In the aftermath of being denied entry to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, J Street has fulfilled the predictions and warnings of those who foresaw divisiveness and petulance within the ranks had J Street been admitted.
Rather than taking the vote as a sign that the organization had not yet become sufficiently established for the mainstream organizations to feel confident it would play nicely in the sandbox with others, J Street began a letter-writing campaign ridiculing the long-serving and highly respected executive vice president Malcolm Hoenlein. That campaign also attacked the manner in which the vote had been taken – a vote in accordance with the bylaws of the organization.
J Street lashed out at those who dared to apply the same rules to it as the Conference has applied to every other new member.
The sophomoric message J Street posted on its website sought to rebuke the Conference of Presidents, and to claim that the fact it was rejected proves its conceit: its positions are bold, brave and absent from the Conference and the fact it was rejected proves its voice is needed.
J Street suggests that without its voice as an essential and robust part of the conversation, the Palestinian Arabs will continue to be victims of the Israeli aggressors and deprived of their rights to at least half of the sliver of land to which Israel is currently in control, either due to a global licence or as the result of a defensive war.
The emptiness of those claims is revealed when one actually looks at the membership of the Conference of Presidents.
Of the 49 voting members, well more than half are easily classifiable as either center, center left or simply left, when it comes to support for Israel. And J Street’s claim and dominant focus is Israel and Israeli security.
Americans for Peace Now, the Jewish Labor Committee, the four or five organizations which represent the Reform movement, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, the four or five organizations which represent the Conservative movement, and Ameinu all represent the leftist end of the spectrum of American Judaism.
The core center is well-represented by at least a dozen other organizations such as the American Jewish Committee, Hadassah, B’Nai Brith International, the Jewish National Fund, American Jewish Congress, American Gathering/ Federation of Jewish Holocaust Survivors, American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, the Jewish Federations of North America, the American Zionist Movement, Amit, the Anti-Defamation League, B’Nai Zion, Israel Bonds, Hadassah, NCSJ: Advocates on behalf of Jews in Russia, Ukraine, the Baltic States & Eurasia, ORT America, Alpha Epsilon Pi, and the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem.
So J Street claims that its rejection from the club is because the Conference of Presidents rigged the system to exclude J Street, or that without its voice at the table American Jewry is deprived of a desperately needed view, or that J Street is entitled to an admission process different than the one applied to every other application is yet more affirmation that the organization and not the Conference needs to change.
This is J Street’s message to its supporters:
THANK YOU, CONFERENCE OF PRESIDENTS!
Yesterday’s rejection of J Street’s bid to join the Conference validates the reason for J Street: those claiming to speak for the entire Jewish community don’t in fact represent the full diversity of pro-Israel views in our community.
The Conference of President claims to be the “the proven and effective voice of organized American Jewry.” Last night’s vote removed that pretense.
So join us in thanking Malcolm Hoenlein for for clarifying this situation and revealing to all what we’ve long known: a new voice is needed to represent the true majority of American Jews–and non-Jewish supporters of an Israel at peace.
About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the U.S. correspondent for The Jewish Press. A graduate of Harvard Law School, she previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools. You can reach her by email: Lori@JewishPressOnline.com
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