Does J Street Stand For Jordan Street?

J Street, the controversial Jewish pressure group that was created to lobby for a Palestinian state, is back in the news. J Street is now in the news in -- of all places -- Amman, Jordan because of its unauthorized freelance diplomacy mission there. The Jordan Times reported on May 2 that "[t]heir Majesties King Abdullah and Queen Rania on Sunday met with delegates from the American organization, J Street, who are on a visit to the Kingdom as part of a regional tour."

The question is, why would the Jordanian monarchy be interested in meeting with J Street in the first place? One might think that a group that held its first national convention only in October of 2009 would not be deemed worthy of meeting with Jordan's king and queen.

It is also curious that the visit to Jordan did not generate the headlines that J Street has been getting somewhat used to. After all, J Street has been making the news a lot since 2009.

Perhaps the Jordanian government believed that it was worth meeting with J Street because of the connections J Street has with the Democratic Party.

A key strategy of J Street from its very outset has been to use the gravitas that even the most radical Democrats now have in the Obama era to provide it with the cover it needs to advance its pro-Palestine agenda.

Five of the Democratic congressmen who signed a controversial letter that urged President Obama to increase pressure on Israel were rewarded by the radical J Street lobby organization with a five-day President's Day weekend tour of Israel, Jordan, and the so-called "Palestinian Territories." That this letter precipitated what many have termed the worst crisis in U.S.-Israel relations in decades must not be discounted.

Representative Keith Ellison of Minnesota, the first Muslim to be elected to the United States Congress, was the key organizer of the letter to President Obama asking the administration to use diplomatic pressure on Israel to end the so-called blockade of Hamas-controlled Gaza. Ellison and the 53 other Democrats who signed the letter were widely labeled as the "Gaza 54." 

Matt Brooks, the Executive Director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, released the following statement about the letter on January 29:

By now, you've probably heard that 54 Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives (no Republicans) sent a letter to President Obama -- a letter in which they urge him to pressure Israel to loosen security measures on Israel's border with Hamas-controlled Gaza. This is outrageous. And we need to raise our voices to respond! These security measures were implemented to counter the threat from terrorism originating from the Hamas-controlled Gaza strip.

Every congressman on the J Street-sponsored President's Day trip signed Ellison's letter, which J Street endorsed.

J Street's February 12 press release on its "first Congressional mission" read in part:

Representatives Lois Capps (CA-23), Bill Delahunt (MA-10), Bob Filner (CA-51), Mary Jo Kilroy (OH-15), and Donald Payne (NJ-10) will meet with Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian government officials as well as civil society leaders to get an in-depth, on-the-ground look at the state of the peace process, and to explore the American role in bringing about regional, comprehensive peace. "We're excited to start bringing members of Congress to the Middle East as part of our overall effort to promote strong US leadership to achieve a two-state solution and regional, comprehensive peace," said Jeremy Ben-Ami, Executive Director of the J Street Education Fund.

Several important nuanced phrases in Ben-Ami's statement and the press release illustrate the cause for alarm that J Street has generated from its critics both in Israel and in the U.S. Zionist community.

J Street's very radical stance is based on the idea that the U.S. should pressure Israel into accepting a "two-state solution" and that a "two-state solution" is the remedy for a "regional, comprehensive peace." This is a seriously dangerous view. How will a "two-state solution" make peace magically happen between Muslims and Christians in Lebanon or Shiites and Sunnis in Iraq? Will a "two-state solution" bring a stop to the murder and persecution of Coptic Christians in Egypt? This "two-state solution" rhetoric gives credence to the ridiculous claims that Israel's existence is the obstacle to peace in the Middle East. According to the May 2 Jordan Times, King Abdullah stated to J Street "that the continuation of the status quo will lead to a new cycle of tension and violence in the region."

There is no reason to believe that a "two-state solution" will be any solution at all. After all, the creation of a de facto Islamic Republic in Gaza not only hasn't brought peace to the region, but it has dramatically increased the footprint of Iranian backed Islamic terrorism in the area.

J Street had stated that the congressmen were to meet with Palestinian "government officials." Which officials did they mean? The Fatah terrorists posing as a government in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) or the Hamas terrorists posing as a government in Gaza?

Were leaders of Israel's settlers granted any access to the congressmen? Without meeting the settlers -- the only community being transferred and displaced by J Street's "two-state solution" Palestinian statehood scheme -- how could these Americans ever hope to get an accurate idea of the full situation?

J Street is more interested in the views of Jordan. Jordan's Prince Zeid Ra'ad Al-Hussein, Ambassador of Jordan, was a presenter at the J Street Conference on October 26, 2009, the first full day of the Capitol Hill event. And this was just weeks after Christiane Amanpour's October 2, 2009 CNN interview with Queen Rania when Rania directly attacked Israel stating "can the world afford for this conflict to keep the way -- I mean, it is -- it's a disgrace to humanity that there is still this occupation, that there's an entire population that's still dehumanized, that's still under occupation and suffering."

J Street seemed in part to be following Queen Rania's lead when it joined an alliance of organizations with a strong history of criticizing Israel when it too endorsed Ellison's letter. These staunch critics of Israel include The Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation (HCEF), the American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP), the American Near East Refugee Association (ANERA), the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), and Rabbis for Human Rights.

Since being elected to Congress in 2006, Ellison has caused controversies several times, perhaps most significantly when he demanded to use a Koran for his ceremonial swearing-in in 2006. Ellison has traveled to Iraq, Israel, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Gaza since being elected. In February 2009, Ellison and fellow Democratic congressman Brian Baird toured Gaza. At the time, Ellison and Baird issued a joint statement assigning moral equivalency to Israel and the Hamas terrorist group, saying, "The first and most urgent priority must be helping the people in Gaza. At the same time, the rocket attacks against Israeli cities must stop immediately. Just as the people of Gaza should not be subject to what they have experienced, the Israeli civilians should not have to live in fear of constant and indiscriminate rocketing."

So far, J Street's JStreetPAC has distributed over half a million dollars to U.S. congressional candidates it is backing for the November 2, 2010 elections. Ellison was among those that the JStreetPAC financially contributed to and has officially endorsed. 

Did these congressmen show their appreciation to J Street by setting the stage for J Street's unusual May visit to the Jordanian Royal Court when they were there back in February? How will J Street reward the 49 others of the Gaza 54? We will have to keep watching. 

Moshe Phillips is a member of the executive committee of the Philadelphia Chapter of Americans for a Safe Israel / AFSI. The chapter's website is at phillyafsi.com, and Moshe's blog can be found at phillyafsi.blogtownhall.com.
J Street, the controversial Jewish pressure group that was created to lobby for a Palestinian state, is back in the news. J Street is now in the news in -- of all places -- Amman, Jordan because of its unauthorized freelance diplomacy mission there. The Jordan Times reported on May 2 that "[t]heir Majesties King Abdullah and Queen Rania on Sunday met with delegates from the American organization, J Street, who are on a visit to the Kingdom as part of a regional tour."

The question is, why would the Jordanian monarchy be interested in meeting with J Street in the first place? One might think that a group that held its first national convention only in October of 2009 would not be deemed worthy of meeting with Jordan's king and queen.

It is also curious that the visit to Jordan did not generate the headlines that J Street has been getting somewhat used to. After all, J Street has been making the news a lot since 2009.

Perhaps the Jordanian government believed that it was worth meeting with J Street because of the connections J Street has with the Democratic Party.

A key strategy of J Street from its very outset has been to use the gravitas that even the most radical Democrats now have in the Obama era to provide it with the cover it needs to advance its pro-Palestine agenda.

Five of the Democratic congressmen who signed a controversial letter that urged President Obama to increase pressure on Israel were rewarded by the radical J Street lobby organization with a five-day President's Day weekend tour of Israel, Jordan, and the so-called "Palestinian Territories." That this letter precipitated what many have termed the worst crisis in U.S.-Israel relations in decades must not be discounted.

Representative Keith Ellison of Minnesota, the first Muslim to be elected to the United States Congress, was the key organizer of the letter to President Obama asking the administration to use diplomatic pressure on Israel to end the so-called blockade of Hamas-controlled Gaza. Ellison and the 53 other Democrats who signed the letter were widely labeled as the "Gaza 54." 

Matt Brooks, the Executive Director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, released the following statement about the letter on January 29:

By now, you've probably heard that 54 Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives (no Republicans) sent a letter to President Obama -- a letter in which they urge him to pressure Israel to loosen security measures on Israel's border with Hamas-controlled Gaza. This is outrageous. And we need to raise our voices to respond! These security measures were implemented to counter the threat from terrorism originating from the Hamas-controlled Gaza strip.

Every congressman on the J Street-sponsored President's Day trip signed Ellison's letter, which J Street endorsed.

J Street's February 12 press release on its "first Congressional mission" read in part:

Representatives Lois Capps (CA-23), Bill Delahunt (MA-10), Bob Filner (CA-51), Mary Jo Kilroy (OH-15), and Donald Payne (NJ-10) will meet with Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian government officials as well as civil society leaders to get an in-depth, on-the-ground look at the state of the peace process, and to explore the American role in bringing about regional, comprehensive peace. "We're excited to start bringing members of Congress to the Middle East as part of our overall effort to promote strong US leadership to achieve a two-state solution and regional, comprehensive peace," said Jeremy Ben-Ami, Executive Director of the J Street Education Fund.

Several important nuanced phrases in Ben-Ami's statement and the press release illustrate the cause for alarm that J Street has generated from its critics both in Israel and in the U.S. Zionist community.

J Street's very radical stance is based on the idea that the U.S. should pressure Israel into accepting a "two-state solution" and that a "two-state solution" is the remedy for a "regional, comprehensive peace." This is a seriously dangerous view. How will a "two-state solution" make peace magically happen between Muslims and Christians in Lebanon or Shiites and Sunnis in Iraq? Will a "two-state solution" bring a stop to the murder and persecution of Coptic Christians in Egypt? This "two-state solution" rhetoric gives credence to the ridiculous claims that Israel's existence is the obstacle to peace in the Middle East. According to the May 2 Jordan Times, King Abdullah stated to J Street "that the continuation of the status quo will lead to a new cycle of tension and violence in the region."

There is no reason to believe that a "two-state solution" will be any solution at all. After all, the creation of a de facto Islamic Republic in Gaza not only hasn't brought peace to the region, but it has dramatically increased the footprint of Iranian backed Islamic terrorism in the area.

J Street had stated that the congressmen were to meet with Palestinian "government officials." Which officials did they mean? The Fatah terrorists posing as a government in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) or the Hamas terrorists posing as a government in Gaza?

Were leaders of Israel's settlers granted any access to the congressmen? Without meeting the settlers -- the only community being transferred and displaced by J Street's "two-state solution" Palestinian statehood scheme -- how could these Americans ever hope to get an accurate idea of the full situation?

J Street is more interested in the views of Jordan. Jordan's Prince Zeid Ra'ad Al-Hussein, Ambassador of Jordan, was a presenter at the J Street Conference on October 26, 2009, the first full day of the Capitol Hill event. And this was just weeks after Christiane Amanpour's October 2, 2009 CNN interview with Queen Rania when Rania directly attacked Israel stating "can the world afford for this conflict to keep the way -- I mean, it is -- it's a disgrace to humanity that there is still this occupation, that there's an entire population that's still dehumanized, that's still under occupation and suffering."

J Street seemed in part to be following Queen Rania's lead when it joined an alliance of organizations with a strong history of criticizing Israel when it too endorsed Ellison's letter. These staunch critics of Israel include The Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation (HCEF), the American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP), the American Near East Refugee Association (ANERA), the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), and Rabbis for Human Rights.

Since being elected to Congress in 2006, Ellison has caused controversies several times, perhaps most significantly when he demanded to use a Koran for his ceremonial swearing-in in 2006. Ellison has traveled to Iraq, Israel, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Gaza since being elected. In February 2009, Ellison and fellow Democratic congressman Brian Baird toured Gaza. At the time, Ellison and Baird issued a joint statement assigning moral equivalency to Israel and the Hamas terrorist group, saying, "The first and most urgent priority must be helping the people in Gaza. At the same time, the rocket attacks against Israeli cities must stop immediately. Just as the people of Gaza should not be subject to what they have experienced, the Israeli civilians should not have to live in fear of constant and indiscriminate rocketing."

So far, J Street's JStreetPAC has distributed over half a million dollars to U.S. congressional candidates it is backing for the November 2, 2010 elections. Ellison was among those that the JStreetPAC financially contributed to and has officially endorsed. 

Did these congressmen show their appreciation to J Street by setting the stage for J Street's unusual May visit to the Jordanian Royal Court when they were there back in February? How will J Street reward the 49 others of the Gaza 54? We will have to keep watching. 

Moshe Phillips is a member of the executive committee of the Philadelphia Chapter of Americans for a Safe Israel / AFSI. The chapter's website is at phillyafsi.com, and Moshe's blog can be found at phillyafsi.blogtownhall.com.