The Conspiracy

The J Street You Don’t Hear About

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.

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3 Older Responses to “The J Street You Don’t Hear About”

  1. Elliot
    April 7, 2011 at 8:53 am #

    Lovely gesture for J Street.
    However: Is it pro-Israel not to have a position on the Goldstone report and help shepherd Goldstone to defend the report before Congress?
    And to oppose a resolution in Congress condemning the report?
    Is it pro-Israel to have one of your founders and executive board members tell the Arab world the creation of Israel was a historical wrong?
    Is it pro-Israel to encourage the US not to veto an anti Israel resolution in the UN General Assembly?
    Is it pro-Israel to oppose a resolution in the US Congress supporting Israel’s right to self defense after the flotilla incident?
    Is it pro-Israel working to make support of Israel a partisan issue?
    I agree with many positions on the website, but in reality are you pro-Israel because you say you are? Or does what you actually do mean more?

  2. Pheldermaus
    April 7, 2011 at 5:59 pm #

    @ Elliot

    If you think there was no excessive force used in the Gaza war, and everything’s OK,than obviously Goldstone’s report should be condemned.
    If you think Israeli settlements are awesome, than I can see why you’re offended by a resolution to condemn them.
    If you think that Israel’s security (not to mention its very exsistance), was thretened by the Turkish flotilla, than why even invistigate how 9 civilians (excuse me – Terrorists!) died?

    AIPAC got all the answers.

  3. Elliot
    April 8, 2011 at 10:03 am #

    Pheldermaus,
    I did not say that I like settlements-and, by the way, AIPAC does not have a position on settlements.
    If you think the UN is a great place for Israel….
    If you support the Goldstone report (after actually reading it as I did)…
    And if you are more sympathetic to the flotilla people…
    then are you pro-Israel???

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