The United States has been embroiled for weeks in a heated debate over a bill which would authorize more sanctions on Iran if the latter breaches the terms of the agreement it endorsed in Geneva. Inexplicably, the media has been conspicuously absent from the debate.
Except, that is, for The Huffington Post – which recently accused Democratic Senator Robert Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, of being a “saboteur senator” due to his stand on sanctions. Worse yet, the photo accompanying the article showed Menendez speaking on a podium with the AIPAC logo clearly visible in the background.
The article’s explosive headline has since been toned down, but the message resonates: those acting in Congress to ensure that Iran fulfills its obligations are either “saboteurs” aiming to blow up nuclear negotiations, or in league with the Jewish/pro-Israeli lobby (or both).
Naturally, Huffpost‘s report enraged the Anti-Defamation League, which promptly registered a protest with its editorial board. But, as Israel’s Ha’aretz daily was quick to point out, the insinuation embodied in the headline – that senators who advocate a tougher stance toward Tehran not only undermine the Obama administration’s diplomatic efforts, but do so at the behest of “the Jews” – is sure to recur, possibly even becoming “the exception rather than the rule.”
While Huffpost eventually realized that the headline and photo were not wholly appropriate, we can’t help but wonder at the ease with it oversimplified the multifaceted debate currently taking place in Washington on Iran. In addition, we also wonder about the lack of voice from within the media condemning such an effort to characterize as warmongers, saboteurs or even (no kidding) agents of Jews an elected official who dares to criticize the administration’s stance on the issue.
Anyone out there?