J Street’s Unusual ‘Support’ for Israel
J Street has an unusual way of showing that it “is the political home for pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans.”
J Street was formed in 2008 as a liberal counterweight to the American Israel Public Affairs Council (AIPAC).
In recent years, J Street has called for direct negotiations with Hamas — a terrorist group that is proudly committed to the Jewish state’s destruction. J Street also partners with aggressively anti-Israel groups that support an economic, political and academic boycott of Israel. And J Street often features rabidly anti-Israel speakers in the name of “open debate.”
Most recently, J Street rallied behind Congressman Keith Ellison after the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) unearthed a 2010 recording in which Ellison said that Israel controlled US policy.
Despite the clear antisemitic nature of Ellison’s comments, J Street leader Jeremy Ben-Ami came to Ellison’s defense: “I think that there’s nothing troubling about his record. I think that the witch hunt that is going on [about] Keith Ellison is reminiscent of the witch hunt that goes on every single time somebody who has dared to criticize the policies of the government of Israel steps forward and has a potential to hold position in this country.”
Ben-Ami reiterated his support a few days later on MSNBC, describing Ellison — who voted against funding the Iron Dome missile defense system, and refused to support Israel’s right to defend itself against Hamas — as “one of the most tolerant and open minded people that many of us know.”
In other cases, J Street tries to have it both ways.
Regarding Hamas, a J Street policy paper notes that the group “has consistently condemned Hamas for calling for Israel’s destruction.” But in the next paragraph, J Street makes the case for why Israel must work with Hamas: “[O]ne makes peace with one’s enemies not one’s friends.” And Ben-Ami said that “there has to be a channel of dialogue with Hamas” during a 2010 Georgetown University program that J Street co-sponsored with the Muslim Public Affairs Committee (MPAC).
And while J Street maintains that it opposes the global BDS (Boycott, Divest, Sanctions) movement against Israel, it has repeatedly partnered with the movement’s advocates.
For example, J Street’s 2012 policy conference featured a panel discussion with leading BDS advocate Mustafa Barghouti. Barghouti was not challenged about his support for BDS — nor for his insistence that any future peace agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians include a “right of return” (which would effectively destroy the Jewish state).
In another discussion at the same conference, Barghouti described Israel as an apartheid state.
In general, J Street’s “pro-Israel” agenda places all the blame on the Israelis, and demands no action from the Palestinians. And when J Street does bring itself to condemn Palestinian incitement, it engages in moral equivalence, also mentioning rare instances of Israeli violence against Palestinians.
Indeed, J Street has a very strange way of showing its “support” for Israel.
The IPT’s full dossier on J Street can be read here.