J-Street

What would Theo and Golda think of J Street's approach to middle east peace, the future of Israel, and American Israel relations?

What would Theo and Golda think of J Street's approach to middle east peace, the future of Israel, and American Israel relations?

I subscribe to many email lists of organizations that I don’t agree with. I like to see what people are sending out to their folks, how they portray themselves to their supporters versus how they portray themselves to the world. I like to see what they really think about themselves, and by getting their stuff, you get a picture over time of their ideas and agenda. So here is a little exploration of a recent J Street email to supporters that states their aims and objectives, and most importantly, their sense of arrogance. From our Jewish brothers and sisters over at J Street:

Do Jewish Americans and other friends of Israel support President Obama’s active and balanced pursuit of Middle East peace?

We have to prove that the answer to this question is yes — right now.

Defenders of the unworkable status quo [who likes the status quo?] are whispering to the White House and Congress that supporting the President’s thoughtful and balanced [blame the victim is now fair and balanced?] approach to the Middle East could hurt them politically.

We know that the majority of Jewish Americans – and of Americans generally – support the President’s balanced calls on Israel to freeze settlements, for the Palestinians to rein in violence and incitement, and for Arab states to take steps toward normalizing relations with Israel. [Which they have all completely rejected in today’s papers.]

Each line can be discected, and the entire letter is below the fold. Buzz words that caught my eye include “whispered” implying a Jewish cabal. “Hurt them politically” which is the SOP of Israel Lobby conspiracists. The letter ends with “All of our futures are at stake…” really? “Our” future is at stake? Or theirs?

J Street is running hot and full of themselves after the Jewish summit with Obama, when their approach was the one favored by the Obama administration. I am reminded of the phrase from Pirkei Avot: Be careful in your relations with the government; for they draw no one close to themselves except for their own interests. They appear as friends when it is to their advantage, but they do not stand by someone in their time of stress.

When J Street’s approach fails to bring good polling numbers to the Obama camp, I am guessing that they will no longer have the ear of the inner circle.

J Street believes that American pressure is the answer! This will somehow convince Hizbollah and Hamas to give up their stated aim of destroying Israel, bring a democratic government to run a Palestinian state, get all the Arab states of the region to join in one big love hug with Israel, get Yesha to forget the Torah, and even make the lion lie with the lamb.

J Street has forgotten their Torah/Bible studies. Jews are a stiff necked people, and we don’t like people telling us what to do. Even God can’t tell us. And Israelis have an extra dose of stiff neckedness. American pressure has already hardened most Israelis and as we mentioned only 6% of Israelis back Obama’s policies. The current policies are likely to continue intransigence. As soon as the Obama folks have had enough of no results on the middle east, J Street’s star will no longer shine over the White House. There are millions of pro-Israel Christians whose support Obama needs much more.

I mean no ill will towards our brothers and sisters at J Street, I am not calling them names. I just think that their approach will get us nowhere fast.

Do Jewish Americans and other friends of Israel support President Obama’s active and balanced pursuit of Middle East peace?

We have to prove that the answer to this question is yes — right now.

Defenders of the unworkable status quo are whispering to the White House and Congress that supporting the President’s thoughtful and balanced approach to the Middle East could hurt them politically. [1]

And they’re supporting a sign-on letter in the Senate, authored by Senators Bayh (D-IN) and Risch (R-ID), that directly undercuts the President’s policy, asking that President Obama press only Arab states. [2] The letter doesn’t even mention the need for Israel to stop building settlements or for Palestinians to end incitement to violence against Israel!

We know that the majority of Jewish Americans – and of Americans generally – support the President’s balanced calls on Israel to freeze settlements, for the Palestinians to rein in violence and incitement, and for Arab states to take steps toward normalizing relations with Israel.

Click here to urge your Senator to support changes to this one-sided letter so it reflects the President’s balanced approach and specifically mentions his call for a complete Israeli settlement freeze.

The President’s approach is our best hope of breaking the dead-end status quo in the Middle East and securing Israel’s future as a democratic home for the Jewish people. Without strong American leadership to achieve a two-state solution and a regional comprehensive resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, the window for a two-state solution will likely soon slam shut.

Fifteen months ago, we launched J Street to advocate for such leadership.

Today, with over 100,000 supporters and growing, we find ourselves at a moment of truth. An American President who inspires us with hope and vision is pursuing the path that is most likely to bring peace and security to Israel and the Middle East.

Those who support the dead-end status quo here are pressuring him to stop – while those who support the status quo in Israel continue expanding settlements in the West Bank and supporting evictions and new construction in East Jerusalem.

Now is the time when J Street supporters have to rally to support the President. That’s why we’re launching our “August Action Challenge,” asking our supporters to take 50,000 actions to support the President’s efforts between now and Labor Day.

Your actions will help us turn decades of conventional wisdom regarding American politics and Israel on its head. We’ll prove that the majority of Jewish Americans – and of Americans generally – will support the U.S. pushing all sides to make the hard compromises necessary to end decades of conflict and violence.

Start by clicking here to tell your Senators that you support President Obama’s balanced leadership for peace and that Senators Bayh and Risch must amend their letter before they sign on.

During our “August Action Challenge,” we’ll offer you many more ways to make your voice heard: emailing the President, calling your Member of Congress, writing to your Senators, helping us run newspaper ads, writing letters to the editor, spreading the word about our efforts, and more. We’ll keep a running total of the specific actions taken and report to you, the media and the political leaders who need to hear from us on your actions.

By the end of the month, we’ll have demonstrated the deep well of support from friends of Israel for the President’s leadership in achieving a two-state solution now, for ending the stalemate of the past two decades – and for the difficult steps we’re asking Israel and its neighbors to take.

Start today by emailing your Senators to show your support for the President when it comes to Israel and the Middle East.

Then, forward this message to five of your friends to tell them now is the moment to stand up for a brave President taking a gutsy and thoughtful approach on this most difficult of issues.

All of our futures are at stake.

– Isaac

Isaac Luria
Campaigns Director
J Street
August 3, 2009

[1] “Whispered Worries About Obama,” by Gary Rosenblatt. The New York Jewish Week, July 1, 2009.

[2] Bayh-Risch Senate Letter

About the author

Rabbi Yonah

20 Comments

  • I happen to LOVE the J Street letter. It is thoughtful and well crafted. Its words and tone appeal directly to the like minded people to whom they are mailing those appeals.

    They are RIGHT. There ARE whisper campaigns and it is not a cabal. Ask any elected legislator who depends on Jewish donors.

  • These American Jews with their heads up Obama’s ass are creating huge problems for all Jews that will take years to undo. When ordinary Americans realize just what kind of Saul Alinsky branded Socialist Obama is (as he always was as many of us pointed out), and they are every day as evidenced in all of the angry town halls across the country, just who do you think will be scapegoated yet again? People will say, “Look how this idiot ruined this country! And look how all these Commie Jews helped him get elected and craft policy! From Alinsky to Axelrod to Emanuel to Geithner to spector and so forth! Talk about Cabals!”

    Thank g-d for people like Cantor, Savage, Prager, Medved, Levin, Goldberg, Horowitz, etc., for reminding people that not all of us drank the kool-aid and knew what kind of a fraud Obama was and how hard we worked to try to save this country and Israel from his naivete and traitorous hands.

    And these J Street type dimwits are still leading the charge. Useful idiots…

  • “We know that the majority of Jewish Americans – and of Americans generally – support the President’s balanced calls on Israel to freeze settlements, for the Palestinians to rein in violence and incitement, and for Arab states to take steps toward normalizing relations with Israel.”

    So this reflects a two-step approach – Israeli concessions in tandem with Palestinian and Arab concessions. My issue is that thus far, all I’ve been hearing are calls for Israelis to do one thing or another – and not just calls but serious pressure – and… no demands on the Palestinian/Arab side of the equation. The Israelis get the full court press and the other guys get treated with kid gloves. What are we supposed to do? The Palestinian leadership is fractured. Who are we supposed to make peace with?? In the absence of a real, sustainable peace plan, I’m more likely to support unilateral measures and a strong defense posture. Those Iranian nukes aren’t going to be aimed at Jeremy Ben-Ami and his little gang at J-Street. They’re aimed at me, my friends, my family and my neighbors. I can’t afford to be so cavalier.

  • I’m not particularly for J Street , but, come on, criticizing them for their approach when hundreds of other Jewish organizations (a few that come to mind that I susbscribe to: AIPAC, The Israel Project, Friends of the IDF, etc.) do the same thing? (i.e. sensationalize and manipulate words to get money out of donors and in order to cater to their audience.)

    Two quotes particularly strike me as interesting,
    “Be careful in your relations with the government; for they draw no one close to themselves except for their own interests. They appear as friends when it is to their advantage, but they do not stand by someone in their time of stress.” Then why is AIPAC pretty much intertwined with the administration? Shouldn’t they be careful as well?

    Also,

    “Jews are a stiff necked people, and we don’t like people telling us what to do. ” If that were the case, Israel would ask the Untied States to withdraw the $2.55 billion in funding for Israel in fiscal year in 2009 so Israel could decide its own policy without the US being puppetmaster. Israel is constantly being told what to do by the United States, for the simple reason that we keep funding Israel. I’ve written before about how crucial it is for Israel to stop being dependent on the United States.

  • Disclaimer: I agree more with J-Street than I disagree with them.
    The email is irritating and I deleted it before I read it when it arrived in my inbox, but that’s what I do with all of these sorts of emails I receive, from whatever org sends them.
    That being said, you said:
    “As soon as the Obama folks have had enough of no results on the middle east, J Street’s star will no longer shine over the White House. There are millions of pro-Israel Christians whose support Obama needs much more.”

    OK. First, I disagree with the notion that Obama will necessarily stop working this angle/philosophy even if it doesn’t “work”. Whether you or I think that’s wise/stupid/stubborn, etc it’s THE way he sees it playing out and he’s likely going to pursue it for a long while. Second, I’m pretty sure he’s written off the votes of a great many of these “pro-Israel Christians”. Their numbers tend to overlap with segments that didn’t vote for him the first time (and poll as “not being sure” he’s a citizen”). [Yes, this is the weakest point as I am sure you can find me many “pro-Israel Christians” who voted for Obama]
    But let’s take your statement as fact. You’re assuming that the opinion-makers who form the leadership of J-Street did so, and are pushing their policy positions only or mostly to curry favor and get some sort of benefit from the administration beyond their preferred policy objectives? I’m no fan of AIPAC, but I tend to believe they’re in it because they’re true believers.

  • Vicki quotes Rabbi Yonah on how governments follow their own interests and aren’t to be trusted. That may have been true of the Tsar and his ministers, but it’s inapposite here. US Jews knew or should have known exactly what they were voting for. Obama clearly foretold his policies toward Israel during the campaign. (For those with doubts about that, look up Jeffrey Goldberg’s analysis of Obama’s campaign pronouncements at the Atlantic website).

    Obama’s views mesh nicely with J Street’s. But would J Street have a place at the table if it didn’t reflect the views of millions of American Jews?

    If an election were held today, Obama would meet or exceed his share of the Jewish vote from last time.

  • seems reasonable. the Reform establishment supports the freeze.

    After all, a freeze is part of the Road Map & Mitchell report. Shouldn’t be greeted as a new, one-sided demand.

  • The difficulty arises when, as here, the Arab states tell Obama to pound sand, and he’s left to beat up on Israel.

  • I agree with Tom. American Jews are sooo open-minded and pragmatic that they always pick the most logical candidate, unless they’re not a democrat of course. I’m imagining most American Jews’ logic in computer programming language:

    if ($candidate == ‘Democrat’) {

    Vote!

    } elseif (candidate != ‘Independent’ || candidate != ‘Republican’) {

    Vote!

    } elseif (candidate == ‘Democrat’ || candidate == ‘Anti-Israel’) {

    Vote Anyway!

    } else {

    Blame Bush or Sarah Palin!

    }

    Output = “NULL”

  • J Street is just furthering a Peace Now platform with some Move On style packaging. It’s simply manipulation planted for the purposes of of pushing the Clinton-Rahm policies that have provided horrific results.

    It’s still the status quo, it’s just a different one, that dominates our media, our liberal schools, and now our White House official policy. It will not lead to peace, or a reduction in violence, or even a better quality of life for Palestinian Arabs, and that’s the reality.

    One does not support Israel by demonizing or denigrating her 100% of the time. Despite how they misrepresent themselves, no significant aspect of the J Street platform is meant to defend Israel, or lobby in support of Zionism.

  • 1. J Street is different because it has its own policy agenda – AIPAC, for the most part, solicits donations and follows the Israeli government line (except when it veers to the left – as in 2005 when it supported “disengagement” before either the Knesset or the Cabinet had approved it).

    2. They are both awful organizations by their very nature – because they actively support limits on Israeli independence. J Street does so loudly, proudly and suicide-ly, and AIPAC only supports funds to Israel that serve to harm it and its economy (recent $12 billion deal nixed for fear of harm to American defense contractors would have been FAR larger than American “aid”).

  • Has any president this side of JFK and the Bay of Pigs gotten off to this poor a foreign-policy start? At least Kennedy immediately acknowledged (in a private meeting with Eisenhower) that he screwed up. Obama, we’re told, runs his own foreign policy, so the fault is his.

    From North Korea, Honduras, Israel/P, and, above all, Iran, it’s been an inept performance. Our failure to stand by the demonstrators in Teheran, so we can cajole Khamenei/Ahmadinejad into giving up their nuke program, is especially disgraceful. There will be a Iranian bomb, alas, and America will have to sleep with every reactionary regime in the Gulf to deter Iran from using it. And Obama calls himself a progressive?

  • And don’t forget his flip flops on Georgia too.

    We were saying long before most American Jews swallowed the denial pill and voted for this cretin anyway, that he was inexperienced, naive, ignorant of history, and a half-stepping, short-stroking, semi-shooting, dictator hugging, communist loving, hallow man, and that these kinds of things were inevitable. Apparently, Obama can’t just bomb at one aspect of POTUS but also is miserably failing at economics, health-care reform, and energy reform as well.

    Well, let that be a lesson to you optimistic American Jews (most of you that is). You screwed up when you ignored our most cherished ethnic traits: Skepticism and Cynicism.

    Next time some snake oil salesman tells you he’ll give you a magical cure and fix everything FOR FREE, remember what your Bubbies and Zadies tld you when you flew down to Florida to convince them otherwise: “This man is no good!”

    By the way, the Party Jews Love To Hate were in Israel sticking up for it today, in case you missed it:

    http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iaRb0b4qfWtSjYnAUhBTATGMwrbQD99T9T9G0

  • I’m interested in numbers here – number of J Street leaders with family here in Israel; number of times any of them have visited and for how long; how many olim are assoiated with the organization, that sort of thing. (I wonder the same about the passionate right wing as well; when rabbis call for war from their east coast pulpits, that’s my family in the gear and the the APC, not theirs.) Anyone got numbers?

    American Jews need to stand for and with Israel for sure; but I am always kind of queasy when the bossing starts, like a rich uncle giving a gift that comes with lots of strings and before you know it you let him tell you who to marry b/c he got you a car.

    Also, often what many American people fail to notice is what Israel can do for THEM,in terms of identity and culture, if the approach were one of openness to learning / growth… (and not one of – step aside, here i come to help the backward cousins / to pray and stick a note in the wall and visit somewhere dangerous and go home, hopefully on the flight with my own tv thing otherwise that would so totally suck, right?)

    Im more interested in roll up your sleeves / open your heart kinds of visits than the open your wallets ones. (I hope no one from the sochnut comes to hunt me down for that.)

    Anyway….Lobbies and PACs are generally more concerned about something else – some unsaid, unwritten thing – than the actual thing they are pushing. My guess is being
    accepted as good Americans is that thing for J Street,ie a Washington based need – with Jerusalem’s interests (or Ramallah’s for that matter)farther down on the actual goal list.

  • Unlike you Rabbi, I did not have the strength to keep reading what our traitors were writing and finally told them to pick one of the 56 Islamic States, pack their bags and go.

    Thank you for your perspective and excellent article… I hope all my American cousins will listen and understand that we cannot repeat what happened in the years before and during the Holocaust.

    Never Again!

    With a big warm Canadian hug to you and [y]our tribe
    From your co in TO

    xo co ro

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