Sunday, April 3, 2011

J Street Defends Palestinian Authority's Right to Incite

Joe Mowbray reporting at Powerline has an incredible story I haven't seen anywhere else:
J-Street suffered a humiliating defeat yesterday on Capitol Hill -- which means Israel scored an important victory. The George Soros-funded "pro-Israel" group inexplicably mobilized its machinery to oppose a bipartisan letter that merely called on President Obama to pressure the Palestinian Authority to end its longstanding practice of inciting its people to commit terrorism against the Jewish state. Even in a town where tin-eared stupidity is commonplace, essentially protecting the PA's ability to encourage violence against its Jewish neighbors is jaw-dropping.
Read the whole thing and you'll see it gets even weirder.

Since I know there are a few J Street supporters among the readers of this blog, I encourage them to speak up if they've got a different version of the story.


Barry Meislin said...

This is a sad, sad day for J-Street.

First Goldstone admits (surprise!!)he's utterly unreliable.

Now this.

Alas, an even sadder day than when Jeremy Ben-Ami (The true "Son Of My People") was caught out lying about Soros's secret J-Street funding.

(Not that we blame him for that, since a Son-Of-My-People's got to do what a Son-Of-My-People's got to do....And one can understand---and certainly empathize---why such information had to be kept secret.)

But crikey! Which Goldstone to believe? A? Or B?

Let the spin begin!!

File under: "Goldstone, alas, we knew him once...."

Sylvia said...

You mean Son-of-Your-People. I don't claim him.

There was also that attempt by JStreet to arrange for Goldstone to speak to Congress at one point in time.

Methinks there is here good cause for those JStreet members who no doubt realize they have been misled by JStreet to take the organization to court.

JStreet is at least very consistent in their actions: opposed sanctions against Iran (which has threatened Israel with annihilation); lobbied to oppose an american pro-Israel veto; and this which makes JStreet -or their masters whoever they are - a supporter of the massacre of Israelis, since that is what incitation necessarily leads to.

As to this news being shocking, No, I am not shocked, not even surprised.

Sylvia said...

incitation = incitment

NormanF said...

They're not pro-Jewish!

What Jewish group mobilizes against the Jewish right to life and decent treatment of Jews?

Apparently, one that views Jewish insistence upon such rights as an "obstacle to peace."

How dare they!

Dukus Horant said...

Why don't you read J Street's account? They are not keeping this secret.

Yes, the stoking of antisemitism in the Palestinian, Arab, and Islamic media is a major problem. Congress is not going to do anything to stop it - the whole thing seems like a waste of time.

While it may be a problem for Americans that US tax dollars are funding regimes that promote this sort of thing, US tax dollars are also funding the settlements - both through direct aid to Israel and tax exemptions for horrid pro-settlement organizations.

As an American Jew who lives in a country where the mainstream media incites against Israel, I fully support J Street's attempt. The entire letter is just a way for Congressmen to show off their pro-Israel credentials - which if they had any, they would start legislating against funding the settlements.

Sylvia said...

Because you think that throwing Israelis to the wolfes is going to put a stop to Islamic antisemitism? What a folly.
Muslims are engaged in an expansionnist war to take over your country - not to mention European countries - and you blame it on the settlements?
This is insane.

Barry Meislin said...

One ought to be grateful for bringing that J-Street "Statement" to the attention of a wider public who (to their credit) would not be likely to waste their time reading such stuff.

While one ought to suspect that an organization such as J-Street has a well-developed, if impish, sense of humor (to go with its davka-ish, adolescent charm), it is always refreshing to read, straight form the horse's mouth (as it were)---even if one would prefer to avoid it like the plague---just how utterly deranged its moral posturing is.

Thanks once again for pointing out a sterling example of J-Street's confused, if not bankrupt, ethos and just why its influence is waning both among American Jews and those who support Israel's right to exist securely amongst its neighbors in Congress.

Yaacov said...


I read J Street's rather convoluted explanation. It seems to be saying that a condemnation of a Palestinian practice without balancing it with a condemnation of Israel is no good. An odd position, and - as you say - this time it's coming straight from their own website.

The US doesn't give civilian aid to Israel at all, only military aid, so I don't see in what way the US is paying for settlements. As for giving tax deductions to organizations, that's a matter that probably effects the Left more than the right. The lefty NGOs in Israel exist almost solely off donations from abroad. This is not true of the settlement project.

Then of course, there's the small matter of which settlements. Tapuach? Modi'in Illit, conceded already by the Palestinians? Jerusalem, perhaps? Are you against Jews living in parts of Jerusalem?

Anonymous said...

Any chance you can link to the J-Street memo itself?

Yaacov said...

Barry said...


Ignoring the rights bestowed on the Jews of Israel by the League of Nations, the San Remo Conference, Sevres, UN Res 242 and still functioning in "International Law" which J Street and its ilk along with those illustrious politicians conveniently renege on to crown settlers and their settlements as illegal, displays ignorance or plain maliciousness.

marek said...

A very good reply to JStreet

ht Meryll Yourish

Anonymous said...

This is all just so much posturing: this letter isn't going to make a spit of difference in anyone's lives except a few lobbyists and fundraisers in DC. Although Mowbray deems it a "humiliating defeat" for J-Street, it's really not that significant or surprising. When have members of Congress ever hesitated to sign on to whatever makes them look more staunchly pro-Israel? There's nothing in it for them. In this, J-Street's opposition was if anything obtuse.

But if you read the letter and the actual statement of J-Street, their objections are not without foundation. The text of the letter was nothing more than a one-sided effort to demonize the PA without any pretense of recognizing the PA's largely successful efforts to cooperate with Israel in reducing violence. Perfect? Hardly. But as the J-Street position points out, the letter itself is misleading. Significantly, J-Street did not oppose a similar letter by Senators Mark Kirk and Kirsten Gillibrand.

Also, J-Street recently promoted another letter to Pres. Obama urging continued foreign aid to Israel and the PA.

Josh S

Anonymous said...

A regular reader here, I stayed out of the J-Street debate, but better late than never..

Yaakov, you often correctly point out how Americans get Israel wrong, but I believe you've done the same here with J-Street.

J-Street was formed as a counter to the unholy alliance between the religious right, the Republican party and AIPAC that deemed any criticism of any Israeli policy anathema. Many, perhaps most, American Jews strongly support Israel, but also believe the settlement enterprise that has continued under Labor and Likud governments, even accelerating during the Oslo period, to be a moral and practical disaster. The idea behind J-Street was to provide a voice for those Jews to express their support for Israel while allowing for disagreement with specific Israeli policies. There is nothing anti-Israel about it.

I'm not a member of J-Street, nor do I agree with some of its positions. No doubt there are voices within the organization whose conception of being "pro-Israel" I find to be anything but, just as there are voices within AIPAC who would support assinine statements like Sarah Palin's "they should build more settlements" nonsense. But it's just silly to equate J-Street with what you correctly identify as the "Big Lie." It's simply not true.

Anonymous said...

Carlos Strenger puts it much better than I:

But Israel’s problem is not J Street. The problem is that an ever greater proportion of U.S. Jews feel that they are forced to choose between their values and their involvement with Israel. Their identities are defined by the idea of universal human rights and the equality of all human beings beyond race, religion and gender.

Since Israel violates these ideals, and demands unconditional support for its policies, these Jews basically have two choices: Either they adhere to their ideals or support Israel. The result, as Peter Beinart has argued in a much quoted essay, is that many Jews of the younger generation simply disengage from Israel.

J Street tries to solve this problem by giving America’s liberal Jews another option: you can be engaged with Israel, and it can be central to your Jewish identity even as you criticize Israel’s actions. It doesn’t take rocket science to see the logic behind this; true friendship often involves voicing frank and direct criticism. Nobody would have said that those who criticized U.S. policy during the McCarthy era or human rights violations of the G.W. Bush administration delegitimize or hate the U.S.

* * * *

If J Street wants to reach the hearts and minds of Israel’s citizens, it needs to tell Israel’s citizens that its security concerns are legitimate. It also needs to tell the truth - that there are indeed no iron clad guarantees that there will never be any terror attacks after a final status agreement.

Moving towards peace means taking a calculated risk: Leaving the occupation behind opens the possibility of safety and peace in the long run, but also entails the risk of terror attacks. Yet horrible as these may be, they do not endanger Israel’s existence.

As opposed to that, continuing the occupation dooms Israel’s long-term future, because it will drive Israel into ever deeper isolation. It will lose its friends in the free world, and will live in everlasting conflict with the Arab world. And this does endanger Israel’s long term survival.

It needs to be made clear that the choice is not between a safe Israel that occupies the territories and an unsafe Israel alongside a Palestinian state. It is between an Israel that takes a limited security risk for long-term peace, and an Israel that threatens its own long-term existence.

It is this kind of straight talk that has been missing in Israel’s discourse. Israel’s left has disappeared because it never squarely addressed the risks involved in peace-making. If J Street commits to clarity of thought and an honest approach, it may create the model for a new Israeli left with a viable message.

Read the whole thing:

Josh S

dave said...

ahh yes the new lie: American Jews are disgusted with Israel and the Israel lobby and needed a J Street to come along and represent them.

Caroline Glick takes this argument apart in her most recent column. simply isn't true, for Jews in the Democrat party or the Republican Party.

When Jan Schakowsky is not on board with the left's agenda, its time for you to re-evaluate things

Barry Meislin said...

The truth is that a lot of American Jews (and others) are alarmed at what they perceive as what's been happening in Israel.

Breakdown of values, racism, etc.

And there can be no doubt that there are serious problems here.

(But only in Israel, right? Certainly not in other societies. Certainly not in YOUR societies, no way...
...but this "tu quoque"-iness is not a good argument, is it? Two wrongs don't make a right, do they? And we know that Israel must be as perfect as possible. Especially as we deny that her partners in peace wish to see her erased....)

OK, so you are very concerned with the erosion of Israel's values.

Yet a lot of your judgements are being based on misinformation, which it seems you are, for whatever reason, extremely willing to swallow.

Essentially, you are being bombarded with lies, misinformation and slanders.

And you believe it.

And yet, who wouldn't? Day in, day out. What is it, ten years now? Fifteen? No good news at all about the Jewish State---and from the Zionist-controlled press at that. Wonder of wonders. In fact the complete opposite. Which simply goes to prove Israel's foulness, Israel's culpability, doesn't it? All the deeply concerned liberal bastions, all the intensely concerned liberal
pundits full of proof day in day out that Israel is a racist (or quasi-racist) society that DOES NOT WANT PEACE WITH ITS NEIGHBORS.

Who wouldn't be swayed, influenced, persuaded that Israel is a cancer that needs to be excised? Or at the very least that there is something very, very wrong in the state of the Jews?

Well, I tell you who wouldn't:

Anyone with a shred of understanding about what's going on in this part of the world.
Of what Israel is facing.
Of what Israel has been prepared to concede.
Of what Israel has already concededand what the results of THAT has been.
Of what Israel is still prepared to concede in spite of the fact that she is facing people that have no intention of living with it in peace. No matter what you may think, or read, or hear.


OK. But then admit it. Admit that you are unimpressed by Israel's willingness to come to some kind of accommodation with those who are intent in destroying her. Deny that she has made an effort (several efforts) to reach an agreement. Ignore the deals that Israel has offered and which have been rebuffed.

Totally disregard what Israel's Partners in Peace are saying. (And doing.)

Believe those lies that are designed to make you believe in the values of Israel's neighbors, in the justice in which they so profoundly believe, in the human rights that they so deeply care about.

But maybe, maybe, you should have a look around the neighborhood, which has always been violent, seething, repressed, hateful, but especially now, somewhat inconveniently at the moment is erupting, having been unable to keep under wraps the "values" that these societies represent. Yes, their "values" have become too visible even for liberals to ignore (though maybe I'm assuming too much here).

So believe those lies, whose bombardment day in, day out has totally warped the people who swallow them---and the governments who are swayed by them---just as they have warped those individuals and societies who so brazenly, effortlessly and shamelessly sow them.

And then continue to believe that Israel's values are squalid and that you know what the score is.

But before you do that, you might want to ask yourselves which other country faced with these kinds of problems and these kind of neighbos would be willing to go so far, to do so much, to act so humanely---yes, you heard me right---under the extraordinary predicament that Israel has faced and continues to face.

Or don't. It's a free world, after all. Right?

Yaacov said...


Thanks for jumping in.

The most important point you seem to be making is that in America, Jews seem to feel obliged to defend Israel's actions and it's not legitimate to criticize the settlements, hence J Street has been created to break that mold. Perhaps; I don't know enough about it. It certainly isn't the case in Israel, where criticism of the settler project is so widespread that a large majority of Israelis has long since written them off (most of them); no other form of criticism is forbidden in any way, either.

All your other points I've written about in recent posts. The one that cannot be allowed to stand, however, is your comment about the calculated risks Israel must take etc etc. This really and truly is a point American Jews (and all the rest of the world) ought to shut up about, since it's our people, meaning us, in the most direct and personal meaning, who are likely to get killed. I don't see any moral justification for people living in safety to tell people living in danger to compound the danger because the people unaffected by it think it might be a good idea.

Anyway, the thesis is not only morally reprehensible, it's also simply dumb. Let's say Israel dismantles many of its defenses so as to have peace, but - even according to your description - peace doesn't arrive, and the terror attacks either continue or multiply (more likely multiply, since at the moment they're rather rare, comparatively.) OK, and what then? We just live with the attacks? But if we don't figure out how to stop them, they're likely to grow? What then?

Sounds like a perfect road to war, if you ask me. Better to stay where we are; at least we more or less control the situation and when we don't we can figure out how we can.

Anonymous said...

Yaacov, you are far too polite about the claims in that Ha'aretz post. Firstly, Israel elected in 2006 a party to power whose sole common platform was unilateral pullouts from most of the West Bank. The reason that never happened is not because of some weird lack of Jewish values or because of a sudden love of the settlers. It happened because Israelis are not idiots. They look at the places they did pull out off - Gaza and Lebanon - and see what happened. They then compare and contrast with where they have not pulled out of.

As for "limited risk", those risks killed over a thousand Israelis and has put the majority of the population within range of terrorist missiles.

The next time some idiot declares Israel must take risks I suggest the PM make the following deal, "Happy to take the risk but lets make it equal. For every Israeli killed you have to kill a member of your close family". Lets see how "limited" the risk is then.


Anonymous said...


That is precisely what I'm saying about J-Street. It was founded as a domestic group in response to a domestic consideration: namely, that existing pro-Israel groups (i.e. AIPAC) increasingly came to reject any criticism of Israeli policy, including the settlements, as "anti-Israel." Hence, the pro-Israel, pro-peace moniker. But the organization does offer a voice to a significant number of American jews who feel alienated by the rightward drift of the existing organizations. In this respect, it does offer an opportunity for greater engagement on behalf of Israel. While the group has attracted many on the left whose idea of pro-Israel conflicts with yours (and mine), its official positions as far as I've seen, do not endorse the Big Lie, as you've explained it. This is not to say that the group does not criticize Israeli policies - most notably, its insistence on continuing the settlement enterprise - that constitute obstacles to a peaceful solution, even if those policies are not the exclusive or even primary obstacle.

As far as urging the Israelis to accept difficult and potentially dangerous risks, the point is Prof. Stregner's, and he's making it from Israel. I agree, it's easy to offer such pronouncements from the safety of New York or Washington DC. So too, it's easy for American Jews to encourage further settlement activity that also endangers the safety and security of Israelis. I believe the continuation of this wrongheaded policy does pose such a danger and is a substantial obstacle to any peace agreement - at the least a convenient excuse for Palestinian intransigence. And while a majority of Israelis may have written off the settlements, they have continued to grow unabated through governments of the left and right.

Carrie said...

I have seen JStreet denounce Israel, and only Israel, with no balance or context whatsoever, but I have never seen them just denounce the PA. If there ever is a word against the PA muttered by JStreet, it is always balanced out with "Israel is just as bad."

They are a pro-Palestinian organization. There is no question about it.

On another note, I have NEVER heard Obama say a thing against the PA. He is a huge supporter. Let's not forget that Abbas was the FIRST person Obama called after he got into office.

Anonymous said...

Yaacov -

I think I had a comment sent to spam.


Barry Meislin said...

...namely, that existing pro-Israel groups (i.e. AIPAC) increasingly came to reject any criticism of Israeli policy, including the settlements, as "anti-Israel"...

I think this is the crux of the matter as far as J-Street is concerned.

But here's a question:

Are you saying that AIPAC:
* did not support Oslo?
* in fact came out AGAINST Oslo?
* did not support Rabin?
* did not support Bibi-I?
* did not support Ehud Barak?
* did not support Sharon?
* did not support Olmert? their attempts to forge a deal with Israel's Partners in Peace (Inc.)?

Is that indeed the claim?

That AIPAC strenuously resisted Oslo and the efforts of all Israeli governments since Oslo (Now how many governments would that be?) to implement Oslo?

That AIPAC is effectively anti-Israeli government policy (when such policy relates to trying to come to some kind of peace agreement)?

That they were adamantly against Barak's offers in 2000 and 2001?

That they took to the streets to protest Olmert's attempts to broker an agreement in 2008? (Keeping in mind that there was not a lot of publicity about these at the time.)

Is the claim that AIPAC is a force arrayed AGAINST I-P peace?

That seems to be the claim.

So I'm just wondering....

Anonymous said...


Fair enough. My understanding is that AIPAC's mission is to lobby the US gov't to support Israel regardless of specific policies. I believe the perception of the organization changed during the GW Bush administration as it became associated with his Middle East foreign policy. I'm sure there are many "pro-Israel" organizations in the US that have vocally criticized those peace making efforts. (I mean, we have national Republican leaders who believe that Israel ceding an inch of the West Bank will somehow bring about the End of Days or some other such nonsense.) Why is it that a liberal Israel advocacy group that espouses a liberal vision of peace is the subject of such intense controversy. Polls indicate a substantial majority of American Jewry identifies as politically liberal (I believe it's around 70%). Many of those people felt they did not have a place at the table. Now they do. Why is that such a bad thing?

Barry Meislin said...

My understanding is that AIPAC's mission is to lobby the US gov't to support Israel regardless of specific policies.

Sorry, I'm a bit confused.

Are you saying that AIPAC supports Oslo or that it doesn't support Oslo and never has?

Silke said...

in case you intend to answer Barry's question would you then also comment on that cheering sneering mob at the JStreet conference during the panel including Roger Cohen - it didn't sound like individuals venting their glee to me.