An Arms-Control Foundation’s Efforts to Buy Support for the Iran Deal

According to a recent report by the Associated Press, the Ploughshares Fund, a supposedly nonpartisan arms-control-advocacy organization, gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to various think tanks, journalists, lobbying groups (including the “pro-Israel, pro-peace” J Street), and media outlets as part of its efforts to promote the nuclear agreement with Iran. Lee Smith comments:

In [Ploughsares’] 2015 annual report, board chairwoman Mary Lloyd Estrin wrote of “the absolutely critical role that civil society played in tipping the scales toward this extraordinary policy victory [i.e., the Iran deal].” It’s perhaps not surprising that Ploughshares confuses the people and institutions it supports with the public sphere, but in this case at least precisely the opposite is the case.

Civil society is the assortment of institutions, like the media, the academy, non-governmental organizations, etc. that exist apart from and frequently in opposition to the government in order to express the will of the citizens of a free society. Its purpose is to inform those citizens so they are better equipped to make decisions about their lives and the life of the nation and thereby hold their government accountable.

But Ploughshares conscripted journalists, researchers, and NGOs to do the opposite. . . . What Ploughshares did was to pollute the public sphere with self-validated and self-validating noise for the purpose of deceiving the public on behalf of the state. . . .

[While] the White House threatened to punish Democrats tempted to challenge the deal, Ploughshares helped lawmakers feel better about caving in. They paid for think tanks to produce incomplete or erroneous factsheets, they paid for journalists to publish it, and they paid for lobbyists to carry it to Capitol Hill.

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More about: Barack Obama, Iran nuclear program, J Street, Journalism, Politics & Current Affairs, U.S. Foreign policy

Israel’s Nation-State Law and the Hysteria of the Western Media

Aug. 17 2018

Nearly a month after it was passed by the Knesset, the new Basic Law defining Israel as “the nation-state of the Jewish people” is still causing outrage in the American and European press. The attacks, however, are almost uniformly incommensurate with this largely symbolic law, whose text, in the English translation found on the Knesset website, is barely over 400 words in length. Matthew Continetti comments:

Major journalistic institutions have become so wedded to a pro-Palestinian, anti-Benjamin Netanyahu narrative, in which Israel is part of a global trend toward nationalist authoritarian populism, that they have abdicated any responsibility for presenting the news in a dispassionate and balanced manner. The shameful result of this inflammatory coverage is the normalization of anti-Israel rhetoric and policies and widening divisions between Israel and the diaspora.

For example, a July 18, 2018, article in the Los Angeles Times described the nation-state law as “granting an advantageous status to Jewish-only communities.” But that is false: the bill contained no such language. (An earlier version might have been interpreted in this way, but the provision was removed.) Yet, as I write, the Los Angeles Times has not corrected the piece that contained the error. . . .

Such through-the-looking-glass analysis riddled [the five] news articles and four op-eds the New York Times has published on the matter at the time of this writing. In these pieces, “democracy” is defined as results favored by the New York Times editorial board, and Israel’s national self-understanding as in irrevocable conflict with its democratic form of government. . . .

The truth is that democracy is thriving in Israel. . . .  The New York Times quoted Avi Shilon, a historian at Ben-Gurion University, who said [that] “Mr. Netanyahu and his colleagues are acting like we are still in the battle of 1948, or in a previous era.” Judging by the fallacious, paranoid, fevered, and at times bigoted reaction to the nation-state bill, however, Bibi may have good reason to believe that Israel is still in the battle of 1948, and still defending itself against assaults on the very idea of a Jewish state.

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More about: Israel & Zionism, Israel's Basic Law, Israeli democracy, Media, New York Times