Once Again, J Street and NIF Give a Platform to Israel’s Enemies
There is no ambiguity when a group asks Senator Bernie Sanders to speak; it expects to hear the denunciation of capitalism, support for socialism and an attack on DC insiders. When someone has Glenn Beck speak, he expects to hear invectives of all kinds. So why would groups like the New Israel Fund (NIF) and J Street try to convince anyone that their speakers have any other agenda than what they are known for?
These groups continue to sponsor lectures by outspoken anti-Zionists and Hamas sympathizers, under the guise of what they call “progressive Zionism.” They market these events as pro-Israel discussions, targeting young American Jews who they say have not been exposed to all sides.
On Wednesday, August 24, J Street and the NIF were supposed to host Matthew Duss at an event at Seattle’s flagship reform congregation, Temple de Hirsch Sinai. The location was changed at the last minute — to the Kavana Cooperative/Queen Anne Christian Church in Seattle — with no explanation.
Duss is the president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace, which publishes content that supports NIF grantees like B’Tselem and Breaking the Silence in their missions to vilify Israel as a corrupt and murderous military state; both organizations accuse Israel of committing war crimes.
Duss brings prior controversial views to the Foundation, stemming from his days writing for the Center for American Progress (CAP) and its blog, ThinkProgress. While Duss was employed there, CAP came under fire for hiring a collection of individuals who expressed hostile attitudes towards both Israel and pro-Israel Americans. Duss, in particular, was known to write about Israel’s “occupation,” and was prone to using the metaphor of the Jim Crow laws to describe the situation in the Gaza Strip.
If Seattle’s Jewish institutions were hoping to hold an educational and open discussion on Israel, they did not choose a lecturer who is actually open to other perspectives.
On his social media accounts, Duss often posts news articles painting Palestinians as victims, and questioning whether radical Palestinian incitement is an issue worth addressing. He has repeatedly attacked Israeli “occupation,” and propagates the faulty parallels drawn between America’s race issues and the Palestinian situation via the Black Lives Matter movement.
The NIF and J Street are making their way into mainstream Jewish life, while the American Left helps further their views of Israel and the world. Americans who support the NIF are actively helping support a platform aimed at seeing Israel delegitimized in America and abroad.