J Street’s Foul Formula
When it was
founded some ten years ago, J Street claimed to be a “pro-Israel and
pro-peace” organization. That was taken to mean partnering with the mainstream
Israeli political left to build support in Washington for a two-state solution
between Israel and the Palestinians.
Since then J
Street has morphed into an anti-Israel mutant. The organization spends its time
and money besmirching Israel, smearing AIPAC and other leading American Jewish
organizations, boosting President Obama’s dangerous deal with Iran (and now
trying to bring it back), and supporting political candidates for whom BDS is a
badge of honor.
Its campus arm, J
Street U, has become a primary vehicle for conveying the most poisonous messages
about Israel to students, acting to block student participation in Birthright,
and actively campaigning against support for Israel at American universities.
J Street also
believes that it has the “moral responsibility” to get America to force
Israel to change its policies on the Palestinian issue. Why? Because J Street
knows what’s best for Israel. It knows better even than the Israeli political
left – which generally doesn’t share J Street’s radical positions on
unilateral withdrawals and mass settlement eradication.
J Street knows how
to bring peace to the Mideast: Israel needs to be pressured. As if Israel is the
party unwilling to compromise. As if Israel hasn’t already offered the
Palestinians at Oslo, Camp David, Taba and Annapolis just about everything they
want of post-67 Israel. As if the Palestinians have compromised on their demands
one wit since the great handshake on the White House lawn. As if the
Palestinians are currently willing to enter peace talks with Israel
is Israel that needs to be pressured and shamed, say the J Street moral oracles.
Of course, this is
the same J Street that supported the anti-Israel UN Goldstone Report, supported
the illegal Palestinian bid for unilateral statehood recognition at the UN, and
supported talks with Hamas but not military action against it.
Now, J Street has
ramped-up its anti-Israel campaigning to new outrageous heights. At its
conference in Washington this week, it launched a new initiative: to condition
US military aid to Israel on an end to Israeli home building in Judea and
Samaria specifically, and an “end to the occupation” more generally.
“American aid is
not intended to be a blank check,” sneered Jeremy Ben-Ami, the group’s
president. “As Israel receives that $3.8 billion in aid, what is it being used
for?” he demanded.
“For too long,
American taxpayers and lawmakers have been asked to provide military assistance
to Israel without questioning whether the material acquired with that aid was
being used as a blank check to further Israeli policies and actions that the US
opposes, including the entrenchment of the occupation,” J Street added in a
Sure enough, J
Street-ites (rhymes with Trotskyites) have for months been ambushing Democratic
presidential and congressional candidates at campaign events, posing the new J
Street litmus test: that candidates outright condemn Israel’s “occupation”
of the West Bank and declare they would consider withholding aid from Israel to
get it to change its policies.
This is a
shocking, contemptible new low for J Street: actively campaigning to cut US
military aid to Israel. Even the most-unfriendly-to-Israel and pro-Palestinian
president of the US, Barack Obama, didn’t seek to harm Israel’s security by
cutting military aid to Israel. Just the opposite. To his credit, Obama
increased military aid to Israel and signed an agreement to guarantee this aid
for a decade.
Of course, this
was part of Obama’s campaign to snow Israel over the ruinous Iran deal. And
Obama fiercely pressured Israel regarding settlements too. But he never
conditioned US military aid on Israel’s bending to Washington’s dictates
regarding peace diplomacy.
In other words, J
Street is less protective of Israeli security than Obama was.
Alas, J Street is
getting results. At its Washington conference this week, several Democratic
presidential candidates cozied-up to J Street’s foul formula, including Bernie
Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg. They said they were open to
cutting or conditioning US military aid to Israel as a way of forcing Israel to
bend to their will on the conflict with the Palestinians.
Sanders said he
would transform some US aid to Israel into humanitarian aid for Gaza “on the
first day of his administration, because we have a right to demand respect for
human rights and democracy.” “Uncle Bernie” wants to take money that
Israel uses to defend itself against terrorists and instead give it to the
To this, add the
cabal of Congressional Democrats who back the boycott Israel movement (Reps.
Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota), and others (like Reps.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Ro Khanna of California) who have said
that US aid should be used to pressure Israel.
J Street loves
them all for their “courage.”
In other words,
instead of helping moderates in the Democratic camp responsibly steer the
discourse on foreign policy and Israel in useful directions, J Street is
egging-on the radicals who seek confrontation with Israel and who would
effectively empower Hamas to kill more Israelis.
It is further
worth noting the pious spiritual claptrap with which J Street weaponizes its
confrontation with Israel. J Street conference speakers earnestly broadcast their
“profound” Jewish and “spiritual” identities in order to besmirch
the mainstream Jewish and Israeli publics and drive a distancing in US-Israel
And they call this