cheers refusal to criticize Farrakhan
The extremist left-wing lobby group, J Street, which has repeatedly described itself as a pro-Israel, pro-peace organization has decided that its younger, university activists should drop the pro-Israel part of their slogan. The decision was made at J Streets inaugural Conference in Washington, D.C., In one of the J Street Conference panel discussions, an invited speaker, Hillary Mann Leverett, strongly opposed any criticism of the Iranian regimes negotiation tactics over its drive for nuclear weapons as being fundamentally racist.
The decision by J Streets university arm to drop its pro-Israel description was explained by American University junior Lauren Barr as being motivated by the following consideration: We dont want to isolate people because they dont feel quite so comfortable with pro-Israel, so we say pro-peace people feel alienated when the conversation revolves around a connection to Israel only, because people feel connected to Palestine, people feel connected to social justice, people feel connected to the Middle East (Hilary Leila Kreiger, J Street branch drops pro-Israel slogan, Jerusalem Post, October 2009).
At the J Street Conference, in one of the panel discussions, Hillary Mann Leverett, who has previously taken the view that Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejads fraudulent election victory is simply a non-issue, opposed any criticism of the Iranian regimes negotiation tactics over its drive for nuclear weapons. According to Mann Leverett, to even mention the delaying tactics of the Iranian regime is to be guilty of reinforcing stereotypes of Iranian duplicitousness and acting in a fundamentally racist way (Jennifer Rubin, Anti-Anti-Iran, Commentary blog, Contentions, October 28, 2009). Also addressing the Conference was Salam Al-Marayati, the executive director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), despite the fact that he has called for Israels destruction and blamed Israelis for 9/11. Leaders of MPAC have also praised both Hamas and Hizballah.
A strong indication of the type of extremist, left-wing figures, even pro-Arab figures J Street is attracting to its organization was provided when the J Street audience loudly booed Union for Reform Judaisms Rabbi Eric Yoffie, himself a prominent left-wing Jewish figure, for criticizing Richard Goldstone, the author of the U.N. Human Rights Council-commissioned biased Report on Israels December 2008-January 2009 military operations in Gaza. In producing such a distorted report, Yoffie said, Richard Goldstone should be ashamed of himself for working under the auspices of the U.N. Human Rights Council. Yoffie, though left-wing, had previously criticized J Streets position during the Gaza operation when it failed to support Israels military operation, contrary to the majority position of both Israelis and American Jews (Ron Kampeas and Eric Fingerhut, White House to J Street: We have your back, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, October 28, 2009).
Indeed, some J Street Conference attendees openly said they had problems describing themselves as Zionists. They even supported conditioning U.S. aid to Israel on new Israeli concessions, while saying nothing about conditioning U.S. aid of almost $1 billion annually to the Palestinian Authority, despite its not having fulfilled its obligations to end terrorism and incitement to hatred and murder. As one example, Rachel Nadelman, 32, of Washington demurred when asked whether she considered herself a Zionist responding, Its a loaded word Its a word Ive not been real comfortable with. Nadelman added that if Israel didnt go along with U.S. requests in the peace process, she thought it was reasonable to reconsider aid to Israel (Eric Fingerhut, J Street confab shows generational divide on Israel, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, October 27, 2009).
Further indications of how extremist and sympathetic to the Arab cause the J Street crowd is was reported by JTA: References to the creation of a Palestinian state frequently garnered loud applause at sessions, though talk of a Jewish homeland received little crowd reaction (Eric Fingerhut, J Street confab shows generational divide on Israel, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, October 27, 2009).
J Street also attracted a U.S. Congressman, Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA), who, in recounting his proud, but, to most Jews, shocking, refusal to vote to condemn a hateful 1994 anti-Semitic speech by an official of Louis Farrakhans Nation of Islam, Khalid Abdul Muhammad, said he couldnt condemn the speech because of the First Amendment, asking, How can Jews survive without the First Amendment? He also noted that he was the only Jewish member of Congress to vote against it. Filner said the vote hurt him among Jewish supporters, costing him $250,000 in contributions per election cycle before adding, That kind of money is an intimidating factor. I raised a lot less money in succeeding years, but my conscience was cleared. With those words, the large J Street audience gave him huge applause (Ron Kampeas and Eric Fingerhut, White House to J Street: We have your back, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, October 28, 2009).
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, At its Conference, J Street has succeeded in surprising and shocking even seasoned observers like ourselves due to its one-sided, concessionary and appeasement-oriented approach strongly sympathetic to the Arab cause. It has now reached a point which would be hilarious, were the matter not so serious, that J Street has dispensed with even the pretense of being a left-wing pro-Israel group and allowed its student activists to drop the slogan pro-Israel from its description.
As ZOA has indicated in the past, J Streets actual policies of opposing Israeli military operations in Gaza, opposing a military strike on Iran if it fails to end its quest for nuclear weapons and supporting a total freeze on all Jewish construction in eastern Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria is at odds with the majority opinion of Israelis and American Jews, despite J Streets misrepresentations to the contrary. Now, on Iran, the J Street Conference has taken matters further by having a speaker who condemns anyone who merely criticizes Irans negotiating tactics as racist.
ZOA has critiqued in detail the many perversions of legal norms, the disregard for evidence and the skewed terms of reference that made the Goldstone Report on the Gaza fighting such a terrible travesty of a document. Yet, amazingly, the J Street audience that is, the people who are attracted by its message booed a prominent Jewish left-wing figure who rightly denounced the Goldstone Report as a moral outrage.
We are also appalled that a J Street audience would applaud a Congressman proudly recounting his refusal to condemn an anti-Semitic rant by an official of a long-standing, recognized anti-Semitic organization. Have matters really come to this pass where a mainly Jewish group is opposed to condemning anti-Semitism? No less absurd and perturbing is the reason given for opposing condemning an anti-Semitic speech that one must protect the right to free speech. Since when has the right to free speech meant that one may not express ones own view if it is ones own view that the speech of others is worthy of criticism and condemnation?
Little wonder that J Street has decided not to even pretend, at least on campus, to be a pro-Israel organization. Accordingly, no longer should it be allowed to pose as a genuine pro-Israeli organization in any context.