Next week’s J Street conference in Washington DC (controversy abounds, so I can’t wait to be there to experience it up close) continues to draw the wrath of hardline Zionists. Here’s Isi Leibler, recently calling for the ex-communication of dissident Jews:
This weekend J Street is launching its first major convention at which it claims 160 members of Congress and a number of former Israeli left-wing politicians will participate. Only 18 months old, J Street already boasts of a $3 million budget which, while minuscule compared to AIPAC’s $70 million, is nevertheless impressive. It also receives glowing liberal media coverage, especially from The New York Times.
American Jews take pride in being an open and pluralistic community. So why make a fuss about an organization, even if it does engage in activities that many would consider offensive? Besides, blackballing such a fringe group would lead to accusations of attempting to stifle freedom of expression and transform it into a martyr.
However, the fact is that no one is seeking to deny freedom of expression to J Street or other groups hostile to Israel. The issue is whether organizations should be able to exploit the Jewish community as launching pads to campaign against the Jewish state while presenting themselves as mainstream Jews.
Most Jews would concur that a red line should be drawn between legitimate criticism of Israel and concerted campaigns to pressure the US or any government to force the democratically elected government of Israel to make concessions which could imperil the lives of its citizens.
IN SHORT, J Street has established a virtually consistent track record of hostility against Israel. One has yet to see it release a single statement backing Israel on any substantive issue. It vigorously campaigns to pressure the US government to be “tough” and force Israel to make unilateral concessions. It financially supports the election of anti-Israeli congressmen and raises the specter of dual loyalties. It continuously defames mainstream Jewish organizations, depicting them as extremists. It receives financial support and praise from Arabs and foes of Israel. To suggest that such an organization is “pro-Israel” is utterly preposterous.
Today Israel is undergoing a critical phase in its relationship with the US. The pressures on the Jewish state are not limited to calls to freeze settlements. In the aftermath of the toxic Goldstone report, Israelis travelling abroad may now face the threat of prosecution. Israel also faces the challenge of defining defensible borders and addressing the danger of a nuclear Iran. In these and other existential challenges, Israel is largely dependent on US support which J Street seeks to undermine.
There is no doubt that the vast majority of committed Jews are outraged by a Jewish organization whose principal raison d’être is to lobby the US to act harshly against Israel. The limited support J Street enjoys comes principally from those uninvolved in Jewish life. Indeed, Ben-Ami even told The New York Times that his members are comprised primarily of intermarried youngsters who attend “Buddhist Seders.” That probably explains why J Street could endorse the staging of the contemporary anti-Semitic blood libel play Seven Jewish Children.
No one seeks to deny Israeli bashers freedom of expression. But there is a need to make the public aware that J Street represents an insignificant group of uncommitted Jews. It must be exposed as hostile to Israel and marginalized from the Jewish community. If Americans understand this, J Street’s ability to undermine Israel will largely be neutralized.
Jews, you have been warned. There is only way to be a good Jew; anti-Arab, angry, pro-settlements and blinded by nationalism.