With Ali Gharib
As if on cue, the group I blogged about yesterday — the Emergency Committee For Israel — launched its website on Monday with an announcement on the Weekly Standard’s blog. The roll-out centered on what has become the mandatory 30-second commercial blasting a politician that neocons deem insufficiently “pro-Israel.”
The TV spot, which the group says it already has money to distribute, targets Congressman Joe Sestak (D-PA) for raising funds for the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), signing a letter which accused Israel of participating in “collective punishment” in Gaza, and for refusing to sign on to a letter to “affirm support for Israel.”
What really jumped out at me in the announcement of the Emergency Committee’s launch, though, is the board of directors. Heading up the nascent 501(c)(4) advocacy group are Bill Kristol, founder and editor of the Weekly Standard, Gary Bauer, a major player in the Christian right-wing Zionist movement, and Rachel Abrams, another figure with roots all over the neocon family tree.
For Kristol, this is a familiar gig. A power center of the movement, Kristol has been involved in creating and advising numerous ‘committees’ and other ‘letterhead groups’ — from founding neocon flagships the Project for the New American Century (which he chaired), the Foreign Policy Initiative, and Keep America Safe (the former two with Robert Kagan and the latter with Liz Cheney), to sitting on the boards of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq and Cliff May‘s Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.
A longtime neoconservative ally, Bauer formed such a tight bond with Kristol that they even take beach vacations together. A charter member of PNAC, Bauer also directs Keep Israel Safe (a knock-off of Liz Cheney and Kristol’s Keep America Safe). Bauer’s views on U.S. policy toward Israel are typical of Christian Zionists and well outside the American mainstream and longstanding U.S. policy: Matt Duss points out that Bauer opposes the two-state solution, putting him to the right of even Likud Israeli PM Bibi Netanyahu.
The final director listed for the organization is a less familiar name — well, less familiar first name, at least. Rachel Abrams is the wife of former Bush Mid East advisor Elliot Abrams, the daughter of Midge Decter, and step-daughter of Norman Podhoretz (which, if you can keep track, makes her the half-sister of Commentary editor John Podhoretz). Abrams bio on the Emergency Committee page lists her as only a “writer and activist living in Washington, D.C.” and gives publications where her work has appeared (not surprisingly, all right-wing outlets like the Wall Street Journal, New York Post, Commentary, and the Weekly Standard).
The Emergency Committee for Israel aims at “keeping the public informed of the latest developments in both [Israel and the U.S.].” But the fact that this new group is headed up by two and a half right-wing heavyweights with a history of pushing the U.S. into military conflicts would make that goal laughable, if it didn’t so closely resemble Orwellian double speak.
“We’re the pro-Israel wing of the pro-Israel community,” Kristol told Politico about his new group, taking a veiled shot at the liberal Jewish lobby J Street, which describes itself as the “pro-peace” branch of the Israel lobby.