As liberal Zionism finds itself in the middle of its latest battle for survival, J Street reconsiders forbidden alliances and what it means to be ‘pro-Israel.’ By Soleiman Moustafa Sitting on every seat in the massive auditorium hosting the opening session of J Street’s 5th annual conference last month was a bookmark emblazoned with the a map and the motto “know your boundaries.” The "pro-Israel, pro-peace" lobbying organization designed a map of Israel with both Palestinian territories partitioned out in green, with Syria's Golan Heights included in Israel’s boundaries without caveat. Looking up, the auditorium was enveloped in a comforting blue-and-white glow, invoking Israel’s national colors, the American and Israeli flags standing proud at center…Read More... | 43 Comments
jeremy ben ami
Notes from the J Street conference. Since Netanyahu's resounding election win last week, there's been a deluge of coverage in the American media of a deepening disillusionment among U.S. Jews over Israel. Whether in the New York Times, the Associated Press, or Bloomberg, the thesis is more or less what you'd expect: Netanyahu rode to victory on a wave of racism, a rejection of peace with the Palestinians, and unprecedented disrespect for his number one patron, Barack Obama. These tactics fly in the face of a largely liberal community comprised of reliably Democratic voters. That rift was represented this weekend in Washington, where…Read More... | 9 Comments
With nothing left to offer except hollow pep talks about the peace process, the liberal lobby is fighting BDS – together with the pro-Netanyahu, pro-occupation American Zionist right. Next stop: the Presbyterian Church USA's General Assembly. What is J Street doing? Why is it acting in concert with right-wing Zionist organizations like AIPAC and StandWithUs in fighting against boycott, sanctions and divestment, while offering no alternative of its own for ending the occupation? Because the truth is that J Street offers no alternative anymore; now that the Kerry talks have failed, and all the secretary of state has to show…Read More... | 7 Comments
While it will be a long wait for a safe consensus about this issue to emerge in Israel or in America, we need to treat the prospect of the end of the two-state solution as the five-alarm fire that it is. The question is whether the American administration has the political will to engage in muscular diplomacy. By Ken Winikur and Ben Avishai Addressing young Israelis in Jerusalem on March 21, 2013, President Obama discussed the imperative to reach a just peace with the Palestinians. Speaking like a community organizer, Obama laid out the challenge: “Political leaders will never take…Read More... | 7 Comments
"It's much easier to sit at home and lob criticism through blogs and tweets, and post that this isn't changing the world overnight. But political change happens one step at a time...If you're sitting on the sidelines critiquing the runners, I have no respect for you. Get in the race, show you can run it faster, show you can get to the finish line, prove you have better ideas." -J Street Executive Director Jeremy Ben-Ami Flush from the success of its third annual conference, J Street stands at tough crossroads. Its first two years of heady success as the receptacle…Read More... | 13 Comments
By Moriel Rothman I have attended all three J Street conferences since the organization formed in 2008 with the dual objectives of pushing the US government to take an active role in bringing about a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and changing the discourse within the mainstream American Jewish community to one that is more open, critical, value-driven and, yes, left-wing. J Street was the only major Jewish organization I knew of willing to criticize the insanity of that "war" and of other Israeli policies. Following J Street’s first conference in October of 2009, I decided to throw my…Read More... | 11 Comments
By Dr. Naftali Kaminski Dear friends, I was among the founding members of the J Street Chapter of Pittsburgh. I attended the two previous conferences and was very active in organizing and initiating events. Over the last year, I gradually grew disillusioned and a few months ago I decided not to continue my activism with J Street. I never thought of addressing this publicly but several exchanges with friends and supporters of J Street made me aware that I am not alone in my disillusionment, that others shared my concerns and doubts but were reluctant to comment publicly out of a concern…Read More... | 27 Comments
My colleague Noam heavily castigated J Street’s announcement that it would oppose the Palestinian bid for statehood at the UN in a few weeks. He qualified this by saying that he isn’t entirely convinced of the statehood plan itself; but saw political and moral failings in J Street’s position nonetheless. I, on the other hand, am not convinced of J Street’s opposition, but I respect the logic and the legitimacy of the approach. My main reservations are emotional: the Palestinians need and deserve a state, with all the problems it will face, and I want the world to be swept…Read More... | 11 Comments
In a hearing called by the committee for Immigration Absorption and Diaspora Affairs on Wednesday to discuss the “breaking of norms regarding the relation of Diaspora Jewish communities to Israeli governments,” the 3-year old progressive American Jewish lobby J Street was probed and vilified as an anti-Zionist organization whose love for Israel is conditional and thus disqualifies it from being “pro-Israel.” Committee head MK Danny Danon (Likud) asserted his dislike for J Street due to its actions “against Israel” and expressed disapproval of the five members of parliament who attended its annual conference in Washington, DC last month. He screened…Read More... | 27 Comments
The following is a post written by Mr. Mark Zivin, an active J Street member, in response to my earlier post titled: "The J Street conference: An 'A' for effort, 'F' for results". In my post I claimed that the conference failed where it matters most: bringing major league politicians from Capitol Hill. As you shall soon see, Mr. Zivin thinks I might have been a tad too harsh. By Mark Zivin I found Ami Kaufman’s recent piece about the J Street Conference to provide some very valuable insight into how the conference was perceived outside of the United States.…Read More...
The shortlist of 972's people of the year 2010, chosen by the site's bloggers Anat Kamm, former IDF soldier accused of leaking top secret documents to Haaretz reporter Uri Blau One day this March, my girlfriend went for a routine job interview. When she returned she had a story to tell: “You'll never believe how come that job is vacant,” she said, “The girl who used to do it is under secret house arrest for exposing classified military documents.” It was precisely like this, by way of rumor, that the story of Anat Kamm spread. Rumor was the only possible…Read More... | 3 Comments
There are a number of things that utterly bewilder me, as an Israeli, about Temple Beth Avoda's cancellation of the J-Street president Jeremy Ben Ami talk this evening. I'll jump to conclusions and assume the people responsible and myself come from different edges of the political spectrum; but sometimes you just wanna reach across the aisle, lean over, and say, guys, you just don't make any sense anymore: - Is Israel a sort of a deity? Has it come to replace God? I mean, I'm flattered and so will be my tax clerk, but are you actually saying that criticism…Read More... | 1 Comment
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