Really J Street??

By Shoshanna Schechter-Shaffin

Ok, its official, my mind has been blown.

If you’ve read my other essays, it will not be a shock to you that I’ve never agreed with J Street’s supposed “Pro-Israel and Pro-Peace” mission. However, one point made by J Street Executive Director Jeremy Ben-Ami in his most recent “Word on the Street: Difficult Questions and Hard Truths” has taken me over the edge.

In making his main points, Ben-Ami states “Failure to solve this conflict is eating away at support for Israel around the world, damaging the country’s legitimacy and, in some cases, fanning growing flames of anti-Semitism.”

Wait, what?

Did he just insinuate that the horrible, quickly increasing anti-Semitism all over the world, INCLUDING now the United States, is due to Israel’s inability to “solve the conflict?” Only a week ago, Rabbi Joseph Raksin (Z’L) was brutally murdered on his way to Shabbat morning services. While at the moment this is not being investigated as a hate crime, with violent anti-Semitism swiftly increasing around the world and specifically anti-Semitic incidents occurring in this neighborhood in Miami, it’s difficult not to see the connection. News reports from this past Shabbat in Miami show a community in a state of terror, with police escorts supervising observant Jews walking to the synagogue and Jewish parents scared to let their children play outside. It’s hard to believe that this is really happening in the United States in the year 2014.

In the subsequently published J Street position paper “Aim for Conflict Resolution, Not Just a Ceasefire” there is NO mention made of concern for the increase of global anti-Semitism. There is, however, significant concern and attention given to the “rise in intolerance and racism among the Jewish community” as it states “From the revenge killing of Muhammed Abu Khdeir to the very public anti-Arab pronouncements by members of the Knesset and by ordinary citizens, voices of hatred and racism have emerged and actions have occurred that run counter to the most basic of Jewish values…The growing lack of tolerance for political dissent and for opposing viewpoints should be of grave concern to Jewish leaders in the United States and in Israel. Racism and intolerance should have no place in our community.”

Yes, racism and intolerance should have no place in our community or the world at large and that includes racism and intolerance towards our own people. I’m shocked and deeply troubled that J Street appears to have a double standard when it comes to racism and intolerance. They feel that Jewish leaders expressing hatred and racism is “of grave concern” however, Jews being terrorized around the world at an ever increasing rate is “no big deal” or certainly not a big enough deal to be worth mentioning in their position paper. Have they forgotten WHY the early Zionists formed the first Zionist Congress to begin with? Why Theordor Herzl wrote Der Judenstaat? Why so many young bourgeois Jews from Kiev and Odessa picked up and left their homes to build a new state for the Jewish people?

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Originally published on The Times of Israel