What J Street truly represents

April 3

Washington Post

The March 27 Style article “In debate over Israel, upstart Jewish group gets a place at the table” said J Street’s claim as “pro-Israel” wasn’t helped when it was “revealed that left-wing billionaire George Soros — a Jewish critic of Zionism — had donated $245,000” in the group’s first year. What really didn’t help was that J Street’s founder, Jeremy Ben-Ami, had originally denied Soros’s backing.

The article referred to J Street’s Capitol Hill lobbying without specifying what it pursued. In fact, the group has lobbied Congress to oppose condemnations of Palestinian incitement against Israel and Jews, and it urged an immediate cease-fire when Israel counterattacked against Hamas rocket fire from the Gaza Strip in 2008. J Street has also contributed to the campaigns of members of Congress who have opposed funding of Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system.

If one is known by the company he keeps, J Street’s featuring of former secretary of state James Baker III, with his notorious “F--- the Jews, they don’t vote for us anyway” statement and his dismissiveness of Israel’s interest in real peace, at its conference last month was telling. So was its invitation to Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, best known for peddling the false “Jenin massacre” claim during the second intifada.

The article’s assertion that the larger and truly pro-Israel lobby, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee , is conservative while J Street is liberal just doesn’t hold up. AIPAC supporters and leaders include Democrats, Republicans and independents. J Street’s actions, despite its “pro-Israel, pro-peace” slogan, are essentially pro-Palestinian.

Morris Amitay, Fairfax

The writer is a former executive director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.