Why J Street may just be having the right effect (sometimes)

It’s clear that J Street is seriously upsetting the Zionist establishment. Jewish Diaspora leaders who publicly criticise Israeli government policy are both necessary and morally important. Last night during a talk at Sydney University I challenged a senior Jewish lecturer who expressed pain about the West Bank settlements to actually try and do something about them rather than remaining silent within her community. She looked at me blankly. Me, she seemed to be saying, little old me, oh no, I’d much rather talk around the nice things about Judaism and Israel and not engage with the less savoury sides of the occupation.

Shmuley Boteach, author of The Blessing of Enough: Rejecting Material Greed, Embracing Spiritual Hunger, writes in the Jerusalem Post (the place every good pro-settler activist goes to die) that J Street is destroying Judaism and Zionism, complicit in the death of Jews and the Devil in disguise (or something like that):

The truth, of course, is that many people, myself included, who support the organizations that J Street seeks to demonize – AIPAC, the ADL, the ZOA, and others – do so not because we fear imminent mass extinction but because we seek to prevent the cold-blooded murder of even one Jew. In the year 2009 there is no reason that we should have to put up with any anti-Semitic or anti-Israel prejudice. Israel shouldn’t have to tolerate any bombs going off in its midst, even if they kill “only” a handful of Jews. And we support Israel not because it’s the final bunker when the skinheads finally conquer Miami but because, like all proud Americans, we love freedom and democracy and we’re thrilled that the Jewish state is the bastion of those precious values in a region that utterly repudiates them. Ben-Ami’s caricature of leaders of major Jewish organizations – heroes like Malcolm Hoenlein, Howard Kohr, and Morton Klein – as mistrustful cranks who seek to hijack American foreign policy is deeply troubling, as is his contention that Jews who believe in a tough military posture, after all the terror Israel has experienced, are paranoid brutes.

And how’s that “tough military posture” going for you, Israel?

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