As most Jews are “pro-Israel and pro-Peace”, the creation of J Street was an exciting moment. The far Left has been pushing the demonisation and delegitimisation of Israel for some time, and through its efforts, that narrative has made inroads into the centre Left. That is why a centre Left response has never been more essential.
J Street seemed to provide such a perspective.
Now, it seems, it has utterly squandered its political capital. It has done so in a way that cannot be blamed on its Right wing critics. No, J Street’s self destruction appears to have been born entirely of its own folly.
Here’s Barry Rubin’s summary of the impact of the recent revelations about J Street:
I have been writing about how J Street is an anti-Israel group pretending to be a liberal pro-Israel group while the truth has been shielded by the mass media. I pointed out how it had worked with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s lobby last year to try to block sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program.
A typical front group is one in which leaders use false claims to win followers who would never support the organization if they understood its true nature. In other words, those actually leading and guiding J Street are seeking to destroy the American Jewish support base for Israel. Many of the individual members have good intentions and no idea that this is so. Well, now they have the evidence.
J Street lied in claiming not to have received large-scale funding from George Soros, the billionaire financier for left-wing and anti-Israel causes. There are other really shady things going on to conceal where their money comes from. It is possible the group broke the law by using money from a resident of Hong Kong to support American political candidates.
[NB: Over $800,000 was donated to J Street by Connie Esdicul, a woman from the Philippines living in Hong Kong]
Now, too, it has come out that it wanted to organize the Capitol Hill visit of Richard Goldstone, author of the extremely flawed anti-Israel UN report on the Gaza Strip. As a result, Colette Avital, a Labour Party politician, has resigned as the group’s representative in Israel. By the way, J Street is once again lying but the conversation about Goldstone is on tape. Incidentally, Avital also denied telling the reporter anything about Goldstone. The tape also shows her to be a liar.
Indeed, Jeremy Ben-Ami is so inept that while denying they actually helped Goldstone confirmed they were ready to do so: “J Street staff spoke to colleagues at the organizations coordinating the meetings and, at their behest, reached out to a handful of congressional staff to inquire whether members would be interested in seeing Judge Goldstone.”
There is another, broader story here, however, that is extremely important. Indeed, it applies to virtually every other issue foreign and domestic for the United States.
How could a man whose only personal involvement in the Middle East was as a paid Arab, anti-Israel lobbyist (for a firm which since he left is the public relations’ agency for the pro-Hamas Gaza flotilla) portray himself as leader of a pro-Israel group with no mass media outlet pointing out this contradiction? How could a group which for most of its existence never took any pro-Israel stand–and even then took only minor steps to the contrary–be lauded in the mass media as something it wasn’t? How could a group loaded with anti-Israel activists portray itself as the opposite?
This is not to say there weren’t many well-intentioned people who joined, supported, or sympathized with this group thinking it was a liberal, dovish, but still pro-Israel organization. But that, too, is the point. If they had been informed properly by the media they never would have done so.
The whole affair is hugely depressing. It ties in with stories I had heard about J Street’s internal culture, in which recruits were told that their “pro Israel” tag was essentially for public consumption only.
You can’t run liberal organisations like this. If you try to present a public face which is at odds with your internal culture, you will inevitably be found out. Your enemies will make hay with your deception. You will never be trusted again. Worse still, you will queer the pitch for those who are genuinely pro Israel liberals.
I’m furious, and I think I’m right to be.