The liberal lobbying group J Street, by virtue of a 22-17 vote, failed last week in its attempt to join the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. It was beaten back in its attempt to gain legitimacy for its notion of what it means to be pro-Israel.
It would have been a dark day for the cause of Israel had the premier umbrella advocacy group for Israel in the United States accepted J Street’s claims to being pro-Israel given its bent for undermining the Israeli government at just about every important turn.
Imagine the message bestowing membership would have sent: That even the most vocal and influential American supporters of Israel are not quite sure Israel has right on its side and believe the Palestinian narrative to be as historically true and morally justified as the Israeli side of the story.
What we don’t get is the vote of 17 member organizations to accept J Street.
It makes no sense. Since its founding in 2008, J Street has consistently argued that Israel’s failure to make ever greater concessions to the Palestinians is responsible for the failure of negotiations with the Palestinians.
In addition, J Street opposed Israel’s Operation Cast Lead military response to incessant rocket attacks emanating from Gaza. It supported the 2009 Goldstone Report that found Israel guilty of war crimes during Operation Cast Lead. It urged support for a UN Security Council resolution that would have condemned the settlements as illegal. And it endorsed the Palestinians’ unilateral bid at the UN for recognition of statehood – something President Obama vehemently opposed.
J Street has also publicly argued that Israel should negotiate sans preconditions with Hamas despite the latter’s continuing rocket assaults and refusal to recognize Israel’s legitimacy. And J Street has opposed any notion of a military option against Iran – even if diplomacy fails to get Iran to abandon its goal of a military nuclear capacity, which Prime Minister Netanyahu has characterized as an existential threat to Israel’s survival.
A spokesperson for one of the Presidents Conference member organizations that supported J Street’s membership bid lamented the negative vote: “A mistake was made today. It is of crucial importance to the future of the Jewish community that a full range of views is represented, and that we be part of a robust dialogue to achieve what we are all committed to, which is a safe, secure and thriving Israel.”
Nonsense. This is not about a genteel “marketplace of ideas” debate and ultimate consensus. It is about an Israel forced to confront adversaries every day in its own tough neighborhood as well as in an international arena honeycombed with supporters of its sworn enemies.
The world has to be told that there is neither doubt nor ambiguity when it comes to the mainstream Jewish community’s support for the positions taken by Israel’s elected representatives.