In several recent issues, the Jewish Standard has referenced J Street, the new “pro-Israel, pro-peace” lobby. I believe readers should be made aware of the goals of this increasingly influential organization.
J Street’s official policy position calls for Israel’s return to roughly its 1967 borders, and it favors a division of Jerusalem. While I don’t doubt that the organization truly wants a peaceful solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, I question why a so-called pro-Israel lobby would make such a predetermination that will have the effect of increasing pressure on Israel. Its executive director, Jeremy Ben Ami, takes it a step further in a September interview with losing congressional candidate Dennis Shulman that can be found on Youtube: “Only an end to settlements and occupation will bring true peace.” Didn’t Israel do just that not long ago in Gaza? Did it bring true peace? Shouldn’t a pro-Israel lobby be focusing more on concessions that must be made by Israel’s enemies, rather than highlighting what Israel must do?
J Street is generally thought to have been created as an alternative to AIPAC, and it seems determined to weaken the power of the older organization. While AIPAC enjoys support across the political spectrum and by its charter has never endorsed political candidates, J Street is decidedly left-wing and in the recent elections actively contributed to candidates who shared its views, to the potential detriment of Israel. For instance, Gordon Smith, an Oregon senator who had been a great supporter and friend of Israel, narrowly lost his bid for re-election. J Street funded his opponent.
Jewish history is filled with sorely misguided individuals and groups who believe what they are doing is in Israel’s best interests. I believe J Street fits this category, and if the Jewish world is not vigilant, in time that lobbying group could very well undermine the relationship between Israel and its only reliable ally in the world.