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Jeremy Ben-Ami

In a scathing profile of J Street founder and president Jeremy Ben-Ami published Saturday, The Intercept’s Maryam Saleh and Ryan Grim reported that this year, J Street has been looking for ways to ratchet up its war against Israel beyond mere anti-Zionist propaganda to inflicting actual harm on the Jewish State (Theory of Change – The Wax and Wane of J Street’s Influence Over U.S.-Israel Policy).

According to Saleh and Grim, in November 2019, past and present members of J Street U’s board presented a letter to Ben-Ami and the J Street board, calling on the organization to take “bold action […] imposing actual, tangible costs” for Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria.


“Only when confronted with possible cuts of aid or diplomatic support will the Israeli far-right leadership accept the end of occupation, as recent events show,” the letter argued. The letter referred specifically to Israel’s high court clearing the way to demolishing an illegal shantytown Khan al-Ahmar erected by the Palestinian Authority in Area C, which is under full Israeli control according to the Oslo accords. The letter noted the fact that more than 80 House and Senate Democrats objected to the demolition, regardless of its clear legality, and recommended to use these lawmakers to hit Israel where it hurts.

According to The Intercept, the letter, which was signed by 35 J Street U board members who had served from 2013 to 2019, recommended “that J Street develop a strategy that moves the organization toward an agenda of selective aid reduction, i.e. every shekel the Israeli government spends on settlements and home demolitions results in a proportional reduction of American military aid.”

The letter suggested it was time for J Street to take advantage of the progressive leanings of the Democratic party and take a harder line against Israel without losing its own base’s support.

“Recently documented shifts in the base of the Democratic Party and the successful campaigns of Rashida Tlaib and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, candidates to J Street’s left who are widely supported by young people in particular, demonstrate that there could be widespread support among the Democratic base for a strategic yet sharper-edged posture toward Israel’s occupation — and that J Street must activate this base, at least partially, in order to be in tune with the politics of our generation,” the November letter reads.

At that same meeting, according to The Intercept, senior staff urged J Street to seek concrete anti-Israel policies, including support for conditioning US aid to Israel on the dismantling of settlements as part of a 2-state solution.

Earlier this year, according to the report, Ben-Ami and the J Street board prepared to support the same policy of leveraging US aid against Israel, but Yael Patir, J Street’s Tel Aviv director, warned that this would harm J Street’s influence in the Knesset and the Israeli public.

It was most revealing, The Intercept reports, that US-based J Street members countered Patir’s desperate warning by saying their group’s influence with anyone who matters in Israel was already at zero, so it shouldn’t be the reason for a hold-up.

Patir won the day, but clearly Israel—right and left—has no friends in J Street.


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