There is no “J” in Pro-Israel
DOCUMENTARY CHALLENGES J-STREET’S “PRO-ISRAEL” LABEL
A new documentary film “The J Street Challenge” has sent shock-waves across the pro and anti-Israel community. The movie was released by Americans for Peace and Tolerance, a Boston-based group run by anti-slavery activist Charles Jacobs. The film features prominent academics and analysts like Caroline Glick, Alan Dershowitz and Ruth Wisse who ask some pointed questions regarding the George Soros funded lobbying group J Street.
The Algemeiner review of the film noted that
The key question raised by the film is what it means to be “pro-Israel” not on a personal level, but within the context of the political lobbying and advocacy that swirls around American policy towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (or, as Harvard Professor Ruth Wisse more accurately terms it in her interview in the film, “the Arab conflict with Israel”). And when you examine J Street’s record, it becomes very hard to dispute Professor Alan Dershowitz’s assertion that the organization—despite its much-vaunted tagline—is “neither pro-Israel nor pro-peace.”
To begin with, there are J Street’s funders. As the film documents, ferocious critics of Israel like the hedge-fund billionaire George Soros and Genevieve Lynch, a board member of the pro-Iranian regime National Iranian-American Council, have donated significant sums to the organization. And although it says it is opposed to the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel, J Street maintains close ties with those who advocate collaboration with the BDS movement in targeting West Bank settlements, like the writer Peter Beinart and the corporate lawyer Kathleen Peratis. This milieu is hardly conducive to J Street’s “pro-Israel” self-image.
One of the glaring paradoxes of J Street is their claim to be pro-Israel while rarely noting anything positive about the Jewish state. Participants on a recent J Street Israel tour were harangued by a Palestinian-Arab angry at seeing Israeli flags flying over a West Jerusalem neighborhood, the group was then passed on to an anti-Israel lecturer from Machsom Watch. The cherry on the J-Street tour cake was a visit to PLO leader Yasser Arafat’s grave in Ramallah where the group paid homage to the terror king.
As Dershowitz points out, you “rarely” hear J Street praising Israel. A far more familiar refrain consists of slamming Benjamin Netanyahu’s government as an obstacle to peace, or opposing tougher sanctions on the Iranian regime—positions that don’t raise an eyebrow when articulated by anti-Israel groups, but which sound rather discordant coming from a group that claims to support Israel.
After viewing the film, Brandeis University student Daniel Mael observed that
While Caroline Glick and Alan Dershowitz may not agree on Israeli settlement policy, they do agree – in the film — that J Street’s strategy includes circumventing Israeli democracy and being dishonest about its positions.
Claiming they were adhering to the values of debate and inquiry, J Street U affiliates across the country have co-sponsored events with Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), which the Anti-Defamation League lists as one of the top ten anti-Israel groups in America. It has also hosted speakers who support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) movement against Israel. J Street U has no problem initiating or participating in discussions which harshly condemn Israel or that are sponsored by those critical of Israel’s existence.
The J Street Challenge raises one tough question after another. Why does J Street ignore Palestinian incitement? Why do so many of Israel’s enemies fund J Street? Writer Larry Gordon notes…
Most revealing are clips from J Street officials in the film who insist that the existence of the state of Israel is one of the greatest obstacles to peace in the Middle East. At one point, Daniel Levy, a J Street founder along with Mr. Ben Ami, says to an audience that if Israel’s existence is the cause of so much concern, threats, and consternation, “then maybe the idea of a state of Israel was not such a good idea.”
Whether a savvy public relations gambit or merely caught off guard by this potent challenge to J Street’s credulity, the group has issued a press release saying in effect that they will not address the film’s well documented case against it.
The J Street Challenge” contains numerous inaccuracies, distortions and outright lies. We do not intend to waste our time or energy preparing a detailed response to these smears.
As charitable and open as one wishes to be, it becomes increasingly difficult to see J-Street as much more than a well executed public relations campaign with a deceptive agenda. J-Street seems about as pro-Israel as cigarette companies are pro-health, and both very much want your business.