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A waste of a summit, a waste of a lobby

I gotta hand it to Bibi.

Seriously, the guy’s a magician.

Today, in what has been coined the most important summit between Netanyahu and Obama since they both took office, the most important issue will not be discussed.

Instead of talking about how to end a 45-year-old unnecessary occupation, these dimwits are going to discuss an unnecessary war.

Instead of talking about what America and Israel could – and should – do to stop a massacre (some already using the word “genocide”) taking place in Syria as they speak, these losers are going to talk about a massacre that doesn’t have to happen, and certainly won’t if they could stop their ridiculous saber rattling for a minute.

So yeah, go on. Talk about Iran.

Gotta hand it to him. The man’s a friggin’ genius.


I agree with my colleague Mairav Zonszein about choosing Ehud Olmert as keynote speaker for the J Street conference. I’ve seen a few news items on this, but oddly enough – Olmert is not on the conference schedule on their website.

But if indeed this is true, it should be seen as just one more nail in J Street’s coffin.

And it’s not only because Olmert is a b-list (d-list, in my opinion) ex-politician.

Almost two years ago, after Obama’s election and J Street’s emergence as what seemed back then to be a new and inspiring voice, I had high hopes. I wrote about those hopes a few times, urging my family and friends in the States to join forces with the new pro-peace lobby.

Both Obama and J Street have made unfortunate choices, too many to be counted here in this short post.

While Obama may indeed be re-elected (only to be pushed around another 4 years by AIPAC), I see no reason to continue believing that J Street has anything real to offer.

Let’s face it, J Street, it was a nice idea. But you came in too late. 15, 10 – maybe even 5 – years earlier, and you might have made a difference.


Now, when I think of J Street, knowing the two state solution is dead, the only things that pop to mind are:


“Too little, too late,”

“Turn out the lights, the party’s over.”

I actually believed in you guys. But you’ve done nothing but show weakness after weakness after weakness.

You didn’t have much time to begin with, but you squandered the time that you had.

As we say in Hebrew, it’s time to close the “basta” (shop).

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    1. Jazzy

      And the two-state solution is dead because…why? Because Netanyahu is in power? Because the PA doesn’t want to negotiate. I see a West Bank Palestinian population outpacing the settler population, proportionally, at an increasing rate. I see an increasingly radicalized Islamist trend in Palestinian political discourse. I see a lot of non-superficial reasons for the West Bank not to be allowed to become part of the same political entity as Israel. Maybe let’s use a time horizon here that isn’t so truncated.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Matan Lurey


      Why would you say, other than Benjamin Netanyahu being PM, is the 2SS ‘more dead’ then it was under Ariel Sharon/Olmert, or even Barak?

      Reply to Comment
    3. Ami: Your comments on J Street are offered without any backup. It’s not enough to say that you’re writing a “short post.” Can you provide two or three “unfortunate choices” that J Street has made? Why is the two-state solution “dead” (the very premise of your assertion of J Street’s irrelevance)? How has J Street shown “weakness after weakness”? What should J Street have done? If J Street came in “too late,” could it have made a difference in anything it did?

      Reply to Comment
    4. Noam W

      J-street’s mistake with Olmert is somewhere between embarrassing and down right stupid.
      But to decide that J-street is dead because the two state solution is dead is a little tautological. Obviously if you disagree with the main tenant of J-street, you think it is not a good option. But that is not because J-street is irrelevant, but rather because you disagree with its solution to the conflict.
      There is, I think, a big difference there. I think the Likud’s way of solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is misguided, that doesn’t make the movement irrelevant.

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    5. aristeides

      The function of J Street is to back up Barack Obama. J Street pays lip service to the mouldering corpse of the 2SS because Obama clings to it as an excuse not to support the Palestinians. A moral sinkhole all the way round.

      Reply to Comment
    6. I think Olmert is a speaker at the conference’s gala dinner, rather than a regular conference speaker, which might be why it’s not mentioned.

      And as far as you’re concerned, inviting Olmert to speak is a mistake, but you’re also not the target audience. The idea is to let Jewish Americans and US politicians know there’s “another way,” and if a prominent-ish Israeli voice (and former PM is prominent, no matter what happened during his time as PM) comes to support J Street, it raises the profile of J Street, and in turn, raises the idea that American politicians don’t need to suck up to Bibi to stay in favor with Jewish voters.

      I know it’s terrible. The man is a corrupt war-criminal. Still… I’m trying to look at the big picture.

      Reply to Comment
    7. Danny

      “Instead of talking about the how to end a 45-year-old unnecessary occupation, these dimwits are going to discuss an unnecessary war.”
      Very well said. Obama is a political dimwit who thinks in terms of a zero sum game – for him to get re-elected, he must cozy up to Israel, which means that he must turn his back on the Palestinians. Whatever happened to American impartiality? Even handedness? FAIRNESS??? Even George W. Bush made a (small) contribution to peace in the Middle East when he pushed Sharon to vacate Gaza. Obama can’t even get Nutty Yahoo to stop demolishing Palestinian homes in the West Bank. Obama is a disgrace who should thank his lucky stars his GOP opponents are even less able than he is.

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    8. Abby

      Thanks Oren – I for one appreciate that explanation (sounds reasonable). Gives me a reason to not have to reject out of hand any group that is trying to improve things. If they convince one US congressman that it would be ok to grow a backbone re: this issue it would be worthwhile.

      Reply to Comment
    9. David

      I think you’re hyping Bibi a bit too much. The guy’s political powers rest in the American Jewish establishment.
      Jeff Goldberg set the tone with his interview. Look at the amount of time the word ‘Iran’ comes up vs the amount of time the word ‘Palestinian’ comes up.
      I’m still surprised at how some Israelis still don’t want to talk about the Israel Lobby as much as it should have been done. Hoenlein, Goldberg, Foxman, Dershowitz. It’s all coordinated.
      Bibi is just sending how his minions to do his bidding. Obama needs those donations. So he plays the game.
      I would be surprised if Bibi didn’t manage to set the narrative considering the amount of soft power he possesses through the lobby.
      It’s often said and it’s true: the fate of the I/P conflict will not be settled in Israel. It will be settled inside the American Jewish community as well as the upper reaches of the liberal intelligentsia.
      Spencer Ackerman, who recently penned a piece comparing all critics of Israel to Nazis, expressed his frustration at being quote in that ECI ad in the NYT attacking Media Matters(and Center for American Progress). He said bluntly that the ad undermines his ability to influence liberals – and he’s right.
      The liberal class is the firewall against the Occupation. That’s why AIPAC is much more active in the Democratic party and why the lobby’s outlets focus on Democratic groups. The guy who started the attack on CAP/Media Matters was Josh Block, ex-AIPAC guy through Ben Smith(known neocon) at Politico. It was then amplified.
      This is how it works. Bibi has nothing to do with this. The question is, how much longer can it go on? Dershowitz isn’t listened to by anyone anymore. Goldberg is almost there. Ackerman is into the fray now. The pace of burning through someone’s liberal credentials by defending apartheid and/or downright smearing critics as Nazis takes a big toll at your credibility.
      The ECI ad highlighted an important fact: the neocons and their allies are most visible in the media, not in politics. And their defenders are actually more numerous at the Democratic side. Why? Because the Republican base is filled with Christian Zionists, so there’s no need to police that area. But the intellectual class is overwhelmingly liberal. Which is why most of the effort is directed at those quarters.
      As a sidejoke: it’s often said Americans should get to know more about the region(Middle East), but it could be equally said that Israelis should get to know more about the American debate to understand what’s really happening, who is underwriting what and so on.
      (Btw, you guys should really allow proper spacing to function with using dots between paragraphs).

      Reply to Comment
    10. @david – Actually, I think I understand the situation quite well, without the need to excessively name-drop, as some apparently feel the need to. Bibi and AIPAC work very closely together. A lot of this is Bibi asking, AIPAC doing. So, I’m actually quite fine with my understanding of American politics, but thanks for your “suggestion”.

      Reply to Comment
    11. AIG


      Since the one state solution is even more dead than the two state solution, will you be following the advice you are giving J-street and close shop soon?

      For every reason you can give that the two state solution won’t work, I can give you two reasons why the one state solution won’t work. So, where does that leave us?

      Reply to Comment
    12. @AIG – with comments like yours, unfortunately.
      See, the One State solution is far from perfect. In fact, I don’t totally endorse it yet. Not only that, AIG, I’ve written against it in the past. In fact, I probably wrote about all those “reasons” you’re thinking about.
      Without getting into the pros and cons of each, the OSS seems, at this moment in time, slightly more feasible.
      But seeing as how you obviously don’t agree, how about you answer your own question? Where does it leave us?

      Reply to Comment
    13. AIG


      It leaves us where humans are throughout history, unclear about the future and forced to make judgement calls. My judgement call is that the two state solution is more feasible than the one state one, much more feasible. I also think that by pronouncing it dead you are not doing anyone a service. After all, it is the solution there is a world wide agreement about. But again, I cannot foresee the future.

      Reply to Comment
    14. @AIG – funny, that’s the exact same way I feel about you pronouncing the OSS dead. So, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see whose “judgement call” is right. (Actually, by pronouncing something that won’t happen in the near future “dead” is doing us all a service. But go ahead, keep your head deep down in the sand).
      And come one, “wide world agreement”. Who gives a hoot about that? There’s wide world agreement to let Assad slaughter people, too. Sheesh…

      Reply to Comment
    15. AIG


      Who is calling for J-Street to dissolve? You are.
      Am I or anyone else telling you to stop advocating for what you believe in?

      If you think you are doing a service by pronouncing the two state solution dead, be my guest. But you know Israelis just as well as I do. You are hardening attitudes instead of facilitating peace. Israeli Jews are 99% against the 1SS and the majority is for the 2SS. If the left is to ever get in power again its need their support. You are pushing the majority of Israeli Jews away and that is a mistake in my opinion.

      Finkelstein “gives a hoot” about world wide agreement as any reasonable person would. That there is this agreement does not mean peace will emerge tomorrow. It only means that it is going to be much easier to get there.

      Reply to Comment
    16. “Am I or anyone else telling you to stop advocating for what you believe in?” Ummm, yes. You are. In a subtle way, but you are.
      I’m not hardening attitudes by voicing my opinion. Not sure what’s behind that strange logic of yours.
      The left will never gain power again – at least not in the next decade or so. Not sure what logic you’re using there, as well (as someone who knows Israelis, you should know that).
      I’m not pushing anyone away. It is the majority of Israelis who are pushing themselves into the OSS. Not me. I was all for TSS. It is the majority of Israelis, you are right, who have deepened the occupation so much as to make TSS no longer feasible. And it continues to deepen as we speak. And it will in the coming years. They have voted for it. And they will vote for it in the next elections.
      Your unwilling to recognize this is a mistake, in my opinion.
      Is this Finkelstein you speak of also known as “God”? Does he have a shul where I can go pray to him? Cuz I didn’t know he’s mister-know-it-all. Or is this one of those weird cults…

      Reply to Comment
    17. AIG

      “You are. In a subtle way, but you are.”

      There is a difference between “telling” and “persuading”. I agree it is subtle but still important.

      “I’m not hardening attitudes by voicing my opinion. Not sure what’s behind that strange logic of yours.”

      Extremism begets extremism. That is an undeniable fact about the conflict. The more one side voices extreme points of view, the more the other side is radicalized. I am not telling you not to voice your opinion, but at least recognize that opinions have consequences.

      “I’m not pushing anyone away. It is the majority of Israelis who are pushing themselves into the OSS. Not me. I was all for TSS.”

      This is where you lose me. How are you for the TSS if you say it is not possible?
      How are Israelis pushing themselves to an OSS? Maybe they are inviting another intifada. Maybe worldwide condemnation and perhaps many other things before the OSS. Because Israelis are so against it, that will never happen. They would support some unilateral withdrawal Gaza style long before they accept an OSS. Maybe TSS is not feasible, but that does not mean OSS is. The alternative to the TSS is not the OSS, it is just more conflict (as is the case with Gaza).

      “Is this Finkelstein you speak of also known as “God”?”

      I just gave him as an example. The argument is quite simple. There is a framework agreed upon by all countries in the world including the major Palestinian parties. That is the TSS. It just makes a lot of sense that it would be easier to find a solution based on this framework rather than something based on what very few people and countries support.

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    18. delia ruhe

      The problem for J Street is that their need to be loved by the entire Jewish community far overtops any desire to see an end to the I-P conflict.

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    19. @aig – reading comprehension: “was” for TSS. Again, the word is “was”.

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    20. ToivoS

      As someone who greeted J Street with great enthusiasm I agree with your assessment. I realized from day 1 that their program was a decade late. Their importance was that they allowed many progressive Zionist here in the US to come together and discuss their concerns over Israel. In that, J Street was successful. Many of those people are coming to realize that the two state solution is no longer viable. They are moving into more activist organizations.

      Reply to Comment
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