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Tracking militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy

Featured Profiles

Gatestone Institute

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Middle East peace activists describe the Gatestone Institute as “A misinformation creation and dissemination group that functions as a clearinghouse for far-right rhetoric on Islam.” An offshoot of the neoconservative Hudson Institute, Gatestone’s former chair was John Bolton, President Trump’s extremist national security adviser. The institute is known for its efforts to demonize Iranians and Palestinians as well as for promoting anti-Islamic conspiracy theories, including the ludicrous idea that there are “no-go zones” in Europe where non-Muslims are attacked.

Conrad Black

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Conrad Black is a former media mogul closely connected to rightist political factions in the United States who was convicted in July 2007 for fraud and obstruction of justice. After serving just over two years of a six and a half year sentence, Black was provisionally released from prison in July 2010, shortly after the Supreme Court limited the effect of a federal fraud law used to prosecute corruption cases. In May 2019, President Donald Trump gave Black a full pardon. Black published an obsequious book about Trump in 2018 titled Donald J. Trump: A President Like No Other. According to Black, Trump personally called to inform him of the pardon, addressing him as “the great Lord Black” and saying that he was pardoning him to expunge “the bad rap” he had purportedly received.

David Friedman

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Called a “menace” by one writer for Haaretz, David Freidman is the controversial U.S. ambassador to Israel. He is known for his extreme views on Israel, which include opposition to the creation of a Palestinian state. In late 2018 Friedman characterized his views, saying, “I am an unapologetic right-wing defender of Israel. I’m a security hawk. That’s who I am.” More recently, while speaking at a celebration sponsored by an American evangelical group to mark the anniversary of the move of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, he declared that “Israel is on the side of God.” In another incident, Freidman admonished journalists reporting on Israeli army snipers firing on Palestinian demonstrators, telling them to “keep your mouths shut.”

Jason Greenblatt

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After the announcement that Jason Greenblatt would take on a key role in President Trump’s Middle East team, one Republican operative quipped, “They’re unserious in every dimension of policy. Why would Israel policy be different?” Greenblatt brought no diplomatic experience to the role and does not appear to particularly knowledgeable about the issues. Nevertheless, he has been a Trump adviser on Israel policy  since the 2016 campaign. He has continued to have limited contact with the Palestinians in his two years in the role and has conducted much of his communication with them publicly through social media.

Foundation for Defense of Democracies

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According to Mark Dubowitz, CEO of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, “democracy has been a disaster for minorities in the Middle East” and “’inclusive authoritarianism’ might be a better alternative.” The irony of this idea was not lost on observers. One writer quipped: “This guy literally runs an outfit called the Foundation for Defense of Democracies!” FDD, a bastion of neoconservative political activism, became a major policy force during the George W. Bush administration and has returned even stronger in the Trump era. Stocked with ideologues supporting aggressive anti-Iran and “pro-Israel” policies, FDD has also been one of the few organizations defending Trump’s refusal to take serious measures against Saudi Arabia over their war in Yemen and the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Rupert Murdoch

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For many of his critics, Rupert Murdoch—the mega-media mogul who owns Fox News—is little more than a racist propaganda artist. As one writer puts it, “Instead of a former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, we have Rupert Murdoch as the founder of Fox News, which for years … injected racist, anti-Semitic and anti-liberal tropes into the American mainstream.” He is also regarded as an architect of the populist nationalism that brought Donald Trump to power. A staunch supporter of neoconservative causes for years, Murdoch has more recently been accused of betraying his political beliefs to support Trump.

 

Shmuley Boteach

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Shmuley Boteach likes to call himself “America’s rabbi,” but his deteriorating reputation has made the claim increasingly less tenable. Known for making outrageous accusations to malign those he disagrees with, Boteach recently placed a misleading ad attacking Rep. Ilhan Omar and Islam only days after the massacre in New Zealand. A spiritual advisor to Michael Jackson, Boteach more recently gained notoriety for helping Roseanne Barr to recycle her image after losing her television show because of racist tweets and his attacks on Natalie Portman for refusing to share a stage with Benjamin Netanyahu. A former friend of Sen. Cory Booker, Boteach now attacks Booker for being insufficiently pro-Israel.

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From the Wires

A series of escalations in both word and deed have raised fears of U.S.-Iranian military confrontation, either direct or by proxy. It is urgent that cooler heads prevail – in European capitals as in Tehran and Washington – to head off the threat of a disastrous war.


Vladimir Putin excels at taking advantage of mistakes made by Russia’s adversaries to further his country’s interests. Donald Trump’s Iran policy has given Putin plenty of opportunity to do that.


The Trump administration’s claims about purported Iranian threats have been repeated by credulous reporters and TV news programs far and wide.


This is the cartoon that the international edition of the New York Times should have run, at least as regards U.S. policy toward Iran.


The assault on Tripoli by Khalifa Haftar, Libya’s renegade general and leader of the self-anointed Libyan National Army (LNA), has forced an indefinite postponement of key UN peace efforts in the country even as the Trump White House announced that the president recognized Haftar’s “important” role in fighting terrorists.


With all eyes focused these days on Donald Trump and his myriad crimes, John Bolton’s speeches are a reminder that even worse options are waiting in the wings.


Advocates of cutting U.S. aid to Israel rather than using it as leverage must understand how this aid works, how big a challenge it represents for advocacy, and how to make a potentially successful argument against it.


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