The Plank

Fact-checking Eric Alterman

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Eric Alterman is often wrong about many things. Today, he asserts:

Then, last week we read of Malcolm Hoenlein of the extremist Zionist Organization of America -- with whom I once took a teen tour to Israel -- making a series of unsupportable allegations against Obama here.

Except Malcolm Hoenlein is Executive Vice Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of American Jewish Organizations, and has nothing to do with the Zionist Organization of America other than that the ZOA is one of the 51 constituent organizations of the Presidents Conference. As such, Hoenlein is perhaps the most high-ranking and high-profile Jewish communal leader in the United States, if not the world. For a man who claims to speak on behalf of American Jewry, it's strange that Alterman doesn't know this.

For some time now, Alterman has been on a crusade to prove that American Jewish organizations do not actually represent the political interests of American Jews (as if the political opinions of American Jews were entirely uniform). Sounding like any garden variety conspiracy theorist, he asserts that the most prominent American Jewish organizations are led by "belligerent right-wingers and neocons who frequently demonize, distort and denounce [American Jews'] values to speak for them in the U.S. political arena" while the "majority of Jews in the United States" -- presumably like Eric Alterman -- "oppose virtually every aspect of the Bush administration/neocon agenda." Nevermind the irony of Eric Alterman calling anyone else "belligerent," but given his outrage against all those nasty, neo-con Jews who presume to speak for him and the rest of American Jewry, one would presume that he would know something as elementary as Malcolm Hoenlein's institutional affiliation. But seeing that Alterman is a "frequent lecturer and contributor to virtually every significant national publication in the United States and many in Europe,” one can understand how his very busy work schedule might get in the way of simple fact-checking.

--James Kirchick

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