Sunday, November 01, 2009

A Thoughtful Analysis of J-Street

The Purple Parrot sent me this link today -- and is one of the more thoughtful pieces on J-Street, because it admits that there is a whole segment of J-Street which is blatantly anti-Israel.

The Ha'Aretz Op-Ed piece questions: Can J-Street be a synthesis of two, diametrically apposed viewpoints?
The core problem is that J Street has two main stated goals, and they don't really fit together. The first goal is to "broaden" the definition of what it means to be pro-Israel, to open up Jewish community discourse to a wider range of acceptable opinions. The second goal is to lobby for an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord that leads to a two-state solution. It became evident during the convention that you can't do both.

By advertising itself as a forum for free and open discussion of Israel, warts and all, the conference predictably attracted a contingent of Jews who are ambivalent or hostile toward Israel. They weren't on the program, but they spoke up in breakout sessions and gathered in clusters in the hallways. Some came to paint Israel as the guilty party and argue for sweeping Israeli concessions without regard for Israel's security. Some opposed the very idea of Jewish statehood. Most came to Washington expecting to help shape J Street's goals and gain political influence for their views.


Sounding more hawkish than he had in the past, Ben-Ami ruled out cuts in American military aid to Israel, endorsed the Law of Return, denounced the so-called "one-state solution" and repeatedly distanced himself from individuals and groups on the left that reject Zionism. Arriving at the conference two days later, the outliers - let's call them "un-Zionists" - were in an ornery mood, feeling duped and gobsmacked.
My friend Lurker and I have been discussing this quite a bit over the past few weeks. He believes that Ben-Ami is the "respectable" front for the organization (which is why he made hawkish sounding statements at the convention), allowing the door to be opened for all sorts of left wing radical positions to be heard and legitimized through J-Street's window to the world.

Ben-Ami made a point of comparing J-Street to Kadima, a "Zionist", "Legitimate" political party in Israel. However, it would seem that much of the J-Street participants last week, were closer to the anarchists who clash with the IDF on a weekly basis and violently attack IDF soldiers at the Yaalin fence construction site.

Food for thought.

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SM said...

Food for thought? Not really. There are plenty of diaspora Jews who feel, like J-Street, that supporting Israel does not mean supporting that part of Israeli society which only supports Israel when Israel does what it demands.

You are in position to preach given your regular comments on the police, the political 'establishment' and the various other organs of the State which conspire against you whenever you don't get exactly what you want.

Because the established lobbyists have submitted to this sort of childish foot stamping, any alternative will also draw people who don't like Israel at all. That's excellent news for the right which can enjoy itself getting self-righteous about its opponents, whilst utterly ignoring its own part in what happens.

Whoops - this is sounding too much like reality. Sorry. The truth is that this is - exactly as Lurker imagines - a cunning plot whereby left-wingers are planning to demonise Israel by pretending to support it whilst all the while getting ready to dramatically change their minds publicly, consequently, errrr fooling no one at all. Quick, true Zionists! Come expose them before everyone else who is, like, totally going to be fooled by this, is fooled by it!

Oh really.

By the way - these 'anarchists' wouldn't be anything like the people who clash with the IDF in order to prevent them carrying out the lawful orders of the state when demolishing illegal settlements, would they? Nah - can't be.

Commenter Abbi said...

You know, I really wouldn't mind cogent criticism of Israel if you actually knew what you were talking about.

This imagined "control" the right wing has over the Israeli government is truly laughable. The right wing stamps its feet and the whole government just falls at its feet? Please, spare me.

The actual truth is that Israeli society as a whole has shifted rightWARD. That doesn't meant that millions of Israelis are marching out to establish illegal outposts. It does mean that no one buys the naive belief that "concessions will bring peace" anymore and that if only we would just get over ourselves (and our petty need for security) and make the quick trip to the negotiating table to make two states, everything would be fine.

ProIsrael and pro-peace? Guess what- every Israeli is pro Israel and pro peace- when we have a partner who a) is unified (Have J-streeters noticed that Hamas and Fatah are basically fighting a low level civil war?) b) genuinely wants to make peace.

The Palestinian leadership has never had any interest in real peace (Camp David 2000 and the Gaza pullout are shining examples of this fact). So J-street can hold as many galas as it wants and finagle as many "high profile administration speakers" as it likes. Nothing they say, think or do will change the actual facts on the ground IN ISRAEL. Change will probably take another generation or two, which is pretty much what most Israelis accept at this point. I'm sure eventually American Jews will catch on to that fact as well.

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