Archive for March 27th, 2012

This article originally appeared on LobeLog

Four years ago, there was some hope in Washington that J Street, the self-proclaimed “pro-Israel, pro-peace” Jewish lobbying group, could someday provide a

J Street President, Jeremy Ben-Ami addressing the crowd at J Street's third conference

counterweight to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

No one expected J Street to seriously challenge AIPAC after just four years. But the organization’s track record to date gives some cause for concern with regard to the direction its heading in.

J Street has had some controversial missteps in its time. For example, its waffling on the Israeli attack on Gaza in 2008-09, and its dissembling response when it was revealed that left-wing magnate George Soros had been one of its key initial funders.

This time their investment in Peter Beinart presented a hurdle for them. Beinart published an op-ed in the New York Times calling for what he regrettably termed “Zionist BDS,” which is simply a new name for a policy long advocated by left-wing groups like Jewish Voice for Peace and more center-left groups likeAmericans for Peace Now. It basically advocates for the boycott of settlement products, services and venues.

Just a few days before Beinart appeared as one of the key figures at their conference, J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami gave an interview to Iran/Israel hawk Jeffrey Goldberg where he strongly criticized Beinart’s stance. The result, which became apparent when the issue came up during one of the plenaries, was to split the conference audience over the issue. (more…)

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My report for Inter Press Service on the J Street conference is up and running. This one reports on some highlights of the conference. I hope to write more about it in the next few days, giving more of an analysis of the conference.

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