I received today the following email:
I spent the past week touring the country with a member of the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office. At a few of our stops, we were asked about “J Street”. I found very intriguing that an 18-month old organization could capture the attention of so many – so quickly. The story about the Embassy offering to send an observer to J Street’s first national conference in place of Ambassador Oren spread like wildfire. But why? Do you have any idea how many invitations the Embassy receives? What if I started a non-profit human rights organization and I invited President Obama to our first gala – do you think he would come? Would it be a newsworthy story about if President Obama chose to send an “observer” instead?
Though originally founded as the American Zionist Committee for Public Affairs in 1953, AIPAC had didn’t achieve the financial and political clout necessary to sway congressional opinion until the 1970’s. Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations has been around since 1956. I use these two examples because these are groups widely recognized as the appropriate framework for representing American Jews. And now after a little over a year as an organization, J Street is demanding the same respect!? What’s even more confounding is the fact that the media is going right along with it even though this is, by definition, a non-issue. It’s hardly a salacious tale of scandal and I am downright puzzled “we” have let it become such a heavy story – what with everything else we have to worry about when it comes to Israel circa right now.
Respect takes time – it’s not bought, it’s not sold and it’s certainly not earned overnight. I now worry that J Street is using this as a “no such thing as bad press” story and spinning it to their advantage by kicking up dirt and focusing on the fact that they weren’t granted a personal visit by Ambassador Oren. It seems to me they may be wrapping themselves in the story like victims in a blanket and, worse yet, wearing the Embassy’s discretionary response as some sort of twisted badge of honor or martyrdom. I don’t know about you but as a Zionist, I’ve more important things to worry about right now. Let’s not get distracted. Let’s keep our collective eye on the collective ball.