« One change we can begin to observe, though, is in the role of Jewish donors »

Phil Weiss (he’s behind the indispensable blog MondoWeiss, very critical of the United States’ pro-Israel policies) has repeated this often enough: the key factor behind the Jewish community’s influence in US politics is not so much electoral (although Jewish voters still play an important role in some swing states such as Florida) as financial – Jews figure prominently among the main donors of US politics. Since the US Supreme Court considered independent electoral expenditure from companies to be covered by the free speech rules of the US Constitution in a very controversial 2010 judgment (Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission), the role of money donations in US politics, already huge, is set to expand further.

Witness then the following consideration on the role of Jewish donors post-Citizens United, from The Jewish Daily Forward:

This remaking of the campaign finance system will reshuffle our politics in ways that no one can yet predict. One change we can begin to observe, though, is in the role of Jewish donors. They’ve long been a mainstay of Democratic politics. Their footprint on the GOP side is traditionally smaller. The super PAC phenomenon is already boosting Jewish donors’ importance in the Republican Party by several orders of magnitude.

The Forward’s Josh Nathan-Kazis reported in March on Jewish giving to the biggest super PAC, the pro-Romney Restore Our Future, which had raised a total of $36 million at the time (as of April 23 it’s reached $52 million). At the time, he reported, Jews had provided about 10% of the PAC’s total revenues.

Moreover, he noted, several of the pro-Romney PAC’s Jewish donors were former Democratic donors who switched sides this year, presumably because of disenchantment with the president. If that continues and becomes a trend, it will have serious implications for the future.

Scanning the broader super PAC field, the impact is even more striking. Of 25 Republican super PAC donors who have given $1 million or more, four or five are Jewish (depending on whether you count Sheldon and Miriam Adelson separately, as the FEC and IRS do). The Adelsons, in fact, are the largest single donors in American politics, accounting for a total of $26.5 million in gifts in this campaign between the two of them and their three daughters. Most of their gifts, $21.5 million, went to the pro-Gingrich Winning Our Future PAC. The other $5 million went to the pro-GOP Congressional Leadership Fund.

Three other Jewish GOP donors gave $1 million each: hedge fund operators Paul Singer and John Paulson to the pro-Romney PAC and bingo king Irving Moskowitz to Karl Rove’s American Crossroads. Another three Jewish donors gave between $1 million and $2 million each to Democratic super PACs: movie mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg, real estate investor Amy Goldman and hedge fund operator James Simons.

This makes for a double-blow to the Democrats. On one hand, the super PACs’ potential benefit to Republicans seems incalculable. Only 10% of Forbes magazine’s 400 wealthiest American billionaires had given by late March. Another 360 wait to be tapped.

No less alarming, Republicans are faring better than Democrats among wealthy Jews (including those giving less than $1 million). That’s unprecedented.

And if Obama manages to make up the shortfall through small online donations, a feat he mastered in 2008, what are the implications for Jewish influence in the Democratic Party?

On the other hand, what if these new Jewish mega-donors become a force within the GOP? Most of them appear to be entrepreneurs and investors alienated by Obama’s fiscal policies. Many are outspokenly progressive on issues like abortion, gay rights and the environment. If they end up gaining the clout their donations suggest, then liberals might have to rethink their fear and loathing of the other party. Watch the money. (Forward.com)

What this portends for US politics in the Middle East, and on Palestine, is another matter – there are other constituencies to accommodate, such as the evangelical voters (pro-Israeli for religious reasons) and the oil lobby – not to mention the slump in US influence in the region evident during the 2011 Arab spring. More importantly, the cracks within the Jewish community are getting wider: apart from J-Street, seen as a liberal (in the US sense) competitor to AIPAC, the internal criticism of the blindly pro-Israel slant of US diplomacy in the Middle East has seldom been stronger, with even mainstream media talking heads – Thomas Friedman and Peter Beinart are the latest ones – stepping out of line. And many of the most vocal critics of Israel and supporters of the BDS movement are from within the Jewish community – Phil WeissGlenn GreenwaldMax BlumenthalNaomi Klein (she’s Canadian), not to mention Noam Chomsky and Norman Finkelstein, who are not in favour of BDS.

One last comment: one has to commend a Jewish community paper like Forward for writing such a candid article. You will not be reading anything resembling that in the NYT or the WaPo anytime soon – not to mention the European press, where the understandable reluctance to use themes  – such as that of « Jewish money » – regrettably reminescent of the 30’s has stifled even  descriptive, balanced and nuanced media work on the political role of some Jewish operators – in France for instance, more space is devoted to Muslim umbrella groups UOIF and CFCM, and less compunction is displayed when writing about them, than to their Jewish counterpart CRIF. Let’s hope an evolution is under way for casual discussion of issues related to Jews and Muslims, without falling into the twin traps of anti-semitism and islamophobia.

Une des pires erreurs dans la presse dite de qualité

L’hebdomadaire britannique The Economist a écrit il y a une semaine un article sur la cause des femmes arabes dans le contexte du printemps dit arabe, intitulé « Women and the Arab awakening: Now is the time« . Lisant la version électronique, je suis tombé sur cet erratum en fin d’article:

Editor’s note and apology: In this piece, we originally said that Rachid Ghannouchi, the leader of Tunisia’s Nahda party, opposes the country’s liberal code of individual rights, the Code of Personal Status, and its prohibition of polygamy. We also said that he has threatened to hang a prominent Tunisian feminist, Raja bin Salama, in Basij Square, in Tunis, because she has called for the country’s new laws to be based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We accept that neither of these statements is true: Mr Ghannouchi has expressly said that he accepts the Code of Personal Status: and he never threatened to hang Ms bin Salama. We have apologised to him unreservedly.

Cette excuse a été faite par la rédaction de The Economist, et la dernière phrase laisse même entendre qu’une excuse sans réserve lui aurait été faite personnellement, avant même la publication de ce corrigendum.

L’amplitude de cette erreur est tout simplement monumentale – affirmer que Rachid Ghannouchi, leader d’Ennahda et connu depuis des années comme un islamiste modéré et légaliste, est opposé au Code du statut personnel en vigueur en Tunisie depuis Bourguiba (alors qu’il a affirmé publiquement et de manière réitérée ne pas vouloir le changer), à la déclaration universelle des droits de l’homme (alors que son discours est axé sur le respect des droits de l’homme) et que, cerise sur le gâteau, il ait appelé à la pendaison d’une féministe, tout ceci semble tenir de la désinformation plus que de l’erreur.

Ceci étonne venant de The Economist qui, par rapport au reste de la presse mainstream, n’a jamais tenu de discours éradicateur face aux islamistes. Cela m’étonne d’autant plus qu’il m’est arrivé de rencontrer deux de leurs journalistes couvrant le Moyen Orient et qu’ils sont très loin des éditocrates lobotomisés de la presse française en termes de connaissance des pays qu’ils couvrent et d’approche nuancée. On peut penser avec Loonwatch que l’excuse est faible, et je me demande personnellement si Ghannouchi ne devrait pas intenter une action en diffamation (« libel« ), vu la sévérité de la législation anglaise en la matière.

Et ce n’est pas la seule erreur de The Economist, puisqu’une autre énorme bourde avait été publiée concernant la Palestine, un article confondant le célèbre prisonnier politique palestinien Marwan Barghouti avec le militant et candidat indépendant aux dernières présidentielles palestiniennes Mustafa Barghouti:

In our article on October 15th on the prisoner exchange between Israel and the Palestinian Islamic group, Hamas, titled « Israel and Palestine: An extraordinary exchange rate », we wrongly referred to Mustafa Barghouti as a prisoner unlikely to be freed, whereas we meant Marwan Barghouti, whom we also mentioned as a possible future Palestinian leader. We apologise sincerely to Mustafa Barghouti, a widely respected Palestinian politician and analyst, who is not in jail. This has been corrected online.

Une grossière manipulation islamophobe et une non moins grossière erreur factuelle – que se passe-t-il à The Economist?

Des camps d’entraînement du Hezbollah au Vénézuela, en attendant ceux du Hamas en Norvège…

La presse mainstream est souvent prévisible. Ainsi cet article, déjà daté, du Los Angeles Times « Fears of a Hezbollah presence in Venezuela« . On y décrit, sur la base exclusive de renseignements de « Western anti-terrorism officials« , « Western government terrorism expert« , « Western anti-terrorism official [speaking] on condition of anonymity« , « U.S. Treasury Department » et « Western security official« , un terrifiant complot terroriste entre Hezbollah, Iran et Vénezuela (lesdits officiels ont oublié la Bolivie et l’Equateur dans leur check-list). Parmi les lourds éléments à charge, l’existence de vols d’IranAir de Téhéran à Caracas et le fait que les douaniers vénezuéliens ne tamponnent pas tous les passeports à l’heure de la sieste. La seule preuve de l’existence de camps d’entraînement du Hezbollah en Amérique Latine est sinon une déclaration de Matthew Levitt, membre du think-tank néo-con (je sais, le terme est passé de mode) et pro-israëlien Washington Institute for Near East Policy (la liste des membres du conseil d’administration de cet institut est édifiante).

Un dossier au moins aussi solide que celui des armes de destruction massive en Irak. Et en attendant des révélations sur les camps d’entraînement du Hamas en Norvège

Spécial dédicace pour les auditeurs de Médi 1, lecteurs de blogs marocains et quelques autres personnes

Lu dans Financial Times à l’instant:

Hizbollah, the Shia group backed by Iran and Syria, received a significant concession – a blocking minority in a new cabinet – but was also seeking an electoral law that could secure a better performance for its Christian allies in Beirut in next year’s parliamentary elections. (…)

The dispute over the division of electoral districts in Beirut – in effect, over a few seats – might appear a detail but it could prove decisive in the elections in which the opposition is hoping to reverse the governing ­coalition’s parliamentary majority.

Opposition officials have complained that the coalition was intent on thwarting any chance of real electoral competition in Beirut. Government loyalists, meanwhile, have charged that the opposition was seeking to control Beirut, a stronghold of the Sunni community that leads the coalition.

Hizbollah’s allies insisted that they would not leave Doha without a deal and negotiations were continuing.

Le Hezbollah se battrait-il à Doha pour défendre les intérêts électoraux de ses alliés chrétiens? Nous aurait-on menti à l’insu de notre plein gré?

Logique en fait: le Hezbollah cherche à renforcer le poids électoral de son allié maronite, l’ex-général Michel Aoun, dans la circonscription de Beyrouth, fief du bloc Hariri. Je tiens d’ailleurs à préciser que lors des dernières élections législatives de 2005, une des trois circonscriptions beyrouthines avait une liste commune composée de, accrochez-vous, la veuve de Bachir Gemayel, le Hezbollah et le Tayyar al Moustaqbal de Hariri. Amis des idées simples, intéressez-vous à autre chose que la politique libanaise…

Je dédie ce post aux personnes précitées, qui lisent, écoutent estiment et répètent que le Hezbollah est un parti fanatique, islamo-fasciste, antisémite, terroriste, putschiste, qui cherche à imposer un Etat islamique au Liban, qui ne tolère aucune dissidence politique ou religieuse, et qui prépare déjà le statut de dhimmi qu’il imposera aux autres confessions non-musulmanes du Liban. Je le dédie aussi à ceux qui croient qu’au Liban, il s’agit d’une confrontation entre Occident et Orient, islam et chretienté, dar al harb contre dar al islam, Lumières contre fanatisme, ceux qui aiment la vie et ceux qui souhaitent la mort, guerre contre paix, ying contre yang et Raja contre Wydad. Enfin, je souhaite rappeler aux débiles mentaux fidèles lecteurs de la presse mainstream qui par extraordinaire liraient ce post que je ne prétends pas que le Hezbollah est sans faute et sans reproche ou une réincarnation de la démocratie-chrétienne norvégienne ou de la social-démocratie finlandaise.

PS: il semblerait cependant, à en croire les premières infos sur l’accord de Doha, que l’opposition Hezbollah/Amal/Tayyar (Aoun) ait lâché du lest sur ses revendications électorales à Beyrouth… mauvaise journée pour Michel Aoun, qui ne sera sans doute jamais président (le général Michel Sleimane est le candidat consensuel désigné à Doha) et qui n’a pas pleinement obtenu gain de cause à Doha sur les circonscriptions électorales de Beyrouth:

Also agreed upon at Doha is the adoption of the Qada (Lebanese administrative District)-based 1960 electoral law with Beirut divided into three constituencies:

* The first electoral district comprises Ashrafiye, Rmeil and Saifi with five seats: Two Armenians, one Maronite, one Orthodox and one Catholic;

* The second electoral district comprising Bashoura, Medawwar and Marfa’ with four seats: One Sunni, one Shiite and two Armenians;

* The third electoral district comprising Mazraa, Msaytbe, Ras Beirut, Mina el Hosn, Zaqa el Blat and Dar el Mrayseh with ten seats: Five Sunnis, one Shiite, one Druze, one Orthodox, one Evangelical and one for the minorities.

This arrangement is actually pretty fair to both sides for now given the current circumstances and the fact that there has been no census since 1932. Saad Hariri got most of what the Future Movement wanted in order to preserve his electoral base in West Beirut.

PPS: Comme le souligne lixy dans un commentaire, cette tirade anti-MSM est fondée sur un extrait du Financial Times de Rupert Murdoch. Ceci n’affecte bien évidemment pas mon infaillibilité suprême.

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