J Street's Boston Gambit
J Street, the Soros-funded front lobbying group that describes itself as "pro-peace" and "pro-Israel,'' is desperately seeking legitimacy by wangling its way into local Jewish Community Relations Councils, made up of grassroots groups. Unlike typical JCRC members, J Street comes to American communities already packaged with a board, a statement of purpose, and funding.
In April, American Thinker ran the Indianapolis JCRC story: A group of Indianapolis Jews concerned for the security of Israel and world Jewry defected from their local Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC), charging it with being "increasingly under the ideological sway of the New Jewish Agenda," with its left-leaning "universalist world view." These renegades then proceeded to form a new counter-group focusing on the survival of Israel and of traditional Jewish values. They are apparently demanding some of that "social justice" for Jews themselves.
Now there are similar rumbles in Boston, suggesting perhaps a replication of the Indie scenario. This week, Andrea Levin, executive director and president of CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America) dropped a smart bomb. In an astounding expose in The Jewish Advocate of the modus operandi of Boston's JCRC, Levin writes that one day in January 2010 she arrived at a JCRC meeting to find seated at the table none other than a representative of J Street. The JCRC, she writes,
ignored its own bylaws and allowed J Street to slip in the back door, without applying like all other groups. This happened without discussion, without a vote, without a shred of publicity. The group was simply added by committee via supposedly absorbing an existing member organization, Brit Tzedek V'Shalom, which was closing down.
Even the director of CJP (Combined Jewish Philanthropies), the principal funder of the JCRC, "was surprised by the revelation." Pretty soon damage-control got underway, continues Levin, "including the announcement that all 41 JCRC organizational members would be rescreened for adherence to membership requirements - an unprecedented measure and a transparent effort to deflect focus from J Street's irregular admission."
Then CAMERA consulted a prominent non-profit law specialist, whose conclusion was that "J Street's admission to the JCRC was "clearly illegal." The reason: "Brit Tzedek V'Shalom, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization - and J Street's backdoor route to JCRC membership - cannot, in fact, legally merge with J Street, which is a 501(c)4 lobby."
The frosting on this most unappetizing cake, it turns out, is that "Brit Tzedek V'Shalom is not actually defunct; it filed a government-required annual report in January 2011 - a full year after J Street claimed Brit Tzedek had disappeared."
CAMERA objected, JCRC circled the wagons. In the end, J Street glued itself to its illegal seat by - changing its name. Now it would be known as the J Street Educational Fund - a 501(c)3 adjunct of J Street. "The year-and-a-half-long membership, during which time J Street was seated unlawfully while pushing through radical policy recommendations, would be retroactively legitimized."
In the end, J Street was seated (Levin's diplomatic word is "welcomed") by a lopsided vote in its favor, "and its fringe proposals adopted for the obvious reason that the JCRC itself has drifted to the far left and away from most of the 250,000 Boston area Jews in whose name the group acts and speaks. Those on the council who oppose extremist positions are outvoted and even smeared as uncivil. Many leave."
As a case in point, Levin might have quoted (though she didn't) an article in the previous week's Jewish Advocate by journalist Leonard Fein, another member of the JCRC. Entitled "An (un)Civil Discourse," Fein is the very model of uncivility:
The disgraceful effort to characterize J Street as "anti-Israel," or as "pro-Arab," has found sufficient traction to become a seriously divisive force in communities across the country. One is surely entitled to disagree...with J Street's strategy and tactics. But anti-Israel? That is nonsense, pure and simple.... Comes the question: How can so absurd and abusive a reading of what J Street is about have achieved so much traction?
And then comes the answer: It's a smoke machine. "And it does not take many people to operate a smoke machine." No indeed. And he knows exactly who they are: "a belligerent handful of malcontents confronting a largely silent majority." He goes on to praise the disproportionate vote of the JCRC to include J Street, "thereby putting to bed the perception that the Jewish establishment is inevitably the narrow minded mouthpiece of a right-wing cabal."
To this last hilarious sentence, direct from cloud cuckoo-land, the one sane response would be, "If only." But to give him his due, Fein makes no pretence of civility:
Sometimes, it appears, civility and candor cannot be reconciled. It is now time to put the J Street debate to rest and not to argue...that it remain an open question. It is, please excuse me, time to disrespect those who vilify J Street.
Fein seems preoccupied with putting things to rest or to bed. That may be a symptom of liberal Jewish fatigue. But among the righteous -- people like Andrea Levin-- certain things can never be put to bed. Her article opens with an evocation of the unspeakable slaughter of the Fogel family in March, in the wake of which 46 members of the U.S.Congress sent a letter to President Obama denouncing the Palestinian culture that gives rise to such atrocities. "It seems obvious," she says, "that any supporter of Israel would appreciate such a letter." However, although (according to a Luntz poll) 81 percent of American Jews would vote for representatives who signed such a letter, J Street, incredibly, "actually lobbied against the letter."
Levin did not have the space to detail every fact staining the very name of J Street, nor do we. But such a long roll of shame would include its lavish funding by George Soros and his children, by a mysterious Hong Kong donor named Consolacion Esdicul, and by numerous Palestinians and Iranians; it would include J Street's commitment to push Israel back to the 1949 lines; it would include, as Elliot Jager writes in "Jewish Ideas Daily," its opposition to "every measure Israel has taken to defend its citizens; it has partnered with BDS proponents and shown no scruples about aligning itself with the vociferously anti-Zionist U.S. Council of Churches. Far from repudiating Judge Richard Goldstone's lawfare campaign to enfeeble Israel's right to self-defense, J Street staffers actively promoted Goldstone's appearances in Congress....In fact, one is hard put to discern any policy differences whatsoever between the stated positions of J Street and the Palestinian Authority or the PLO."
Andrea Levin did not proceed farther than the JCRC's iniquitous "welcome" of J Street. Had she been granted the space, she might have mentioned one or two of the other problematic characters ensconced at that big table, like the ultra-left Boston Workmen's Circle and the New Israel Fund. Or she might have directed readers to the website of the JCRC itself-a big, outreaching, universalist bag of tikkun olam. J Street would blend in seamlessly. Levin ends her piece by stressing that Boston's Jews need "a representative, mainstream voice. Whether there is the public will to reform the existing radicalized JCRC or, instead, to start a new organization is the question." Perhaps the answer lies in Indianapolis?
Andrea Levin did not proceed farther than the JCRC's iniquitous "welcome" of J Street. Had she been granted the space, she might have mentioned one or two of the other problematic characters ensconced at that big table, like the ultra-left Boston Workmen's Circle and the New Israel Fund. Or she might have directed readers to the website of the JCRC itself-a big, outreaching, universalist bag of tikkun olam. J Street would blend in seamlessly.
Levin ends her piece by stressing that Boston's Jews need "a representative, mainstream voice. Whether there is the public will to reform the existing radicalized JCRC or, instead, to start a new organization is the question."
Perhaps the answer lies in Indianapolis?