has a wonderful profile in the new Philanthropy of Roger Hertog, a longtime COMMENTARY board member. Bret’s portrait of Roger Hertog’s classic American story — from a one-bedroom apartment in the Bronx to City College and then into an improbable career as a full-time banker and passionate Muse of intellectual causes, ideas, and institutions — is brilliantly done. Perhaps most interesting, given the tenor of the times, is that Roger Hertog’s professional career was largely spent at an investment bank that prided itself on its scrupulous treatment of its clients and rigorously impartial research that ensured no conflicts of interest arose between the bank’s bottom line and the furtherance of the goals of those who had entrusted their money to it.

Among Hertog’s many projects are Jewish Ideas Daily, a website under the management of COMMENTARY’s former editor and now editor-at-large Neal Kozodoy, a peerless examination of intellectual, political, and cultural trends in Jewish life, and — just out with a sensational third issue — the Jewish Review of Books. Its editor, Abe Socher, has a terrific piece on the Lubavitch movement, and there are sterling contributions by the literary critic Ruth Franklin (which you can only read by subscribing, and you should), and the historians Anthony Grafton and Jon D. Levenson.

Roger Hertog was recently awarded the William E. Simon Prize from the Philanthropy Roundtable. In his acceptance speech, he explained his expansive view of the role of philanthropy in the furtherance of ideas:

At 68 years of age, in the final chapter of my life, my full-time occupation is investing in the world of ideas.   It is hard work — requiring the same creativity, judgment, and strategic sense that were necessary in business. My governing purpose is to find, support, and hopefully influence the next generation of leaders, be it in politics, the academy, history, religion, or national security.  [There must be] the willingness to speculate.  To take chances of making a mistake.  There’s irony in the fact that most entrepreneurs make their money by taking risks – betting on what they believe in, even though they may be wrong.  Then, when they become philanthropists, they forget what sparked their success in the first place.  They become too risk-averse.

My greatest worry, however, is that conservatives like me haven’t invested enough time, energy and treasure in the many spaces where young minds – and even more mature adults — are influenced.  History teaches that political philosophers, both when they’re right and when they’re wrong, have more impact on the way the world goes than is commonly understood.  Over time, the world is often shaped by the greatest thoughts—or most destructive theories—of the most powerful minds. But even the greatest minds begin life as young people. They need mentors. They need teachers. They need to be introduced to bodies of thought and worlds of ideas that might enable them to become great thinkers themselves.

This job—the education of the young—should reside with the universities.  Every single year, the smartest, most capable young men and women – those who will be the leaders of the next generation – are to be found at the top hundred or so campuses around the country. One only needs to check on where our Congressmen, Senators, Supreme Court Justices, Cabinet members, and business and religious leaders have studied or taught.  Then you recognize why the top universities are so important.

The teachers at those places are the arbiters, maybe not the final arbiters, of what our children learn and believe.  If their teaching is one sided, in either direction, it does a tremendous disservice to these young men and women. Unless we populate the humanities with an alternative to the ascendant ideology, conservative ideas about limited government, rule of law, individual liberty and the role of religion will over time lose out. This doesn’t mean we should indulge in indoctrination.  That shouldn’t be necessary!  If we can simply get our ideas on the table, we’ll win our fair share of minds….If educational programs are the essential long-term investment, think tanks, small magazines, books and other free-standing institutions are the best middle-term investment, especially if the aim is to develop and disseminate ideas. There are many good think tanks and magazines around the country, both left- and right-of-center.  They don’t usually have much overhead either. They’re all about ideas.

So is Roger Hertog.

Bret Stephens, our valued contributor and Wall Street Journal columnist, has a wonderful profile in the new Philanthropy of Roger Hertog, a longtime COMMENTARY board member. Bret’s portrait of Roger Hertog’s classic American story — from a one-bedroom apartment in the Bronx to City College and then into an improbable career as a full-time banker and passionate Muse of intellectual causes, ideas, and institutions — is brilliantly done. Perhaps most interesting, given the tenor of the times, is that Roger Hertog’s professional career was largely spent at an investment bank that prided itself on its scrupulous treatment of its clients and rigorously impartial research that ensured no conflicts of interest arose between the bank’s bottom line and the furtherance of the goals of those who had entrusted their money to it.

Among Hertog’s many projects are Jewish Ideas Daily, a website under the management of COMMENTARY’s former editor and now editor-at-large Neal Kozodoy, a peerless examination of intellectual, political, and cultural trends in Jewish life, and — just out with a sensational third issue — the Jewish Review of Books. Its editor, Abe Socher, has a terrific piece on the Lubavitch movement, and there are sterling contributions by the literary critic Ruth Franklin (which you can only read by subscribing, and you should), and the historians Anthony Grafton and Jon D. Levenson.

Roger Hertog was recently awarded the William E. Simon Prize from the Philanthropy Roundtable. In his acceptance speech, he explained his expansive view of the role of philanthropy in the furtherance of ideas:

At 68 years of age, in the final chapter of my life, my full-time occupation is investing in the world of ideas.   It is hard work — requiring the same creativity, judgment, and strategic sense that were necessary in business. My governing purpose is to find, support, and hopefully influence the next generation of leaders, be it in politics, the academy, history, religion, or national security.  [There must be] the willingness to speculate.  To take chances of making a mistake.  There’s irony in the fact that most entrepreneurs make their money by taking risks – betting on what they believe in, even though they may be wrong.  Then, when they become philanthropists, they forget what sparked their success in the first place.  They become too risk-averse.

My greatest worry, however, is that conservatives like me haven’t invested enough time, energy and treasure in the many spaces where young minds – and even more mature adults — are influenced.  History teaches that political philosophers, both when they’re right and when they’re wrong, have more impact on the way the world goes than is commonly understood.  Over time, the world is often shaped by the greatest thoughts—or most destructive theories—of the most powerful minds. But even the greatest minds begin life as young people. They need mentors. They need teachers. They need to be introduced to bodies of thought and worlds of ideas that might enable them to become great thinkers themselves.

This job—the education of the young—should reside with the universities.  Every single year, the smartest, most capable young men and women – those who will be the leaders of the next generation – are to be found at the top hundred or so campuses around the country. One only needs to check on where our Congressmen, Senators, Supreme Court Justices, Cabinet members, and business and religious leaders have studied or taught.  Then you recognize why the top universities are so important.

The teachers at those places are the arbiters, maybe not the final arbiters, of what our children learn and believe.  If their teaching is one sided, in either direction, it does a tremendous disservice to these young men and women. Unless we populate the humanities with an alternative to the ascendant ideology, conservative ideas about limited government, rule of law, individual liberty and the role of religion will over time lose out. This doesn’t mean we should indulge in indoctrination.  That shouldn’t be necessary!  If we can simply get our ideas on the table, we’ll win our fair share of minds….If educational programs are the essential long-term investment, think tanks, small magazines, books and other free-standing institutions are the best middle-term investment, especially if the aim is to develop and disseminate ideas. There are many good think tanks and magazines around the country, both left- and right-of-center.  They don’t usually have much overhead either. They’re all about ideas.

So is Roger Hertog.

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J Street Unmasked

It’s been a mystery: what sliver of the electorate is J Street representing? Where is the market for virulent left-wing, anti-Israel propaganda disguised as tough love? It is hard to believe there is a significant segment of American Jewry that this group represents. Actually, we now know that J Street, for all intents and purposes, represents the views and is a wholly owned subsidiary of one individual — George Soros, the gazillionaire who seems to think anti-Semitism is caused by pushy Jews. In 2003, JTA had this report:

“There is a resurgence of anti-Semitism in Europe. The policies of the Bush administration and the Sharon administration contribute to that,” Soros said. “It’s not specifically anti-Semitism, but it does manifest itself in anti-Semitism as well. I’m critical of those policies.”

“If we change that direction, then anti-Semitism also will diminish,” he said. “I can’t see how one could confront it directly.” That is a point made by Israel’s most vociferous critics, whom some Jewish activists charge with using anti-Zionism as a guise for anti-Semitism.

Eli Lake has the scoop. J Street is not so much a “group” as it is a front for Soros (shouldn’t it really be “Soros Street”?), who has funded J Street to the tune of $750,000 over a three-year period. Lake reminds us of Soros’s background:

Mr. Soros made billions as a hedge fund manager and currency speculator, founding the Quantum hedge fund that, until the early 1980s, was based in an offshore tax haven in the Dutch Antilles Islands. Both his business success and his subsequent charitable giving in support of favored political and social causes have made him a figure of immense controversy both in the United States and around the world.

One of the world’s wealthiest philanthropists, Mr. Soros gave initially gave money to support Eastern European dissidents at the end of the Cold War, particularly in his native Hungary, through the Open Society Institute.

But during the George W. Bush administration, Mr. Soros stepped up his funding of more partisan liberal organizations in the United States, including MoveOn.org and Media Matters for America. He has also strongly criticized U.S. policies regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including the Bush administration’ decision in 2007 not to recognize a Palestinian unity government that included the militant Islamist Hamas movement.

So if Soros Street’s line bears an uncanny resemblance to that of Israel’s enemies, you know why.

Soros’s underwriting of the faux pro-Israel group, as Michael Goldfarb aptly documents, directly contradicts the repeated representations of Soros’s executive director, Jeremy Ben Ami, and J Street’s own website. Ben Ami was quickly out spinning that he hadn’t really lied because … well, the explanation is less convincing than “It depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is.” The usually sympathetic Ron Kampeas wasn’t buying it:

In the “Myths and Facts” section of its website, J Street denied the “myth” that Soros “founded and is the primary funder of J Street” as follows: “George Soros did not found J Street. In fact, George Soros very publicly stated his decision not to be engaged in J Street when it was launched – precisely out of fear that his involvement would be used against the organization. J Street’s Executive Director has stated many times that he would in fact be very pleased to have funding from Mr. Soros and the offer remains open to him to be a funder should he wish to support the effort.”

In an interview, Ben-Ami denied that the conditional tense of the last sentence, and saying that an offer “remains open” leaves little room to infer Soros had given the group any money. He insisted that the characterization was truthful. “This was not founded by him, he didn’t provide initial funding,” he said. “I stand by the way that is phrased — I still want him to support us more.”

However, in an interview with Moment Magazine in March of this year, Ben-Ami was even more direct in his denial: “We got tagged as having his support, without the benefit of actually getting funded!”

Ben-Ami said J Street’s board kept contributions secret as a matter of policy, but that it was also his understanding that Soros continued to prefer to keep his funding off the record.

It was his policy, you see, to lie.

Even odder, about half of Soros Street’s money comes from a mysterious woman from Hong Kong (you can’t make this stuff up). She may be involved in the gambling biz:

The group’s 990 forms … show the group’s single largest contribution, in the odd sum of $811,697 coming from one Consolacion Ediscul of Happy Valley, a Hong Kong suburb. Ediscul, whose name is Filipino, has no presence on Google or Nexis aside from this story, and people I spoke to in Jewish groups left and right had never heard of her.

It is, to say the least, unusual that a group would get half its budget from a foreigner doing a favor to a business associate.

She is “an associate” of a J Street board member, Bill Benter. The connection? “Happy Valley is the site of a major racetrack, and Benter is “regarded by many of his peers as the most successful sports bettor in the world.”

To be clear, J Street repeatedly has misrepresented its source of funding and is largely supported by a Hong Kong national and a gazillionaire with known anti-Semitic views. Isn’t it about time that J Street stopped being treated as a legitimate “pro-Israel” group? Frankly, any lawmaker who has accepted funding or support should give it back and in the future steer clear of Soros Street.

It’s been a mystery: what sliver of the electorate is J Street representing? Where is the market for virulent left-wing, anti-Israel propaganda disguised as tough love? It is hard to believe there is a significant segment of American Jewry that this group represents. Actually, we now know that J Street, for all intents and purposes, represents the views and is a wholly owned subsidiary of one individual — George Soros, the gazillionaire who seems to think anti-Semitism is caused by pushy Jews. In 2003, JTA had this report:

“There is a resurgence of anti-Semitism in Europe. The policies of the Bush administration and the Sharon administration contribute to that,” Soros said. “It’s not specifically anti-Semitism, but it does manifest itself in anti-Semitism as well. I’m critical of those policies.”

“If we change that direction, then anti-Semitism also will diminish,” he said. “I can’t see how one could confront it directly.” That is a point made by Israel’s most vociferous critics, whom some Jewish activists charge with using anti-Zionism as a guise for anti-Semitism.

Eli Lake has the scoop. J Street is not so much a “group” as it is a front for Soros (shouldn’t it really be “Soros Street”?), who has funded J Street to the tune of $750,000 over a three-year period. Lake reminds us of Soros’s background:

Mr. Soros made billions as a hedge fund manager and currency speculator, founding the Quantum hedge fund that, until the early 1980s, was based in an offshore tax haven in the Dutch Antilles Islands. Both his business success and his subsequent charitable giving in support of favored political and social causes have made him a figure of immense controversy both in the United States and around the world.

One of the world’s wealthiest philanthropists, Mr. Soros gave initially gave money to support Eastern European dissidents at the end of the Cold War, particularly in his native Hungary, through the Open Society Institute.

But during the George W. Bush administration, Mr. Soros stepped up his funding of more partisan liberal organizations in the United States, including MoveOn.org and Media Matters for America. He has also strongly criticized U.S. policies regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including the Bush administration’ decision in 2007 not to recognize a Palestinian unity government that included the militant Islamist Hamas movement.

So if Soros Street’s line bears an uncanny resemblance to that of Israel’s enemies, you know why.

Soros’s underwriting of the faux pro-Israel group, as Michael Goldfarb aptly documents, directly contradicts the repeated representations of Soros’s executive director, Jeremy Ben Ami, and J Street’s own website. Ben Ami was quickly out spinning that he hadn’t really lied because … well, the explanation is less convincing than “It depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is.” The usually sympathetic Ron Kampeas wasn’t buying it:

In the “Myths and Facts” section of its website, J Street denied the “myth” that Soros “founded and is the primary funder of J Street” as follows: “George Soros did not found J Street. In fact, George Soros very publicly stated his decision not to be engaged in J Street when it was launched – precisely out of fear that his involvement would be used against the organization. J Street’s Executive Director has stated many times that he would in fact be very pleased to have funding from Mr. Soros and the offer remains open to him to be a funder should he wish to support the effort.”

In an interview, Ben-Ami denied that the conditional tense of the last sentence, and saying that an offer “remains open” leaves little room to infer Soros had given the group any money. He insisted that the characterization was truthful. “This was not founded by him, he didn’t provide initial funding,” he said. “I stand by the way that is phrased — I still want him to support us more.”

However, in an interview with Moment Magazine in March of this year, Ben-Ami was even more direct in his denial: “We got tagged as having his support, without the benefit of actually getting funded!”

Ben-Ami said J Street’s board kept contributions secret as a matter of policy, but that it was also his understanding that Soros continued to prefer to keep his funding off the record.

It was his policy, you see, to lie.

Even odder, about half of Soros Street’s money comes from a mysterious woman from Hong Kong (you can’t make this stuff up). She may be involved in the gambling biz:

The group’s 990 forms … show the group’s single largest contribution, in the odd sum of $811,697 coming from one Consolacion Ediscul of Happy Valley, a Hong Kong suburb. Ediscul, whose name is Filipino, has no presence on Google or Nexis aside from this story, and people I spoke to in Jewish groups left and right had never heard of her.

It is, to say the least, unusual that a group would get half its budget from a foreigner doing a favor to a business associate.

She is “an associate” of a J Street board member, Bill Benter. The connection? “Happy Valley is the site of a major racetrack, and Benter is “regarded by many of his peers as the most successful sports bettor in the world.”

To be clear, J Street repeatedly has misrepresented its source of funding and is largely supported by a Hong Kong national and a gazillionaire with known anti-Semitic views. Isn’t it about time that J Street stopped being treated as a legitimate “pro-Israel” group? Frankly, any lawmaker who has accepted funding or support should give it back and in the future steer clear of Soros Street.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Bill Clinton sounds like he swallowed a eugenics textbook. “[T]he most delicious part of that [slur on the Russian immigrants to Israel] performance was his extraordinary—no, his fantastical, his risible, his marvelously ludicrous—foray into sociology, with the ranking of Israelis’ attitudes toward peace according to their national origins.” Yup, it sure was a “spurious, illiterate, and really amazingly racist lesson in Israeli politics.”

But it sounds like he has an excuse: a protein deficiency. But even if he had a chicken leg now and then, I suspect he’d still say dumb things.

Rush Holt sounds like an AIPAC board member. The Emergency Committee for Israel ( whaich ran ads against him) sure does get results.

Nancy Pelosi sounds loopier than usual. “The momentum is with us.” And what’s with the Evita Peron pose?

Eliot Spitzer sounds like he’s peddling himself as a guru to “the dirtiest, nastiest” politicians. He’s found his niche.

Obama sounds like he’s got a plan to flee the midterm election recriminations. He will finally get to Indonesia — in November.

Chris Christie sounds like he’s an overachiever. “Part of Gov. Chris Christie’s belt-tightening plan for New Jersey was the termination of $7.5 million in public funding for Planned Parenthood clinics in the state.” He says he’s not interested in running for president, but that’s what Obama said in 2006. (It doesn’t get much better than this.)

Independents sound like Republicans these days. “In an Associated Press-GfK Poll this month, 58 percent of independents and 60 percent of Republicans said politics is making them angry, compared with 31 percent of Democrats who said so. … The figures are the latest cautionary note for Democrats, who face a Nov. 2 Election Day in which the sluggish economy and President Barack Obama’s tepid popularity give Republicans a strong chance to capture control of the House and perhaps the Senate. They also help explain why independents, who can be pivotal in many congressional races, prefer their GOP candidate over the Democrat by 52 percent to 36 percent — which grows to 62 percent to 29 percent among independents considered likeliest to vote.” Wait — 62 percent?!

Bill Clinton sounds like he swallowed a eugenics textbook. “[T]he most delicious part of that [slur on the Russian immigrants to Israel] performance was his extraordinary—no, his fantastical, his risible, his marvelously ludicrous—foray into sociology, with the ranking of Israelis’ attitudes toward peace according to their national origins.” Yup, it sure was a “spurious, illiterate, and really amazingly racist lesson in Israeli politics.”

But it sounds like he has an excuse: a protein deficiency. But even if he had a chicken leg now and then, I suspect he’d still say dumb things.

Rush Holt sounds like an AIPAC board member. The Emergency Committee for Israel ( whaich ran ads against him) sure does get results.

Nancy Pelosi sounds loopier than usual. “The momentum is with us.” And what’s with the Evita Peron pose?

Eliot Spitzer sounds like he’s peddling himself as a guru to “the dirtiest, nastiest” politicians. He’s found his niche.

Obama sounds like he’s got a plan to flee the midterm election recriminations. He will finally get to Indonesia — in November.

Chris Christie sounds like he’s an overachiever. “Part of Gov. Chris Christie’s belt-tightening plan for New Jersey was the termination of $7.5 million in public funding for Planned Parenthood clinics in the state.” He says he’s not interested in running for president, but that’s what Obama said in 2006. (It doesn’t get much better than this.)

Independents sound like Republicans these days. “In an Associated Press-GfK Poll this month, 58 percent of independents and 60 percent of Republicans said politics is making them angry, compared with 31 percent of Democrats who said so. … The figures are the latest cautionary note for Democrats, who face a Nov. 2 Election Day in which the sluggish economy and President Barack Obama’s tepid popularity give Republicans a strong chance to capture control of the House and perhaps the Senate. They also help explain why independents, who can be pivotal in many congressional races, prefer their GOP candidate over the Democrat by 52 percent to 36 percent — which grows to 62 percent to 29 percent among independents considered likeliest to vote.” Wait — 62 percent?!

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RE: True Friends of Israel

Jeffrey Goldberg attended the Friends of Israel Initiative dinner. Good for him. However, his comments at the dinner and his posting afterward leave something to be desired.

First, he writes:

In my brief remarks at the dinner, I mentioned a prime strategy of the Israel-denial movement, which is to convince self-defined liberals and leftists that Zionism is incompatible with their understanding of the world. I hope Aznar’s group does a more vigorous job of recruiting pro-Israel leftists to its ranks (one of the organization’s high muckety-mucks jokingly suggested Fidel Castro as a board member), because this is a prime worry of mine, that the most liberal country in the Middle East is being abandoned by people who should be its natural allies.

Well I’m glad he’s come clean that the problem is on the left, but let’s be clear: the Israel-denial movement isn’t out to convince leftists — they are leftists. European socialists, the J Street gang, the signers of the Gaza 54 letter, the anti-Semites on U.S. campuses — the list goes on, and they all reside on the left. So let’s give up the fiction that the left is composed of innocents seduced by some shady delegitimizers. They are the delegitimizers.

Goldberg observes that Israel “is the safest and best place in the Middle East to be, among other things, a woman, a gay person, a journalist, and a dissident.” Yet he doesn’t quite get to the nub of the matter: the left’s usual sympathy for all these sorts of people suddenly and uniquely is muted when the Jewish state is involved. That’s more than anti-Israel sentiment; it’s anti-Semitism. Israel’s good deeds are unworthy of respect because, well, it’s the Jewish state. It is painfully obvious that Goldberg, as he is wont to do, pulls his punches with those on the left. For to go down that road would place him alongside the dreaded neocons, whom he routinely scorns.

Second, if the aim here is to rebuff the left, which routinely denies Israel the right to defend and investigate itself and cheers international bodies (like the UN) that excoriate the Jewish state, then why is Goldberg so enamored of J Street? It can’t have escaped his notice that the J Street gang was instrumental in drafting Richard Goldstone’s defense or that they cheer our participation in the UNHRC. Goldberg could certainly do something constructive by delivering the same speech he gave to the Friends of Israel to J Streeters.

Listen, any support for the Friends of Israel Initiative should be applauded. But if well-meaning liberals really want to help, they will clean their own house and stop soft-peddling criticism of the very people who scorn the diluted support afforded to the Jewish state by groups like this one.

Jeffrey Goldberg attended the Friends of Israel Initiative dinner. Good for him. However, his comments at the dinner and his posting afterward leave something to be desired.

First, he writes:

In my brief remarks at the dinner, I mentioned a prime strategy of the Israel-denial movement, which is to convince self-defined liberals and leftists that Zionism is incompatible with their understanding of the world. I hope Aznar’s group does a more vigorous job of recruiting pro-Israel leftists to its ranks (one of the organization’s high muckety-mucks jokingly suggested Fidel Castro as a board member), because this is a prime worry of mine, that the most liberal country in the Middle East is being abandoned by people who should be its natural allies.

Well I’m glad he’s come clean that the problem is on the left, but let’s be clear: the Israel-denial movement isn’t out to convince leftists — they are leftists. European socialists, the J Street gang, the signers of the Gaza 54 letter, the anti-Semites on U.S. campuses — the list goes on, and they all reside on the left. So let’s give up the fiction that the left is composed of innocents seduced by some shady delegitimizers. They are the delegitimizers.

Goldberg observes that Israel “is the safest and best place in the Middle East to be, among other things, a woman, a gay person, a journalist, and a dissident.” Yet he doesn’t quite get to the nub of the matter: the left’s usual sympathy for all these sorts of people suddenly and uniquely is muted when the Jewish state is involved. That’s more than anti-Israel sentiment; it’s anti-Semitism. Israel’s good deeds are unworthy of respect because, well, it’s the Jewish state. It is painfully obvious that Goldberg, as he is wont to do, pulls his punches with those on the left. For to go down that road would place him alongside the dreaded neocons, whom he routinely scorns.

Second, if the aim here is to rebuff the left, which routinely denies Israel the right to defend and investigate itself and cheers international bodies (like the UN) that excoriate the Jewish state, then why is Goldberg so enamored of J Street? It can’t have escaped his notice that the J Street gang was instrumental in drafting Richard Goldstone’s defense or that they cheer our participation in the UNHRC. Goldberg could certainly do something constructive by delivering the same speech he gave to the Friends of Israel to J Streeters.

Listen, any support for the Friends of Israel Initiative should be applauded. But if well-meaning liberals really want to help, they will clean their own house and stop soft-peddling criticism of the very people who scorn the diluted support afforded to the Jewish state by groups like this one.

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Touchy, Touchy

The J Street gang has set up a “microsite” (a website with an itty-bitty following?) to attack the Emergency Committee for Israel. ECI board member Bill Kristol’s response: “I don’t WANT to speak for them!” Really, it’s a silly catchphrase. ECI is speaking for those friends of Israel who don’t buy into the notion that Israel-bashing is a pro-Israel activity. The real question is: whom does J Street speak for?

The site is revealing nevertheless. J Street’s purpose at the outset was to serve as an alternative to AIPAC (which takes wacky positions like defending Israel against the Goldstone Report, urging the administration to stop picking public fights with Israel, and reminding the public that settlements are a final-status question). J Street has been from the get-go and remains an anti-pro-Israel group with no significant constituency. Now it’s faced with an administration that has in effect rejected J Street’s advice (e.g., no preconditions for talks) and the likelihood that their highest profile endorsee, Joe Sestak, will not only be defeated but be damaged by the J Street association.

J Street’s problem is that its message (when not trying to water it down and make it indistinguishable from that of ECI and AIPAC) is so toxic that not even their endorsed candidates want to speak for them. So what to do and how to keep its donors and supporters happy? Go back to its bread and butter — attacking friends of Israel. It is a sign of just how desperate — and irrelevant — J Street has become.

The J Street gang has set up a “microsite” (a website with an itty-bitty following?) to attack the Emergency Committee for Israel. ECI board member Bill Kristol’s response: “I don’t WANT to speak for them!” Really, it’s a silly catchphrase. ECI is speaking for those friends of Israel who don’t buy into the notion that Israel-bashing is a pro-Israel activity. The real question is: whom does J Street speak for?

The site is revealing nevertheless. J Street’s purpose at the outset was to serve as an alternative to AIPAC (which takes wacky positions like defending Israel against the Goldstone Report, urging the administration to stop picking public fights with Israel, and reminding the public that settlements are a final-status question). J Street has been from the get-go and remains an anti-pro-Israel group with no significant constituency. Now it’s faced with an administration that has in effect rejected J Street’s advice (e.g., no preconditions for talks) and the likelihood that their highest profile endorsee, Joe Sestak, will not only be defeated but be damaged by the J Street association.

J Street’s problem is that its message (when not trying to water it down and make it indistinguishable from that of ECI and AIPAC) is so toxic that not even their endorsed candidates want to speak for them. So what to do and how to keep its donors and supporters happy? Go back to its bread and butter — attacking friends of Israel. It is a sign of just how desperate — and irrelevant — J Street has become.

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Democrats Upset Their Lagging Support for Israel Is an Issue

David A. Harris, the President and CEO of the National Democratic Jewish Council, had this response to the launch of the Emergency Committee for Israel and, specifically, to ECI board member Gary Bauer (who observed that this is “the most anti-Israel administration in the history of the United States”):

Israel’s Ambassador to the United States and others have it right when they stress the importance of bipartisanship in supporting a strong U.S.-Israel relationship. In contrast, Gary Bauer shows this new group’s true colors when he wildly and wrongly bashes the Obama Administration as “the most anti-Israel administration in the history of the United States.” President Obama has gathered a global coalition against Iran, and strengthened strategic ties with Israel to unparalleled heights. Playing partisan games with support for Israel is wrong, period.

Well, that, in a nutshell, explains why the ECI is needed. This is an extreme example of flackery; of course, this group is an adjunct of the Democratic Party and has never publicly crossed Obama — not even when he awarded the Medal of Freedom to Mary Robinson. But the tendency among liberal Jews to offer a knee-jerk defense for the Obama administration (and the preposterous assertion that the relationship with Israel is better than ever) leaves those who want a strong voice for Israel, not for the administration’s Israel policy, wanting more forceful leadership. The ECI certainly has room to run in this political landscape.

While it would be delightful to have stalwart bipartisan support for Israel, Harris and his fellow Democrats aren’t carrying their own weight. Gallup and other polls have noted the growing disparity between Democrats and Republicans in their support for Israel. While Americans as a whole remain very supportive of a strong U.S. – Israel relationship (63 percent in a February Gallup poll) the gap between Republicans (85 percent) and Democrats (48 percent) is huge and historically unprecedented.

You can see that ECI and other genuinely pro-Israel groups have their work cut out for them.

David A. Harris, the President and CEO of the National Democratic Jewish Council, had this response to the launch of the Emergency Committee for Israel and, specifically, to ECI board member Gary Bauer (who observed that this is “the most anti-Israel administration in the history of the United States”):

Israel’s Ambassador to the United States and others have it right when they stress the importance of bipartisanship in supporting a strong U.S.-Israel relationship. In contrast, Gary Bauer shows this new group’s true colors when he wildly and wrongly bashes the Obama Administration as “the most anti-Israel administration in the history of the United States.” President Obama has gathered a global coalition against Iran, and strengthened strategic ties with Israel to unparalleled heights. Playing partisan games with support for Israel is wrong, period.

Well, that, in a nutshell, explains why the ECI is needed. This is an extreme example of flackery; of course, this group is an adjunct of the Democratic Party and has never publicly crossed Obama — not even when he awarded the Medal of Freedom to Mary Robinson. But the tendency among liberal Jews to offer a knee-jerk defense for the Obama administration (and the preposterous assertion that the relationship with Israel is better than ever) leaves those who want a strong voice for Israel, not for the administration’s Israel policy, wanting more forceful leadership. The ECI certainly has room to run in this political landscape.

While it would be delightful to have stalwart bipartisan support for Israel, Harris and his fellow Democrats aren’t carrying their own weight. Gallup and other polls have noted the growing disparity between Democrats and Republicans in their support for Israel. While Americans as a whole remain very supportive of a strong U.S. – Israel relationship (63 percent in a February Gallup poll) the gap between Republicans (85 percent) and Democrats (48 percent) is huge and historically unprecedented.

You can see that ECI and other genuinely pro-Israel groups have their work cut out for them.

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The Sound of Silence

Normally, when Human Rights Watch is criticized, the group retaliates with harsh and aggressive attacks on its accusers. Ken Roth, the head of HRW, is famous for this. When it was disclosed last summer that HRW went to Saudi Arabia to raise money for its “fights with pro-Israel groups,” Roth told Jeffrey Goldberg that Israel’s “supporters fight back with lies and deception.” When HRW’s founder, Bob Bernstein, criticized the group in a New York Times op-ed, HRW fired back by egregiously misrepresenting Bernstein’s argument and then denouncing it in classic straw-man fashion.

A couple of days ago, a long investigative piece was published in the New Republic, which contained the most damaging revelations yet about the group’s hostility to Israel, the sloppiness of its work, and the opinions of some of the crackpots who work in its offices. I was expecting Roth and his goon squad to go nuclear, as they normally do, with wild accusations of lies and right-wing smears. Strangely, nothing of the sort has happened. HRW’s defense comes in the form of a short, passionless statement of support by a board member who seems to be the go-to person for defenses of HRW’s treatment of Israel, and who incredibly insists that HRW is “actually good for Israel.”

There is no attempt to refute the carefully documented facts contained in Birnbaum’s TNR piece; there is no smear campaign against the author; there are no fervent letters to the editor insisting on HRW’s invincible moral authority. Instead, there is silence. I think I know why: HRW has been beaten. The case against it has become too strong and too airtight, and HRW’s attempts at self-defense, as the group learned from its attempt to trash its own founder, are so implausible and desperate that they only make the situation worse.

With the TNR piece, we enter a new phase with Human Rights Watch, in which the group no longer tries to marshal a spirited defense of its conduct and reputation. This is how we know things are going the wrong way for HRW: when self-defense becomes so embarrassing that it’s better to keep quiet and hope everyone’s attention shifts to other subjects.

The problem is, that’s not going to happen. It’s time to batten down the hatches at Human Rights Watch.

Normally, when Human Rights Watch is criticized, the group retaliates with harsh and aggressive attacks on its accusers. Ken Roth, the head of HRW, is famous for this. When it was disclosed last summer that HRW went to Saudi Arabia to raise money for its “fights with pro-Israel groups,” Roth told Jeffrey Goldberg that Israel’s “supporters fight back with lies and deception.” When HRW’s founder, Bob Bernstein, criticized the group in a New York Times op-ed, HRW fired back by egregiously misrepresenting Bernstein’s argument and then denouncing it in classic straw-man fashion.

A couple of days ago, a long investigative piece was published in the New Republic, which contained the most damaging revelations yet about the group’s hostility to Israel, the sloppiness of its work, and the opinions of some of the crackpots who work in its offices. I was expecting Roth and his goon squad to go nuclear, as they normally do, with wild accusations of lies and right-wing smears. Strangely, nothing of the sort has happened. HRW’s defense comes in the form of a short, passionless statement of support by a board member who seems to be the go-to person for defenses of HRW’s treatment of Israel, and who incredibly insists that HRW is “actually good for Israel.”

There is no attempt to refute the carefully documented facts contained in Birnbaum’s TNR piece; there is no smear campaign against the author; there are no fervent letters to the editor insisting on HRW’s invincible moral authority. Instead, there is silence. I think I know why: HRW has been beaten. The case against it has become too strong and too airtight, and HRW’s attempts at self-defense, as the group learned from its attempt to trash its own founder, are so implausible and desperate that they only make the situation worse.

With the TNR piece, we enter a new phase with Human Rights Watch, in which the group no longer tries to marshal a spirited defense of its conduct and reputation. This is how we know things are going the wrong way for HRW: when self-defense becomes so embarrassing that it’s better to keep quiet and hope everyone’s attention shifts to other subjects.

The problem is, that’s not going to happen. It’s time to batten down the hatches at Human Rights Watch.

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Important Piece on Human Rights Watch

Benjamin Birnbaum has a long investigative piece on HRW in the upcoming issue of TNR that is now available online. There are a number of important disclosures in the piece: he quotes a HRW board member admitting that “We seek the limelight — that’s part of what we do. And so, Israel’s sort of like low-hanging fruit.” (No kidding.)

I’ve written on this blog about some of the rather odious people HRW employs as “human-rights activists,” such as Joe Stork and Sarah Leah Whitson. The latter, who is the head of HRW’s Middle East division, is a major focus of the piece. We learn that she is a big fan of Norman Finkelstein, the crackpot pro-Hezbollah activist (“I continue to have tremendous respect and admiration for him”) and that she has privately acknowledged her mission against Israel (“making Israeli abuses the focus of one’s life work is a thankless but courageous task”).

There is much, much more in this important piece. Please read it all.

Benjamin Birnbaum has a long investigative piece on HRW in the upcoming issue of TNR that is now available online. There are a number of important disclosures in the piece: he quotes a HRW board member admitting that “We seek the limelight — that’s part of what we do. And so, Israel’s sort of like low-hanging fruit.” (No kidding.)

I’ve written on this blog about some of the rather odious people HRW employs as “human-rights activists,” such as Joe Stork and Sarah Leah Whitson. The latter, who is the head of HRW’s Middle East division, is a major focus of the piece. We learn that she is a big fan of Norman Finkelstein, the crackpot pro-Hezbollah activist (“I continue to have tremendous respect and admiration for him”) and that she has privately acknowledged her mission against Israel (“making Israeli abuses the focus of one’s life work is a thankless but courageous task”).

There is much, much more in this important piece. Please read it all.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

It’s about time someone took it to Meghan McCain: “She’s an über-cool politics chick with lots to say of the conventional-thinking NYTimesish variety, and she’s got credulous lefties lapping up her disses of conservatives like kittens at cream bowls.” And what better way to get that attention than to diss the woman who drives liberals mad? Funny how liberal pundits whine that the former governor, who has articulated positions on a range of issues, doesn’t “know anything,” but they’re willing to spend endless hours talking to a 25-year-old who’s, well, never done anything.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus has the goods on the latest J Street scam: “In short, J Street manipulated the Hillel of Greater Philadelphia (of which I am a board member) into leasing to them space in the Hillel building for their J Street Local launch by entering into a firm agreement, and then ignoring that agreement to Hillel’s detriment. J Street’s deception made Hillel’s carefully planned and extensive pre-event efforts to soothe concerned donors, students, and others that there was no—and that it would be made very clear that there was no—connection between Hillel and J Street.”

House Democrats aid the Justice Department in stonewalling on the New Black Panther Party case: “In their bid to protect President Obama’s liberal political appointees at the Justice Department, congressional Democrats are surrendering their responsibility to keep a presidential administration honest.”

Not so much sycophantic laughter in the White House briefing room: “‘There definitely aren’t a lot of laughs around the briefing room these days,’ says Washington Examiner White House correspondent Julie Mason. ‘Robert’s little digs and evasions have lost their power to amuse — particularly since we haven’t had a presser since July. … Reporters know how close the press secretary is to the president, and yet the quality of the information we get doesn’t often reflect that.” Well, rudeness and lack of candor are pretty much par for the course for the Obami.

Big Labor is steamed it’s gotten nothing for all those millions: “Labor groups are furious with the Democrats they helped put in office — and are threatening to stay home this fall when Democratic incumbents will need their help fending off Republican challengers. … The so-called ‘card check’ bill that would make it easier to unionize employees has gone nowhere. A pro-union Transportation Security Administration nominee quit before he even got a confirmation vote. And even though unions got a sweetheart deal to keep their health plans tax-free under the Senate health care bill, that bill has collapsed, leaving unions exposed again.” And not even Harold Craig Becker could get confirmed.

Obama is bringing people together — Paul Krugman and Bill Kristol agree that his crony-capitalism comments on Wall Street bonuses were horridly tone-deaf. Next thing you know, Jane Hamsher and Yuval Levin will agree on ObamaCare. Oh, wait. It takes real skill to build such a broad-based coalition.

It’s something, but hardly enough: “A day after Iran said it was beginning to feed low enriched uranium through centrifuges at its Natanz pilot facility to create nuclear medical isotopes, the U.S. has announced sanctions on four engineering firms said to be controlled by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).”

Because Nancy Pelosi never met a tax cut she could support, this will be a problem: “House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) is praising the Senate for including a payroll tax credit in its jobs package, but it could set up a battle in his House Democratic caucus. Economic conditions are ripe for a provision that serves as an incentive for employers to expand their workforces, in Hoyer’s vies. The economy is growing again, and surveys indicate growing confidence by business.” Republicans are probably lucky that Pelosi and not Hoyer is Speaker. Hoyer actually sounds in touch with reality.

Cognitive-dissonance alert! David Brooks warms to Rep. Paul Ryan’s vision: “Government would have very few decision-making powers. Instead it would essentially redistribute money so that individuals could better secure their own welfare provision. Medicare and Social Security would essentially be turned into cash programs. The elderly would receive $11,000 a year to purchase insurance. The tax code would be radically simplified.” But Obama doesn’t believe in any of that, so … ?

First, Michael Steele. Now Gov. David Paterson is playing the race card.

It’s about time someone took it to Meghan McCain: “She’s an über-cool politics chick with lots to say of the conventional-thinking NYTimesish variety, and she’s got credulous lefties lapping up her disses of conservatives like kittens at cream bowls.” And what better way to get that attention than to diss the woman who drives liberals mad? Funny how liberal pundits whine that the former governor, who has articulated positions on a range of issues, doesn’t “know anything,” but they’re willing to spend endless hours talking to a 25-year-old who’s, well, never done anything.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus has the goods on the latest J Street scam: “In short, J Street manipulated the Hillel of Greater Philadelphia (of which I am a board member) into leasing to them space in the Hillel building for their J Street Local launch by entering into a firm agreement, and then ignoring that agreement to Hillel’s detriment. J Street’s deception made Hillel’s carefully planned and extensive pre-event efforts to soothe concerned donors, students, and others that there was no—and that it would be made very clear that there was no—connection between Hillel and J Street.”

House Democrats aid the Justice Department in stonewalling on the New Black Panther Party case: “In their bid to protect President Obama’s liberal political appointees at the Justice Department, congressional Democrats are surrendering their responsibility to keep a presidential administration honest.”

Not so much sycophantic laughter in the White House briefing room: “‘There definitely aren’t a lot of laughs around the briefing room these days,’ says Washington Examiner White House correspondent Julie Mason. ‘Robert’s little digs and evasions have lost their power to amuse — particularly since we haven’t had a presser since July. … Reporters know how close the press secretary is to the president, and yet the quality of the information we get doesn’t often reflect that.” Well, rudeness and lack of candor are pretty much par for the course for the Obami.

Big Labor is steamed it’s gotten nothing for all those millions: “Labor groups are furious with the Democrats they helped put in office — and are threatening to stay home this fall when Democratic incumbents will need their help fending off Republican challengers. … The so-called ‘card check’ bill that would make it easier to unionize employees has gone nowhere. A pro-union Transportation Security Administration nominee quit before he even got a confirmation vote. And even though unions got a sweetheart deal to keep their health plans tax-free under the Senate health care bill, that bill has collapsed, leaving unions exposed again.” And not even Harold Craig Becker could get confirmed.

Obama is bringing people together — Paul Krugman and Bill Kristol agree that his crony-capitalism comments on Wall Street bonuses were horridly tone-deaf. Next thing you know, Jane Hamsher and Yuval Levin will agree on ObamaCare. Oh, wait. It takes real skill to build such a broad-based coalition.

It’s something, but hardly enough: “A day after Iran said it was beginning to feed low enriched uranium through centrifuges at its Natanz pilot facility to create nuclear medical isotopes, the U.S. has announced sanctions on four engineering firms said to be controlled by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).”

Because Nancy Pelosi never met a tax cut she could support, this will be a problem: “House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) is praising the Senate for including a payroll tax credit in its jobs package, but it could set up a battle in his House Democratic caucus. Economic conditions are ripe for a provision that serves as an incentive for employers to expand their workforces, in Hoyer’s vies. The economy is growing again, and surveys indicate growing confidence by business.” Republicans are probably lucky that Pelosi and not Hoyer is Speaker. Hoyer actually sounds in touch with reality.

Cognitive-dissonance alert! David Brooks warms to Rep. Paul Ryan’s vision: “Government would have very few decision-making powers. Instead it would essentially redistribute money so that individuals could better secure their own welfare provision. Medicare and Social Security would essentially be turned into cash programs. The elderly would receive $11,000 a year to purchase insurance. The tax code would be radically simplified.” But Obama doesn’t believe in any of that, so … ?

First, Michael Steele. Now Gov. David Paterson is playing the race card.

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Holden Caulfield, Attorney, Dies at 75

My friend Philip Terzian just posted the following obituary parody on Facebook:

Holden Caulfield, Attorney, Dies at 75

By Carl Luce

NEW YORK—Holden Caulfield, a founding partner of the Manhattan real-estate law firm of Ackley, Caulfield and Marsella PPC, died Monday in North Conway, New Hampshire. He was 75.
Mr. Caulfield, who had a vacation residence in New Hampshire, suffered massive internal injuries after slipping and falling over a cliff in the White Mountains on Saturday while trying to save a young girl, and died at a nearby hospital, according to his son, Allie Caulfield II. He lived at the Edmont Hotel in midtown Manhattan.

An attorney and litigator in New York since the mid-1960s, Mr. Caulfield joined two onetime classmates to form Ackley, Caulfield and Marsella in 1971, specializing in real-estate litigation and property management in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. “Holden was a great lawyer and a great friend,” said partner Maurice Ackley in a statement released by the firm. “He loved the majesty of the law, and he hated phonies.” The other partner, Edgar Marsella, died of colon cancer in 2002.

Mr. Caulfield, a native of Manhattan, was born in 1935 and attended a series of preparatory schools before entering Brown University, from which he graduated in 1957. After a brief period of military service he obtained his law degree at New York University and began practicing in 1962. A period as counsel to the Antolini Group, property developers on Long Island, led to Mr. Caulfield’s interest in real estate litigation and property management. In 1996 his firm won a record judgment of $118.5 million in a landmark case involving development rights, Spencer vs. Stradlater.

Mr. Caulfield was a longtime board member of the Central Park Conservancy and a trustee of Pencey Preparatory School in Agerstown, Pa.

Mr. Caulfield’s marriage to Sally Hayes ended in divorce. He is survived by his wife of 39 years, Jane Gallagher Caulfield, of Manhattan; their son Allie II, of Brooklyn; and three grandchildren. He is also survived by a brother, the writer D.B. Caulfield of Pacific Palisades, Calif., and a sister, Phoebe Caulfield-Madoff, of West Hartford, Conn.

My friend Philip Terzian just posted the following obituary parody on Facebook:

Holden Caulfield, Attorney, Dies at 75

By Carl Luce

NEW YORK—Holden Caulfield, a founding partner of the Manhattan real-estate law firm of Ackley, Caulfield and Marsella PPC, died Monday in North Conway, New Hampshire. He was 75.
Mr. Caulfield, who had a vacation residence in New Hampshire, suffered massive internal injuries after slipping and falling over a cliff in the White Mountains on Saturday while trying to save a young girl, and died at a nearby hospital, according to his son, Allie Caulfield II. He lived at the Edmont Hotel in midtown Manhattan.

An attorney and litigator in New York since the mid-1960s, Mr. Caulfield joined two onetime classmates to form Ackley, Caulfield and Marsella in 1971, specializing in real-estate litigation and property management in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. “Holden was a great lawyer and a great friend,” said partner Maurice Ackley in a statement released by the firm. “He loved the majesty of the law, and he hated phonies.” The other partner, Edgar Marsella, died of colon cancer in 2002.

Mr. Caulfield, a native of Manhattan, was born in 1935 and attended a series of preparatory schools before entering Brown University, from which he graduated in 1957. After a brief period of military service he obtained his law degree at New York University and began practicing in 1962. A period as counsel to the Antolini Group, property developers on Long Island, led to Mr. Caulfield’s interest in real estate litigation and property management. In 1996 his firm won a record judgment of $118.5 million in a landmark case involving development rights, Spencer vs. Stradlater.

Mr. Caulfield was a longtime board member of the Central Park Conservancy and a trustee of Pencey Preparatory School in Agerstown, Pa.

Mr. Caulfield’s marriage to Sally Hayes ended in divorce. He is survived by his wife of 39 years, Jane Gallagher Caulfield, of Manhattan; their son Allie II, of Brooklyn; and three grandchildren. He is also survived by a brother, the writer D.B. Caulfield of Pacific Palisades, Calif., and a sister, Phoebe Caulfield-Madoff, of West Hartford, Conn.

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Global-Warming Cognitive Dissonance at the Nation

The evidence-suppressing academics at East Anglia University aren’t the only global-warming true believers who seem to be in a bit of a fog these days. Over at the Nation, two separate pieces both seem to acknowledge that the public is increasingly resistant to the deluge of environmental alarmism they’ve been peddling.

In a feature in their Dec. 21 print issue that is currently available on their website, Christopher Hayes bemoans the fact that global-warming hysteria isn’t selling as well as it used to. Hayes cites a Washington Post/ABC poll that shows a marked decline in support for the basic premise of global warming and an even more precipitate drop in the total of those who accept the theory that a rise in temperatures is the result of human activity.

How does Hayes explain this refusal of so many Americans to accept the dogma that is repeated endlessly in the media and throughout the culture almost without challenge? Of course, he ignores recent scandals such as the East Anglia affair, as well as the fact that, contrary to predictions, the planet hasn’t gotten any warmer in the past decade, something even the New York Times has acknowledged.

Instead, Hayes mostly blames it on the economic crisis and partisan hatred for Barack Obama. But that’s not all. He also blames the global-warming activists themselves for not being sufficiently scary. That’s right. Despite all the apocalyptic threats that have been put forward on behalf of this thesis based on theoretical models, Hayes believes that we haven’t had enough environmental hysteria. He believes the warming alarmists must stop talking about “green jobs” and the economic opportunities they claim will spring from the disastrous cap-and-trade policies they advocate. Instead, he wants them to just scream “the planet is melting.” I guess that’s supposed to reinforce the Left’s self-image as the advocates of reason and science.

But elsewhere on the Nation website, you can get a slightly different take on the same issue. In a video interview with Nation editorial-board member Tony Kushner, the famous playwright has his own riff on the question. Kushner modestly brushes off the praise of the magazine staffer plying the questions by saying that the mention of “the impact of human lives on the environment” in his 1991 play Angels in America in which “character Hannah Pitt fretted about the hole in the ozone layer” didn’t make him a prophet. He was just writing about what was “in the news” then as now, he claims. Though he puts down all skepticism about the theory to “greed” on the part of evil industrialists, he goes on to say that he thinks that the lack of progress toward passing economy-crippling measures aimed to stop global warming is due to the fact that people are aware of the impending catastrophe but are too numbed by its enormity to act. Kushner even thinks that, contrary to the evidence leaking out from East Anglia, the global-warming crowd has understated the danger so as not to create mass panic.

For those who want a small taste of Kushner’s idea of environmental reform, consider the passage where he fondly remembers the halt in commercial-airline flights after the 9/11 attacks, which he claims created a “staggering decrease in the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere!”

So what’s the answer here? Are we too scared by the specter of being cooked like a hot dog at Nathan’s in less than a decade, as Kushner thinks, or, as Hayes theorizes, have we not been frightened enough? Either way, it’s clear that the real fear on the Left is that more of the public isn’t buying their scare stories anymore.

The evidence-suppressing academics at East Anglia University aren’t the only global-warming true believers who seem to be in a bit of a fog these days. Over at the Nation, two separate pieces both seem to acknowledge that the public is increasingly resistant to the deluge of environmental alarmism they’ve been peddling.

In a feature in their Dec. 21 print issue that is currently available on their website, Christopher Hayes bemoans the fact that global-warming hysteria isn’t selling as well as it used to. Hayes cites a Washington Post/ABC poll that shows a marked decline in support for the basic premise of global warming and an even more precipitate drop in the total of those who accept the theory that a rise in temperatures is the result of human activity.

How does Hayes explain this refusal of so many Americans to accept the dogma that is repeated endlessly in the media and throughout the culture almost without challenge? Of course, he ignores recent scandals such as the East Anglia affair, as well as the fact that, contrary to predictions, the planet hasn’t gotten any warmer in the past decade, something even the New York Times has acknowledged.

Instead, Hayes mostly blames it on the economic crisis and partisan hatred for Barack Obama. But that’s not all. He also blames the global-warming activists themselves for not being sufficiently scary. That’s right. Despite all the apocalyptic threats that have been put forward on behalf of this thesis based on theoretical models, Hayes believes that we haven’t had enough environmental hysteria. He believes the warming alarmists must stop talking about “green jobs” and the economic opportunities they claim will spring from the disastrous cap-and-trade policies they advocate. Instead, he wants them to just scream “the planet is melting.” I guess that’s supposed to reinforce the Left’s self-image as the advocates of reason and science.

But elsewhere on the Nation website, you can get a slightly different take on the same issue. In a video interview with Nation editorial-board member Tony Kushner, the famous playwright has his own riff on the question. Kushner modestly brushes off the praise of the magazine staffer plying the questions by saying that the mention of “the impact of human lives on the environment” in his 1991 play Angels in America in which “character Hannah Pitt fretted about the hole in the ozone layer” didn’t make him a prophet. He was just writing about what was “in the news” then as now, he claims. Though he puts down all skepticism about the theory to “greed” on the part of evil industrialists, he goes on to say that he thinks that the lack of progress toward passing economy-crippling measures aimed to stop global warming is due to the fact that people are aware of the impending catastrophe but are too numbed by its enormity to act. Kushner even thinks that, contrary to the evidence leaking out from East Anglia, the global-warming crowd has understated the danger so as not to create mass panic.

For those who want a small taste of Kushner’s idea of environmental reform, consider the passage where he fondly remembers the halt in commercial-airline flights after the 9/11 attacks, which he claims created a “staggering decrease in the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere!”

So what’s the answer here? Are we too scared by the specter of being cooked like a hot dog at Nathan’s in less than a decade, as Kushner thinks, or, as Hayes theorizes, have we not been frightened enough? Either way, it’s clear that the real fear on the Left is that more of the public isn’t buying their scare stories anymore.

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Eli Lake on NIAC

Eli Lake has a blockbuster story in the Washington Times concerning the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), which made its name as a reliable apologist for the mullahs and has consistently advocated lifting sanctions against the Iranian regime. (Some background is here and here.) NIAC, according to Lake’s report, worked hard to create a media storm over Obama Middle East adviser Dennis Ross, fearing he would advocate a tougher line against the mullahs. Moreover, it turns out NIAC hasn’t played by the rules:

Law enforcement experts who reviewed some of the documents, which were made available to The Times by the defendant in the suit, say e-mails between Mr. Parsi and Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations at the time, Javad Zarif — and an internal review of the Lobbying Disclosure Act — offer evidence that the group has operated as an undeclared lobby and may be guilty of violating tax laws, the Foreign Agents Registration Act and lobbying disclosure laws.

Neither Mr. Parsi nor anyone else at NIAC has registered as a lobbyist or filed papers with the Justice Department as a local agent of the Iranian government or Iranian companies. … Mr. Parsi defended his decision to organize NIAC as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and declare on tax forms that his group does not engage in lobbying — a status that enables donors to deduct contributions on their taxes.

Lake also exposes the NIAC claim to represent “the Iranian community” in America – or least many in it — to be, well, laughable. He explains: “The organization has between 2,500 and 3,000 members, according to Mr. Parsi, but had fewer than 500 responses to a membership survey conducted last summer, internal documents show. Yet NIAC asserts that it is the largest such group and represents the majority of the nearly 1 million Iranian Americans.” Five hundred, 1 million, whatever.

Parsi and NIAC have done their best to insulate the Iranian regime from criticism and to oppose any military or economic action against it. Parsi, you may recall, did his anti-anti-Iran routine recently at J Street’s conference. (J Street and NIAC share a common goal: prevention of sanctions against the regime. In addition, Genevieve Lynch, a NIAC board member, is on J Street’s finance committee and gave a cool $10,000 to the J Street gang.) As Jeffrey Goldberg observed, he does “a lot of leg-work” for the mullahs in the U.S. Lake quotes famed Iranian filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf as saying, “I think Trita Parsi does not belong to the Green Movement. I feel his lobbying has secretly been more for the Islamic Republic.”

One other note, John Limbert was a board member of NIAC before recently being named deputy assistant secretary of state for Iran. Lake notes, “Mr. Limbert declined to comment, citing his new position, but has appeared at NIAC conferences in the past and expressed admiration for the organization and for its charismatic leader, Trita Parsi.”

Lake’s bombshell piece will no doubt cause a huge stir among those both within and outside the Obama administration who’ve chosen to cozy up to NIAC, and in turn give the mullahs a helping hand.

Eli Lake has a blockbuster story in the Washington Times concerning the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), which made its name as a reliable apologist for the mullahs and has consistently advocated lifting sanctions against the Iranian regime. (Some background is here and here.) NIAC, according to Lake’s report, worked hard to create a media storm over Obama Middle East adviser Dennis Ross, fearing he would advocate a tougher line against the mullahs. Moreover, it turns out NIAC hasn’t played by the rules:

Law enforcement experts who reviewed some of the documents, which were made available to The Times by the defendant in the suit, say e-mails between Mr. Parsi and Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations at the time, Javad Zarif — and an internal review of the Lobbying Disclosure Act — offer evidence that the group has operated as an undeclared lobby and may be guilty of violating tax laws, the Foreign Agents Registration Act and lobbying disclosure laws.

Neither Mr. Parsi nor anyone else at NIAC has registered as a lobbyist or filed papers with the Justice Department as a local agent of the Iranian government or Iranian companies. … Mr. Parsi defended his decision to organize NIAC as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and declare on tax forms that his group does not engage in lobbying — a status that enables donors to deduct contributions on their taxes.

Lake also exposes the NIAC claim to represent “the Iranian community” in America – or least many in it — to be, well, laughable. He explains: “The organization has between 2,500 and 3,000 members, according to Mr. Parsi, but had fewer than 500 responses to a membership survey conducted last summer, internal documents show. Yet NIAC asserts that it is the largest such group and represents the majority of the nearly 1 million Iranian Americans.” Five hundred, 1 million, whatever.

Parsi and NIAC have done their best to insulate the Iranian regime from criticism and to oppose any military or economic action against it. Parsi, you may recall, did his anti-anti-Iran routine recently at J Street’s conference. (J Street and NIAC share a common goal: prevention of sanctions against the regime. In addition, Genevieve Lynch, a NIAC board member, is on J Street’s finance committee and gave a cool $10,000 to the J Street gang.) As Jeffrey Goldberg observed, he does “a lot of leg-work” for the mullahs in the U.S. Lake quotes famed Iranian filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf as saying, “I think Trita Parsi does not belong to the Green Movement. I feel his lobbying has secretly been more for the Islamic Republic.”

One other note, John Limbert was a board member of NIAC before recently being named deputy assistant secretary of state for Iran. Lake notes, “Mr. Limbert declined to comment, citing his new position, but has appeared at NIAC conferences in the past and expressed admiration for the organization and for its charismatic leader, Trita Parsi.”

Lake’s bombshell piece will no doubt cause a huge stir among those both within and outside the Obama administration who’ve chosen to cozy up to NIAC, and in turn give the mullahs a helping hand.

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The Theme Is There

If you thought conservative columnists were nasty, read the latest from Maureen Dowd. Aside from the very funny lines, she offers some proof that the meme of Barack Obama as elitist appeaser has permeated even the liberal zeitgeist. It is too late for Democrats to rethink. But would they have been better with a plain-wrap, gun-toting middle American figure like Evan Bayh?

And just in case anyone might forget Iran or the war on terror for the day, the Republican Jewish Coalition in a new ad asks three questions of Obama on his visit to a synagogue in Florida:

In an interview, you called for a summit of Muslim nations, including Iran and Syria, but excluding Israel. Why? (Reuters, 1/30/08)

One of your top advisors, Tony McPeak, placed blame on Miami and NY Jews for the failure of the Middle East peace process, yet he remains in this role. Why? (The Oregonian, 3/27/03)

You were a board member of a foundation that funded, during your tenure, the Arab American Action Network, a pro-Palestinian organization. Why? (LA Times, 4/10/08)

So whether from the Right or the Left, the question is the same: what exactly is the New Diplomacy going to look like? And, as Noah Pollak suggests (although I disagree with him about who is winning this argument): what is Obama going to accomplish in all these high-level get-togethers with dictators? The ones we’ve been having at lower levels have been spectacularly unsuccessful.

If you thought conservative columnists were nasty, read the latest from Maureen Dowd. Aside from the very funny lines, she offers some proof that the meme of Barack Obama as elitist appeaser has permeated even the liberal zeitgeist. It is too late for Democrats to rethink. But would they have been better with a plain-wrap, gun-toting middle American figure like Evan Bayh?

And just in case anyone might forget Iran or the war on terror for the day, the Republican Jewish Coalition in a new ad asks three questions of Obama on his visit to a synagogue in Florida:

In an interview, you called for a summit of Muslim nations, including Iran and Syria, but excluding Israel. Why? (Reuters, 1/30/08)

One of your top advisors, Tony McPeak, placed blame on Miami and NY Jews for the failure of the Middle East peace process, yet he remains in this role. Why? (The Oregonian, 3/27/03)

You were a board member of a foundation that funded, during your tenure, the Arab American Action Network, a pro-Palestinian organization. Why? (LA Times, 4/10/08)

So whether from the Right or the Left, the question is the same: what exactly is the New Diplomacy going to look like? And, as Noah Pollak suggests (although I disagree with him about who is winning this argument): what is Obama going to accomplish in all these high-level get-togethers with dictators? The ones we’ve been having at lower levels have been spectacularly unsuccessful.

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The Poet and the Nazi

Today, the New York Times reports that five members of the board of the Poetry Society of America, including its president, have resigned. Their resignations stem from “accusations of McCarthyism, conservatism, and simple bad management.”

The blood went bad when, earlier this year, John Hollander, the poet, critic, and retired Yale professor, was awarded the Society’s Frost Medal, a kind of lifetime achievement award.

A rough time-line: Professor Hollander, in the past, made some remarks that were insensitive. For instance, according to the New York Times, Hollander noted on NPR that “there isn’t much quality work coming from nonwhite poets today.” Poetry Society board members balked when, a few years ago, Hollander was put up as a contender for the Frost Medal. When, earlier this year, Hollander was announced as the recipient of the medal, novelist Walter Mosley, a board member, resigned in protest. In response, PSA board president William Louis-Dreyfus, a commodities trader, accused Mosley of McCarthyism in using Hollander’s politics against him. Angered at Louis-Dreyfus’s reaction, three other board members, including well-regarded poets Elizabeth Alexander and Mary Jo Salter, tendered their own resignations.

Mr. Mosley deemed Mr. Louis-Dreyfus’s invocation of Senator Joe McCarthy “ridiculous hyperbole.” Unfortunately, in describing the events at the PSA, Motoko Rich, the reporter for the New York Times, has committed her own act of egregious exaggeration. In discussing whether one can praise an artist’s work while criticizing the artist as a human, Ms. Rich compares John Hollander to Günter Grass. The former is a Jewish professor who has displayed ignorance and tactlessness. Günter Grass is a German who was a soldier in Hitler’s Waffen SS.

If emotions on the PSA’s board run high, it seems that even reporting on the matter severely impairs one’s sense of proportion.

Today, the New York Times reports that five members of the board of the Poetry Society of America, including its president, have resigned. Their resignations stem from “accusations of McCarthyism, conservatism, and simple bad management.”

The blood went bad when, earlier this year, John Hollander, the poet, critic, and retired Yale professor, was awarded the Society’s Frost Medal, a kind of lifetime achievement award.

A rough time-line: Professor Hollander, in the past, made some remarks that were insensitive. For instance, according to the New York Times, Hollander noted on NPR that “there isn’t much quality work coming from nonwhite poets today.” Poetry Society board members balked when, a few years ago, Hollander was put up as a contender for the Frost Medal. When, earlier this year, Hollander was announced as the recipient of the medal, novelist Walter Mosley, a board member, resigned in protest. In response, PSA board president William Louis-Dreyfus, a commodities trader, accused Mosley of McCarthyism in using Hollander’s politics against him. Angered at Louis-Dreyfus’s reaction, three other board members, including well-regarded poets Elizabeth Alexander and Mary Jo Salter, tendered their own resignations.

Mr. Mosley deemed Mr. Louis-Dreyfus’s invocation of Senator Joe McCarthy “ridiculous hyperbole.” Unfortunately, in describing the events at the PSA, Motoko Rich, the reporter for the New York Times, has committed her own act of egregious exaggeration. In discussing whether one can praise an artist’s work while criticizing the artist as a human, Ms. Rich compares John Hollander to Günter Grass. The former is a Jewish professor who has displayed ignorance and tactlessness. Günter Grass is a German who was a soldier in Hitler’s Waffen SS.

If emotions on the PSA’s board run high, it seems that even reporting on the matter severely impairs one’s sense of proportion.

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On Bayard Rustin

Last Friday, I had a short essay at The New Republic Online discussing the legacy of Bayard Rustin, the 20th anniversary of whose death was August 24th. Rustin was a towering figure among American liberals, even though some could no longer recognize him as one of their own at the time of his death in 1987. Rustin, who got his start in politics as a Quaker pacifist, ended up as a frequent contributor to COMMENTARY, a founding board member of the pro-Scoop Jackson/anti-McGovernite Coalition for a Democratic Majority and the Committee on the Present Danger, and as Chairman of the Executive Committee of Freedom House. All of these organization had incurred the disfavor and wrath of large segments of the American Left, because of their unabashedly anti-Communist, pro-democratization policies and aims.

Rustin was also the most prominent African-American defender of the state of Israel (another casus belli for much of the American Left), having founded the Black American Israel Support Committee (BASIC) in 1975, as a response to the United Nations’ resolution equating Zionism to racism and to the then-rising tide of black anti-Semitism. In honor of Rustin, COMMENTARY has made available some of his most trenchant essays written in its pages.

From Protest to Politics: The Future of the Civil Rights Movement—February, 1965.

Written after the congressional passage of major civil rights legislation, this article was a call to African-Americans to involve themselves in political organizing. Rustin would soon become a target of the Black Panthers and other radicals for arguing against black nationalism.

The “Watts Manifesto” & The McCone Report—March, 1966.

In this essay, Rustin analyzes the roots of black anger that led to the Watts riots of 1965.

The War Against Zimbabwe—July, 1979.

In April of 1979, Rustin was part of a Freedom House delegation to monitor elections in Zimbabwe-Rhodesia. This is the most thorough and convincing attack on the Carter administration’s policies towards this southern African state and its feckless dealings with communist-sponsored movements more generally, and delivers a prescient warning against the horrors of Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe. Rustin was one of the very few black American leaders to speak out against a transition to power that put Mugabe in control.

Last Friday, I had a short essay at The New Republic Online discussing the legacy of Bayard Rustin, the 20th anniversary of whose death was August 24th. Rustin was a towering figure among American liberals, even though some could no longer recognize him as one of their own at the time of his death in 1987. Rustin, who got his start in politics as a Quaker pacifist, ended up as a frequent contributor to COMMENTARY, a founding board member of the pro-Scoop Jackson/anti-McGovernite Coalition for a Democratic Majority and the Committee on the Present Danger, and as Chairman of the Executive Committee of Freedom House. All of these organization had incurred the disfavor and wrath of large segments of the American Left, because of their unabashedly anti-Communist, pro-democratization policies and aims.

Rustin was also the most prominent African-American defender of the state of Israel (another casus belli for much of the American Left), having founded the Black American Israel Support Committee (BASIC) in 1975, as a response to the United Nations’ resolution equating Zionism to racism and to the then-rising tide of black anti-Semitism. In honor of Rustin, COMMENTARY has made available some of his most trenchant essays written in its pages.

From Protest to Politics: The Future of the Civil Rights Movement—February, 1965.

Written after the congressional passage of major civil rights legislation, this article was a call to African-Americans to involve themselves in political organizing. Rustin would soon become a target of the Black Panthers and other radicals for arguing against black nationalism.

The “Watts Manifesto” & The McCone Report—March, 1966.

In this essay, Rustin analyzes the roots of black anger that led to the Watts riots of 1965.

The War Against Zimbabwe—July, 1979.

In April of 1979, Rustin was part of a Freedom House delegation to monitor elections in Zimbabwe-Rhodesia. This is the most thorough and convincing attack on the Carter administration’s policies towards this southern African state and its feckless dealings with communist-sponsored movements more generally, and delivers a prescient warning against the horrors of Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe. Rustin was one of the very few black American leaders to speak out against a transition to power that put Mugabe in control.

Read Less




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