Today, April 30, the Council of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations meets to decide whether J Street should become a member of this exclusive Club. A positive decision will do nothing either for Israel or for the liberal progressive values J Street purports to promote.
Over the years, J Street has branded itself as the voice of progressive liberal supporters of Israel. But examination of the evidence suggests its record is anything but progressive and liberal.
There is a tradition of Jewish participation and leadership in matters of social justice around the world –in keeping with the norms of Pikuah Nefesh, and some would say, Tikun Olam. In keeping with this tradition, it would therefore seem appropriate to ask what J Street’s positions and activities have been on the core values of life, respect for life and human dignity as they apply to today’s worst horror stories?
These core values of life, respect for human life and dignity are embedded in international law, human rights and universal justice world wide. There is a responsibility to prevent such injustices and protect those subject to such threats to live and human dignity.
Yet, genocide, genocidal massacres, mass rapes, genocidal terror, and other assaults on life and human dignity are very much part of the current landscape.
I am referring to the horrendous acts of genocide and mass rapes in the Congo and the Central African Republic over the past years, (5 million dead) and Darfur (400,000 dead?), and North Korea (1,000,000 or more from forced starvation and more), the continued repression of Tibetans by China, the rampages of Muslim terrorists against Christians in Nigeria, the discrimination, persecution and threats against Copts in Egypt and other Christian groups in Iran, Iraq and Pakistan, and the Bahai in Iran and of course, the mass butchery in Syria (150,000 dead and 2.5 million refugees).
J Street has been loudly silent on Iran’s suppression of human rights, its some 100,000 executions of its own citizens, its support for genocidal terror, its race to achieve nuclear capacity and its incitement to genocide—its use of stonings to kill women for so-called sexual crimes, and fact that Iran has the highest per capita rate of executions in the world, with more than 140 since Rouhami came to power.
Its silence on Iranian incitement to genocide against Jews and Israel makes it a complicit bystander to this crime against humanity as specified by the International Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide. Yet J Street has consistently opposed stronger sanctions against Iran.
I am unable to find any sign of a leadership role for J Street– or even as a straggler–in the fight against the persecution of women throughout much of the Islamic world, (female genital mutilation, stonings, bigamy, forced child marriages, execution for so called sexual crimes).
Were J Street truly a progressive voice for a peace based on the most basic of human rights, its leadership would be in the forefront of addressing these issues.
Let me suggest: J Street is not about building bridges, but driving wedges–between Israel and the world, between Israel and the American Jewish Community, between Jews within the American Jewish Community and between Israel and the surrounding Arab world.
J Street appears to have no interest in promoting peace based on respect for life, live and let live and human dignity and freedom–in the Middle East or anywhere else. It is an organization with many naive members— led by cynical and opportunistic operatives who see no problem with taking positions which undermine and destabilize Israel, the one democracy in the Middle East.
Were J Street truly a progressive voice for peace, its leadership would be in the forefront of addressing the real issues of concern for liberals and progressives. So far the record shows it is a bystander.
Were I a sociologist, I would suggest that the spell that Jeremy Ben-Ami’s J Street has on its deluded followers in the 21st century reminds one of the spell Shabbatai Zvi’s false messianism had on his witless followers in the 17th century.
Jeremy Ben-Ami is the Noel Airman for the Marjorie Morningstars of our time.
J Street is a bystander to the mega ethical issues of our time. J Street lacks moral compass, moral clarity and moral coherence. Its so called progressive posture amplifies the malaise and intellectual shallowness now endemic in the so called liberal body politic–especially in all too many left-wing Jewish Americans: Values Are Declared but not Acted Upon. To the degree that this malaise and intellectual shallowness is so pervasive in Jewish youth, it poses an existential danger to American Jewry.Professor Elihu D. Richter MD MPH
About the Author: Prof. Elihu D. Richter MD MPH is head of the Genocide Prevention Program and Injury Prevention Center and Director of the Jerusalem Center for Genocide Prevention. He is the retired head of the Unit of Occupational and Environmental Medicine and the Injury Prevention Center at Hebrew University-Hadassah School of Public Health and Community Medicine. In recent years he has been working on epidemiologic models for prediction and prevention of genocide, mass atrocities and terror, with specific emphasis on the cause-effect relationship between hate language and incitement and these outcomes.
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