A multiple-choice question for our readers:
Last week, a Jewish advocacy group sent an email to its supporters titled “Tell Obama: Go to Jerusalem.” Which group was it?
a. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)
b. The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA)
c. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL)
d. J Street
As is obvious from the title of this post, the answer is d. In the email, J Street declares:
It is time for a Presidential visit to Israel. We urge the President to go to Jerusalem in the coming months with a new diplomatic initiative that leads to a two-state solution and averts a September UN vote that will cause even deeper international isolation for Israel without solving the conflict. [...]
During the visit, the President should assure the Israeli people of his personal – and the American people’s – commitment to their security and connect with their hopes and fears, even as he also speaks to the hopes and dreams of the Palestinian people for a state of their own.
To be clear: J Street is publicly asking Obama to reach out to Israel by visiting it for the first time. J Street would like Obama to do this in order to avert Israeli diplomatic isolation, help achieve regional peace for Israel and affirm America’s commitment to Israel’s security. Oh, and J Street has also once again come out in favor of a two-state solution–which a majority of Israelis support and which is the stated policy of the Netanyahu administration in Jerusalem.
So in case the Jewish community needs another reminder of what is obvious, here it is: J Street is a pro-Israel organization. Moreover, J Street is–in fact–a centrist organization. It is centrist, in the Jewish community, to support two states. It is centrist to defend Israel’s security while working toward peace. It is centrist to oppose settlements. A couple of columnists–including JJ Goldberg and Jesse Singal–have made this point, and it bears repeating as long as other mainstream Jewish groups treat J Street like the fringe organization it is not.
During the past couple of years, several people have told me that they doubt J Street’s pro-Israel credentials because all they hear coming out of the group are statements critical of Israel. I often respond that they should go to J Street’s website and read the group’s policy statements, which are indeed pro-Israel. I offer the press release I have quoted here as further evidence of that point. Now you know. Now you’ve heard: J Street stands with Israel.
It’s true that I have been quite critical of J Street in the past. And as long as I see things that are worth criticizing, that will continue. But I want to note that my most virulent criticisms have been about J Street’s image rather than its substance. I have always believed that the organization is pro-Israel. Now you should, too.