Kudos to Naomi Zeveloff for the article in the Jewish Forward on the training of rightwing pro-Israel journalism at the Shalem Center, which, if you didn’t already know, is funded by the likes of Sheldon Adelson and Roger Hertog of the Tikvah Fund. Once again, we read about the attempt to marshal the power of big money to shape agendas and the way strategic duplicity is an essential part of the process. Say what you want to say, guys, but at least be honest about it.
As explained by Zeveloff, The rising Middle East commentators include several alumni of Columbia University’s quarterly journal, The Current. Armin Rosen, for instance, is a fellow at Atlantic Media, where he recently penned an article attacking the anti-Zionist blog Mondoweiss for having the “appearance of an anti-Semitic enterprise.” David Feith, son of George W. Bush Pentagon appointee Douglas Feith, is an assistant editor at The Wall Street Journal, where he has inveighed against the Palestinian Fatah party, Israel’s negotiating and security partner in the occupied West Bank. Jordan Hirsch is an editor at the prestigious quarterly Foreign Affairs and recently defended the legacy of right-wing Zionist ideologue Vladimir Ze’ev Jabotinsky in Tablet, an online Jewish magazine. And Bari Weiss, a senior editor at Tablet, has written for The Wall Street Journal about the Middle East and Israel.
All of this is part of a takeover of Jewish content at blue-chip U.S. universities by neoconservative dollars pushing conservative intellectual content. Over a four-year period, Shalem alumni began publications at Columbia, the University of Toronto, Brandeis University, the University of Michigan, the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard University and others. The Yale Israel Journal, which was already in existence, served as a model for the Azure Student Journals Project.
About this I’ve been writing a lot in relation to the Tikvah Fund, the Jewish Review of Books, and Tablet. It’s all interconnected.
What gets me, over and over again is the complete dishonesty, the complete non-transparency. They don’t want you to know who’s behind all this. We are supposed to believe that all of this is non-partisan. Zeveloff gleaned these gems:
The first is a from Bari Weiss, at Tablet, who is quoted as follows. “From my experience, I think it’s always best to be transparent,” Weiss, who was starting The Current at the time, wrote in one e-mail. But then she contradicted herself: “Also, from now on, better not to bring up the Shalem name. Tell them its [sic] coming from Azure — from a grant given by Hertog, who also owns half of The New Republic.” Aharon Horwitz, an adviser for the Azure Student Journals Project, replied that the editors must be “totally, totally transparent” about Shalem. “Explain that there is no, absolutely no, editorial control on the journals,” he said.
Hertog may own half of the New Republic, it’s true. Alas, it’s the rightwing half. I’ve written before about Hertog and his strategic thinking about philantrophhy, which you can read here.
As for the thoughts expressed by David Hazony, they beggar belief: In an interview with the Forward, David Hazony also stressed that the journals were run independently, with the student founders soliciting and editing the work of their peers. “The mandate was that there needs to be an Israel focus or a Jewish focus,” he said. “We put no restrictions or limitations on the content, and we did not involve ourselves editorially.”
As is always the case, there is never any need for editorial control when the editorial deck has already been stacked. Is this really what Ahad Ha’Am was talking about?