Michael Getler of The Washington Post has been pretty good about responding to FAIR’s complaints in the past few weeks, the latest being the Downing Street Memo-gate. Dana Milbank, whose work I think is top notch, seems a bit defensive in his reply to Getler’s saying the memo may have deserved wider coverage.

“While you have been within your rights as ombudsman over the past five years to attempt to excise any trace of colorful or provocative writing from the Post [Milbank wrote], you are out of bounds in asserting that a columnist cannot identify as ‘wingnuts’ a group whose followers have long been harassing this and other reporters and their families with hateful, obscene and sometimes anti-Semitic speech.”


Apparently, Milbank thought all who believe the memo was indeed news, should be lumped in with Democrats who held a press conference about it. Milbank, in his column, which should have more leeway for opinion than a news piece, showed his disdain for the group.

A search of the congressional record yesterday found that of the 535 members of Congress, only one — Conyers — had mentioned the memo on the floor of either chamber. House Democratic leaders did not join in Conyers’s session, and Senate Democrats, who have the power to hold such events in real committee rooms, have not troubled themselves.

OK. So the memo is not news to Milbank, but what also struck me was the anti-Semitism charge. Here’s what Milbank had written.

The session took an awkward turn when witness Ray McGovern, a former intelligence analyst, declared that the United States went to war in Iraq for oil, Israel and military bases craved by administration “neocons” so “the United States and Israel could dominate that part of the world.” He said that Israel should not be considered an ally and that Bush was doing the bidding of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

“Israel is not allowed to be brought up in polite conversation,” McGovern said. “The last time I did this, the previous director of Central Intelligence called me anti-Semitic.”

Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.), who prompted the question by wondering whether the true war motive was Iraq’s threat to Israel, thanked McGovern for his “candid answer.”

OK. Jim Moran is involved, so it must be anti-Semitism.

Howard Dean was quick to disavow the group.

There are plenty in the blogosphere who agree with Dean: The group must be anti-Semitic.

Now you can argue that Ray McGovern doesn’t know what he’s talking about. And you can surely argue that those who think Israel was behind the 9/11 attacks are loony.

But why is it that if one ever charges that the government of Israel — not the citizens and certainly not all Jews — might be conspiring with the U.S. to transform the region in their image and to their liking you must, ipso facto, be anti-Semitic. As one commentator on Daily Kos put it, “Israel has successfully wrapped themselves in the protection of persecution, meaning, criticize us, you are anti-semetic (sic). It is the SAME way here, when if you criticize Bush, you hate America.”