Media Matters ducks questions about controversial tweets

Ari Rabin-Havt, executive vice president for Media Matters, said he would not debate tweets with a conservative publication, when asked about M.J. Rosenberg's use of the term "Israel Firster." The exchange between Rabin-Havt and Washington Free Beacon senior reporter Adam Kredo happened at a Feb. 27 book event for David Brock; the event was filmed and aired by Book TV Saturday.

ADAM KREDO: Hi David. I’m Adam Kredo from the Washington Free Beacon. I was curious if you support and stand 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. Do you agree with that? I was hoping David could as well—

ARI RABIN-HAVT: 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: I’m just curious about the use of the term "Israel Firster" itself, if that’s okay?

RABIN-HAVT: Hey, I’m sorry, one question. One question.

Rosenberg has employed the phrase in articles published by the Huffington Post and other outlets. Media Matters reports statements made on Twitter by conservative commentators frequently.