J Street is pro-Israel

In “Who cares if Bernie Sanders is Jewish” (February 19), Ben Cohen took the opportunity, while vilifying Bernie Sanders, to take a swipe at J Street by writing that “On the Middle East, he listens to J Street, a Jewish anti-Israel group that strangely masquerades as ‘pro-Israel,’ and its ally the National Iranian American Council.” So I wonder where he get his information from. Being allied with an Iranian group is news to me. And I was under the impression that we in fact are a pro-Israel group, not masquerading as one. Also I didn’t know that Sanders “listens” to us. I know he talked with J Street — but does Mr. Cohen know that he then “listened” to us? If he had talked with AIPAC, would Mr. Cohen complain that he listened to it, or just sought its opinion?

Perhaps he feels that because we occasionally criticize the current Israeli government’s activities, we aren’t pro-Israel. Or because we supported the agreement with Iran that we are allied with its American group.

J Street is an American group, and as far as I am aware we can disagree with our — or any — government’s actions. I know that there are Jewish groups that believe that we must support Israel, right or wrong. But when Israel had a government that they didn’t agree with, then it was fine if you disagreed with it.

I know that Mr. Cohen was opposed to the Iran agreement, and he certainly has a right to be. However what would have been the alternative to the agreement? That Iran would now be preparing to attack Israel? And don’t believe that it wouldn’t have the money to do it. Even if the United States could control companies and individuals from doing business with Iran, would Russia, China and other countries have gone along with the United States? Yes, Iran has 15 years to prepare for an attack, as far as the agreement allows them to, but things can change — and if not, then Israel has 15 years to prepare as well.

J Street believes that it is acting in what we, and many Israelis, believe is Israel’s best interest. We feel that is true of the Iran agreement. And we also feel that a two-state solution would lead to peace with the Palestinians and that would keep Israel as a Jewish and Democratic country.

Maybe we are wrong, but does that make us allies of Iran and anti-Israel?

Maybe Mr. Cohen is wrong, but I don’t think he is anti-Israel because of it.

Stuart Kaplan
Chair, Northern New Jersey chapter of J Street

Rabbi Boteach’s Republican leanings

Why does the Jewish Standard publish columns by Rabbi Boteach that repeatedly present his Republican biases?

In his February 19 column (“Were Jews gassed because they rejected Jesus?”) he praised Ted Cruz, the right-wing Republican candidate for president, while condemning Hillary Clinton.

It is obvious that the rabbi is a staunch Republican. He is close to Sheldon Adelson, the Republican billionaire, who contributed upward of a million dollars to the rabbi’s failed 2012 Republican congressional campaign. The rabbi lost in a two-to-one landslide. Surely Mr. Adelson and the rabbi could have better contributed those funds to charity, rather than waste them in a futile partisan election.

Hopefully, in the future, the Jewish Standard will cease permitting the rabbi to spout his political views in your publication. (But who knows. Will a Trump endorsement be next?)

Jerry Fischer
Fort Lee

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