By James Kirchick
Originally published by the Forward

benamiWhen the self-described “pro-Israel, pro-peace” group J Street was founded over a year ago, many in the Jewish community predicted that it would have little to no influence in the shaping of American foreign policy. While American Jews are indeed overwhelmingly left-of-center in their political orientation, they also happen to hold rather hawkish views on Israel. A 2007 American Jewish Committee survey found that the overwhelming majority of American Jews believes that Israel “cannot achieve peace with a Hamas-led, Palestinian government” and that “the goal of the Arabs is not the return of occupied territories but rather the destruction of Israel” — views sharply at odds with J Street’s support for engagement with Hamas and its tendency to accuse Israel of hindering the peace process.

J Street’s moral relativism was on full display in its reaction to last year’s Operation Cast Lead. None other than Rabbi Eric Yoffie, head of the Reform movement and one of America’s most prominent liberal Jewish leaders, admonished the organization in these very pages, describing its denunciation of Israel’s military operation against Hamas as “very wrong” and “deeply distressing.” Despite its claims, J Street does not represent mainstream Jewish opinion in this country, let alone in Israel, where the Jewish population was nearly unanimous in its support for Cast Lead. Yet notwithstanding the Jewish community’s rejection of J Street’s vision, the organization seems to have garnered the support of the most important constituency of all: the Obama administration.

Read the rest of this piece in the Forward.

About the author


James Kirchick is a fellow with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a contributing editor for The New Republic.


  • I liked the idea of J-Street when it first came out, but as time progressed they seem to repeatedly attach themselves to causes which are anti-Israel.

    I totally agree in the need for a lobby to counteract the sometimes too hawkish views of AIPAC, but to do this they seem to be promoting a view which aligns itself more with those who are against Israel, in all forms.

  • I hope I’m not being overly cynical, but does it strike anyone that the executive director’s surname (at least what he claims it is) is Ben-Ami? It’s as if someone put forward an Israeli-sounding name in order to say, “Hey, I’m Israeli, but I say XYZ rather than ABC!” My guess is that it’s a gambit, just like with Messianic “Jews” who changed their names from their actual Gentile names to something more “Jewish” so that they can say they were always Jews (even though that’s a lie).

  • It’s like when another of Obama’s Jews, Barbara “Call me Senator!” Boxer didn’t like the testimony of the black gentlemen who heads the Black Chamber of Commerce, so she picked up a report that had nothing to do with the issue and said, but sir, the NAACP doesn’t agree with you. It’s typical race baiting and it was a bigger shame that a Jew who probably thinks they are open minded did it of all people. These f’in tools at J Street sound like they’re trying to position themselves in that fashion. Which basically makes them my enemies. And I’m fine with that, as I like enemies. Hopefully they’ll get the Trotsky treatment.

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