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July 27, 2015 3:03 pm

It’s Time to Evict J Street From the Jewish Communal Tent

avatar by Charles Jacobs & Elliott Hamilton / JNS.org

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J Street Founder and President Jeremy Ben-Ami. Photo: Wiki Commons.

J Street Founder and President Jeremy Ben-Ami. Photo: Wiki Commons.

JNS.org – The recent announcement of the P5+1 nuclear deal with Iran has sparked deep concern and even outrage in the Jewish community. In an almost unprecedented moment for American Jewry, the majority of prominent Jewish organizations have lined up in order to combat this deal. This includes AIPAC, the ADL, and various Jewish Federation chapters, including those in Boston and Miami. This historic display of Jewish unity comes because of a clear belief that Israel and the Jewish people have been placed in a life-threatening situation.

But the J Street lobby has broken ranks with that sentiment. Back when the deal’s framework was reached in early April, J Street co-authored a statement with the National Iranian-American Council (NIAC) and the Arab American Institute, welcoming the agreement. Now that the details have become known and almost every major Jewish organization is trying to kill the deal, J Street is undertaking a multi-million dollar campaign to get Jews to support an arrangement that at best keeps Iran nuke-free for about a decade while it gives the mullahs $150 billion to arm Israel’s enemies. This puts J Street in direct confrontation with the more than 80 percent of the Jews of Israel, whose political parties from left to right are fiercely united against President Barack Obama’s deal.

J Street’s campaigning for the Iran deal comes as no surprise to those who have been carefully watching the organization since its inception in 2008. J Street’s policy on Iran has never been aligned with the rest of the American Jewish community. In Americans for Peace and Tolerance’s film “The J Street Challenge,” Professor Alan Dershowitz complains that: “It’s impossible to know what J Street’s position on Iran is. I actually offered to contribute money to J Street if they would answer a series of specific questions about their positions on Iran, and I couldn’t get an answer to any of those questions.”

J Street has a history of taking significant sums of money from anti-Israel sources—and lying about it. For example, J Street continuously lied about its funding from George Soros, who has blamed Israel and the Jewish people for the rise of global anti-Semitism. While J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami kept denying it, Eli Lake reported in 2010 that J Street acquired $750,000 from Soros’s family. Ben-Ami was eventually forced to apologize for lying.

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Even more troubling was the discovery that Genevieve Lynch, a board member of the NIAC, also funded J Street. NIAC is no ally of the Jewish community, and has recently created a 501(c)4 to counter pro-Israel groups’ attempts to halt the Iran deal.

In 2012, J Street spent $100,000 trying to convince lawmakers on Capitol Hill to both ease the rhetoric against Iran and to alter the status of the Palestinian Diplomatic Mission to the U.S.

J Street has also received funding from the Ploughshares Fund, Inc., a global security foundation that supports a “peaceful world, including on free of nuclear weapons.” This same organization spent millions of dollars pushing for Chuck Hagel’s nomination for Secretary of Defense and lobbying to lift sanctions off Iran. According to the Ploughshares Fund’s Form 990 in 2012, J Street acquired $25,000 “to support efforts to educate members of Congress on the consequences that preemptive use of military force against Iran’s nuclear program may have on Israel.” In its Form 990s in both 2013 and 2014, it shows that Ploughshares gave J Street a total of $275,000 “to use a pro-Israel frame to educate members of Congress on the dangers that a military confrontation with Iran could have for both Israel and the U.S., and to promote political solutions to the nuclear impasse.”

Why would a seemingly pro-Israel organization acquire funds from pro-Iran sources to promote a pro-Iran agenda to the United States Congress? One reason seems clear: J Street’s usefulness to Israel’s adversaries is its “pro-Israel frame,” and that can be successfully monetized.

Some of J Street’s senior leaders have at times let the mask slip. Marcia Freedman, a member of J Street’s Advisory Council, told the 2015 J Street Conference delegation, “Israelis should not have a state.” Daniel Levy, one of J Street’s co-founders, told the 2011 J Street conference that if it’s true, as some say, that Israel’s neighbors hate the Jewish state  not for what it does, but for what it is, then “Israel really ain’t a very good idea.”

In addition to its pro-Iran deal lobbying, J Street has often lobbied against laws that most American Jews support. For example, J Street opposed the Roskam-Vargas “U.S.-Israel Trade and Commercial Enhancement Act,” an anti-BDS bill, claiming that it “did not believe it would be appropriate for the United States government to spend time and resources preventing or reporting on such efforts.”

So what should be done about J Street?

Many Jewish Federations and Jewish Community Relations Councils (JCRCs) have accepted J Street within their “big tent.” They have done this in order to keep the peace and to prevent left-leaning Jews from withholding donations. This is still the case after J Street was denied a seat at the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and after its leader, Ben-Ami, referred to the Jewish Federations and the JCRCs as a “multi-headed hydra.”

But the times have dramatically changed. Israel and its Jews are directly threatened with nuclear extinction and J Street is working hard to enable this catastrophe. With the majority of Jewish organizations coming together to combat this existentially dangerous deal with Iran, now is the time for Jewish leaders who care about unity and who care about Jewish life to show J Street their tent’s exit flap.

Pro-Iran J Street—which is spending millions of dollars to promote a deal that threatens Jewish life, receiving significant sums of cash from anti-Israel and anti-Semitic sources to promote pro-Iran causes, and dangerously undermining the collective Jewish unity needed to block the deadly Iranian threat—should be drummed out of organized Jewish life.

It is time for J Street to go.

Charles Jacobs is president and Elliott Hamilton is a research associate of Americans for Peace and Tolerance.

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  • HaroldT38

    When so many outstanding Jews were murdered in WW2,how could G.D spare their grandparents to give birth to these Quisling scum !

  • Michael Fox

    There always has been and always will be cowardly, apologetic, self loathing Jews. They walk with their head’s down afraid to make eye contact, afraid someone will recognize them…

    “Hey, there goes a Jew.”

    “No no, not me…I’m no Jew, I am a card carrying member of J street. Get that guy over there, he’s a Jew.”

  • E Pluribus Wombat

    J-Street is an enemy agent and a front for Hebollah and the IRGC. As such they need to be targeted for specific action.

  • Another Rachael

    The majority of American people have also supported slavery,indentured servitude, Japanese internment, restrictive covenants against selling to Jews/blacks. SO WHAT? Iran is a murderous regime which executes gays and sets religious police on women. What part of that do you collaborators
    not get?

  • Fred Walker

    Remember “Peace in our time” ? Just like Chamberlin. Kerry was waving a paper.Lets be vigilant so history does not repeat itself. Am Jisrael chai!

  • Carolyn K. DINOFSKY

    It is so unfortunate that through the millenia there have Jeremy Ben-Amis (Jews) looking to destroy us! He is a “shanda” (disgrace) and an embarrassment to the Jewish Community!!!
    Hitler had his backers too!
    My heart is now pounding reading the article and seeing his lying sick face!
    Carolyn Dinofsky

  • David Katz

    So now there should be no one to listen to but you guys.

    • Jeff Miller

      I find it particularly disturbing (frankly sick) when people who advocate for a position on an issue represent an organization whose name is directly at odds with what they suggest. For example, dirty coal companies advertising the benefit of “Clean Coal” from a front organization called American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity. This guy is President of the Americans for Peace and Tolerance. His words indicate that he is, in fact, promoting neither peace nor tolerance. He makes my case by labeling J Street’s views and lobbying activities as anti-Israel and anti-Semitic. In fact, J Street is primarily an organization of bright, concerned American Jews and non-Jews who are fighting on behalf of Israel for peace and tolerance. While it’s completely understandable to disagree with someone’s stand you shouldn’t resort to the intolerant and too often used vehicle of labeling them as anti-Israel and anti-Semitic. I think it just confirms your inability to work well with others.

  • Allan Koven

    J Street is a Leftist anti-Israel disgrace. Along with NIF and B’Shelem and Open Hillel, these misguided thinkers think by giving
    up more of Israel, they will have peace. Wasn’t Gaza enough?
    Iran wants to destroy Israel and if given the opportunity so would most other Islamic states. Jews are flocking to Israel because they
    don’t feel safe in their home countries. Even here in the U.S. and
    Canada, Islamists are becoming more domineering. Do we really need
    our own people to support them?

    • joshua shemtov

      Allan should not be characterized as leftist organization that is inaccurate, there are left organizations that are pro israel, for J street this Pro Israel definition is simply a fig list hiding their Anti Israel agenda as the israel that they support is a fictional one that does not allow democracy but is only committed to follow their specified lengthy agenda … it was likely founded to mislead innocent voices falling for the “pro Israel” slogan achieving further fracture of the True israel support camp … they are a disgrace not because i differ from them in my opinions but because their idea of supporting a democratic country is that this support is only when that country will wake up one day drop its democracy commitment and follow J street pre ordained agenda

  • JeffB

    @Charles

    Sorry but no. J-Street represents liberal Zionism. Most Americans support the Iran deaul but American Jews by like 2::1 support the Iran deal. J-Street is completely within the mainstream for supporting the deal. George Soros is mainstream democratic.

    Finally J-Street is Zionist. You didn’t link references to those quotes but I doubt that in context they mean what you are claiming.

    I’m all for excluding BDS from the tent. But J-Street wants to become to Democrats what AIPAC is to Republicans. I think AIPAC itself should be more centrist but if it isn’t going to be centrist there should be a lobby representing American Jewish Zionist who are liberal and not foreign policy hawks, i.e. the majority of American Jews.

    • Harvey Lloyd

      Jeff B, You are a liar who hates Jews and thinks radical left movement to destroy Israel is right. You are a closet anti-Semite as you statement proves. The radical left closed minds view another HOLOCAUST as just another day, and Iran as a bringer of peace. The worst haters of Jews are those who pretend they are not. Your comments are vicious and anti Jewish. As a Jew I despise you and J Street for hating Israel and working to destroy it by helping Iran.

      • Jay M. Ipson

        Well said. I am a Holocaust Survivor from Lithuania. This is exactly what most American Jews did to us. Stud by as we were being killed.

    • Another Rachael

      Jeff B, you are one scary guy. George Soros is execrable. Shame on you.

    • joshua shemtov

      Jeff B
      I dont know where you get your information from but it is incorrect, AIPAC is not politically affiliated you have many republican Jews that think AIPAC is mostly democratic You have democratic voters who think it is hawkish just as yourself, those who come to AIPAC see it for what it is – an organization committed to the American Israeli relationship and see this relationship also for what they are as one that is also very rewarding for the Unites States, I have meet in AIPAC many from a wide spectrum of political affiliation and most are actually affiliated with the Democratic party and are very liberal however there are also people from the republican side of the Isle what unifies all is respect to Israel as a democracy and understanding that when you are a true friend you do not dictate the government of your friend, All people i have meet in Aipac are foremost great American Patriots that also see the benefit in our special relationship with Israel and committed to cultivating this relationship

  • David Kwiat

    J Street are traitors. Ben-Ami is a disgrace to all Jews. Soros well he can go to hell

    • Francis Figliola

      JeffB….Peace in our time, Jeff?

  • Paul Berman

    J Street’s position reminds me of the position held by European Jews immediately prior to the Shoah. Disbelief that they really want the Jews dead, “Don’t make waves” “this too shall pass like it always does” “be conciliatory”. Organizations like J Street are poison to the Jewish people and Israel. Open your eyes and see the truth

    • duPont

      Mr. Berman: SPOT ON!

  • Yale Rodman

    It has long been time to rid the evil of JStreet from our midst. Bravo for your article and the courage to speak the truth.

    JStreet is a fox in the chicken coop. We need to excise them from the community forever.

  • JOHN TRAIN

    Rob Eshman, editor-in-chief of the Jewish Journal of Los Angeles is a leading advocate for causes that are harmful to Israel. Your readers should monitor the Jewish Journal and post responses to their left wing stable of writers. Reach Rob Eshman ,

    Rabbi John Rosove is cochair of J St.’s rabbinical Council. He conceals his affiliations and biased associations from his readers. He, like Eshman ,urges American Jews to quietly sit on their hands while Iran marches toward a nuclear weapon, regional domination, and vastly increased terrorism.Reach RABBI ROSOVE
    Cc: Jewish Insider

  • Ivan Cohen

    This is LONG overdue. Not only should this take place a.s.a.p. but their elected leaders and spokesmen should be treated with the contempt they deserve.

    Go for it!

  • Larry

    J Street should be banned from Israel. They are a bunch of Israel bashing Jewish misfits. Their policies are more in-line with the Muslim worlds attitude toward Israel.

  • Michal bat Zeev

    Tradition declares that no sector of the Jewish people is to be thrown aside. There is even room for Jews who deny Gd or accept xtianity or commit other apostasy. True those places are grudgingly given but only Heaven honestly knows the reasons and intentions of those Jews.

    Of course, Ashkenazi Jews—normative Jews in America— reserve the right to do things otherwise forbidden by custom and/or Law. So we live in a time when the children of the least educated and sophisticated of the Jewish peoples, make ‘rules’ and demand the rest of the Jewish people follow their hollow leadership. Look at how modern Israeli Ashkenazi rabbinic leadership has mistreated Ethiopian Jewry in the name of chumra! This objectionable behavior inspite of dozens of medieval rabbinic examples of their acceptance.
    Look at how that same rabbinic leadership chooses to humiliate gerim of color, rather than accept them warmly as instructed by the example Boaz, Naomi and Ruth of Tanach.

    J Street has as much right to remain among the totality of the Jewish People as does Chabad, who, on the death of the Rebbe, announced his Messianic status and still secretly believe in it.
    The inconsistencies and mistakes of Shabtai Zvi almost destroyed the Jewish people but, at the same time, contributed to its regeneration. George Soros, a Hungarian Jew, is Jewish enough to be attacked by the enemies of the Jewish people, but suddenly loses his identity because he doesn’t spend his money the way you like?

    With such leadership. It is a miracle that any remnant of the Jewish people remain.

    • Drew

      Michal-

      All Jews deserve a place at the table. Religious, unaffiliated, atheist. If you are born a Jew, you remain a Jew- That is until you become a danger to your tribe. Once you push for policy and deal with figures that will damage, hurt, maim, and even annihilate your people, you are a danger to the well being of the overall group, and can no longer remain part of the Tribe. This has nothing to do with Rabbinical or Halachic issues- this is about an ancient peoples survival. When it comes to an existential threat, there is no room for division.

  • Lauren Goldman

    J Street is the ‘palestinians” biggest booster group. They may as well be honest and change the name to hamas Street.

  • How does one get JStreet to declare itself pro-Iranian and so remove them from the Jewish community?

  • marta mikey frid

    Yes Sir, well overdue!!!

  • Fred

    I get cold shivers to think that only yesterday 6 mill.
    Jews have been murdered and now we have a treacherous Jewish group or groups in our midst who would be prepared to deliver for slaughter to the new NAZI Iran the remnant of the Jewish people. What poison curses through their veins???

  • CGG

    Boycott J Street.

  • Edith Gould

    I fully agree J street is bad for Jews.Good riddance to bad rubbish

  • ART

    Right!! J street is nothing less than a subversive anti Israel anti Jew group that is designed to destroy Jewish identity. It is a wolf in Jewish clothing. J Street is the worst of the betrayers. They in turn provide cover for non Jewish hate groups.

  • Mireille Mechoullam

    Mr Jacob I am one who support you. The J Street, The New Israeli Fund and others who side with the enemy have no business to pretend they they are Pro Israel and should be expelled, They should apply for a Job with the enemy.

  • nelson marans

    J Street is a pro-Arab, anti-Israel organization, founded by enemies of Israel and supported by our president in his many attacks against the Jewish state. All organizations and groups that support Israel should shun J Street as if it were a plague which it is

  • J Street’s current, well-funded campaign in support of Obama’s genocidal (against Israel) deal with Iran is but the latest of its numerous anti-Semitic ventures.
    One needn’t probe beyond the identities of its major supporters to understand its core goals.
    One name, George Soros, tops the list. Need we look further?

    Put J Street in Cherem — ostracize it, to purge our major organizations of this blot on their good name.

  • Yale

    Calling J Street a Jewish organization is a little like referring to the Holy Roman Empire, which famously was neither Holy, Roman, or an Empire. J Street may have Jewish members, but that isn’t sufficient to make the group Jewish.

    J Street isn’t a lobby, never mind a Jewish one. Rather, it is a front group, like those back in Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. Lobbies represent the views of a constituent group to government; front groups represent the views of government to the constituency to create the appearance of grass-roots support. That is how J Street functions.

    Not only should J Street not be a member of any Jewish umbrella organization, it should be exposed for the threat to democracy that it is.

    • adam stoler

      Wow. Disagreement and dissent now devolve into name calling (at its’ best) and outright denigration (at its’ worst). Perhaps it’s high time those who disagree step back from the heat of the discussion and realize that we live in a FREE country where dissent is not only tolerated, but protected constitutionally.

      Just because people disagree does not make them enemies. Jews in America live in one of the few nations that tolerates and yes encourages dissent. Perhaps those who have no tolerance for disagreement should consider that before condemning those who disagree. I personally have no tolerance for the intolerant. Shame on you.

  • Scott

    Charles Jacobs is one of the most educated voices on the anti-Israel movements.
    His article is spot on.
    It’s time for the horror story of J-Street, to go ask Iran for money openly and stop pretending to be a pro Jewish organization – which it definitely IS NOT!

  • I worked under Jeremy Ben-Ami when he was a Deputy Director of the NYC Mayor’s Office in Manhattan.

    Even back then he was a shameless liar with no consideration for others.

    Back then he pronounced his name Ben-Ami so it rhymed with ENEMY, because that is his essence; he is an ENEMY of Israel and Jews and the USA.

  • Jeff Blankfort

    A more important question for American Jews is what are THEY going to about the American Jewish establishment that does not represent their views and which, by implication that they are putting Israel’s interests over that of the United States?

    Given that polls show that the majority of the American people support the agreement with Iran, what the Jewish “leadership” is doing is putting the majority of Jews in the uncomfortable position of appearing to be against their government and for that matter, the world. Now let’s talk about who is fomenting anti-Semitism.

  • adam stoler

    Say what? using such provocative words as “lying” and the additional use of slander is a sure fire way of fomenting anger, and stifling discussion. NOT talking, NOT arguing is NOT a solution to problems. Your “newsletter” fails to understand this basic principle of a free society. Neither do you see that 80% or 70% or whatever “majority” you imply favors/disagrees with you should rule. “Majority” doesn’t speak for intelligent voices of dissent.
    I sure as hell wouldn’t want to be in a room/discussion with anyone in your outrageous clic.

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