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December 29, 2014 / 7 Tevet, 5775
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘J Street’

J Street Poll Shows Obama Out of Touch with US Jews

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014

A poll of American Jewish voters carried out by the left-wing J Street lobby shows an overwhelming number of Jew support building in some Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.

The results of the survey should be a wake-up call to President Barack Obama, who has surrounded himself with left-wing Jewish advisers and has given J Street a free pass to the White House while distancing traditional Jewish lobbies, particularly AIPAC.

J Street has been a consistent opponent of almost everything the Netanyahu government does, as reflected in President president’s holy ghost, otherwise known as the “Peace Process.”

A whopping 72 percent of polled American Jewish voters said they support construction in Jewish communities that are not outside the core settlement blocs. Twenty percent of that number back building for Jews in all of Judea and Samaria as well as Jerusalem.

Only 28 percent said Israel should freeze all construction in the same areas.

All of the respondents in the poll voted in last week’s mid-term elections. Nearly one-third of the respondents did not describe their affiliation with a stream of Judaism, while the breakdown for the others was 37 percent Reform, 20 percent Conservative and 10 percent Orthodox.

That means that the support for building in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria has deepened among Reform Jews, previously thought to be heavily left-wing and against a Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria.

A majority of American Jews polled also said they have a favorable view of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, contradicting assumptions that most Jews in the United States oppose him and his policies.

The survey also verified other estimates that 69 percent of American Jews voted for Democratic candidates last week, another indication that President Obama cannot assume that Jewish Democrats back his and J Street’s view that settlers are “illegal” and “illegitimate.”

The Obama administration’s constant pointing fingers at Israel for allegedly blocking a peace agreement appears to be wearing thin on American Jews.

While 85 percent support an active role for the United States in the Arab-Israeli conflict, slightly more than half of the respondents “oppose the United States playing an active role in helping the parties to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict if it meant the United States publicly stating its disagreements with Israel.”

In answer to the question, “Would you support or oppose the United States playing an active role in helping the parties to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict if it meant the United States exerting pressure on Israel to make the compromises necessary to achieve peace?” 54 percent replied in the negative.

The poll also showed massive support for Israel in the Protective Edge counter-terror war with Hamas this past summer. The 80 percent approval showed how little J Street’s lobby against Israel has influenced American Jews.

Most of its influence seems to have been felt inside the White House, and anyone thinking of running for the Democratic presidential nomination in two years will pay close attention to the poll.

Hillary Clinton is the most highly favored candidate among the Jewish who were polled, winning support of 66-69 percent if Jeb Bush were running as the GOP nominee, and 70 percent if Rand Paul were the Republican candidate.

The poll also showed that only 25 percent of U.S. Jews support the Boycott Israel-BDS movement.

As usual, Israel was near the bottom of the list of subjects that concern American Jews, but more significant was that “terrorism and national security” were the number four issue, after the economy, health care and Social Security/Medicare.

The Islamic State beheadings of two Americans, one of the them Jewish, and an increasing number of Islamic-linked attacks on American soil have brought terror closer to home and brought all Americans to better understand Israel’s refusal to consider sponsors of terrorism “peace partners.”

Reflecting the overall mood of the United States, 57 percent of American Jews “feel things have gotten pretty seriously off on the wrong track” in the United States.

Nevertheless, Obama remains more popular among American Jews than among most other voting blocs. Fifty-seven percent either “somewhat” or “strongly” approve of how Obama is handling his job as president and 53 percent approved the way Congress is functioning.

J Street Poll: US Jews Love Bibi Netanyahu

Thursday, November 6th, 2014

First Published at Jewish Business News

All the way at the bottom of an article in Haaretz about the Jewish voters by and large maintaining their loyalty to the Democratic party, you’ll discover another classic: U.S. Jews are enamored with Israeli prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, more than any other person alive.

American Jewish voters did not change their voting behavior on Tuesday’s mid-term elections, and favored Democrats over Republicans by a 69%-28% margin, according to a new poll released on Wednesday by the left-leaning J Street, Haaretz reported.

The poll results included several contradictory results, which should be of concern to the J Street folks, if they’re looking beyond the headlines:

84% of American Jews prefer a deal with Iran over war

85% support an active American role in the Arab-Israeli conflict

73% support U.S. pressure of both sides

47% approve of pressure on Israel “to make the compromises necessary to achieve peace”

80% support a two-state solution

28% of those polled said Israel should suspend all settlement activity in the West Bank.

So, now to the final paragraph:

The poll asked respondents to rate their feelings of warmth towards various personalities and institutions on a scale of 0-100, and the results, in descending order of their mean score were: Netanyahu (61), Jon Stewart (58), Clinton (57), Democratic Party (51), Barack Obama (49), Malcolm Hoenlein (45), Sheldon Adelson (28), Republican Party (28), John Boehner (25) and the newly elected and soon to be Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (24).

Now, one word about the Jewish voter’s loyalties: Congressional elections are not national, they are run district by district, which means that in many Jewish centers across America Jewish voters are voting Democrat because the Democratic candidate is either running unopposed, or has been so entrenched in his position, the other side isn’t even trying to compete seriously.

This is true not just for Jews, but for all the other voting groups.

In fact, with that being our electoral reality, the 69% figure of Jews voting Democrats represents some loss in Jewish loyalty. Back in 2008, Obama received 78% of the Jewish vote.

And that was down from 1960, when JFK took a whopping 82% of the Jewish vote.

Anyway, someone should tell Bibi we love him, he could use it this week.

The Gaza War, and the New U.S. Jewish Consensus on Israel

Thursday, August 7th, 2014

It’s hard to imagine any issue on which more than 90% of American Jews agree. Is anti-Semitism bad? Are latkes good? Are reruns of “Seinfeld” worth watching?

Yet we finally do have one such issue. According to a new Gallup Poll released on August 1, when asked about the Gaza War, 93% of American Jews said they sympathize with Israel, 5% sympathize with both sides, and 2% sympathize with the Palestinians.

Note that the poll was carried out amidst a veritable tsunami of pro-Palestinian news media coverage in the United States. American Jews have been bombarded daily with heart-rending images of frightened or wounded Palestinians. The New York Times, especially, has done its utmost to perpetuate the notion that the Palestinians are innocent victims of Israeli brutality.

Just before the poll results were released, a front-page story in The Forward, reporting on American Jewish opinion regarding the war, was headlined “Many Jews Rally For Israel, While Some Protest Gaza War.”

The headline alone conveyed the impression that a substantial proportion of U.S. Jews were criticizing Israel.

According to the body of the article, “a series of opposing rallies and protests have drawn Jews on both sides.” Reinforcing the idea of a deep division in the community, six of the nine individuals interviewed in the article were critics of Israel. (And even one of the pro-Israel demonstrators was quoted not in support of Israel, but in defense of the right of the critics to speak out against Israel.)

The Gallup poll clearly demonstrates the opposite: that the division, if one can call it that, is more than 9 to 1 in support of Israel. (Note that the respondents were not forced to choose between Israel and the Palestinians; they had the option of choosing “both sides.” Yet only 5% did so.)

How is that there is such overwhelming – almost unanimous – support among American Jews for Israel in this war?

After all, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is routinely portrayed in the news media as “right-wing,” and most American Jews are supposedly liberal to left-wing. So shouldn’t they be opposing Netanyahu’s war policies (even though they are backed by an overwhelming majority of Israelis)?

Furthermore, most American Jews voted for Barack Obama, and the Obama Administration has often been harshly critical of Israel’s conduct of the war, while showing sympathy to the Palestinians. So shouldn’t they be supporting Obama?

Moreover, this is a community that has – over three generations – repeatedly given birth to dissident organizations that are opposed to Zionism or Israel. In the 1940s, it was the American Council for Judaism, a group established by anti-Zionist Reform rabbis. In the 1970s, it was Breira, organized by former anti-Vietnam war radicals. In the 1980s, it was the New Jewish Agenda, created by New Age activists.

More recently, J Street has emerged. One of J Street’s oft-repeated claims is that the mainstream pro-Israel organizations do not speak for most American Jews – that there is a silent majority in the Jewish community favoring J Street’s positions. Certainly if one were to believe the fawning media coverage it has received, J Street would appear to have the support of a significant number of American Jews.

But the new Gallup Poll strongly suggests otherwise.

It’s not that there has been much of a shift to the “right” in the Jewish community. In fact, American Jews haven’t abandoned an essentially liberal outlook all that much. It’s the world that has changed.

Beginning with the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, many Palestinian leaders and spokesmen attempted to convince the world – and American Jewry – that they had become moderate and no longer sought the destruction of Israel. For some twenty years, American Jews watched as the “moderate Palestinian” myth gradually fell apart. The “jihad” speeches … the hate-filled Palestinian school books … the attempt to smuggle in a ship filled with fifty tons of weapons … the salaries for imprisoned terrorists … Every new development chipped away at the Oslo illusion.

UN Envoy Promises Cash for PUG, Calls for End to Gaza Blockade

Monday, June 9th, 2014

Robert Serry, the United Nation’s Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, visited Gaza on Sunday, June 8 to meet with some of the new members of the Palestinian Unity Government (PUG).

Serry held a joint meeting at the Ministry of Public Works and Housing with newly appointed PUG officials: Minister of Women’s Affairs Haifa al-Agha, Minister of Labor Mamoun Abu Shahla, Minister of Justice Salim al-Saqqa, and Mufeed al-Hasayneh, the new minister of public works and housing.

While in Gaza, Serry promised increased U.N. development aid for Gaza. He also called for lifting the internationally recognized legal blockade of Gaza’s border enforced by Israel and Egypt, according to several reports.

In a statement, Serry congratulated the PUG ministers on their appointment and discussed with them challenges ahead.

The U.N. envoy told the new ministers in Gaza that he hoped they would soon be able to travel freely to meet with their colleagues in what he did not refer to as the disputed territories. He also took the opportunity to chastise Israel.

“We count on a constructive approach by all stakeholders, including Israel, and urge all to refrain from unhelpful actions,” Serry said.

“Gazans must, as soon as possible, feel the dividends of unity. Open crossings both for goods and people, access to construction material, re-establishing trade links between the West Bank and Gaza and exports are urgently needed to kickstart the economy and create job opportunities,” the U.N. envoy added.

The U.N. official failed to mention the Gazans’ destruction of the greenhouses left behind by the Israelis agricultural workers in 2005. Those thriving, advanced agritech structures could have been the basis for a booming agricultural economy. Instead, on the very night every last Israeli, living or dead, was removed from Gaza, the residents trashed the greenhouses in a paroxysm of manic destruction.

When the PUG was first announced in April, Serry met with acting PA head Mahmoud Abbas and assured the world that the new PUG would be implemented on the basis of the PLO commitments.

President Abbas emphasized that these commitments include recognition of Israel, non-violence, and adherence to previous agreements. President Abbas also reiterated his continued commitment to peace negotiations and to non-violent popular protests.

Well alrighty then, that’s settled.

Serry was the first senior international official to meet with PUG officials in Gaza. In addition to his work at the United Nations, Serry is a popular presenter at J Street’s national conferences.

Inside the Presidents’ Conference and the J Street Vote

Friday, May 30th, 2014

The fractious public reaction to the rejection of J Street’s membership by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations has been based on widespread dissemination of false information about the process, according to exclusive interviews with sources close to the Presidents Conference process. The sources declined to be named because, while fully conversant with all aspects of the J Street vote, they were not authorized to speak publicly. But they emphasize that J Street was rejected not by the “Left or Right” or a “right-wing minority” but by the overwhelming voting consensus of the 50-member organization. Moreover, the sources say, J Street supporters were in a smaller minority than initially apparent because just two voting blocs mainly controlled many of the 17 yes votes.

By way of background, after a year of trying, the controversial lobby J Street was rejected by a wide margin for membership in the Presidents Conference, the umbrella group for 50 American Jewish communal organizations. The lopsided vote rang in at only 17 for, and 22 against in a process that required 34 yes ballots out of 50 voting member groups. But digging into the numbers reveals more than previously apparent about who voted yes and who did not, Conference sources say.

J Street bills itself as pro-Israel, but has engendered controversy among the pro-Israel community about its true intentions. Since its April 30, 2014 membership rejection vote, public vitriol by J Street and its supporters in the Conference and the Jewish media have been directed at the Conference as an organization, and, in a few instances, its executive vice chairman, Malcolm Hoenlein, personally. The fallout included a threat by a Reform Judaism leader to break away as well as sarcastic jibes on J Street’s website, which are still live at press time more than a month after the vote.

One such J Street website remonstration declared: “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 [sic] claims to be the [sic] ‘the proven and effective voice of organized American Jewry.’ Last night’s vote removed that pretense. So join us in thanking Malcolm Hoenlein 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.”

Getting personal, the J Street rebuke included a mock thank you note: “Dear Malcolm: Thank you for finally making it clear that the Conference of Presidents is not representative of the voice of the Jewish community. We recognize the need for an open and honest conversation on Israel in the United States. We appreciate you being honest. Now we’ll work on the openness.”

J Street’s initial public statement asserted the organization “is disappointed that our bid for membership to the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations has been rejected. This is a sad day for us, but also for the American Jewish community and for a venerable institution that has chosen to bar the door to the communal tent to an organization that represents a substantial segment of Jewish opinion on Israel. We are, however, most heartened by the tremendous support we received from many of the largest and most prominent organizations in American Jewish communal life who urged their fellow members to join them in building a robust and representative community body.”

In response to questions for this article, J Street vice president for communications Alan Elsner stated, “We regard the vote as a closed chapter. We were happy to receive the support from the very significant organizations that backed us; and we are heartened that the vote has prompted a debate and examination of the Jewish community’s ability or lack thereof to hear diverse views and to fully reflect the positions of American Jews.”

Dear J Street: Time to End the Hypocrisy

Friday, May 9th, 2014

On Friday, April 25, on the way back to his dorm room, Brandeis student Daniel Mael passed a  group of his peers with whom he had previously engaged in civil discourse about the state of Israel and the complexities of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Although they had often disagreed on many aspects of this issue, according to Mael, he felt that it was necessary to extend a hand of graciousness and respect to them in the name of civil and polite discourse. After all it was the Sabbath, and politics should never interfere with showing kindness to your fellow man.

And so, that Friday night, Mael wished these students a “Shabbat Shalom.”  Yet Instead of responding with the same respect and cordiality Mael afforded her, according to witnesses present,  Talia Lepson, a J Street U Brandeis board member, shrieked at Mael, “Jews hate you!” and “You’re a [expletive deleted]bag!” It was also reported that another unidentified male in the group echoed Lepson’s words, again hurling the vulgar epithet at Mael.

Understandably taken aback by this verbal lashing and feeling unsafe in such a hostile environment,  Mael filed an incident report with the university police. He also wrote at length about it on his Facebook page, wondering why this simple act of saying ‘Shabbat Shalom’ elicited such a hateful response. Yet by the time the Sabbath was over, he put the incident out of his mind.  Thinking it had passed, he began to focus on more important things like taking finals and finishing the semester.

But he was wrong.

That following Sunday afternoon, J Street National posted a blog on its website denying the incident had occurred. Moreover, they accused Mael of making up the story and claimed that he was the one harassing them. They wrote that he had engaged in a “campaign of personal intimidation and harassment” and implored others to distance themselves from “this blogger and others with a history of conduct driven by malice and deceit.”

But suggesting that Mael would make up a story which witnesses corroborated and then proceed to report that same story to the police is risible. He would not only be incriminating himself but the people with him who witnessed the incident.

According to Mael, he was deeply upset by this slander. It was bad enough to have been verbally attacked on campus. It was worse to have the perpetrators blatantly lie about it on a national forum and suggest that he should be shunned by the entire Jewish community. This bullying and  intimidation caused him great physical and emotional turmoil.

Unfortunately J Street’s behavior  is typical. Founded in 2008, J Street is an extreme left-wing national advocacy group that claims to be a pro-Israel organization. According to its website, J Street is committed to “fighting for the future of Israel as the democratic homeland of the Jewish people.”

But J Street has lobbied for anti-Israel legislation: it endorsed a North Carolina resolution proposed in 2012 by the North Carolina Democratic Party which called for negotiations with Hamas and it has supported efforts to divide Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem.

J Street also has university chapters known as “J Street U” whose students have promoted anti-Israel activity. For example, at UC Berkley, J Street U students have supported the BDS movement, which calls for a boycott of the only Jewish state in the Middle East. Also, just last week at Swarthmore University, J Street U students co-hosted an event with Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), a rabidly anti-Semitic organization that calls for the destruction of the Jewish state and which also promotes BDS on campuses.

Moreover, J Street has had a history of attacking and maligning its opponents and then, when called out for such behavior, it accuses others of harassment and claims to be the victim. For example, J Street has hosted rabidly anti-Semitic speakers such as Sam Bahour on its national stage. Bahour peddles slanders against the Jewish people, accusing them of engaging in ethnic cleansing and genocide against Arabs. Yet when activists in the Zionist community reject allowing such an immoral group into the pro-Israel “tent,” J Street claims it is being bullied.

Rejection of J Street Best Possible Outcome…for J Street

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

A backlash has been growing in the aftermath of the failed bid by J Street for admission to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

The group that represents the largest denomination of American Jewry, the Union of Reform Judaism, is demanding that the Conference change its one group, one vote policy while also openly threatening to leave the umbrella group. An official of the Conservative movement’s Rabbinical Assembly is also demanding changes.

Meanwhile liberal commentators are blasting the Conference for its 22-17 vote to deny entry the left-wing lobby and making extravagant claims about this vote symbolizing the growing alienation of the Jewish establishment from the wishes of most of those it purports to represent.

Which means that, all things considered, the defeat at the Conference was the best possible outcome for the left-wing organization that came into existence not to fit in and cooperate with existing Jewish groups and coalitions but to blow them up. The negative vote enables J Street and its various left-wing sympathizers to play the victim and boosts their agenda to first delegitimize groups like the Conference and AIPAC and then to replace them.

But while it is understandable that the Reform and Conservative movements would join the lament about J Street’s defeat in order to assuage some of their liberal constituents who support the left-wing lobby, they should be careful about advancing any agenda that could undermine umbrella groups like the Conference.

While such organizations can seem at times to be irrelevant to the day-to-day business of American Jewry, they still serve a vital purpose. If the non-Orthodox denominations help J Street destroy them, they will soon learn that not only will it be difficult to replace them but also they and their constituents will not be well served by the politicized chaos that follows.

Only hours after its defeat, J Street was already attempting to make hay from the vote with a fundraising e-mail sent out to their list. It read, in part:

 

Thank you, Malcolm Hoenlein and the Conference of Presidents.

Yesterday’s rejection of our 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 – or even its prevailing views.

 

Thus despite J Street leader Jeremy Ben-Ami’s public expression of disappointment about the vote, the group was clearly prepared all along to exploit a rejection to further its campaign to brand both AIPAC and the Conference as out of touch. J Street came into existence hoping to do just that, but over the course of the last five years failed miserably to do so.

Though J Street’s raison d’être was to serve as a Jewish cheerleader for Obama administration pressure on Israel, it has little influence on Capitol Hill and has even, to its dismay, sometimes been repudiated by a president it supports unconditionally. Thus it hopes to use this incident to gain more traction against mainstream groups.

But those, like Haaretz’s Chemi Shalev, who are using this vote to bash pro-Israel groups should be asking themselves why so many members of the Conference, which already includes left-wing organizations like Americans for Peace Now and Ameinu, would vote against adding one more to its ranks. The reason is that many centrist groups clearly resented J Street’s unwarranted pretensions to speak for American Jewry and to undermine the broad-based AIPAC.

The Conference was created to provide a way for a diverse and cantankerous Jewish community a single structure with which it could deal with the U.S. government. And though its members have often disagreed, and true consensus between left and right is often impossible, the Conference still provides Congress and the executive branch an address through which they can reach a broad and diverse coalition of Jewish organizations.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/rejection-of-j-street-best-possible-outcome-for-j-street/2014/05/07/

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