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January 17, 2017 / 19 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Ben Rhodes’

Beware the Echo Chamber, Fear the Media Savvy Left, Stick to the Truth

Sunday, May 22nd, 2016

I’m not sure which is more worrisome: the ease with which the media, politicians and public opinion were manipulated by the White House and by Ben Rhodes and his associates, or the fact that Ben Rhodes and his associates not only do not care care that their methods have been exposed, they are openly proud of how they did it and are apparently just waiting for the next opportunity and client, so they can do it again.

The Ploughshares Fund was one of the most egregious abusers of the public’s right to receive good, unbiased information, when, during the critical period leading up to the Senate vote on the Iran nuclear deal, suddenly new organizations and experts began popping up out of nowhere, filling up the internet and social media with their distorted information.

Ploughshares used their money to network and amplify the voices of 86 organizations and 200 individuals during the Iran Debate, creating, what Ben Rhodes described as an “echo chamber” effect, where it looked and sounded like the voices on their side of the public debate were the overwhelming majority, always making a point to be there to oppose any conflicting opinion.

But this isn’t the first time we’ve seen this technique being used.

Remember V15 in Israel? A previously unknown group which popped out of nowhere during the 2015 elections and tried to oust PM Netanyahu, claiming to be a “grassroots” organization, yet flush with suspiciously copious funds, enough to make a lot of noise. Now we know V15 was connected to OneVoice, which had received a $233,500 grant from the US State Department in 2013, according to NGO-Monitor, and, by their own admission, other money from overseas Jews, including S. Daniel Abraham (Founder of Center for Middle East Peace) and Daniel Lubetzky (Founder of PeaceWorks, which created OneVoice Movement). They also hired Jeremy Bird, President Obama’s 2012 campaign director, to help in their anti-Bibi campaign.

Then there’s that multi-headed hydra, The New Israel Fund, with the multiple NGOs they fund.

The Left’s war for the public’s votes and opinions isn’t being fought based on issues or values. Its operation is based on confusing the message and tricking the public, overwhelming them with variations of the same message over and over, simultaneously hitting them from different sources from every direction, having them think that support for one side of the debate is overwhelming larger than it is, trying to give credibility to radical ideas simply through constant repetition — when in fact those who support it may be minuscule in numbers and in some cases dangerously on the fringe.

I expect that the reporters who thought they were actually in tight with President Obama and then discovered they were being proactively manipulated will let it happen to them again, despite whatever anger and embarrassment they feel right now. And who in the public is going to remember Ploughshares, V15 and NIF’s manipulations come the next event or policy they want to manipulate?

The question is, how do we fight it?

Do we immitate them and duplicate their media manipulations — fighting fire with fire, to the point where no one has credibility any more, and it comes down to who can slam you harder and more often with his message?

Or do we stick to the truth and hope that by pointing out how easily they were fooled last time, this time they won’t let it happen — praying that even that message doesn’t get overwhelmed by the next Ben Rhodes’ “hammer and ploughshare” campaign?

I don’t have the answer. I don’t believe that those on our side of the political spectrum even comprehend the scale and deviousness of the media and public opinion manipulations of the Left.

But if we don’t learn, if we don’t try and if the financial backers on our side ignore these lessons, whatever the solution, then our message, our truth, our way of life will simply be drowned in the Left-generated echo chambers of social media and lies.

JoeSettler

Report: J-Street Received More Than $500,000 to Promote Obama’s Iran Deal

Sunday, May 22nd, 2016

The far-left J-Street lobby, which calls itself a “pro-peace” and “pro-Israel” organization, received $576,500 dollars last year to push the Obama Administration’s Iran deal, via the Ploughshares Fund, according to an AP report.

The Ploughshares Fund, one of the main groups named by the Obama administration’s spin doctor Ben Rhodes, set its sights on other media organizations in its campaign too. Their goal, according to Rhodes was to set up an echo chamber of pro-Iran messages bouncing back and forth between different organizations and individuals.

For instance, utilizing the services of the GMMB.com ad agency, the Ploughshares Fund attempted to directly reach politically active US Jews via online advertising on Israeli and Jewish websites, with a budget in the tens of thousands of dollars.

I’m looking to run on local Jewish community sites in PA, NY, MD or run on Jewish sites that can geo-target to these states.
More information below –
Timing: Sept 5th – September 18th
Goal: Completed video views and traffic to landing page
Geo: PA, NY, MD
Budget: $5- $40k
Target: Jewish people (preferably politically active)

GMMB was particularly interested in advertising on JewishPress.com, which did not run their ads. They were even willing to prepay for their campaign.

Two other sites GMMB expressed interested in advertising on were the Times of Israel and the JPost.com.

Banner ads that ran in the various newspapers and websites appeared to be from different organizations, which then led to different pro-Iran Deal websites and YouTube channels.

The Times of Israel ran ads for an organization called “No Nukes for Iran Project“, which of course supported the Iran deal.

Ads were also run on Google.

But the underlying account name from the back-end ad server sent to JewishPress.com said “Ploughshare Fund”.

Ploughshare Fund account information for the pro-Iran deal campaign to run on Jewish websites.

Ploughshares Fund account information for the pro-Iran deal campaign to run on Jewish websites.

One such YouTube channel heavily featured Peter Beinart calling for viewers to #DefendTheDeal, under the name “Iran Deal Forum”.

"The Iran Deal Forum" promoting the Iran Deal with Peter Beinart videos.

“The Iran Deal Forum” promoting the Iran Deal with Peter Beinart videos.

The Associated Press explored the 2015 Annual Report of the Ploughshares Fund, a fund mentioned in the expose/profile of Rhodes published last week by The New York Times.

In that profile, Rhodes boasted about the main groups responsible for helping to create the “echo chamber” that promoted the Iran deal despite facts that contradicted the hype.

A fact sheet distributed this weekend by The Israel Project (TIP) managing director Omri Ceren noted The Ploughshares Fund is a donation hub that has distributed millions of dollars in recent years to groups pushing the Iran deal.

After Congress failed to defeat the deal, Ploughshares President Joseph Cirincione published a video and letter boasting about how the echo chamber – over 85 groups and 200 people – was created with Ploughshares money: “groups and individuals were decisive in the battle for public opinion and as independent validators… they lacked a common platform – a network to exchange information and coordinate efforts.

Ploughshares Fund provided that network… we built a network of over 85 organizations and 200 individuals… We credit this model of philanthropy – facilitating collective action through high-impact grantmaking – with creating the conditions necessary for supporters of the Iran agreement to beat the political odds” Cirincione said.

The Ploughshares Fund gave National Public Radio $100,000 last year towards the mission to report on the Iran deal, funding reports on related issues and NPR’s annual report. According to the mission statement of the NGO, its primary raison d’etre is to “build a safe, secure world by developing and investing in initiatives to reduce and ultimately eliminate the world’s nuclear stockpiles.”

But it was that NGO and others who were used by the White House to carry out what amounted to a deliberate propaganda campaign to mislead the American people.

In its probe of the 2015 Annual Report of the Ploughshares Fund, the Associated Press broke down into three kinds of groups, the network of 85 organizations and 200 individuals funded by the NGO:

— Journalists and media outlets:

Ploughshares has funded NPR‘s coverage of national security since 2005, the radio station said. Ploughshares reports show at least $700,000 in funding over that time. All grant descriptions since 2010 specifically mention Iran… Previous efforts… Ploughshares has set its sights on other media organizations, too. In a “Cultural Strategy Report” on its website, the group outlined a broader objective of “ensuring regular and accurate coverage of nuclear issues in reputable and strategic media outlets” such as The Guardian, Salon, the Huffington Post or Pro Publica. Previous efforts failed to generate enough coverage, it noted. These included “funding of reporters at The Nation and Mother Jones and a partnership with The Center for Public Integrity to create a national security desk.”

— Think tanks and nuclear-issues associations:

The 33-page document lists the groups that Ploughshares funded last year to advance its nonproliferation agenda. The Arms Control Association got $282,500; the Brookings Institution, $225,000; and the Atlantic Council, $182,500… Princeton University got $70,000 to support former Iranian ambassador and nuclear spokesman Seyed Hossein Mousavian’s “analysis, publications and policymaker engagement on the range of elements involved with the negotiated settlement of Iran’s nuclear program.”

— Lobbies:

Other groups, less directly defined by their independent nuclear expertise, also secured grants. J-Street, the liberal Jewish political action group, received $576,500 to advocate for the deal. More than $281,000 went to the National Iranian American Council.

Hana Levi Julian

Netanyahu Was Right On Iran Deal

Wednesday, May 11th, 2016

It wasn’t all that long ago that our nation was transfixed by President Obama’s full court press to close a nuclear arms deal with Iran. It will be recalled that the administration spared no effort in this regard, beginning with its miscasting of the deal as an agreement rather than a treaty requiring Senate approval. And when an irate Congress, enacted legislation requiring a period for a measure of Congressional review, the president engaged in blatant procedural legerdemain to neutralize that legal mandate.

All of this took place in the context of overwhelming popular opposition to the deal. Further, virtually every member of Congress who ultimately signed on to the agreement did so with reservations, saying there was no real choice and that any deal was better than none.

And now we know that while the president was using every procedural trick in the book to prevent Congress from killing the deal, an even more insidious effort was being mounted under the radar.

You really can’t make this kind of thing up. A major piece by veteran journalist David Samuels in Sunday’s New York Times Magazine focuses on Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes, the person President Obama relied upon most to “sell” the Iran nuclear deal as critical to U.S. national interests. Mr. Rhodes came to the job with a background as a writer of fiction, a talent in the use of modern communication technology, and absolutely no foreign policy experience.

The article was built around an interview Mr. Samuels conducted with Mr. Rhodes and clearly shows how the public and Congress were purposefully misled.

Thus, the Obama administration successfully pitched the Iran deal as designed to take quick advantage of the election of a so-called moderate president, Hassan Rouhani, which presented an opportunity for a breakthrough in U.S.-Iran relations. And many members of Congress have said this argument weighed heavily on their minds when they voted to approve the deal even though they had serious misgivings about the specific terms of the agreement.

In truth, however, it now appears the negotiations were begun two years before Mr. Rouhani’s election when the notorious Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was still the president of Iran. Indeed, Mr. Rhodes acknowledged that President Obama planned an outreach to Iran soon after he took office in 2009 and the contrary spin was simply his –Mr. Rhodes’s – fabrication.

In other words, the notion that the Iran deal was the choice of peace over war did not arise out of any facts on the ground but was manufactured out of whole cloth by the imaginative Mr. Rhodes. And thanks to the administration’s fanciful narrative, legislators came to believe the proposed nuclear deal with Iran represented the only way to avoid war with Iran.

How did this all come about? Here is how Mr. Samuels put it:

Rhodes is a storyteller who uses a writer’s tools to advance an agenda that is packaged as politics but is often quite personal. He is adept at constructing overarching plotlines with heroes and villains, their conflicts and motivations supported by flurries of carefully chosen adjectives, quotations and leaks from named and unnamed senior officials. He is the master shaper and retailer of Obama’s foreign-policy narratives, at a time when the killer wave of social media has washed away the sand castles of the traditional press.

Mr. Samuels quoted Mr. Rhodes to this effect:

All these newspapers used to have foreign bureaus. Now they don’t. They call us to explain to them what’s happening in Moscow and Cairo. Most of the outlets are reporting on world events from Washington. The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns. That’s a sea change. They literally know nothing.

Mr. Samuels continued:

In the spring of last year, legions of arms-control experts began popping up at think tanks and on social media, and then became key source for hundreds of often clueless reporters. “We created an echo chamber,” [Rhodes] admitted, when I asked him to explain the onslaught of freshly minted experts cheerleading for the deal. “They were saying things that validated what we had given them to say.”

When Mr. Samuels suggested that all of this manipulation seemed out of place in an America that reveres the principle of rational debate as the bedrock of democracy, Mr. Rhodes countered with, “I mean I’d prefer a sober, reasoned public debate, after which members of Congress reflect and take a vote. But that’s impossible.”

Editorial Board

White House Briefs Students on Israeli-Palestinian Peace Efforts

Sunday, February 9th, 2014

Obama administration officials briefed Jewish and Arab-American student leaders on the peace process.

Among the participants in Thursday’s three-hour White House briefing were students affiliated with Hillel, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the American Jewish Committee, J Street and Americans for Peace Now.

“As part of our ongoing efforts of working with key stakeholders throughout the process of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, yesterday a group of U.S. officials met with a diverse group of youth leaders who are involved in various ways with the Israeli-Palestinian issue,” an administration official told JTA on Friday. “This meeting was an opportunity to update the leaders on the status of the negotiations as well as to solicit their views and have them contribute their thoughts to the policy process.”

Shaina Lowe, the U.S. outreach director for OneVoice, a group that promotes grassroots peace activism among Israelis and Palestinians, attended.

“It was an opportunity for her to discuss One Voice’s parallel campaigns underway in Israel and Palestine to mobilize a political center on each side to support the negotiations and the ultimate goal of a two state solution,” said a spokesman for the group.

Additionally, there was a representative of the Peres Center in Israel.

Officials who attended the off the record briefing say briefers included Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser, and Ilan Goldenberg and Laura Blumenfeld, advisers to Martin Indyk, the top U.S. Middle East negotiator.

They said that the meeting appeared to be part of a broader effort by the administration to prepare public opinion for Secretary of State John Kerry’s planned unveiling of a framework peace agreement.

JTA

Dem Whip: WH Aide ‘Out of Line’ Calling Congress ‘Warmongers’

Thursday, January 16th, 2014

Last Thursday, a junior member of the White House administration publicly took an extremely impolitic swipe at certain members of Congress, including members of her boss’s own party.

She called them warmongers.

Bernadette Meehan is a spokeswoman for the National Security Council.  Meehan is someone who, until last month, showed up in Google searches more often for her role as a mentor to graduates of Boston College, her alma mater, than for her role as a policy spokesperson.

Less than two years ago, Meehan was writing a blog for the Boston College Career Center, telling BC students about her career as a Foreign Service Officer.

But last week Meehan blasted members of Congress who are actively supporting the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act – more than a dozen of whom are Democrats – labeling them the equivalent of warmongers. She attacked them for daring to proceed towards enacting legislation that cannot trigger sanctions on Iran unless Iran defaults on the alleged commitments it has made with the United States and the rest of the P5+1 (The United Kingdom, Russia, China, France and Germany) in what is known as the Geneva Interim Agreement,  an attempt to ensure that Iran ceases to enrich materials which can be used to make nuclear weapons.

And then this week, Congress’s Democratic party Whip Steny Hoyer got into the act.

Hoyer was none too pleased to have members of the White House staff criticizing his home team.  The specific legislation Meehan attacked is in the Senate, but Hoyer took umbrage not only because members of his party were castigated, but also because the House already passed legislation many months ago which would increase sanctions on Iran.

On Tuesday, Jan. 15, Hoyer gave Meehan a tongue lashing, without naming any names, of course.

“There have been some that have suggested in the White House that those folks were more interested in war than they were in the resolution by peaceful means,” Hoyer said.

In addition to declaring such a position unequivocally false, Hoyer also referred to Meehan’s statement as “irresponsible” and said it should be “clarified and retracted” by those who made it.

Stating what should not have to be said out loud, but which was demanded by the situation, Hoyer flatly announced: “Nobody believes, as far as I know, that going to war with Iran is anything but a dangerous objective that none of us would seek.”

This is Meehan’s full statement about the Iran Nuclear Weapons Free Act, which was released on Thursday, Jan. 9. The language upon which most critics focused is underlined:

This bill is in direct contradiction to the Administration’s work to peacefully resolve the international community’s concerns with Iran’s nuclear program. We know that this proposed legislation would divide the international community, drive the Iranians to take a harder line, and possibly end negotiations. This bill would have a negative bearing on the sanctions regime too. Let us not forget: sanctions work because we convinced our partners to take the steps that we seek. If our partners no longer believe that we are serious about finding a negotiated solution, then our sanctions regime would suffer.

If Congress passes this bill, it will be proactively taking an action that will make diplomacy less likely to succeed. The American people have been clear that they prefer a peaceful resolution to this issue. If certain members of Congress want the United States to take military action, they should be up front with the American public and say so. Otherwise, it’s not clear why any member of Congress would support a bill that possibly closes the door on diplomacy and makes it more likely that the United States will have to choose between military options or allowing Iran’s nuclear program to proceed.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/white-house-aide-calling-congress-warmongers-is-out-of-line/2014/01/16/

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