Media Matters employee dodges question on use of term ‘Israel firster’

At long last Media Matters was finally forced to respond to critics who say the liberal organization is pushing anti-Israel propaganda.

Well, kind of.

Washington Free Beacon senior writer Adam Kredo confronted Media Matters founder David Brock over the controversy at the Politics & Prose bookstore in Washington at the end of February when Brock was taking questions about his new book, “The Fox Effect.” CSPAN just recently aired the event.

Kredo asked Brock if he stood “by the rhetoric used by your senior staffer M.J. Rosenberg, who’s accused American Jews and even AIPAC-supporting members of Congress as being ‘Israel firsters.'”

Despite the question being asked of Brock, Ari-Rabin Havt, Brock’s co-author and executive vice president at Media Matters, fielded it:

“I’m going to take this. Here is what I think. You know, Israel is an issue that has a deep and heartfelt meaning to me. It’s an issue I have thought a lot about over the years. It’s one that has had an impact on my family, sorry – it’s had an impact on my family, had an impact on my ancestors.

“What disappoints me about this whole debate is, you know, the topic of Israel and the disputes in the Middle East and Iran are kind of the most serious thing our country is dealing with today. We’re asking big questions – we’re asking, should we go to war in Iran? And our debate is being driven down to a number of tweets from a staffer at an organization that people find offensive.

“I have this policy in general in my life that I don’t feed trolls, so I’m not going to do that here.  I’m just going to say I consider myself a Zionist. I consider myself in support of the state of Israel. If you talk to any staffer at Media Matters who deals with foreign policy, I think they’ll tell you the same thing. So I’m not going to get into a debate, when we have, when we are debating the most serious issues of war and peace, I’m not going to engage in a debate with a conservative publication about tweets. When we take Iran to make it about Twitter, I think that is a huge problem.”

Kredo pressed Rabin-Havt to answer to the question he actually asked, but Rabin-Havt screeched, “Hey, I’m sorry, one question. One question.”

WATCH: Media Matters confronted over “Israel firster”

Rosenberg, the senior foreign policy fellow at Media Matters Action Network, has recently become a lightning rod for questioning the loyalty of American supporters of Israel by calling them “Israel firsters.” Alan Dershowitz, the liberal Harvard Law School professor, has denounced him in a series of recent interviews and articles, even suggesting that Rosenberg’s rhetoric and ideas are similar to what neo-Nazi and pro-Hezbollah websites offer.

Rosenberg announced in a column published earlier this month that he would no longer use the term “Israel firster.” In the same column, he compared himself to abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, even as he unconvincingly pleaded he wasn’t trying to draw that connection.

“Congress consisted of southerners who defended slavery, northerners who went along purely out of expediency, and a few brave people who spoke out,” Rosenberg wrote.

“One man who did was William Lloyd Garrison, widely considered an extremist but a man who knew he was right and would be proven right. I do not compare myself to him or to any of the heroes of the abolitionist movement.”

“Nonetheless, Garrison’s words sum up my philosophy and why I do not intend to be silenced by those who have been silencing opposition for 50 years or more,” Rosenberg continued. “I think Garrison would understand why I use strong language when confronting neocons who are jeopardizing the survival of Israel and the well-being of the safest and most welcoming homeland Jews have ever had, the United States of America.”

Follow Jamie on Twitter