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March 7, 2015 / 16 Adar , 5775
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Inside the Presidents’ Conference and the J Street Vote

This vote was about J Street, and the proportion of the vote, I think, speaks to the fact that this was not one extreme or another. This was the expression of the majority of the members of the Conference.
The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations voted against the admission of J Street.

The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations voted against the admission of J Street.

When asked if, in recent years, any other organization had been turned down, one source replied, “More than a dozen groups have been turned down over the past 10 years. Many did not get a positive recommendation in the committee process, or did not meet the specific requirements that are spelled out in the by-laws. For instance, there were dozens of groups that were American Friends of — this or that. When a substantial part of their agenda is not actual advocacy but is really just fundraising, even though it is related to Israel, they did not get accepted.”

Reminded that the Presidents Conference does include American Friends of Peace Now, that source explained, “Yes. It also has the American Friends of Likud. But these groups were admitted before the membership decision was made more than 10 years ago. Otherwise, the Conference would have been flooded with new members.”

The Conference source identified one leading Jewish organization rejected at first. “Hillel also was turned down at one point,” the source stated, “but then admitted later.” The source explained, “Some groups were turned down because the Committee felt that their constitution wasn’t truly democratic or that it didn’t allow for clarity about their budget, about the membership, and about other considerations. These same questions were raised about J Street, by the way. Then, later, many of these other groups were admitted because of changes they made or other reasons.”

Asked point blank, “Is J Street invited to reapply?” the source answered, “Everyone can reapply.”

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This vote was not about the Conference. This was about J Street; the vote was not even close.

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