January 30th, 2009

Chris Keeley

60 minutes

From: ray Close
Date: Thu, Jan 29, 2009 at 10:32 PM
Subject: Fwd: Israel lobby and friends attack 60 Minutes
To: undisclosed-recipients

Dear Friends:
If you viewed the segment on 60 Minutes last Sunday in which CBS reporter Bob Simon examined in depth the current Israel-Palestine crisis, you will be aware that it was a stunningly candid and courageous piece of journalism. It doesn't matter where you stand on the American political spectrum. You will agree that  Bob Simon and the CBS network have broken a taboo many decades old, and in doing so have made a major contribution to journalism in our country.
Most of you to whom this message is addressed are well aware of the J Street organization, a new lobbying group in Washington that is avowedly pro-Israel, but dedicated to peace with justice in the Middle East. They are, they proudly declare, an alternative to AIPAC --- offering American Jews and others sympathetic to the Zionist cause an avenue to support Israel, but in a manner that steadfastly subscribes to and adheres to the principles of free speech and fair-minded political action. There is not the faintest shred of anti-Semitism in anything that J Street does or lends its name to.

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Chris Keeley

bob simon


Here's a note from Jonathan Randal, who for a long time was the Washington Post's top correspondent for the Middle East, now retired in Paris. He's a veteran expert on the area. Jon's views tend to confirm our impression that the Bob Simon interview with Charlie Rose and the 60 Minutes program were planned and conducted with full awareness that they would raise a storm. I believe that says a lot about the increasing willingness of Americans in general (and some influential members of the Jewish community in particular) to tolerate (even welcome) a new and much more open discourse on crucial issues involving Israel.  And the timing suggests, as well, that it could not have been only the very recent events in Gaza that prompted this reaction. The climate change must have already become evident to professionals like Bob Simon and his colleagues at 60 Minutes.  [The reaction from the AIPAC community will be immediate and vigorous.  Ask John Mearsheimer and Steve Walt!]

J Street should feel very proud that they have contributed significantly to this shift in attitudes -- and in such a short time.  Again, the rapid growth of their organization is itself an indicator of a measurable opening of minds among the American public.  About time!


   Bob Simon is an old pro.  What struck me most in his Charlie Rose interview was his cool.
Bob knew perfectly well what the reaction would be. He's been around the block, especially that block, for years and years and years.
   jon r