Rozen: ‘Jewish Senators’ Hold Sway on Iran Debate

Al Monitor reporter has history of controversial statements about Jewish politicians

Laura Rozen / Flickr

Foreign policy experts criticized reporter Laura Rozen for tweeting, and then deleting, controversial remarks about Jewish influence in American politics, the second time in recent weeks she has made such remarks.

Rozen, a former reporter for Politico and current reporter for the Middle East news site Al Monitor, got in a Twitter spat Thursday evening with a prominent American Jewish community official after he criticized her for suggesting that the Jewish religious affiliation of some senators influences their policymaking decisions on Iran.

Rozen was criticized for her remarks by a number of Twitter observers, who said they are reminiscent of the longstanding anti-Semitic trope that Jews have dual loyalties.

This is the second time in recent weeks that Rozen has deleted tweets after coming under fire for controversial comments about American Jews and Israel.

The Twitter outbursts have led some in the Jewish community and elsewhere to express concern about Rozen's views of Jewish people and their presence in the foreign policy debate.

The latest argument erupted at about 10:00 p.m. Thursday, when Rozen tweeted that four "Jewish" senators were opposed to a new bipartisan Iran sanctions measure that has already garnered widespread support in the Senate.

Rozen went on to say in a since-deleted tweet that Jewish senators hold sway over their non-Jewish counterparts on the issue of Iran.

Several observers, including a top official at a Jewish-American organization, quickly asked Rozen to explain why a lawmakers’ Judaism would be relevant to their foreign policy positions

"Are you suggesting that their Jewishness lends more validity to their views?" asked Emanuele Ottolenghi, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD).

"No, but that it's not irrelevant to the domestic politics of it," Rosen said. "Deep misgivings about Iran bill with pro Israel Dems."

You "said Jewish, not Pro-Israel," Ottolenghi responded. "Does being Jewish enhance your foreign policy credentials, but only in support of the president?"

"I really don't get your point," tweeted William Daroff, a top official and lobbyist for the Jewish Federations of North America, an umbrella organization that supports the new sanctions measure. "Their Jewishness is irrelevant to their view of U.S. [national] security."

"You can be sure that Senate offices paying attention to four Jewish Senators against the [Iran sanctions] bill," Rozen responded.

The argument between Daroff and Rozen continued for nearly two hours, with Rozen defending her stance that a senator’s Judaism is relevant to the debate.

"How is it not relevant that 4 Jewish Senators oppose bill?" Rozen asked Daroff at one point.

"Because it implies interests that are different than their non-Jewish peers," Daroff said.

"The Senators speak for their constituents," Daroff later added. "Again, their religion is immaterial to their view of U.S. [national security]."

Asked early Friday to explain her positions, Rozen emailed a Washington Free Beacon reporter several links to stories from Jewish community newspapers that mention the policy positions of Jewish lawmakers.

"Several news media publications regularly note where Jewish lawmakers stand on relevant issues such on [sic] the Iran policy debate where several U.S. Jewish and pro-Israel groups frequently weigh in as they have on this Iran sanctions legislation issue," Rozen wrote.

"See these for instance," she added, including four links to articles that appeared in the Jewish Daily Forward, the JTA wire service, the Times of Israel, and the Jewish Chronicle.

"I can’t see what tweet you say I deleted but all the same content on this issue was expressed in public tweets still up on the site," Rozen wrote.

Rozen did not respond to a follow up email that included a link to her deleted tweet and asked her to clarify why she believes a senator’s Judaism is relevant to their position on Iran sanctions.

Daroff declined to comment on the debate when reached by phone on Friday.

Sources in the Washington foreign policy establishment said that Rozen’s tweets are becoming increasingly erratic, conspiratorial, and partisan.

"To make the assertion that because [these senators] are Jewish they represent the state of Israel or represent normative pro-Israel behavior is a problematic formulation," said one source involved in U.S. foreign policy.

"Statements that imply that Jewish elected officials represent viewpoints other than those of their constituents are dangerous and in an anti-Semitic context further stereotypes about dual loyalty," the source said.

Rozen came under fire in mid-November after she claimed on Twitter that a Jewish official at a prominent Washington think tank took positions on Iran at the instruction of the Israeli government.

"I do not think Israel is being well served by people they have picked on U.S. side to promote their talking points," Rozen tweeted—and then deleted—as FDD executive director Mark Dubowitz gave a radio interview.

"Israel notbbeing [sic] well served by folks they picked to push their talking points," she tweeted moments later in a tweet that also was quickly deleted.