J Street describes itself as Zionist, pro-Israel, pro-peace and supporting the “peace camp” in Israel. Yet J Street has consistently taken positions to the left of the Israeli Labor Party.
In a Washington Post op-ed in May 2008, entitled, ‘5 Myths About Being Pro-Israel,’ Jeremy Ben-Ami, J Street’s Executive Director, asserted that “forging a healthy friendship with Israel requires bursting some myths about what it means to be pro-Israel.” Despite the fact that successive Israeli governments have offered major concessions but have all refused to go as far is J Street in seeking to appease its Arab enemies, J Street simply insists on having Israel pressured to conform to its vision. Ben-Ami rhetorically claims that true friendship demands this (“Would a true friend not only let you drive home drunk but offer you their Porsche and a shot of tequila for the road?”). The not-so-subtle implication is that Israel is not a sovereign power responding to the will of its electorate, but rather a reckless teenager who needs to be brought to heel by a stern guardian.
J Street’s statements and conduct clearly show it to be a far-left organization that represents the opinion of only a small minority of American Jews and Israelis which, however, is seeking support from liberal Jews under the pretense of being mainstream and pro-Israel. An examination of its polices shows the diametric opposite.
J Street Positions
J Street positions are to the Left of the majority of American Jews: J Street supports major Israeli territorial concessions, including creating a Palestinian state, dividing Jerusalem, funding Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority (PA), opposing military action against Iran if it fails to stop its quest to obtain nuclear weapons, and so on. These positions are inconsistent with the American Jewish Committee 2011 Survey of American Jewish Opinion showing that American Jewry overwhelmingly belief (76%) that the goal of Israel’s Arab neighbors “is not the return of occupied territories but rather the destruction of Israel”; 59% of American Jews rejected Israeli concessions on Jerusalem; 55% of American Jews opposed the creation of a Palestinian state, whereas only 38% support its creation; a majority of 53% disapprove of President Obama’s handling of U.S./Israel relations, whereas only 40% approved of his performance in this sphere; conversely, 54% of American Jews approved of the Netanyahu government’s handling of U.S./Israel relations, whereas only 32% disapproved; an overwhelming 73% of American Jews favored the U.S. Congress withdrawing U.S. aid to Abbas’ PA if it forms a unity government with Hamas, whereas only 21% would oppose this; 56% of American Jews favor the U.S. taking military action against Iran if diplomacy fails to halt its march towards acquiring nuclear weapons, whereas only 38% oppose this; 68% of American Jews favor Israel taking military action against Iran if diplomacy fails to halt its march towards acquiring nuclear weapons, whereas only 26% oppose this (AJC 2011 Annual Survey of American Jewish Opinion, September 6-21, 2011).
J Street positions are opposed by the majority of Israelis: On these issues, the majority of Israelis are similarly opposed to J Street positions:
- A January 2013 New Wave Poll showed that a clear majority of Israelis (55%) believe that Mahmoud Abbas is not a peace partner, as opposed to only 33% who believed that he is (‘New Wave Poll: 55%:33.3% Abu Mazen is not a peace partner,’ Independent Media Review Analysis, January 3, 2012).
- A January 2013 Geocartography Poll found that 45% of Israelis do not believe that the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel will solve the conflict with the Palestinians, as opposed to 40% who believed that it would (‘Geocartography Poll: 45%:40% Israelis two states is not the solution for the conflict with the Palestinians,’ Independent Media Review Analysis, January 3, 2012).
- A December 2012 Israel TV Channel 2 poll found that an overwhelming 70% of Israelis do not believe that it possible to reach a solution to the dispute with the Palestinians in the near future, as opposed to a mere 25% who think it is ( ‘Channel 2 Poll: 70%:25% Not possible to reach solution to the dispute with the Palestinians in the near future,’ Independent Media Review Analysis, December 31, 2012).
- An October 2010 Peace Index Poll found that Israelis, by 65% to 34% believe that negotiations between Israel and the PA will not lead to peace between Israel and the Palestinians in coming years; that 72% of Israelis believe that “The Palestinians have not accepted the existence of the State of Israel and would destroy it if they could”; that 67% of Israelis believe Palestinians will not accept Israel even if a peace agreement were to be signed; and that only 27% of Israelis believe that the PA will fulfill its obligations under any peace agreement that might be signed, whereas 68% of Israelis believe they will not.
- Supports engaging Hamas: J Street executive director Jeremy Ben-Ami is on record (in a 2009 Q&A in the left-wing Israeli newspaper Haaretz) supporting engaging Hamas, the Islamist terrorist group that controls Gaza and which has murdered hundreds of Israelis through suicide bombing and other terrorist attacks and which calls in its Charter for the worldwide murder of Jews. No mainstream left-wing Israeli party endorses this position. In that interview, Ben-Ami said, “Hamas as a significant political force in that society isn’t going away. I found it very compelling that we were talking to a Lebanese government that included Hezbollah representation. Why wouldn’t we do the same with a Palestinian government that includes Hamas and is willing to engaged in negotiations and abide by the results?” On a J Street website page entitled ‘Resolution of the conflict will involve Hamas,’ J Street plainly admits that “we would not oppose a decision by the Israeli government, the United States, or other countries to find unofficial, indirect ways to engage Hamas in order to advance U.S. and Israeli interests.”
- J Street opposed Israel’s Operation Cast Lead against Hamas terrorists in Gaza in December 2008-January 2009: Israel launched Operation Cast Lead in December 2008 to target the Palestinian terrorist groups firing of rockets into Israel from Hamas-controlled Gaza. Cast Lead came after thousands of rocket attacks over several years and enjoyed bipartisan support in the Knesset and overwhelming Israeli public support. A Haaretz survey found Israelis supportive of the air assaults on terrorists by a three-to-one margin. Even the far-left Meretz party supported Cast Lead. A Migdam poll found that the Israeli military campaign against Hamas in Gaza was supported by an overwhelming 60% of Israelis, as against only 23% who opposed it. American Jews also supported Cast Lead, a survey conducted in the week following the end of the fighting in January 2009 showing that 79% thought Israel’s response to Hamas rocket fire was “appropriate,” and not “excessive.” Yet, J Street opposed Cast Lead and called instead for an early ceasefire.
- J Street backed the damaging and biased 2009 Goldstone Report, which found Israel guilty of human rights violations and war crimes during Operation Cast Lead: Reform Judaism’s Rabbi Eric Yoffie, himself a prominent left-wing Jewish figure, was loudly booed at the 2009 J Street conference when he criticized the Goldstone Report and J Street’s failure to support Cast Lead.J Street’s refused to condemn the U.N. Goldstone Report on Gaza, a deeply and insidiously biased report following the 2008-9 Gaza war which found Israel guilty of war crimes based on uncorroborated claims and falsehoods retailed by Hamas and Palestinian supporters. In November 2009, it emerged that a letter purportedly written by Judge Richard Goldstone to criticize a House of Representative resolution condemning the Goldstone report (HR 867 sponsored by Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Howard Berman) was substantially written by Morton H. Halperin, who serves on the J Street advisory council and is a senior adviser at Open Society Institute, a body created by the well-known self-confessed anti-Zionist billionaire, George Soros.
- In January 2011, J Street urged the Obama Administration to support a UN Security Council resolution falsely condemning Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria as “illegal.” Successive U.S. administrations have refused to describe Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria as “illegal.” In fact, even President Obama vetoed a 2011 Arab-sponsored UN Security Council resolution calling them “illegal” and has described them only as “illegitimate” – a position from which he backed away in his March 2013 visit to Israel, where he described them merely as “unhelpful.” A recent Israeli judicial commission, headed by retired Israeli Supreme Court justice, Edmund Levy,confirmed the legality of Jewish residence in these territories, which are unallocated under international law and which was previously illegally occupied by Jordan. Yet, in regard to the UN resolution seeking to condemn Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria as “illegal,”J Street said in a statement, “The resolution introduced in the United Nations Security Council this week condemns Israel’s ongoing settlement activity and calls on both parties to continue negotiating final status issues in an effort to resolve the conflict in the short term. These are sentiments that we share … if the resolution does come to a vote, we urge the Obama administration to work to craft language, particularly around Jerusalem, that it can support condemning settlement activity and promoting a two-state solution … we cannot support a U.S. veto of a resolution that closely tracks long-standing American policy and that appropriately condemns Israeli settlement policy” (‘New J Street Policy Statement on Settlement Expansion & UN Security Council Resolution,’ January 20, 2011).
- J Street opposed strong sanctions on Iran: While Israeli leftists have clearly urged support for strong sanctions against Iran if it does not halt its drive to acquire nuclear weapons, J Street has not. On this existential issue going to the heart of Israel’s security, J Street has consistently taken positions to the left of leading the Israeli Labor Party.
- Israeli leftists, including Yossi Beilin, an architect of the Oslo process, a former Labor Deputy Foreign Minister and subsequently chairman of the far-left Meretz Party, have all publicly called for strong Western sanctions against Iran. Beilin has told audiences that the late Yitzhak Rabin launched Oslo principally because of his fears of Iran, telling a German audience in 2009 that he “advocates increased sanctions towards Iran in order to stop centrifugal uranium programs.”
- Israeli Labor leader and former Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, made Iran’s isolation the centerpiece of his exchanges with his counterparts in the West.
- Avshalom Vilan, a Meretz Knesset Member until March 2010, was a forceful advocate of reaching out to countries most able to wound Iran’s economy, including Germany and India.
- Brigadier-General Yisraela Oron, Israel’s highest ranking female soldier, speaking at a J Street event, also called for diplomatic engagement with Iran to be within a limited timetable and tied to punishing sanctions. Oron said that “The thing that worries me and that worries other Israelis is that it is not limited in time … I’m not sure I’m expressing the J Street opinion.”
- Failed to oppose the Palestinian bid for non-member statehood in the United Nations: In November 2012, in a strange statement entitled ‘J Street’s Position on the Palestinian Bid at the United Nations General Assembly,’ J Street avoided plainly stating whether it actually supported the Palestinian UN General Assembly resolution. The Palestinian resolution breached the Oslo agreements’ prohibition on unilateral acts that preempt the resolution of final status issues through negotiations. However, J Street not only did not oppose the Palestinian UN bid but essentially agreed with the Palestinian resolution, saying, “The resolution (as drafted) endorses a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict within the parameters J Street believes are urgently needed for Israel to survive as a secure, democratic, Jewish homeland – two states for two peoples, with borders based on the pre-1967 lines with agreed swaps.” Having thus failed to condemn the PA’s circumventing of negotiations, J Street did, however, find its voice to condemn any notion of penalizing the PA for its flagrant breach of its agreements and efforts to achieve statehood without recognizing Israel as a Jewish state and ending the conflict (“We strongly oppose retaliatory measures against the PLO or the Palestinian Authority (PA) – in particular, Congressional efforts to cut funding”). J Street also indicated its lack of opposition to the PA bid, saying, “we reject the notion that approaching the UN for enhanced status is an attempt to delegitimize Israel. Bringing the question of statehood to the General Assembly is a peaceful, non-violent move within the legal rights of the Palestinians.”
J Street Seeks to Defeat Pro-Israeli Legislators on Capitol Hill while Supporting Anti-Israeli Candidates for Congress
Despite its pretensions to being a pro-Israeli group, J Street worked overtime to defeat strong supporters of Israel, giving the the lie to its claim that it seeks to “broaden” the conversation on Israel. Clearly, it wants to narrow the conversation by removing from Congress those who have actually supported Israel.
- In a video that has since been scrubbed from the Internet, J Street’s vice president for campaigns admitted that the group has a small political constituency and explained that its ultimate goal is to “move Jews” farther to the left in order to place them more in line with J Street’s own views.
- During the 2012 elections, at least six of J Street’s candidates failed to affirm the U.S.-Israel alliance on the House floor, rejected Israel’s right to defend itself from terrorists, and backed a congressional letter demanding that Israel end its defensive measures against the terrorist group Hamas in the Gaza Strip. All of these positions place the candidates well outside the mainstream pro-Israel community.
- J Street endorsed Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA), who in 2009 refused to sign a resolution that both affirmed Israel’s right to defend itself and also condemned the Goldstone Report, a despicable United Nations report that wrongly accused Israel of committing war crimes-a claim that report’s author, Richard Goldstone himself, later retracted as false. Capps then declined to join 327 of her colleagues later that year in expressing support for a bi-partisan letter “reaffirming the U.S.-Israel alliance.” In 2010, Capps become one of the “Gaza 54” when she signed onto a J Street-orchestrated letter that asked President Obama to pressure the Israeli government to end its defensive measures against Hamas in Gaza. Later in 2010, Capps again bucked the majority of Congress when she refused to back a letter reaffirming Israel’s right to defend itself in the wake of the “Gaza Freedom Flotilla” incident, in which Israeli soldiers were attacked and beaten by a delegation of pro-Palestinian terrorists.
- J Street endorsed Rep. George Miller (D-CA), a fellow “Gaza 54” signer who would not support a congressional missive voicing “solidarity” with Israel. Miller also would not vote in favor of a letter that reaffirmed U.S. support for Israel and recognized Israel’s right to defend itself against Palestinian attacks.
- J Street has also endorsed Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), a “Gaza 54” backer who voted against a 2009 Iran sanctions bill and condemned Israel defending against armed militants aboard the “Freedom Flotilla.”
- J Street has also endorsed Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), who declined to join a bipartisan cadre of 76 senators who expressed the commitment of the U.S. government’s alliance with the Israeli government.
- J Street has also endorsed Reps. David Price (D- NC.) and Peter Welch (D-VT), both of whom endorsed the “Gaza 54” letter and spearheaded a letter asking President Obama to continue sending U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority despite its attempts to establish statehood at the United Nations.
- J Street has targeted for unseating Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL), a first-term legislator who has been among Israel’s chief defenders during his two-year tenure in the House.Walsh attracted J Street’s ire earlier this month when he referred to the two-state solution as a sham. His call led J Street to issue a red alert to its supporters calling for Walsh’s ouster from Congress this November claiming, absurdly, that “The policies endorsed by Representative Walsh are not pro-Israel and are not endorsed by the Israeli mainstream. “It is time for the American Jewish community to call him out and make clear that he does not speak for us or for Israel’s democratic, Jewish future.” To this, Rep. Walsh has responded saying, “For a group like J Street who only claims to be pro-Israel to go after me for being pro-Israel makes no sense …. They hide under the cover of ‘pro-peace, pro-Israel,’ but they’re pro-Palestinian … No one from the middle to the right takes them seriously. They’re almost a joke. They’re extremely toxic and so loudly in your face to anyone who takes even a little bit of a pro-Israel stance.”
- In addition to Walsh, J Street has targeted New Hampshire Reps. Charlie Bass (R) and Frank Guinta (R), who both possess stellar pro-Israel credentials, as well as Rep. Judy Biggert (R., Ill.), co-sponsor of the America Stands with Israel Act and a regulardefender of the U.S.-Israel alliance.
- Bass co-sponsored the United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act of 2012, a bill passed by the House earlier this month despite the objections of several lawmakers affiliated with J Street. Conversely, His challenger, Ann McLane Kuster, who J Street has termed “a progressive hero,” has virtually no public record regarding Israel and is touted by J Street not as a pro-Israel stalwart, but as a “community activist, author, public policy advocate, and attorney.”
- Guinta, too, has taken a strong stance against Iran’s pursuit of nuclear arms and has vocally expressed support for the Jewish state (Adam Kredo, “The Anti-Israel Lobby: ‘Pro-Israel, Pro-Peace’ J Street Backs Congressmen Who Do Not Support Israel,’ Free Beacon, May 23, 2012).
- Little wonder that Bill McGurn wrote in the Wall Street Journal (August 8, 2012) that J Street is “a left-wing lobbying group that also claims to be pro-Israel even while promoting positions that treat Israel as the cause of the Middle East’s problems.”
- In 2008, J Street sought to disinvite Republican vice-presidential candidate and Alaskan Governor, Sarah Palin, from a rally outside the United Nations in New York City protesting the visit to America of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. J Street in its press release entitled ‘We Won! Palin Not Speaking at Iran Rally,’ did not even urge Jewish Democrats to attend the rally or provide details as to time, venue or scheduled speakers. Instead, it simply boasted of the ‘achievement’ of having Governor Palin disinvited. J Street did not even bother to express appreciation to Governor Palin for accepting the invitation to address the rally on a subject of deep importance to Israel and the Jewish people.
J Streets at Odds with its Own Leftwing Israeli Speakers & Many Leftwing American Jewish Figures & Leftwing U.S. Legislators
- Even three leftwing Israeli figures invited to address J Street – two retired senior leftist Israel Defense Forces (IDF) officers, Maj. Gen. (res) Danny Rothschild and Brig. Gen. Israela Oron, as well as Labor MK Ophir Pines-Paz – all ended up publicly differing with J Street. Rothschild took issue with J Street’s support for a total Jewish construction freeze in eastern Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria; Oron took issue with its opposition to any timetable for imposing sanctions on Iran if it fails to stop its drive towards obtaining nuclear weapons; and Pines-Paz was critical of its disagreement with Israel over the danger posed to Israel by a nuclear-armed Iran.
- In 2009, even the leaders of Israel’s opposition Kadima Party reportedly refused to attend J Street’s Conference.
- The following legislators all asked to have their names removed from the 2009 J Street Conference host committee to which they had originally signed up:
- Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR)
- Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
- Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY)
- Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS)
- Rep. Mike Castle (R-DE)
- Rep. Mike Ross (D-AR)
- Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX)
- Rep. Leonard Boswell (D-IA)
- Rep. John Salazar (D-CO)
- Rep. Ed Towns (D-NY)
- Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC)
- J Street’s support for the 2010 UN Security Council condemnation of Israeli settlements as illegal led Congressman Gary Ackerman (D-NY) to cut ties with J Street, saying, “I’ve come to the conclusion that J-Street is not an organization with which I wish to be associated … The decision to endorse the Palestinian and Arab effort to condemn Israel in the U.N. Security Council is not the choice of a concerned friend trying to help. It is rather the befuddled choice of an organization so open-minded about what constitutes support for Israel that its brains have fallen out.” He also said that Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority (PA) had refused to make “unilateral gestures of good faith” and had sent the Obama Administration-led peace talks into a “dead end … But astonishingly, it is Israel that J-Street would put in the stocks in the public square” (‘Jewish Lawmaker Slams J Street for Position on Anti-Israel U.N. Resolution,’ Fox News, January 26, 2011).
- 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 Judaism’s 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 Israel’s 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 Street’s position during the Gaza operation when it failed to support Israel’s 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).
J Street Publicizes Falsehoods About Israel Killing Palestinian Civilians:
In March 2012, J Street, falsely stated that “Israel Defense Forces… have killed over a dozen Palestinian civilians.” In a undated revision of the original statement, there is now no reference to the number of civilians killed in the Israeli operation, merely a new sentence preceding the statement expressing “regret” at having “misstated the number of civilian casualties” (‘REVISED: J Street Responds to Recent Violence Between Israel, Gaza,’ J Street, March 11, 2012). However, J Street did not avail itself of the opportunity to correctly state the number of killed civilians, presumably, because the number was zero. Thus, its ‘correction’ too is a falsehood, as the 16 Palestinians killed up until March 11 were all terrorists, a list of whose names and affiliations has been provided by the blog, Challah Hu Akbar, and are as follows:
In its statement, J Street, while claiming to “unequivocally support Israel’s right to protect its citizens from attack” largely neutered itself by also “urging all involved to exercise maximal restraint,” implying equivalence between Israeli forces targeting terrorists and terrorists deliberately firing rockets into Israel to murder Israeli civilians.
The J Street statement has also outraged MK Otniel Schneller from the left-wing Kadima Party who said in the Knesset that, “At a time when a million Israeli citizens have been living in bomb shelters for four days and four nights, have not gone to school or work and anxiously await the next siren, the terrorists firing on them are getting encouragement and support, not just from Iran and Hezbollah, but also from the left-wing Jewish American organization J Street … The anti-Israel and anti-ethical statement of J Street should serve as a warning for Israeli politicians and left-wing activists, including members of my party, against supporting and identifying with J Street, as they have done in the past” (Jeremy Sharon, ‘MK slams J Street for statement on Gaza, Jerusalem Post, March 14, 2012).
J Street Attracts Radical Leftwingers Who are Lukewarm About If Not Hostile to Israel & Zionism
- 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, “It’s a loaded word … It’s a word I’ve not been real comfortable with.” Nadelman added that if Israel didn’t 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 Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam, Khalid Abdul Muhammad, said he couldn’t 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).
Far Left & Extremist Speakers
Salam Al Marayati, executive director of the Islamist Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC)
- Addressed J Street’s 2009 Conference. On September 17, 1993, Marayati called for Israel’s destruction, stating that “the establishment by force, violence and terrorism of a Jewish state in Palestine in 1948” was “unjust” and “a crime,” and vowed to “work to overturn the injustice.” Marayati’s other actions include:
- A few hours after the 9/11 attacks, Marayati said on a radio show in Los Angeles, “We should put the State of Israel on the suspect list” of possible 9/11 perpetrators.
- After a suicide bombing at a Jerusalem pizzeria on August 8, 2001, his organization issued a statement calling the attack “the expected bitter result of the reckless policy of Israeli assassination that did not spare children and political figures.”
- MPAC condemned the U.S. strikes against al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Sudan following the bombings in 1998 of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania as “illegal, immoral and illogical.”
- Marayati has likened Israel’s supporters to Hitler.
- Marayati has also condemned France’s fining of Roger Garaudy for Holocaust denial as “persecution of his right to express an opinion.”
- In 1997, Marayati gave a chilling, anticipatory justification for anti-American terrorism, saying, “Where Israel goes, our government follows. … What is important is whether the American people are aware of and ready for the consequences.”
- Some of these statements caused Marayati’s 1999 appointment to a U.S. congressional committee on terrorism to be rescinded.
Other speakers at its 2009 Conference:
- Hillary Mann Leverett: In one of the J Street Conference panel discussions at its 2009 Conference Hillary Mann Leverett, an invited speaker, who has previously taken the view that Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s fraudulent election victory is simply a non-issue, opposed any criticism of the Iranian regime’s 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).
- The 2009 decision by J Street’s university arm to drop its “pro-Israel” description was explained by American University junior Lauren Barr as being motivated by the following consideration: “We don’t want to isolate people because they don’t 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).
J Street 2011 Conference:
- In 2011, J Street hosted hosted Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS) advocates from fringe left-wing Jewish groups, raising questions as to why J Street’s commitment to “expanding the debate” over Israel only seems to involve stretching the spectrum to include the anti-Israel side. BDS advocate Rebecca Vilkomerson spoke without encountering hostility from her J Street audience – quite the opposite to the experience of leftwing Rabbi Eric Yoffie, who was booed for criticizing J Street’s support for the Goldstone Report.
J Street 2012 Conference:
- In 2012, J Street hosted the book launch of Peter Beinart who had just published an op-ed in the New York Times calling for a “Zionist BDS” campaign that would seek to economically suffocate all Israeli Jews who live beyond the 1949 armistice lines. Also addressing this conference was Mustafa Barghouti, a leading figure in the Boycott, Sanctions, Divestment (BDS) campaign, who claimed the the Oslo peace process was a piece of Israeli “deceit,” asserted that “what we are witnessing today is a creation, or a consolidation to be precise, of a system of segregation and Bantustans” and declared that Palestinians “actually live” in an “apartheid” regime.
J Street Pressures Israel to Make Concessions, But Never Focuses On or Criticizes Palestinian Failure to Dismantle Terrorist Groups or to End Incitement to Hatred and Violence
J Street pressures Israel to make concessions outside of one sentence devoted to the subject on its website, says virtually nothing specifically about the 19-year failure of the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority to dismantle terrorist groups.
- J Street says nothing specifically about the 16-year failure of the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority to dismantle terrorist groups. The lobby group also said nothing about Fatah’s 2009 Bethlehem conference, which proclaimed the legitimacy of terrorism against Israel and honored, by name, killers of Jews as heroes, or about the innumerable times similar things have occurred since.
J Street Manipulates Polling Data to Create the False Impression that its Views are Supported by Majority American Jewish & Israeli Opinion
J Street uses questionable polling methods to produce results that supposedly vindicate its policy positions in favor of pressuring Israel to make further, one-sided concession to non-peaceful Palestinian partners. J Street has shown a pattern of citing polls inaccurately to bolster its claim that Israelis and American Jews want greater Israeli concessions and agree with President Obama’s pressure on Israel to stop Jews building in eastern Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria.
- March 2009 J Street poll: J Street used results-oriented question-phrasing in polls carried out by Jim Gerstein, who is vice-president of J Street. something J Street never mentions in press releases trumpeting the results of polls carried out Gerstein. In this poll, respondents were asked, “Would you support or oppose the United States playing an active role in helping the parties to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict if it meant the United States publicly stating its disagreements with both the Israelis and the Arabs?” 46% were said to strongly support, 39% somewhat support this statement. However, the 39% who “somewhat support” this statement may largely have meant to say that they support pressuring Arabs but not Israel. Perhaps the majority of this 39% could be rightly included among the majority that was found to oppose pressure on Israel.
- June 2009 Dahaf Institute poll: In June 2009, J Street’s campaign director, Isaac Luria, misleadingly claimed on the basis of a Dahaf Institute poll that “Israelis want the president to stand up to the settlers.” Luria said, “A poll recently showed that 52% of Israelis want a freeze on settlement construction and 56% want Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to agree to President Obama’s call for an end to settlement construction.”
- In fact, the Dahaf Institute poll to which Luria referred actually showed that Israelis favor continued natural growth of Jewish communities by 54% to 42%, and that they believe that Obama’s policies are not good for Israel by a margin of 53% to 26%.
- J Street simply buried the evidence of actual support for natural growth and cited only a contradictory general finding of support for a construction freeze. More damning still, the only other partial truth in J Street’s claim – that 56% of respondents said they wanted Netanyahu to agree to Obama’s demands – left out the major point that they favored this only if the alternative meant U.S. sanctions.
- Other polls of Israeli opinion at the time showed J Street’s claim to be baseless. Two examples: A 2009 Smith Research Institute poll showed that Israelis, by a decisive 69% to 27% margin, opposed freezing construction within large Jewish communities in the West Bank and that only 4 percent of Israelis favor Obama’s policies. Additionally, a July 2009 Global Marketing Services poll of American Jews who are Democrats showed 55% believe that Obama is naive in thinking Palestinians want peace and only 27% supported Obama’s promoting of a Palestinian state. Also, 52% said Israel should be allowed to build in existing settlements – positions opposed by J Street.
Donors – Extreme Leftwing & Muslims Hostile to Israel
For years, J Street director Jeremy Ben Ami denied that billionaire anti-Israel tycoon George Soros was a major funder or founder of the group. However, in September 2001, Ben Ami was forced to retract these false statements after a report in the Washington Times showed that J Street had received $245,000 from Soros and his children in 2008. Ben Ami also disclosed that J Street had received another $500,000 in subsequent years — altogether, about 7% percent of the $11 million that J Street said at the time that it had taken in since its founding in 2008.
- J Street director Jeremy Ben-Ami has falsely claimed that J Street has only about five Arab and Muslim donors, when in fact the U.S. Federal Election Commission shows more than 30 such contributors, many with ties to Arab-American organizations. Also, Ben Ami’s original claim that “at most 3 percent” of J Street’s donors were Arab or Muslim is now conceded to be closer to 10 percent.
- In 2010, J Street was found to receive tens of thousands of dollars in donations from dozens of Arab- and Muslim-Americans, according to the Federal Election Commission filings cited by the Jerusalem Post, as well as money from individuals connected to Palestinian and pro-Iranian advocacy groups. These include:
- Genevieve Lynch, a board member of the National Iranian American Council, which has worked closely with J Street to block sanctions against Iran being debated in Congress.
- Nancy Dutton, widow of Fred Dutton, who served as a Saudi foreign agent in Washington for 30 years. (During the 1982 AWACS debate he was believed to be responsible for the line, “Reagan or Begin?” which strongly suggested American Jews’ double loyalty.)
- Ray Close, former CIA station chief in Saudi Arabia for 22 years and father of Kenneth Close, who is registered at the Justice Department as a foreign agent, working for Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal, the author of the Saudi ‘Arab Peace Initiative.’
- Mehmet Celebi, a former fundraiser for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign before being fired from it after it emerged that he was involved in the production of a virulently anti-American and anti-Semitic Turkish film, Valley of the Wolves.
- M. Cherif Bassiouni, a DePaul University law professor who once wrote in the Harvard International Law Journal that “A large segment of the world population asks why Israel’s repression of the Palestinian people, which includes the commission of ‘grave breaches’ of the Geneva Convention and what the customary law of armed conflict considers ‘war crimes,’ is deemed justified, while Palestinians’ unlawful acts of targeting civilians are condemned? These are only some contemporary examples of the double standard that fuels terrorism.”
J Street Personnel
- J Street director, Jeremy Ben Ami, served as senior vice-president of Fenton Communications which, in March 2009, signed contracts with a Qatari foundation to lead an 18-month long anti-Israel campaign in the United States with a special focus on university campuses. The actual text of the contract called for “An international public opinion awareness campaign that advocates for the accountability of those who participated in attacks against schools in Gaza.”
Egregious J Street Statements
- J Street President, Jeremy Ben Ami: “We’re not doing a very good job at creating a secure home by conducting ourselves in this manner towards another people that are a minority, and that are powerless, and treating them in a way that forces them essentially to become terrorists, and leads to us being again in danger.” (Gary Kamika, ‘Taking back the debate over Israel,’ Salon, April 29, 2008).
- Ben-Ami: Israel’s defenders can sometimes be like a friend who would “not only let you drive home drunk but offer you their Porsche and a shot of tequila for the road.” (Ben-Ami, ‘5 Myths on Who’s Really Pro-Israel‘, Washington Post, May 11, 2008).
- Ben-Ami: “…when the US president closes the door with the Israeli prime minister, the US president has a lot more chips to play than any other person who closes that door … And it’s time for the president to know that there’s a group of people here who recognize that that is not only in Israel’s best interests, it’s in the US’s best interests” (‘A Firmer Hand,’ Daily Beast, May 26, 2008). [In short, J Street supports the idea of the U.S. President bringing the weight of the America’s exceptional level of leverage to pressure Israel into taking actions opposed by its democratically elected government while highlighting itself as a Jewish group that will support a U.S. President who does so].
- Ben-Ami: “…it’s time [for the United States] to act like the big brother or the parent and to say ‘enough is enough and we’re going to take the car keys if you don’t stop driving drunk” (‘A Firmer Hand,’ Daily Beast, May 26, 2008).
- Ben-Ami: “The central idea that Jim [Gerstein, J Street’s pollster] brings to the table and continues to remind us of in every conversation is that the people whose voices dominate on Israel in the American Jewish community are not representative of most of the community” (Allison Hoffman, ‘The Pulse-Taker,’ Tablet, October 26, 2009).
- Daniel Levy, J Street Advisory Board Member: “One can be a utilitarian two-stater, in other words think that the practical pragmatic way forward is two states. This is my understanding of the current Hamas position. One can be an ideological two-stater, someone who believes in exclusively the Palestinian self-determination and in Zionism; I don’t believe that it’s impossible to have a progressive Zionism. Or one can be a one-stater. But in either of those outcomes we’re going to live next door to each other or in a one state disposition. And that means wrapping one’s head around the humanity of both sides. I believe the way Jewish history was in 1948 excused – for me, it was good enough for me – an act that was wrong. I don’t expect Palestinians to think that. I have no reason – there’s no reason a Palestinian should think there was justice in the creation of Israel.”
J Street has falsely claimed that it received no finds from the hateful, outspoken anti-Zionist George Soros and from major Arab and Muslim donors hostile to Israel. This has been shown to be false. It also claims that it is a pro-Israel group. This too has been shown to be false.
As this report makes clear, the positions J Street adopts are essentially in line with the Palestinian and Arab positions publicly espoused in the West: that Israel is standing in the way of peace; that Jews living in the territories prevent peace being concluded; that Hamas is a legitimate interlocutor; that pressure needs to be applied by the U.S. to Israel’s democratically elected government, and so on.
Unsurprisingly, J Street opposed Israel defending itself against Hamas rocket attacks in Operation Cast Lead and supported the fundamentally flawed UN Goldstone Report that followed it. It also sought U.S. support for condemning as “illegal” Jewish residence in the territories. It ignores Palestinian incitement to hatred and murder against Jews and Israel, the key factor precluding the possibility of a genuine peace.
However, in its bid to present itself as a pro-Israel group, J Street has manipulated polling data to create the demonstrably false impression that its fringe views represent majority Israeli and American Jewish opinion. Challenged on its views, J Street claims it wants to broaden the conversation – a ploy easily disproved by its active support for defeating pro-Israel legislators while backing legislative candidates with records of hostility to Israel. Indeed, even many leftwing Israeli speakers have taken issue with J Street positions while others leftwingers, both American and Israeli, have criticized its actions in strong terms or dissociated themselves from the group.
This report shows in terms of the policies and positions it adopts, J Street is much more closely aligned to those hostile to Israel, especially anti-Israel Arabs and Muslims, rather than to those supportive of Israel.
Morton A. Klein is National President of the Zionist Organization of America. Daniel Mandel, PhD (Melbourne University, Middle East history) & former Associate Director of the Middle East Forum, is Director of the Zionist Organization of America’s Center for Middle East Policy and author of H.V. Evatt & the Establishment of Israel(London: Routledge, 2004).