Joshua Holland: You are a former AIPAC staffer, right?
MJ Rosenberg: Right. To defend myself that was way back in the ’80s. In fact I was a pretty happy AIPAC staffer. I even left there on good terms. I have to say in those days it’s not so much my politics were different, AIPAC was different then. The policies weren’t nearly as reactionary then as they are now.
JH: From your inside perspective on that organization, what did you see as far as their tendency to call out criticism that they think is illegitimate or beyond the pale?
MR: They consider all criticism of Israel illegitimate. It’s all beyond the pale. I suppose their definition would be if by some miracle someone like Joseph Lieberman made a statement critical of Israel it would be legitimate. When I worked there in the ’80s, back before everyone had computers, they had a big war room where all they did was assemble every bit of data on members of Congress, on candidates, but also on writers, celebrities – anyone in the public eye.
In those days they would just put them in these folders. They always had at hand all this negative information — what they considered negative information — to tar people as being anti-Israel or even anti-Semitic. That stuff would be given to reporters if something came up. They were either initiated on their own to give to reporters or some reporter called them because they had a treasure trove of information.
They still operate that way. In those days they did it directly; now they have former staffers and people who are close to the organization in the blogging world and political world who do it for them. They do it so much. When you read that someone is anti-Israel they’re the ones putting it out there. They’ve got the data. [Continue reading…]