JStreet, the extreme left-wing lobbying group that claims to be pro-Israel, has never represented the consensus, or anything remotely resembling the consensus. It is out of step with the thinking of the vast majority of the American Jewish public and of the Israeli public, positioning itself to the left of Meretz on many issues.
It supports the creation of a Palestinian state and the division of Yerushalayim, at a time when even the head of the Israeli Labor party, now called the Zionist Union, acknowledges publicly that it’s not realistic.
It also supports negotiations with Hamas, a terrorist group that is sworn to Israel’s destruction and is building tunnels and missiles to fulfill its “mission” instead of rebuilding Gaza to make a better life for its residents. J Street has opposed military operations of recent years — like Operation Cast Lead and Operation Protective Edge — even though they were prompted by relentless missile attacks on Israeli civilians. (Not surprisingly, they also backed the notorious Goldstone Report, which determined that Israel was guilty of war crimes in Cast Lead.)
The organization has worked against Israel in the United Nations, urging the Obama administration to vote to condemn it for “illegal” building in Yehudah and Shomron, and endorsed Congressmen whose record on Israel was, to put it mildly, spotty. Just two examples: Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA), who refused to sign a resolution affirming Israel’s right to defend itself, and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), who refused to join a bipartisan effort of 76 senators expressing the commitment of the U.S. government’s alliance with Israel.
And, of course, it opposed economic sanctions against Iran aimed at pressuring the regime to abandon the pursuit of nuclear weapons (which it openly stated were to be used to “wipe Israel off the map,” R”l) and supported the international agreement signed last year which Israel’s government and opposition agree poses an existential threat to the country.
With such a record, how does J Street justify calling itself “pro-Israel”? It has two tricks. One is to adopt the patronizing attitude that says “We know what’s best for Israel,” and can therefore force it to make territorial concessions it fears making on legitimate security grounds (remember the disengagement from Gaza, and the “peace” that followed?).
Jeremy Ben-Ami, J Street’s executive director, has put it this way: “Would a true friend not only let you drive home drunk but offer you their Porsche and a shot of tequila for the road?”
That explains it: Ben-Ami is the sober adult and Israel is the drunk driver in need of some tough love.
The second trick is to find someone in Israel who agrees with their views, which isn’t difficult to do considering Israel’s robust democracy, which allows for any and all views. But this, too, is patronizing, because it seeks to deny the majority its right to express its views and elect leaders who will act on them, without pressure from a fringe lobbying group in Washington.
But none of this helps J Street explain how it could take more than half a million dollars from an advocacy group called Ploughshares to lobby on behalf of Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran — over the fierce opposition of the Israeli government.
J Street and J Street Education Fund received a total of $576,500 “to mobilize Jewish support for a final deal.” That’s more than double the $281,000 the National Iranian American Council got. But that makes sense. It’s no big deal for an Iranian group in the United States to come out in favor of the deal, but it’s very important for the Obama administration to point to a Jewish “pro-Israel” group supporting the deal.
J Street calls itself pro-Israel even when it takes money to support the Iran deal, acting against the country’s vital national security interests. So it cast the deal as good for Israel; again J Street knows best. “J Street worked to advance the nuclear agreement with Iran out of the belief that this is an important agreement which contributes mightily to Israel’s security,” it said in a statement.
Next, it sought to find people who had something positive to say about the agreement. But the people they cite, former IDF chiefs of staff Gabi Ashkenazi and Benny Gantz and the current IDF chief of staff, may have advised the Obama administration against it, had they been asked. After the fact, in a bid to put U.S.-Israel relations back on track and reassure the Israeli public that there was no need to panic, they presumably thought it prudent to speak of the “opportunity” it represents.
The bottom line is this: If J Street was so comfortable taking money to push the nuclear deal, why was it not forthcoming about the donations? Why did they only come to light recently in a profile of Ben Rhodes, one of President Obama’s top foreign policy aides, in The New York Times Magazine?
The answer is obvious. J Street and their supporters are in need of some honesty, some modesty and just the slightest bid of genuine love and concern for their fellow Jews in Israel. If they can’t come up with all three, they should at least be honest enough to drop the claim of being “pro-Israel.”