CAP Does Damage Control

Deploys PR firm to contain fallout in controversy over anti-Israel charges

• February 23, 2012 3:56 pm


In the midst of a controversy that has engulfed the Center for American Progress (CAP) in allegations of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic rhetoric, CAP has deployed the services of a Democratic communications firm in order to manage the public-relations fallout.

The Washington Free Beacon has learned that associates of the D.C.-based Rabinowitz/Dorf Communications firm, which has a reputation for managing crises inside the Jewish community, have reached out in recent days to reporters on behalf of CAP as the group struggles to respond to charges of anti-Israel bias.

Rabinowitz/Dorf has represented a plethora of prominent Jewish organizations, such as the centrist Jewish Federations of North America and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs. However, it also does work for several controversial left-wing groups, including J Street and the New Israel Fund, both of which have had their pro-Israel bona fides questioned by critics.

The communications firm has been defending CAP after weeks of damaging reports, including a Washington Post exposé in which the Obama administration's Jewish community liaison, Jarrod Bernstein, pointedly distanced the White House from the "troubling" situation at the organization. Their defense suggests that CAP is making a conscious effort, at least on the public relations front, to repair its reputation.

Jerusalem Post reporter Benjamin Weinthal told the WFB that Matt Dorf, a managing partner at the firm, had recently contacted him on behalf of CAP.

Weinthal, who has written a series of articles about what he described as "CAP’s anti-Israel agenda," is currently working on an in-depth analysis piece about the controversy.

Last week, Dorf reached out to Weinthal via email and telephone to discuss his forthcoming article. At that time, Dorf confirmed that he is working on behalf of CAP, Weinthal said.

Dorf declined to comment.

J Street founder and Rabinowitz/Dorf client Jeremy Ben-Ami notably came to CAP’s defense several week ago, telling the Post that he "had no problem with [the term] ‘Israel-firster.’"

Dorf, a former journalist who has worked with CAP in the past, led the damage control effort for J Street following the revelation that it had secretly accepted significant financial support from controversial billionaire George Soros. Soros is also a major CAP donor.

At the time, Ben-Ami and Dorf were accused by former Atlantic reporter Chris Good of peddling "half-truths and non-truths" about the group's affiliation with Soros and other donors.