J Street’s Conceit

Published in Israel Hayom, March 14, 2012

J Street is at it again. Undermining Israel. Its annual conference in Washington next week is to trumpet the insidious message: “Tell President Obama thank you for standing up to those beating the drums of war!”

Just who is “beating the drums of war” regarding Iran? Why those nefarious, radical, right wing Israelis led by Prime Minister Netanyahu, and his knee-jerk, incautious, ra-ra cabal of American Jewish supporters, of course. Reckless and agitated people like the 13,000 American Jews who attended last week’s AIPAC conference.

But have no fear. The brave, wise and level-headed, pro-peace angels of J Street are coming to Washington in order “to stand up to those who talk loosely about war with Iran.”

“We know that sanctions, international pressure, and diplomacy are the central tools to end Iran’s nuclear ambitions for good,” reads the blurb on J Street’s web site and conference advertising, “and we appreciate the President’s strong stance against the rush to war. Thousands of pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans agree! Thank you, Mr. President!”

Netanyahu’s Iran-Holocaust analogies are “over the top” and designed to “whip folks into a frenzy,” charges J Street president and founder Jeremy Ben-Ami in an interview published yesterday. Fortunately, he and his “pro-Israel, pro-peace” forces are marching on Washington next week to “push back against those who are at the gate, charging forward, wanting military action now.”

Thank G-d for J Street, for without that oh-so-important organization, Israel would be striding headlong, happily harum-scarum, into conflict with Iran, and in its typical madcap style, mindlessly dragging America into war too.

After all, it isn’t Iran that is “beating the drums of war” and building a nuclear bomb aimed at Israel! “It is not as if we’re seeing Iran develop a specific plan for the elimination of the Jewish people,” soothes Ben-Ami.

I am so relieved that sane leaders like Ben-Ami will take the Washington stage next week. He and his colleagues will be sure to calm things down. No need to get too excited about Iran.

Ben-Ami will be aided in this all-important Obama-boosting, pro-peace initiative by a series of peace camp gurus like Amos Oz, and organizations with great expertise on the Iranian nuclear threat like Ir Amim, Peace Now, New Israel Fund, B’tselem, Breaking the Silence, Machsom Watch and Yesh Din – all of whom are co-sponsoring or running sessions at the J Street conference.

Aside from opposing Israeli or US military action against Iran, the traditional main thrust of these groups is, of course, that if only Israel were to change its West Bank policies – and it is J Street’s job to get America to force Israel to change – then peace would come to the Mideast. As if Israel was the party unwilling to compromise. As if Israel hasn’t already offered the Palestinians at Oslo and Camp David and Taba and Annapolis with just about everything they want of post-67 Israel. As if the Palestinians have compromised on their demands one wit since the great handshake on the White House lawn. As if the Palestinians are currently willing to enter peace talks with Israel unconditionally.

But it is Israel that needs to be pressured, say the J Street moral oracles.

Remember: This is the same J Street that supported the anti-Israel Goldstone Report, supported the Palestinians bid for unilateral statehood recognition at the UN, and has supported talks with the Hamas but not military action against it. Now J Street wants to de-fang the military threat against Iran.

The icing on the cake is the pious spiritual claptrap that characterizes J Street’s advocacy of confrontation with Israel. In past years, conference speakers have earnestly broadcast their “profound” Jewish and “spiritual” identities in order to besmirch the mainstream Jewish community and engender a distancing in US-Israel relations.

A preponderance of vaporous spiritual types like Rabbi Sharon, Rabbi Amy, Rabbi Tirzah, Rabbi Jennie, Rabbi Julie, Rabbi Toba and Rabbi Melissa from places called Neve Kodesh, Brit Tzedek, Dorshei Tzedek and Just Vision – an overflowing of honey, holiness and justice! – have spoken at J Street about the need to spiritually save Israel in spite of itself. Or at least to salve their sacred American Jewish souls by confronting Israel.

This year, Peter Beinart is to provide the spiritual drivel. His new book on “The Crisis of Zionism,” which will be “launched” at the J Street conference, promotes a “progressive vision of American interests and liberal Jewish values.” These are values, Beinart says, that Obama has alas betrayed under pressure from those bad right-wing American Jews and their PACs. Values that would and should lead Obama to confront Israel’s “morally repugnant” settlement policies and purported sovereignty over a united Jerusalem. Values that J Street will uphold and use to convince the Obama administration to bash Israel over the head; or at least, to rein it in. Oh, yay.

David M. Weinberg is a think tank director, columnist and lobbyist who is a sharp critic of Israel’s detractors and of post-Zionist trends in Israel. Read more »
A passionate speaker, David M. Weinberg lectures widely in Israel, the U.S. and Canada to Jewish and non-Jewish audiences. He speaks on international politics and Middle East strategic affairs, Israeli diplomacy and defense strategy, intelligence matters and more. Click here to book David Weinberg as a speaker

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