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Foreign policy reporter Laura Rozen tweeted, and then deleted, a claim that a Jewish official at a prominent Washington think tank took positions on Iran at the instruction of the Israeli government.
Rozen, a reporter for the Middle East news site Al Monitor, tweeted the accusation on Friday as Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ (FDD) executive director Mark Dubowitz was giving a radio interview about Iran’s contested nuclear program.
Rozen, who formerly worked for Politico and Foreign Policy magazine, had been tweeting at Dubowitz during his interview when she wrote: “I do not think Israel is being well served by people they have picked on U.S. side to promote their talking points.”
She followed up that tweet by stating: “Israel notbbeing [sic] well served by folks they picked to push their talking points.” Both tweets were quickly deleted.
Pro-Israel insiders and media watchdog groups were quick to criticize Rozen’s remarks as inappropriate and inaccurate.
Rozen’s suggestion that a Jewish expert is secretly representing the interests of the Israeli government is reminiscent of the longstanding anti-Semitic allegation that Jews have dual loyalties, they said.
“Clearly this woman is not a real journalist or she would know that remarks like these are the basis of anti-Semitic stereotypes and conspiracy theories—the same tropes used generation after generation to justify persecution of Jews,” one senior Jewish official told the Washington Free Beacon. “She needs to apologize and make clear allusions to such anti-Semitic tropes have no place in our society.”
The comments appear to be part of a larger effort to marginalize those who disagree with the Obama administration’s stance on Iran, others said. Nuclear negotiations with Tehran are scheduled to resume on Wednesday.
“There is something deeply troubling to the charges being leveled by officials and journalists that anyone who is critical of the administration’s approach is a warmonger, anti-diplomacy, or is not acting purely in America’s interest,” said Josh Block, president and CEO of The Israel Project (TIP).
“A diplomatic process and a deal with Iran that reserves financial relief in return for a halt to enrichment and a dismantling of its nuclear infrastructure is the kind of deal American diplomats should be seeking precisely because it is smart diplomacy, and because it is the surest way to peaceably stop Iran from being able to build a nuclear weapon,” Block said.
Rozen is known in media circles for her left-of-center views.
“Rozen is well-known as being very sympathetic to Iran and very contemptuous of anyone who isn’t—especially anyone whose politics can be described as pro-Israel,” said Noah Pollak, executive director of the pro-Israel Emergency Committee for Israel (ECI).
Rozen proposed blacklisting conservative foreign policy experts in 2008 during a discussion on the on the now-defunct secret listserv known as Journolist.
“People we no longer have to listen to: Would it be unwise to start a thread of people we are grateful we no longer have to listen to? If not, I’ll start off: [American Enterprise Institute’s] Michael Rubin,” she wrote.
Both anti-Semitism experts and media watchdog officials said they too were troubled by Rozen’s remarks.
“What is she saying really?” asked Alex Safian, associate director of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), a media bias watchdog group. “Does she mean FDD, does she mean AIPAC,” the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, “does she mean the people in Congress?”
“If Laura Rozen or others claim it’s Israeli talking points, well, it’s French talking points, Saudi Arabia’s talking points, it’s the region’s talking points,” Safian said.
A growing number of world leaders have publicly and privately expressed fear about Iran’s pursuit of nuclear arms, which they believe could spark a regional arms race.
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said that “the concern obviously I have is that [Rozen’s comments] reinforce the wildly and dangerously inaccurate world view that “the West is being ‘forced or cajoled’ to take action against Iran by “an increasingly sinister Bibi Netanyahu.”
However, Cooper said he has met numerous foreign leaders who express the exact same worries.
“What we’ve heard from the horse’s mouth is that they don’t sleep at night and are worried about nuclear blackmail by Tehran,” said Cooper, referring to nations such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Kuwait, among others. “They feel as much an existential threat as Israel does.”
FDD’s Dubowitz declined to comment on Rozen’s accusations.
Rozen did not respond to a request for comment.