New J Street U President Urges ‘Richer Communication’ With Israel Haters

By Daniel Mael

With the school year set to begin, it was only a matter of time before leftist “peace activists” took aim at Jewish communal institutions.

Enter new J Street U National Student Board President Benjy Cannon to take the first shot.

“There’s a parallel, disturbing trend of scepticism in the established Jewish community toward pro-peace, anti-occupation activism,” wrote the new leader.  “Just in the past year, the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish American Organizations rejected J Street’s membership bid and Jewish institutions, from JCCs to Hillels, banned speakers and artists critical of Israeli policy on numerous occasions.”

J Street was rejected due to its anti-Israel views and inability to function alongside other organizations but Cannon peddles the lie that J Street was rejected due to its “pro-peace, anti-occupation” activism. Meanwhile, every organization in the Conference of Presidents is “pro-peace” and the majority are “anti-occupation” as well.

Absent from Cannon’s diatribe is the fact that the incident in the JCC centered around the speaker’s support of the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement and the Israel-bashing group, Breaking the Silence, was in fact welcomed in Hillel in March,

Cannon then retreats to his radical leftist (J Street) echo chamber and claims that “[o]ftentimes, the bans and responses to them where criticized as restrictions on free speech and expression.”

“Institutions claimed that certain ideas were ‘beyond the pale’ while progressive Jews called for deeper civil discourse and richer communication,” he wrote implicitly attacking the Jewish community for refusing to engage with anti-Semites and individuals who hate Israel.

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Originally published on Truth Revolt

J Street Endorsees in Congress Refuse to Support Iron Dome Funding for Israel

By Adam Kredo

Eleven lawmakers backed by liberal advocacy group J Street either voted against or refused to vote in favor of increased funding for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system, which has been a critical life-saver during Hamas’s latest assault on the Jewish state.

Congress overwhelmingly approved an emergency increase in funding for Iron Dome this month by a vote of 395 to 8.

Three of the eight who voted against the funding increase are J Street-backed lawmakers. Another eight abstained from the pro-Israel vote and also are financially supported by the group.

J Street’s political action committee (PAC) has already donated and bundled in this election cycle alone at least $92,387 to lawmakers who did not vote in favor of Iron Dome funding—which J Street itself claims is a priority for its endorsees.

The revelation that 11 of the 37 lawmakers who either voted against or abstained from supporting Iron Dome prompted outrage in the pro-Israel community and criticism of J Street for financially supporting lawmakers who take an explicitly anti-Israel line.

It also highlights an ongoing issue for J Street, which has attempted to garner mainstream credibility but has only attracted the support of far left fringe lawmakers known for their hostility to the Jewish state.

While J Street claims on its PAC’s website that to be “eligible for JStreetPAC endorsement” a candidate must support “robust American military aid to Israel,” the most recent vote shows that the group it willing to violate its own tenets.

A J Street spokesman did not respond to a request for comment on the Iron Dome vote.

Three of the House lawmakers who voted against funding for Iron Dome—Reps. Keith Ellison (D., Minn.), Zoe Lofgren (D., Calif.), and Walter Jones (R., N.C.)—have received a combined $21,145 in this election cycle from J Street, according to publicly available Federal Election Committee (FEC) documents. 

The eight other J Street-funded lawmakers who abstained from the vote are Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D., Ore.), Susan Davis (D., Calif.), Lloyd Doggett (D., Texas), John Garamendi (D., Calif.), Jim McDermott (D., Wash.), Raul Ruiz (D., Calif.), Jackie Speier (D., Calif.), and Ed Whitfield (R., Ky.).

These lawmakers have received a combined $71,242 via J Street in the most recent election cycle.

While J Street did not take a public position on the most recent Iron Dome bill, it has expressed support for the military alliance multiple times in the past.

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Originally published on The Washington Free Beacon

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

Shaheen Under Fire for Taking J Street Money

By Adam Kredo

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D., N.H.) is facing a fierce backlash for accepting thousands of dollars and the endorsement of the liberal Middle East advocacy group J Street, which has long stirred controversy for political candidates and recently came under fire for accusing Israel of “fanning growing flames of anti-Semitism.”

Shaheen, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has taken at least $4,300 from J Street’s political action committee (PAC), which funnels money to candidates that J Street believes will carry out its fringe policy objectives in Congress.

While many members have avoided being endorsed by J Street—which Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill have described as a dangerous albatross in foreign policy circles—Shaheen, and a handful of other far left Democrats, have risked their pro-Israel credentials to back the group.

Shaheen’s decision to join forces with J Street has drawn criticism in political circles from Washington, D.C., to New Hampshire, where observers accuse the senator of abandoning Israel at a critical time in the Jewish state’s history.

The New Hampshire Republican State Committee (NHRSC) on Tuesday demanded the Shaheen “sever her ties” with J Street, which it described as a “radical fringe group.”

“Radical organizations like J Street are determined to attack Israel and undermine Israel’s right to defend itself from terrorist attacks. It is disgraceful that Senator Jeanne Shaheen would associate herself with a fringe group like J Street and support their shameful advocacy efforts,” NHGOP Chairman Jennifer Horn told the Free Beacon in a statement. “As a member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Senator Shaheen needs to immediately denounce J Street’s shameful statements and return the contributions that it has funneled into her campaign bank account.”

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Originally published on The Washington Free Beacon

The Gaza War, and the New U.S. Jewish Consensus on Israel

By: Moshe Phillips and Benyamin Korn

It’s hard to imagine any issue on which more than 90% of American Jews agree. Is anti-Semitism bad? Are latkes good? Are reruns of “Seinfeld” worth watching?

Yet we finally do have one such issue. According to a new Gallup Poll released on August 1, when asked about the Gaza War, 93% of American Jews said they sympathize with Israel, 5% sympathize with both sides, and 2% sympathize with the Palestinians.

Note that the poll was carried out amidst a veritable tsunami of pro-Palestinian news media coverage in the United States. American Jews have been bombarded daily with heart-rending images of frightened or wounded Palestinians. The New York Times, especially, has done its utmost to perpetuate the notion that the Palestinians are innocent victims of Israeli brutality.

Just before the poll results were released, a front-page story in The Forward, reporting on American Jewish opinion regarding the war, was headlined “Many Jews Rally For Israel, While Some Protest Gaza War.”

The headline alone conveyed the impression that a substantial proportion of U.S. Jews were criticizing Israel.

According to the body of the article, “a series of opposing rallies and protests have drawn Jews on both sides.” Reinforcing the idea of a deep division in the community, six of the nine individuals interviewed in the article were critics of Israel. (And even one of the pro-Israel demonstrators was quoted not in support of Israel, but in defense of the right of the critics to speak out against Israel.)

The Gallup poll clearly demonstrates the opposite: that the division, if one can call it that, is more than 9 to 1 in support of Israel. (Note that the respondents were not forced to choose between Israel and the Palestinians; they had the option of choosing “both sides.” Yet only 5% did so.)

How is that there is such overwhelming – almost unanimous – support among American Jews for Israel in this war?

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Originally published on The Jewish Press

Gaza Fighting Proves J Street’s Irrelevance

By Jonathan S. Tobin  @tobincommentary

Pity poor J Street. As Israelis seek to defend themselves against Hamas rockets and terrorist tunnels, the left-wing lobby finds itself in a tough spot. Its flagging bid for mainstream support has caused it to try and craft a low-key position of support for Israeli self-defense. But that nuanced stance is causing many of J Street’s supporters to abandon the organization for those groups that take sides against Israel.

As the Forward noted today, J Street has tried not to repeat the mistake it made in 2008 when the group publicly opposed Israel’s efforts to suppress Hamas rocket fire during Operation Cast Lead. The position was very much in character with J Street’s ideology that sees Israel as the obstacle to peace rather than the Palestinian refusal to recognize a Jewish state no matter where its borders would be drawn. But the group that at that time harbored an ambition to replace AIPAC as the voice of the pro-Israel community learned its lesson after it was condemned for this outrageous decision by a wide spectrum of American Jews, including many liberal leaders. During subsequent crises J Street has avoided open condemnations of Israeli actions while still failing to play the sort of role in mobilizing support for an embattled Jewish state that other more mainstream groups take as a matter of course.

As Alan Dershowitz wrote in the Jerusalem Post last week, J Street refused to take part in a communal pro-Israel rally organized by the Boston Jewish federation. Nor did J Street chose to co-sponsor a similar rally in New York. He said these actions sounded the “death knell for J Street” as a group that sought to be considered as part of the pro-Israel community. But the irony is that sort of moral cowardice isn’t enough for many, if not most J Street supporters who are uncomfortable with the way the group has sought to neither condemn nor fully support Israel’s campaign in Gaza.

As the Forward reported, even as J Street avoided being seen at pro-Israel rallies, their members are playing a prominent role in organizing protests against the Jewish state. Many have joined #ifnotnow, a new ad hoc group dedicated to opposing Israel’s actions in Gaza.

Even worse for J Street is the trend that was also discussed in a separate Forward article which reported that many of the group’s adherents are leaving it to join the openly anti-Zionist Jewish Voices for Peace. That group, which serves as the Jewish front for BDS—boycott, divest, sanction—campaigns against Israel is profiting from the situation since many on the left prefer its unadulterated venom directed against the Jewish state to J Street’s more equivocal positions.

While no one should be shedding any tears about J Street’s dilemma, their troubles do illustrate a key point about the ongoing battle to defend Israel.

J Street came into existence in part as a cheering section for Obama administration pressure against Israel. But it was also a manifestation of the old left-right debate in Israel and the United States between those who supported “land for peace” as the solution to the conflict with the Palestinians and those who opposed the idea. J Street’s belief that Israel needed to take risks for peace might have made sense in 1992 before Oslo, the second intifada, and three Palestinian refusals of Israeli offers of statehood. But after 20 years during which Israel has traded land not for peace but for terror, J Street’s positions aren’t so much wrong as they are irrelevant. That’s why Israel’s political left that once dominated the country’s politics is now marginalized and rejected by an electorate that backs the Netanyahu government’s actions in Gaza by a 9-1 margin.

The real battle for Israel now isn’t the old one about where its borders should be placed or whether settlements are good or bad but whether there should be a Jewish state or if it has a right to defend itself. In that struggle, J Street’s tepid Zionism doesn’t resonate with the mainstream community and is of little interest to leftists who prefer open-Israel bashers like JVP.

J Street once thought it would become the main address for Jewish activism. But recent events have shown that J Street’s moment has passed. Those who wish to support Israel in its life and death struggle against Hamas terrorists who seek its destruction will always gravitate toward groups that don’t pull their punches when it comes to defending the Jewish state. At the same time, J Street’s base on the left is following celebrity Israel-bashers and abandoning it to join with those who are playing into Hamas’s hands by claiming it is wrong to shoot back at the terrorists. In this environment, organizations that won’t take a clear side in this fight will soon find themselves historical relics of a bygone era that will never return.

Originally published in Commentary

Death knell for J Street

By Alan Dershowitz

Any pretense that J Street is a pro-Israel organization has been destroyed by that organization’s refusal to participate in a solidarity rally for Israel during the recent crisis in Gaza.

The Boston Jewish Federation worked hard to create a rally that included all elements of its diverse community. Its goal was to send a single and simple message: at a time when so many in the world are united against Israel’s efforts at defending itself from Hamas rockets and terrorist tunnels, the Boston Jewish community stands in solidarity with the nation state of the Jewish people. In order to assure that this message of unity was sent, no signs were permitted except for the unity message that was intended to be sent. That message was: Stand With Israel. Simple and straight forward.

Speakers were limited to those who were part of the broad Jewish consensus including Rabbis, political and business leaders and the highly regarded head of the Federation, Barry Shrage, whose commitment to peace and the two state solution is well known.

Initially J Street agreed to be a co-sponsor of this unity event, but then—presumably after receiving pressure from its hard left constituency, which is always looking to bash Israel and never to support it—J Street was forced to withdraw its sponsorship. The phony excuse it offered was that the rally offered “no voice for [J Street] concerns about the loss of human life on both sides” and no recognition of the “complexity” of the issues or the need for a “political solution.”

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Originally published on The Jerusalem Post

On J Street’s Failure to Acknowledge Reality

By Elliot Hamilton

Nothing excites me more than the sight of a new official statement from J Street. This organization never ceases to amuse me as it continues to back pedal away from the criticisms expressed throughout the Jewish community for its lack of perspective and for its arrogance while discussing the Arab-Israeli conflict. The world has started to notice J Street’s seductive and misleading mantras as a creative ploy to hijack Israel’s attempts for security in the name of making “peace” with governments bent on the Jewish state’s extermination. It is music to my ears.

In light of the growing trends against it, J Street released a crafty statement in regards to Operation Protective Edge, Israel’s latest counterattack against the terrorist group Hamas following its indiscriminate rocket fire. Its intent, from first glance, was to look even-handedly at the situation between the Palestinian-Arabs living in Gaza and the Israelis. It even condemned Hamas for its continuous rocket fire. However, J Street fails to acknowledge this very important fact: Hamas solely rules over the Gaza Strip and it has a say in any diplomatic means to end this escalation. One cannot call to pursue diplomatic solutions while simultaneously dismantling the terrorist infrastructure of the ruling party. In addition, it is irrational to negotiate with a terrorist entity that neither has ambitions for the two-state solution, or fully ceasing its hostilities against the Jewish state.

If Hamas had the intentions of creating a Palestinian state, then it would seem logical that such a state would have already come into existence following Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. Instead, Hamas created a terrorist base out of land that Israel gave to the Palestinian-Arabs in hopes for peace. These ideological beliefs that Hamas seeks a “two-state solution” remain farfetched in reality. However, J Street remains adamant that seeking a peaceful solution through diplomacy with an anti-Semitic terrorist organization exists as a viable option. Nothing is farther from the truth, yet that works for this “pro-Israel, pro-peace” organization in its ideologically suicidal world. It mesmerizes me that J Street continues to seek a peaceful solution to this escalation, as well as the “two-state solution.”

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Originally published on The Times of Israel

Guest post: Why I left J Street

24-year old Ada da Silva was excited and hopeful as she entered the bustling Grand Lobby of the Washington DC Convention Center on March 24th of 2012.  Banners emblazoned with J Street’s trademark leaning arrow logo and that year’s convention theme, “Making History”, festooned the huge atrium.   J Street offered itself as a brash young voice; a solutions-based movement, non-dogmatic and open to dialogue.  All of these things appealed to Ada as she prepared herself for three days of intellectual engagement and inspiration. Most of all, Ada looked forward to being amongst  fellow lovers of Israel, all like her thirsting for a solution, a desperately needed respite from war and conflict. She found something else entirely.


Why I left J Street:  By Ada da Silva

I signed up for the J Street conference in the hope of unveiling a genuine and profound dialogue – something akin to the wealth of nuance and complexity that one encounters when discussing the Israel-Palestine conflict with Israelis in Israel. I hoped to find a space where support for Israel was a given, yet dialogue in pursuit of solutions and effective advocacy would abound.

On the very first night of the conference, I made a comment to my table-mate that I thought would be relatively mainstream, given the recent publication of The Crisis of Zionism: “I’m not such a fan of Beinart.” I was immediately reproached, and told that I was too closed-minded for the conference: the very one I had come to in order to be exposed to new ideas. No matter that I have Palestinian contacts with whom I maintain a dialogue on their views and hopes, and no matter that I seek to encounter every viewpoint on the conflict, and expressed willingness to read any new sources that this individual might wish to recommend. I was instantly and immutably classified as right-wing, and as such, no longer worthy of conversation. Through this and other interactions, my hopes of encountering a moderate and welcoming crowd at the conference were quickly dispelled. 

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Originally published on The Mike Report



An Open Letter to Jeremy Ben-Ami

By Daniel M. Cohen

…That noted, I found your recent post on the murders of Naftali Frankel, Eyal Yifrach and Gilad Shaar to be both disappointing and extremely disturbing. You began your post by referring to “three teenage boys…” You did not even show the boys or their families the dignity of referring to them by name. Moreover, you never mentioned the perpetrators of these horrific crimes and you never used the term “terrorist.” To equate the murders of three Israeli teens who were hitchhiking home from school to the shooting of a Palestinian teen who was throwing rocks at soldiers is an outrage. I understand that you were trying to equate the grief of a Jewish mother with that of a Palestinian mother. To be sure, the anguish of a parent whose child has died is heartbreaking, no matter the circumstances. But there is no basis for equating how or why the two boys died. One was an innocent hitchhiker. The other was throwing stones – not pebbles, but stones – at soldiers…

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Originally published on The Times of Israel