Cliff May Promoting Settler Propaganda Flick on Fox News

Cliff May appeared in a five-minute interview on Fox News promoting the fear-mongering settler propaganda movie “Iranium,” a production of the Clarion Fund in which May appears.

May, the president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), which has five other experts who appear in the film, called Iran “radical.” But May refuses to answer whether he knew that the movie he starred in was written and produced by Alex Traiman, a member of another ideological religious movement: the Israeli settlers in the West Bank. (More below.)

With a history of hawkish pro-Israel advocacy and a past career as the spokesman for the Republican National Committee, we do know that May fits well into the film, which waffles between the usual Clarion Fund calls to action against the Muslim menace and a partisan flair of attacks on Barack Obama and the Democratic Party.

May offered hints of hawkishness in his Fox interview, delivering a thinly-veiled call for escalated actions to halt Iran’s nuclear program.

“The Western community needs to make up its mind that this regime must not get nuclear weapons,” May said, “and they must decide to take accelerated steps to achieve that goal.”

When I asked May when he knew — if at all — that Traiman was an ideological Israeli settler, he responded by e-mail, writing:

I hope that people will see the film and decide for themselves what conclusions to draw. I know there are those who would prefer people not see the film – that’s why there were threats against those screening it in Canada – and that’s why there are those who will engage in character assassination against the film-makers.

I explained to May that pointing out Trainman’s status as a West Bank settler only counts as character assassination if you make the value judgement that settlements are bad, and repeated that I was curious about his and FDD’s stance on the illegal Israeli civilan outposts in occupied territory.

Moreover, I made clear to May that my primary question was a factual one about when he knew Traiman lived in a settlement: “Did you know — when solicited to do an interview for, when you did the interview for, and when you promoted “Iranium” — that the film was written and directed by Alex Traiman, an Israeli West Bank settler?”

May replied: “I’ve given you my answer,” and repeated a claim he’d made at FDD’s Iran conference in December that what I do “bears little resemblance to legitimate journalism.” (I hasten to note that, other than that one outburst, May has never been anything but polite. He even answered my questions that same night after the conference for the Foreign Policy piece I wrote about the proceedings.)

I wrote back to May again:

Anytime you want to talk about FDD’s or your personal stance on settlements, I’m happy to do so. Ditto with my specific factual question about the timeframe in which you knew Alex Traiman, Iranium’s writer and director, was an ideological West Bank settler.

My offer, of course, still stands.

Ali Gharib

Ali Gharib is a New York-based journalist on U.S. foreign policy with a focus on the Middle East and Central Asia. His work has appeared at Inter Press Service, where he was the Deputy Washington Bureau Chief; the Buffalo Beast; Huffington Post; Mondoweiss; Right Web; and Alternet. He holds a Master's degree in Philosophy and Public Policy from the London School of Economics and Political Science. A proud Iranian-American and fluent Farsi speaker, Ali was born in California and raised in D.C.


One Comment

  1. may have been better for you to write
    “committed Israeli settler.” Arguably “ideological,” the adjective you say you used is pejorative enough. You have to respect his directness in this answer. I’m glad you acknowledge that. Of course, why would they have any trepidation or hesitation any longer? They’ve been able to drive discussion, the narrative and policy for so long they feel quite safe.

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