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DC Press Corps Ignoring AIPAC's Tawdry Civil War, the Biggest Story in Washington?

This post is by Paul Woodward and originally appeared on War in Context. The story so far: November 8: the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) files a 260-page motion [large pdf -- don't attempt to download without broadband] in the District of Columbia Superior Court, in which AIPAC is attempting to fend off a $20 million defamation suit from former employee Steven J Rosen who claims he was wrongfully dismissed. AIPAC ditched him and his colleague Keith Weissman in 2005 when the pro-Israel lobby feared investigation by the FBI. November 15: Grant Smith highlights much of the politically damaging content of the motion in an Antiwar article, AIPAC Bares All to Quash Lawsuit. November 16: the story is picked up by MJ Rosenberg, The Forward and others. November 17: the story is gathering steam in the Jewish press, with items in the JTA and Haaretz. As for the Washington Post, the New York Times and the rest of the US mainstream media, well as of noon Wednesday, it’s apparently still nap time — or, a figurative bloodbath at that obscure and uninfluential lobbying organization really isn’t news — or, there’s no such thing as the Israel lobby and so why should the press pay any attention — or, a bunch of spineless editors, worried about embarrassing their friends at AIPAC, are looking over their shoulders waiting to see which of their competitors is going to break loose first and force them to report on this unseemly turn of events. And as for why AIPAC and Rosen are both willing to engage in what looks like a self-destructive fight, I suspect that their interests are not actually as far apart as they seem. Rosen says: “Any embarrassment I suffered as a result of what they filed will be insignificant compared to the embarrassment they’ll suffer after we file our motion.” This seems to be key: that both sides are engaged in campaigns to embarrass the other and both sides are ultimately served if the conflict can be contained to one of embarrassment. AIPAC can survive embarrassment. What it cannot survive would be investigation by the FBI. It can get away with looking like a sleazy operation. It can’t get away with being exposed as being the instrument of a foreign government. At the same time, this is also a fight over money. Rosen’s devotion to Zionism turns out to have come with an enormous price tag at a time that AIPAC is not as flush with funds as it used to be. Hard times for the Israel lobby.
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