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Eric Alterman

Eric Alterman

Posted: July 30, 2008 02:27 PM

The Return of Stephen Glass, Continued


It is my lot in life, apparently, to do The New Republic's job for it, and so I attempted to determine whether there could possibly be any justification for the allegations it printed on its website regarding my views (and those of Matt Yglesias, Ezra Klein and the organization, "J Street,") printed here, and already discussed and debunked here and here -- and here. Rep. Robert Wexler was apparently happy to accept the endorsement following TNR's "report" authored by Marty Peretz's personal assistant, Jamie Kirchick, that "I guarantee that neither representative [Wexler and Barney Frank] will be accepting a J Street endorsement this fall."

Aside from this false and foolish "guarantee" regarding Wexler, which was clearly unjustifiable by any standard, the only argument I could even imagine for the rest of the post -- he wrote: "The attempt by people like Ben-Ami, Alterman, Yglesias, Klein et.al. to portray their advocacy of unconditional Israeli negotiations with Iran and Hamas, unconditional Israeli territorial concessions, the Palestinian 'right of return,' (among other extreme positions) as having any truck within the mainstream of Jewish, American or Israeli opinion, while also having the gall to allege that anyone remotely to their right is an extremist, is something that psychologists call 'projection.' "

Without any evidence that any one of us had ever said or written such a thing -- and I sure as hell have said and written none of it -- Kirchick further assumes:

a) J Street is on record supporting these positions.

b) Those individuals who lend their names in support of the organization by agreeing to be listed among its Advisory Council can be fairly held responsible for each and every one of the organization's endorsed positions.

For Kirchick/TNR to be correct, both assumptions would need to be correct. In fact, surprise, surprise, both are false. Jeremy Ben-Ami, the founder and executive director of J Street, sent me the following email yesterday (while on vacation):

Eric:

The Kirchick piece is so filled with misstatements it's really criminal.

Of course "unconditional negotiations with Hamas and Ahmadinejad" are not part of J Street's policies.

On Iran, we are urging active and aggressive US engagement with Iran -- through the multiparty talks that are taking place (and, lo and behold, Bill Burns did take part last week) -- as well as exploration of all possible political openings in the Iranian political world. We have always made it clear that Ahmadinejad is not the right address for diplomatic feelers to Iran. There are many other players including the new Speaker of the Parliament and of course the Supreme Leader.

On Hamas, our position is the following: We support (as do 64% of Israelis) Israel's negotiation of a cease fire with Hamas in Gaza. We support the exploration by third parties and other nongovernmental actors of openings from Hamas and potential rifts within its leadership between extreme elements and possibly more moderate voices. That is a far cry from backing official US government negotiation with Hamas prior to its renunciation of violence and terror and its acceptance of Israel.

We don't back unconditional territorial concessions by Israel. We are in favor of territorial concessions in the context of land-for-peace deals with the Syrians and the Palestinians. In fact, it's been the unconditional and unilateral withdrawals (Gaza, Lebanon) that have created instability and the negotiated peace treaties (Egypt and Jordan) that have held.

We don't support the Palestinian right of return to Israel. We believe there should be two states for two peoples -- and Palestinian refugees should be resettled in the state of Palestine.

So on all counts -- every time that Kirchick purports to state what J Street stands for he -- quite simply -- lies.

And there is no assumption that members of the Advisory Council agree with our policy positions -- just as there is no requirement that the candidates we endorse agree with all our positions.

Hope this helps clarify ... let me know if you have other questions ...

Jeremy

I try to escape, but they pull me back. Update: I see that Kirchick, again without adult supervision, has returned with more lies and slander in his own defense here.

I can't spend my entire life doing TNR's fact-checking for it (a job, by the way, that Andrew Sullivan originally chose Stephen Glass to head up). I do need to point out, yet again, to this punk that I never have and never would ever make fun of Andrew Sullivan's HIV status.

This is really beyond the pale and should earn this creep a good shunning in polite society everywhere. When Andrew misrepresented something I wrote in order to --I kid you not -- call me a traitor and compare me to the author of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, I offered to bet him $10,000 to be given to the AIDS organization of either one of our choices -- if he could prove his allegation. I picked AIDS organizations because I was at the time, and still should be, obsessed with the problem of AIDS in Africa and had written about it all that week. I added that I thought it would be appropriate for Andrew because it is cause close to his heart given that, as I said in the post Kirchick cites, he "is HIV positive and likes to discuss this fact with reporters." I included the "reporters" comment lest anyone unfamiliar imagine that I was outing Andrew. I was not and would never do that.

And in fact, I never wrote a word when Andrew's personal life became tabloid fodder. How people whose name appears on TNR's masthead can allow themselves to be associated with this McCarthyite slander is beyond me, but there it is.

P.S. And my goodness. Have you ever heard anything richer in your entire life than the claim -- from someone at TNR -- that it is "perfectly fair" to hold a person listed on an advisory board to all positions claimed by the organization? Leave aside the fact that Kirchick is lying about the positions the organizations actually holds. Imagine holding anyone in the world responsible for ALL of the positions associated with The New Republic. He (this is TNR, after all) would have to torture and then shoot himself.

**

For the rest of today's Altercation, click here.