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Ron Radosh

Ronald Radosh is an Adjunct Senior Fellow at The Hudson Institute, and a Prof. Emeritus of History at the City University of New York. He is the author or co-author of 14 books.

The Deceit, Arrogance, and Stupidity of the Obama Administration

Who does the Obama administration think it is fooling?

A citizen journalist uncovered Jonathan Gruber claiming that Obamacare passed because of “the stupidity of the American voter,” who did not see through the sleight of hand the administration employed to hide unpalatable elements. The bill, he explained, “was written in a tortured way to make sure the CBO did not score the mandate as taxes.” Soon after, we learned that Gruber had said the exact same thing many times at different venues. He did not — as he tried to claim — simply misspeak on one occasion.

President Obama responded to the public furor, saying at his press conference in Australia:

The fact that some advisor who never worked on our staff expressed an opinion that I completely disagree with in terms of the voters is no reflection on the actual process that was run.

“Some advisor.” The president implied that Gruber was one of many outside consultants, and not the “architect of Obamacare,” as many news stories and commentators were describing him.

Obama’s argument fell apart almost immediately. Karen Tumulty wrote in Sunday’s Washington Post:

[Gruber] was no ordinary advisor — as evidenced by the fact that he was paid nearly $400,00 by the administration for his work. … His advice was important at critical moments when the bill’s survival was in jeopardy.

Tumulty further revealed that Obama himself summoned Gruber to the White House on July 20, 2009, along with Alice Rivlin and David Cutler, to find a way to lower costs. He did this after the CBO concluded that the act would not lower health care costs in the long run. Gruber’s role, Tumulty wrote, “was to explain the effect that a policy choice would have and to add credibility to the entire endeavor.”

Hence that $400,000 payment, a tidy sum for Gruber, who already had made a small fortune providing similar advice to many states.

Then Nancy Pelosi, when asked what she thought of Gruber’s statements, replied:

I don’t know who he is. He didn’t help write our bill.

In saying that, Pelosi confirmed that her view of the American voter is the same as that of Professor Gruber. Within minutes the press found a 2009 C-SPAN video of Pelosi in which she talked about Gruber, and the following, which appeared on her own  “Newsroom” blog on Dec. 1, 2009:

FACT:  An analysis of the House bill by noted MIT health care economist Jonathan Gruber concludes that the bill would result in lower premiums than under current law for the millions of Americans using the newly-established Health Insurance Exchange – including those who are not receiving affordability credits to help them purchase coverage.  (The Health Insurance Exchange is for those without access to affordable employer-sponsored coverage.) As Gruber states: “the premiums that individuals will face in the new exchanges established by this legislation are … considerably lower than what they would face in the non-group insurance market [under current law], due to the market reforms put in place by the House plan, the mandate on individuals to participate regardless of health, and the market economies of new exchanges.”

She then linked to Prof. Gruber’s analysis.

Then we heard the words of then-Senator John Kerry, who at a Senate Finance Committee hearing on October 1, 2009, said:

According to Gruber, who has been our guide on a lot of this, it’s somewhere in the vicinity of an $8 billion cost.

 

Posted at 11:38 am on November 17th, 2014 by Ron Radosh

A Democratic Think Tank Moves Left, Betraying Its Namesake Harry Truman

In the post-Cold War era, Democrats have generally been less concerned with America’s national security compared to Republicans. For example, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush brought down the “evil empire” that was the Soviet Union, ignoring the pleas of many liberal Democrats that the U.S. should pursue a policy of working with the USSR, believing that the Soviets were in the process of evolving into a Western-style democracy.

The above stance made many centrist Democrats concerned for the future of their party. So a group of center-right Democrats — foreign policy hawks who did not want to leave national security to the Republicans — formed a new think tank to develop programs that Democratic candidates could turn to for guidance: the Truman National Security Project.

Jason Cain, one of the leaders of its “Veterans Leadership Academy,” described the project as follows:

The Truman National Security Project is serving on the front lines of the battle to retake National Security as a positive platform issue for progressives. … the Truman National Security Project has given progressives the tools and voice we need to lead the country towards a future of both military and diplomatic strength.

The project modeled itself on the spirit of President Harry S. Truman, who — at the dawn of the Cold War — rejected the advice of the far-left wing of the Democrat Party (led by Secretary of Commerce Henry A. Wallace) and implemented a “get-tough” policy towards the Soviets and Joe Stalin’s expansionist aims. (That story of Truman’s new policy is best told in a book by historian Father Wilson Miscamble, From Roosevelt to Truman: Potsdam, Hiroshima and the Cold War.) But today, thanks to the work of Washington Free Beacon’s Adam Kredo, we have evidence that this once-relevant think tank has completely changed its mission.

They have decided to cede national security concerns to the Republicans, and are re-positioning themselves as mouthpieces for the Obama administration and its policies of “reaching out” to Iran. Kredo writes:

[A] leading Democratic think-tank has been quietly waging a media war on behalf of the Obama administration’s Iran diplomacy since at least the early summer, according to previously undisclosed documents that accuse congressional skeptics of being un-American warmongers.

Instead of standing up against the contemporary appeasers of Iran, the think tank’s leaders have decided to work like a lobby to promote a bad nuclear deal with the Iranians. Indeed, as Kredo writes, they have moved so far in that direction that they now are accusing those in opposition to Obama’s current policy as “unpatriotic.”

It is so bold a shift that the group’s founder, Rachel Kleinfeld, who is no longer associated with the think tank, tweeted this after linking to Kredo’s report:

Embarrassing – & not the organization I used to run. We should do a deal with Iran if its good -not for partisanship.

As Kredo reported in his first post, its communications director, Adam F. West, had told the group in an e-mail:

Our community absolutely must step up and not cede the public narrative to neocon hawks that would send our country to war just to screw the president. … Once again, Truman is gearing up for an all-hands-on-deck effort to support the administration’s goal of securing a nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1. The core message is the same: a deal is the only way to prevent an Iranian bomb and keep the U.S. out of another war.

Today, Reuters reports that Iran has refused — five times — to let an American bomb expert working for the UN atomic agency into the country to investigate its nuclear activity. Reuters explains:

[This] may reinforce an impression in the West of a continuing reluctance by Tehran to fully answer allegations that it has worked on designing a nuclear-armed missile.

This is perhaps the understatement of the week.

The Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens correctly argues:

It won’t be long before a nuclear deal with Iran will join the list of Mr. Obama’s hollow Mideast achievements.

London’s Sunday Times quoted Olli Heinonen, who spent 27 years at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA):

[Iran] could have up to 5,000 IR-2m centrifuges rather than the 1,008 it has claimed. The IR-2m devices are up to five times more effective in enriching uranium than older IR-1 types.

The IAEA’s own recent report concluded, as explained in The Israel Project’s Daily Tip, that:

[Iran is not] provid[ing] any explanations that enable the Agency to clarify the outstanding practical measures, stoking concerns that Iranian officials may be counting on Western negotiators to drop the demand that Tehran come clean about the possible military dimensions (PMDs) of its nuclear program.

For all the above reasons, the Obama administration has enlisted its sycophants for defense. And they unfortunately seem to have taken over an institute that was once devoted to bi-partisan measures promoting national security.

This development is more evidence of the collapse of the vital centrist liberalism that once understood the need to fight totalitarianism. Poor Harry Truman is turning over in his grave.

Posted at 5:33 pm on November 12th, 2014 by Ron Radosh

Obama Ignores Republican Wave, Left Eggs Him on This Dangerous Path

At Wednesday’s press conference, President Obama made his position very clear: despite the electoral whacking his party took in the midterm elections, he will do all he can to continue with his agenda, using executive action where he can to advance it. Two Washington Post reporters explain Obama’s position:

Despite his nod to shared responsibility, however, Obama sounded less introspective and remorseful in the wake of the Democrats’ resounding midterm election defeat this year than he did four years ago, when he described the outcome as a “shellacking” for Democrats. The president noted that two-thirds of those eligible did not vote Tuesday, suggesting the lack of a broad GOP mandate, and he reminded reporters that the policies he has championed, including an increase in the minimum wage, were endorsed by voters in a number of states.

Liberal columnist and Obama supporter Dana Milbank wrote:

A dismissive shrug is inappropriate. … [The election] went in one presidential ear and out the other. … [W]hen Obama fielded questions for an hour Wednesday afternoon, he spoke as if Tuesday had been but a minor irritation. He announced no changes in staff or policy, acknowledged no fault or error and expressed no contrition or regret.

Consider the contrast with Bill Clinton. After Democrats received a similar beating in 1994, which Newt Gingrich and others referred to as a “Republican revolution,” President Clinton took responsibility himself and quickly moved to the center. He hired Dick Morris as his political advisor, and worked with Republicans for trade agreements and — most importantly — welfare reform. Without Republican votes, neither of these would have been able to pass Congress.

And as Milbank notes, when President George W. Bush found his party skewered in the midterms, he fired Donald Rumsfeld and changed his Iraq policy.

Clearly, the vote reflects the unhappiness Americans have with the Democrats’ handling of the economy. Some on the left, like columnist Harold Meyerson, admit that the Democrats “did not deliver broadly shared prosperity as they used to.” He continues:

Even in the people’s republic of Vermont, the incumbent Democratic governor won so narrowly that the race will be tossed to the legislature (as Vermont law requires when no gubernatorial candidate breaks 50 percent).

Others on the Left are not so willing to take any part of the blame. Rather, they call for Obama to double down. In The Nation, editor-in-chief Katrina vanden Heuvel provides a guide for the president:

The Obama administration should act right away to use its executive powers to take steps to deal with long-ignored issues that need to be dealt with for the good of the nation.

This cannot be done quietly. To change the media narrative, issues acted upon will have to be controversial enough to dominate the news. President Obama should embrace good progressive public policy while expecting — indeed, hoping for — a massive outcry from the wing-nut section of the GOP.

Note her juxtaposition: what she favors is “good progressive policy,” and what Republicans present as an alternative are simply “wing-nut” ideas. Keep in mind vanden Heuvel’s concrete suggestions  as we see what Obama moves to implement next. We know what he is pledged to do about immigration. Will he support her proposal to “cancel the Keystone XL pipeline,” giving the leftist environmentalists what they want while standing against the very AFL-CIO unions that support the pipeline and worked hard for his re-election?

In The Daily Beast, left-wing columnist Michael Tomasky acknowledged that his side can no longer use the argument that the people are voting against their own interests, as expressed by Thomas Frank in his best-selling book What’s the Matter with Kansas?. Tomasky shrewdly notes:

People don’t vote against their interests. They vote for their interests as they see them. And right now, working-class and blue-collar whites think the Democratic Party is just implacably against them.

What he does not accept, however, is that those voters’ understanding of the situation is correct.

Posted at 11:28 am on November 6th, 2014 by Ron Radosh

How U.S. Media Helps Iran’s Propaganda Offensive

Iran, as my PJM colleague Michael Ledeen has informed us over the years, is the main state sponsor of terrorism in the world. This truth is even acknowledged by our own Department of State, in a detailed report which states:

Designated as a State Sponsor of Terrorism in 1984, Iran remained an active state sponsor of terrorism in 2011 and increased its terrorist-related activity, likely in an effort to exploit the uncertain political conditions resulting from the Arab Spring, as well as in response to perceived increasing external pressure on Tehran. Iran also continued to provide financial, material, and logistical support for terrorist and militant groups throughout the Middle East and Central Asia. Iran was known to use the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) and terrorist insurgent groups to implement its foreign policy goals, provide cover for intelligence operations, and support terrorist and militant groups. The IRGC-QF is the regime’s primary mechanism for cultivating and supporting terrorists abroad.

Moreover, the regime supports Assad in Syria, trained the Taliban in Afghanistan, and supplies weapons, training, and funding to Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Hezbollah.

At the present time, it is obvious that all of this is being ignored by the Obama administration, which has decided to allow Iran to eventually go nuclear, and hence to try to put into effect — without any congressional approval — an agreement that will ratify a bad deal after the looming November 24 deadline on negotiations between the U.S. and Iran.

As the Wall Street Journal observes:

Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog, said Friday there has been almost no progress in resolving the outstanding allegations of weapons development, despite a year of negotiations with Iranian President Hasan Rouhani’s government.

What prevents any agreement, said the International Atomic Energy Agency, is that the Iranian regime will not allow inspectors to gain access to nuclear scientists who are engaged in atomic research, as well as any access to military and research sites. If, as Iran claims, its nuclear development is being conducted only for peaceful purposes, they surely would not hesitate one moment to allow such access.

Nevertheless, the Obama administration is trying to put over what will be a very bad deal, one that allows Iran to keep its centrifuges. To make it palatable to Americans, the media is helping along in what seems to be an effort to legitimize Iran and to make Americans develop a positive view of the regime. Here are some recent examples.

The first is — believe it or not – the New York Times’ recently announced trip to Iran. Welcome, they say, “to the once forbidden land of Iran.” Why shouldn’t high-spending travelers go there with the so-called paper of record? They provide the rationale here:

Traveling in comfort, in a small, guided group along the way, your journey through Iran will provide you with a depth of understanding of this complicated place, which has been friend and foe, sometimes at the same time. … Though Iran often rejects Western ways, and is frequently under fire for its positions on human rights, its nuclear program and Israel, its role as a birthplace of civilization cannot be denied. This journey with The New York Times, praised for its intensive and clear-eyed coverage of Iran going back decades, takes you behind the headlines, deep into the conflicted and often conflict-filled past of one of the oldest cultures on earth.

Just ignore public hangings of gays that might be taking place while you’re in a major city like Tehran. Ignore the political prisoners tortured in the city’s jails, and the religious police who see to it that young people dancing to the hit tune “Happy” are thrown into jail, just as yesterday, a young woman received one year in prison for daring to go to a soccer game in Tehran’s stadium. Sports events, after all, are only for men to view. One has to ignore all this, since Persia was “the birthplace of civilization,” and remember that often Iran simply rejects our ways. We can’t be ethnocentric, after all. And the Times informs us that “conservative elders uphold the traditions of the country’s past while the young and fashionable find ways to celebrate in a country that bans alcohol.”

Posted at 12:36 pm on November 3rd, 2014 by Ron Radosh

Demagogue Al Sharpton: The Democratic Party’s New ‘Civil Rights’ Leader

The Democratic Party no longer fights for actual civil rights for African Americans. It has become beholden to race hustlers and demagogues, those who inflame passions based on memories of the real racism that existed decades ago but which is no longer relevant to the present-day American experience.

You will find no better evidence for this assertion than the news last week, as reported in the Washington Post and St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The Missouri paper explains:

The official autopsy on Michael Brown shows that he was shot in the hand at close range, according to an analysis of the findings by two experts not involved directly in the case.

The accompanying toxicology report shows he had been using marijuana.

Those documents, prepared by the St. Louis County medical examiner and obtained by the Post-Dispatch, provide the most detailed description to date of the wounds Brown sustained in a confrontation Aug. 9 with Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson. 

Evidence shows that Brown was struggling to get officer Wilson’s pistol inside Wilson’s car, which is why Brown’s blood was found in the car. Moreover, eyewitnesses also testify to seeing that fight. Judy Melinek, a forensics expert in San Francisco, explains:

The autopsy did not support witnesses who have claimed Brown was shot while running away from Wilson, or with his hands up. [Melinek] said Brown was facing Wilson when Brown took a shot to the forehead, two shots to the chest and a shot to the upper right arm. The wound to the top of Brown’s head would indicate he was falling forward or in a lunging position toward the shooter; the shot was instantly fatal.

What will happen when a grand jury concludes there should be no indictment of Officer Wilson? The scores of protestors in Ferguson have been demanding an indictment, arguing that he represented white racism at its worst, having murdered an innocent young black man in cold blood. Now that claim has been crushed.

The Left has started to challenge the new facts. In Slate, Jamelle Bouie writes a particularly lame and unconvincing retort claiming that the autopsy report only “seemed to support” the account that Wilson was innocent. As he sees it, we still have conflicting reports that prove nothing at all. Predicting “a new round of protests” if the grand jury does not indict, Bouie adds that this explains why the governor has ordered a commission to study “the social and economic conditions that led to the initial August protests.”

The real bug in the ointment, however, is our leading rabble rouser, Reverend Al Sharpton. In this past weekend’s Wall Street Journal, Heather Mac Donald of the Manhattan Institute has a devastating takedown exposing the real facts about the good reverend. (Subscription required — but I strongly urge readers to pay for the article. It’s that important.) Titled “The Democratic Embrace of Al Sharpton,” the article traces how the man who was kept at arm’s length during Obama’s 2008 campaign, isolated as unrepresentative of the black community’s views, has now become the single would-be “civil-rights leader.” Sharpton is now the person to whom all Democrats, centrist and liberal alike, kowtow and from whom they seek to gain support and endorsement. Once he “inflamed racial hatred and courted violence,” Mac Donald writes. Now, “he has been rehabilitated into the Democratic Party’s civil-rights leader of choice.”

Rather than keep him out of his circle, Obama himself has embraced him — most likely on the advice of Valerie Jarrett, who conferred with Sharpton after the Ferguson shooting. Also joining in the praise of Sharpton is Governor Andrew Cuomo, Hillary Clinton, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, and Reps. Charles Rangel and Jerry Nadler, both from New York City and mainstays of the liberal/left.

As Mac Donald notes, New York City’s left-wing mayor, Bill de Blasio, set in motion the effort to remake Sharpton as a national leader. “The mayor’s alliance with the racial provocateur,” she writes, “is now creating the biggest crisis of his mayoralty.” De Blasio’s own words praising Sharpton are so over the top that they exceed that of any other public figure who is rushing to make him relevant.

Posted at 4:06 pm on October 27th, 2014 by Ron Radosh

Obama’s Path to an Imperial Presidency

President Barack Obama has just taken another giant step towards implementing his imperial presidency.

The announcement in yesterday’s New York Times that he will seek an Iran deal “that will avoid Congress” reveals his utter contempt for the American people. Moreover, it shows us that what clearly will be a very, very bad deal is one he hopes to portray as proof that he has brought stability to the Middle East, and that — just as he had argued — Iran has shown that it is cooperative, is under “moderate” leadership, and has proved that it wants peace and can be a partner of the United States.

As the Times story by David E. Sanger puts it: “President Obama will do everything in his power to avoid letting Congress vote on it.” He will do it with a sleight-of-hand semantic trick which involves removing sanctions on Iran without Congressional approval, which a Treasury Department study evidently argues that he can do. By calling it simply an “agreement” and not a treaty, Obama thinks he can accept a bad deal and legally not have to obtain a two-thirds vote of the Senate.

The reason he wants to do this is obvious: even if the Democrats control the Senate, he would not have enough votes for a treaty to pass.

We have known for a long time that the Obama administration has decided that Iran can have a bomb and still act responsibly, despite its proven support of international terrorism and its promise to destroy Israel. In the mind of the administration’s so-called “realists,” letting Iran have a bomb will make it an equal player among the world’s nuclear powers. Then, the old doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction (appropriately dubbed MAD) will be honored by the Ayatollahs, just as the Soviet Union worked with its main antagonist, the United States, to carry on its conflict without using the atomic weapons they possessed.

Of course, the apparatchiks of the Kremlin subscribed to the materialist Marxist-Leninist theory. Unlike the religious zealotry of the commissars, the Mullahs subscribe to a reading of Islam that demands the eventual triumph of the Caliphate that will make Iran a leading world power, and a perch from which Sharia law will be the law of the land wherever it attains hegemony.

Posted at 2:54 pm on October 20th, 2014 by Ron Radosh

How David Greenglass Helped Break Up a Soviet Spy Ring

The death July 1 of David Greenglass, one of the last survivors among those who played a role in the Rosenberg case, was only made public yesterday. Greenglass’s testimony was the most important part of the prosecution’s case, and led to the Rosenberg’s conviction for giving the Soviets atomic secrets. His passing has produced lengthy obituaries in major newspapers — all either incomplete, misleading, or sometimes just wrong.

In a ghastly development, moreover, Greenglass’s death is providing an occasion for the Rosenberg’s two sons, Michael and Robert Meeropol, to renew their proclamations of their parents’ innocence. In the past years, both have acknowledged that their father (but not their mother) was working for the Soviets. Now, they have evidently gone back to their claim that the Rosenbergs were not guilty at all.

David and Ruth Greenglass, the Meeropols are quoted in the obituary in the Guardian as saying, were “the only ones who passed atomic secrets on to the Soviets, then ‘pinned what they did on our parents — a calculated ploy to save themselves by fingering our parents as the scapegoats the government demanded.’”The brothers know well that most people respond to them with sympathy, and are not aware of the overwhelming amount of material proving the Rosenbergs’ guilt that appeared in the Venona decrypts as well as in KGB files provided in Britain by Alexander Vassiliev, a former KGB agent who defected and had smuggled in to Britain all the files he had meticulously copied over the years. It is no wonder that they regularly ignore real hard evidence and neglect to inform their audiences about its existence.

Read the rest in Ron’s article at the New York Sun.

Posted at 6:37 am on October 16th, 2014 by Ron Radosh

UCLA’s New Cover Girl: Guess Which Far Leftist It Is!

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Look whose photo graces the campus of UCLA, meant to be an inspiration to incoming students. The woman in the photo is standing above the slogan: “We Question.” On the right-hand side, in small letters, students are informed that they are “the optimists.”

This banner adds to the shadow that today is cast over so many of our major universities.

For those who can’t identify her, the photo depicts Angela Davis, the notorious former Communist Party USA leader who, beginning in the ’60s, molded together black nationalism with Marxism-Leninism. She created a heady brew for recruiting new cadre into the CP and the original Black Panther Party of Huey Newton.

Some optimist! Davis believed in the triumph of Communism.

For her loyalty to the Soviet Union and its foreign policies, in 1972 she was awarded a Lenin Centenary Medal in the Soviet Union, after which she spoke to thousands at an outdoor rally in Moscow. Next, speaking at a factory in Kirov, Davis praised the workers for not using “products of labor [to fuel] the irrational drive for capitalist profits as it is used in our country.”

As she left Moscow and went up the stairs to enter her plane, she yelled out with a clenched fist: “Long live the science of Marxism-Leninism.” There is not an iota of evidence that she questioned anything about the dreary reality in the Soviet Union and their Eastern European client states.

Davis also received the International Lenin Peace Prize — formerly called the Stalin Peace Prize — from the STASI state of East Germany in 1979. She was awarded it for supposedly strengthening “peace among peoples,” but it was actually for her continued fidelity to the Soviet bloc, which to her represented the future of humanity.

Not only did she not “question” authority, Davis openly defended the repressive measures of the Communist states by endorsing their imprisonment of dissident intellectuals. When the Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia to crush the movement for “socialism with a human face” that the citizens of the country believed they could pull off without Soviet intervention, Davis strenuously supported the invasion that was forthcoming.

Posted at 2:22 pm on October 14th, 2014 by Ron Radosh

Todd Gitlin ‘Defends’ Israel: The Contortions of a ‘Pro-Israel’ Leftist Jew

Why do left-wing Jews who claim to support Israel have such trouble defending the real country of Israel? That question emerges from Todd Gitlin’s essay in Tablet  magazine with the provocative title, “How My Father’s Problem With Blacks Mirrors the Left’s Problem With Jews.”

The Left certainly does have a problem with both Jews and Israel. We have seen this displayed most recently by the leftist academic petition in defense of Hamas; scores of Gitlin’s left-wing academic colleagues signed it. It is clear that many of Gitlin’s left-wing academic colleagues continually illustrate their support for Israel’s enemies.

Gitlin himself is not part of our country’s amorphous but large major leftist community. He hails not from that sectarian, far-left group of ideologues, but from what even conservative writer David Horowitz acknowledges is a “decent left,” the democratic socialist and social-democratic editors of Dissent magazine. Yet, in reviewing the past, Gitlin still stands by what was then the position of the hard totalitarian left.

Today, as I hope to show, Gitlin is clearly afraid of being seen as too pro-Zionist, a stance that would quickly alienate him from many of his leftist comrades and would mean abandonment of his belief in universalism, although everywhere it has proved to be a failure.

Let us look first at Gitlin’s problem with his father’s attitude towards African-Americans. He starts by bringing up the famous New York City teachers’ strike led by Al Shanker that took place in 1968. That, along with the left’s opposition to the Vietnam War, is what Gitlin says led his father to become “sourly tribal” and to “sour on all the left’s colorations.” He explains:

As a teacher and administrator in the largest high school in East Harlem, he had felt pincered. Just as New York Jews were increasing their power in the school system, digging out from under the city’s Protestant and Irish- and Italian-Catholic elites, here came the dark-skinned people demanding control— and power over Jewish teachers, whom they saw as white interlopers in their communities. No wonder New York Jews went wild, in 1968-69, charging the community control movement with harboring anti-Semitism — and the teachers went on strike.

Gitlin, like the author of the article he cites in The Nation, believes that the effort for “community control” and the removal of Jewish teachers from predominantly African-American schools was understandable. His father did not. He writes “New York Jews went wild,” a giveaway description that trivializes and ridicules the serious reasons the union called a strike. Clearly, Gitlin’s account of these events reflects his own inability to clearly assess what happened in that historic strike. He ignores the support of the strike by many black teachers who taught in schools other than the ones in Ocean Hill-Brownsville, as well as the leading role in the strike played by Bayard Rustin, the social-democratic civil rights leader. In the book by Daniel Hiram Perlstein, portions of which are available online (pp.82-84), Perlstein tells the story of how Rustin, an advocate of a civil rights-labor coalition, fought against the extremist black nationalism that Todd Gitlin thinks his father should have supported.

As the black nationalist community supported by the Ford Foundation and Mayor John Lindsay was doing its best to fire teachers for no other reason than that they were white, Shanker and A. Philip Randolph broke with the new nationalist sentiment. Shanker decided to call out the UFT membership on strike, which Randolph supported. Rustin argued that so-called community control was the equivalent of the old Southern belief in the pre-Civil War period of “states’ rights” and meant an abandonment of politics to end segregation and a racially based exclusion that fed right into the hands of blacks’ real opponents.

In an interview with The Daily Forward, Shanker’s biographer, Richard Kahlenberg, explains the strike’s legacy:

One of the legacies was an acceptance of the idea of color-conscious hiring and firing. What happened in Ocean Hill-Brownsville, what precipitated the strikes, was really quite extraordinary. You had the community control board in the African-American ghetto of Ocean Hill-Brownsville firing a number of white teachers without cause. Moreover, the local superintendent, Rhody McCoy, had as an end goal an all-black teaching force. This was a huge departure from the classical liberal position, which was that hiring and firing ought to be based on merit and be colorblind. But what happened in Ocean Hill-Brownsville is that large numbers of liberals — white liberals, including many members of the upper-middle class — went along and supported this new notion of color-conscious firing and hiring. And so, in a sense, you had the acceptance of racial preferences, which we continue to live with today.

Does Todd Gitlin really believe that black nationalist leader Rhody McCoy’s attempt to make acceptance of black nationalism an appropriate standard for hiring teachers was correct? Was it really because of “Jewish tribalism” that Al Shanker responded to the racist actions of McCoy by standing up to it? As a supporter of unionism, I think had Gitlin taken the time to rethink his position, he might have reconsidered whether or not he really was on the right side.

As for anti-Semitism, there was much evidence of it among the black radical leaders at Ocean Hill-Brownsville. As John Kifner reported in the New York Times in a 1996 article:

Anti-Semitism surfaced when a black teacher, Leslie Campbell, read a girl’s poem that included a slur toward Jews. (The school system’s underpaid staff was 90 percent white and heavily Jewish.) The United Federation of Teachers reproduced and distributed anti-Semitic leaflets it said were circulating in the schools.

That poem, read on the air in the city’s left-wing radio station WBAI on Julius Lester’s  show by black nationalist Leslie Campbell, featured the opening line: “Hey, Jew boy, with that Yamaka on your head,” and went on from there. I remember listening to Lester’s program when it aired, and being shocked. How did this widely known event slip Todd Gitlin’s mind? Sure, the poem was written by a 15-year-old student. But it was read and endorsed by Campbell, who also was proud of the backing of firings of white teachers offered by the Black Panther Party and other radical black nationalist groups.

Posted at 4:12 pm on October 9th, 2014 by Ron Radosh

New Tactic in Left’s Never-Ending War Against Israel: Calling It ‘JSIL’

We now have the latest obscenity in the war against Israel. It comes from three sources — Al Jazeera television, the Russell Tribunal on Palestine held in London, and the German newspaper Deutsche Welle. These are all enemies of Israel who wish nothing less than its destruction.

Their new propaganda tactic is to equate Israel — which they now refer to as JSIL (the Jewish State of Israel in the Levant) — with ISIL (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant).

According to them, like ISIL in Iraq and Syria, Israel is a terrorist military entity which seeks to recruit foreign fighters into their armed forces, to convert or murder infidels, and to destroy the Palestinians.

Here’s the first paragraph of the the article in Deutshe Welle:

Young Americans are opting out of the U.S. military and joining foreign forces. The Israeli army recruited over 100 Americans during the war against Hamas, while others are being lured to join extremist groups.

The article profiles two American Jews who went to Israel: 22-year-old Jason Kraizler from New Jersey, who willingly offers his support to Israel’s efforts to defend itself against Hamas; and Eli Ezer First from New York, who believes that “extreme Islam” is a danger and has to be stopped.

Accusing these Jewish Americans of war crimes comes at a time when Americans are in the spotlight for joining extremist groups in Syria and Iraq. U.S. officials say there are nearly three times more Americans fighting in extremist groups than originally estimated.

The article concludes by comparing American jihadists and Americans who try to help Israel defend itself as one and the same, since “Americans are turning to foreign soil to fight, finding meaning, belonging and acceptance.” Not once does the article differentiate between those who seek to fight on behalf of fanatical Islamists who are trying to create a new caliphate, and those who are trying to help a beleaguered democracy, whose citizens share the values of Western societies, defend itself.

The Al Jazeera story also links to this new left-wing activist campaign, and notes how popular it is on Twitter:

The Jewish State of Israel in the Levant: that’s what a group of pro-Palestine activists are now calling Israel, in a play on words on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The hashtag #JSIL has been tweeted more than 5,200 times as Twitter users protest Israel’s actions.

Activist Max Blumenthal first made the comparison between ISIL and Israel during the Russell Tribunal on Palestine. For those who do not know what the Russell Tribunal is, Wikipedia explains its origins in the anti-war movement of the 1960s, when Bertrand Russell organized a tribunal to investigate the United States for alleged war crimes against the Vietnamese. Now, its descendants have brought it up to date, using the old format to investigate and find Israel guilty as they judged the United States to be during the Vietnam War. As expected, the tribunal convened a special session on September 24, and found Israel guilty, as the anti-Israel site Mondoweiss reports, of “war crimes, crimes against humanity, crimes of murder, extermination and persecution and also incitement to genocide.”

Here you will find Max Blumenthal, dubbed by Nation columnist Eric Alterman as one who might as well have had his recent book published by “the Friends of Hamas,” make the case for the comparison between ISIS and Israel. He calls it “the ethnically cleansing Jewish state and its project of dispossession of the Palestinian people.” (Video here.) In his testimony, Blumenthal says:

The atrocities formed an undeniable pattern, suggesting that the crimes committed by Israeli forces in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge were the product of stated military policies, or at least rules of engagement that enabled massacres, summary executions, wholesale residential destruction, the use of civilians as human shields, and abductions. I will describe these atrocities in as much detail as possible and allow the members of the jury to judge for themselves.

As any sane person knows, Hamas used human shields in Gaza to cynically create civilian casualties which have served them very well in the propaganda war against Israel. You will not find one word about any of the horrors committed by Hamas aired at the Russell Tribunal. The “trial” copies the Stalin purge trials of the 1930s in that the verdict was known at the start, and the trial was a sham meant to serve the purposes of propaganda.

In his closing words, Blumenthal echoes the Arab and old Soviet propaganda against Israel, first made by the Soviets in the period after the 1967 war. Blumenthal concludes:

I want to close with two points: First, we cannot address the crimes that occurred in Gaza this summer without examining the historical and political context of Operation Protective Edge. The unprecedented levels of violence wielded against residents of Gaza reflect the trajectory of Zionism and are required by its logical imperatives. Zionism is a settler-colonial movement that demanded the mass expulsion of Palestinians from what is now Israel and their permanent ghettoization in the Gaza Strip, where 80 percent of the population are refugees, in order to consolidate Israel’s ethnic purity. The longer the ghettoized population resists this system of demographic engineering, the more malevolent its occupier becomes. So the horrors we just witnessed in Gaza did not occur in a vacuum. They are reflections of the historical trajectory of Zionism.

Posted at 8:33 am on October 1st, 2014 by Ron Radosh