New Leader Josh Block Gives Makeover to The Israel Project

Brings In-Your-Face Style and Launches New Publication

New Approach: The head of The Israel Project, Josh Block, right, and David Hazony appear at a launch of the group’s new publication, The Tower.
Nathan Guttman
New Approach: The head of The Israel Project, Josh Block, right, and David Hazony appear at a launch of the group’s new publication, The Tower.

By Nathan Guttman

Published April 02, 2013, issue of April 05, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 3 of 3)

Block, while stating that TIP’s mission and goals remain unchanged, comes to the organization with strong convictions about threats that pro-Israel advocacy faces from critics. He sees many of those critics as aligned with the liberal camp. And he paints them in stark terms.

“There exists today a well-coordinated and financed, albeit fringe, echo chamber of organizations and individuals ranging from anti-Zionist conspiracists and apologists for Iran, and [for] terrorists like Hamas and Hezbollah, to anti-Israel advocates and those hypocritically and relentlessly critical of Israel, seeking to spread and mainstream distortions and misinformation in pursuit of their misguided and often hostile agenda,” Block said. TIP’s work, he said, “blunts the spread of false, malignant, even anti-Semitic claptrap.”

Still, for Block, this is a painstakingly cautious choice of words. Known to many in the media world for his blunt style, Block went to war as recently as last year with CAP and Media Matters, accusing the groups of “borderline anti-Semitism” for using terms such as “Israel firsters.”

Armed with an impressive contact list of national journalists, Block has at times also taken on the Obama administration for its policies on Israel by sending massive email blasts and circulating publications critical of these policies. Most recently, Block got involved in the controversy over Obama’s choice of Chuck Hagel to be his defense secretary. In interviews, he attacked Hagel’s record on Iran and described his views as “well outside the mainstream.”

Block says that his intervention regarding Hagel was not partisan; rather, it was a policy opinion given before the nomination became official. By going to battle at that stage of the process, he said, “we were able to be descriptive of the facts and record, which helped lead to an important public conversation and a reversal [by Hagel] of views on the key Iran-related issues we identified.”

Block argued that national Jewish organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee took harsher positions against Hagel. But a former administration official noted that Block’s actions did not seem in line with TIP’s previous strict policy of not taking sides, at least directly, in ongoing partisan political clashes in Washington. The group’s departure from acting merely as a helpful source for pro-Israel information “calls into question what the role of TIP is, could be and should be,” said the former official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, so as not to appear to be reflecting an official administration view.

Block, 39, was chosen to head TIP last summer after a lengthy search process following Mizrahi’s departure. He served previously as spokesman and strategic communications director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee for a decade, but the biographic detail he tends to highlight most is his stint in the Clinton administration as a spokesman at the U.S. Agency for International Development. This role, and his work in Democratic politics earlier, is frequently brought up as a response to claims of partisanship. Block’s father, Rabbi Richard Block, was recently installed as president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis.

“He is a Scoop Jackson Democrat,” said William Daroff, vice president of public policy at the Jewish Federations of North America, when describing Josh Block’s views. “In his time at AIPAC and at TIP, he has done a yeoman’s effort in joining me in the post-partisan caucus of Jewish officials.”

Contact Nathan Guttman at guttman@forward.com or on Twitter, @nathanguttman


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Happy birthday to the Boy Who Lived! July 31 marks the day that Harry Potter — and his creator, J.K. Rowling — first entered the world. Harry is a loyal Gryffindorian, a matchless wizard, a native Parseltongue speaker, and…a Jew?
  • "Orwell would side with Israel for building a flourishing democracy, rather than Hamas, which imposed a floundering dictatorship. He would applaud the IDF, which warns civilians before bombing them in a justified war, not Hamas terrorists who cower behind their own civilians, target neighboring civilians, and planned to swarm civilian settlements on the Jewish New Year." Read Gil Troy's response to Daniel May's opinion piece:
  • "My dear Penelope, when you accuse Israel of committing 'genocide,' do you actually know what you are talking about?"
  • What's for #Shabbat dinner? Try Molly Yeh's coconut quinoa with dates and nuts. Recipe here:
  • Can animals suffer from PTSD?
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.