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June 20, 2010
J Street's "pro-Israel" mask slips again
It's reported that the American Jewish lobbying group J Street will be launching a new media campaign later this month "aimed at encouraging the American administration to take greater initiative in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process." J Street's vice-president of communications, Isaac Luria, complains that "There are people trying to turn support for Israel into a political football, people like [Rush] Limbaugh, Sarah Palin or [Republican Congressman] Eric Cantor. This is in part a fight against the tea-partyization of the pro-Israel position."
In response to this alleged politicization, Luria says that "support for Israel is broad and deep in America. There is a mainstream that supports both Israel and peace"-clearly implying that people like Limbaugh, Palin, and Cantor support Israel but not peace; that is, their support for Israel is somehow tied to wanting it to go to war or at best being indifferent about it.
J Street's campaign is supposed to invite participation by people "of all stripes who know there's a two-state solution," including both Jews and non-Jews. The campaign "may call on the government to turn the next summit of the Mideast Quartet, slated to take place in Moscow sometime in the coming months, into a more formal and comprehensive peace summit."
What would that mean-sending invitations to the Palestinian Authority and Israel that they couldn't refuse? What would Israel think of a "formal and comprehensive peace summit" hosted by the U.S., the EU, the UN, and Russia-the latter three entities having shown something other than a keen concern for Israel's security? It doesn't matter to J Street what Israel would think, and it never has.
Although J Street is said to have moderated its anti-Israeli attitudes, its reaction to the Gaza flotilla incident now presented at its website shows that its contempt for Israel's positions and autonomy hasn't actually changed.
"Rarely have we felt as much emotion," J Street declared on June 1, a day after the incident,
as in the hours since the tragedy off Gaza's shores.... Moments of great tragedy provide a rare opportunity for focus, clarity, and action.... Now is the time to demonstrate overwhelming support for determined leadership to immediately end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We need the President to lead the way to an end-a real and immediate end-to this tragic conflict.
Get that? An immediate end. J Street has had its fill of this "tragic conflict"-a phrase that connotes something mutual and unnecessary. Not the actual, ongoing, openly proclaimed endeavor by Iran and allies such as Hamas, Hizbullah, Syria, and the IHH-the Turkish terror-linked organization whose thugs viciously attacked the Israeli naval commandos aboard the Mavi Marmara-to wipe Israel out of existence. That Israel could be under attack by forces determined to destroy it, and have no choice but to defend itself, is a "possibility" that J Street recognizes nowhere in its statements; and, indeed, if it did, what would be the excuse for the existence of J Street?
Or as J Street put it in an open letter to President Obama on the flotilla incident:
Even-steven; call for one, call for the other, address both sides symmetrically in this foolish, quickly resolvable "conflict." In reality, Israel is already planning to remove all or virtually all of the remaining restrictions on civilian supplies into Gaza. Hamas, however, doesn't seem to have heeded J Street's call for the "immediate" release of Shalit. But if there's, in reality, any sort of deep asymmetry between Israel on the one side and its enemies such as Hamas on the other, J Street hasn't noticed it and/or is determined not to notice it.
As J Street went on to say in its letter to Obama:
Beyond that same, smarmy, meretricious evenhandedness of "all parties" and "talk to your enemies" is, of course, the ominous phrase "full power of the United States"-which goes to the core of what J Street has been and remains: an organization devoted to pressing Obama to impose "peace" on Israel even on terms opposed by its government and population.
Objectionable as these attitudes are, there are still worse ones to be found in J Street's postings on the flotilla incident. "We harbor no illusions," J Street states,
In other words, "A job well done, fellows!"-as J Street lauds what it sees as the positive outcomes of an enterprise that included entrapping Israeli soldiers in a vicious lynch with guns, knives, clubs, and iron bars that would have resulted in the soldiers' deaths if they hadn't begun to defend themselves in the nick of time. But some peaceniks have a loose definition of what they consider beneficent activities, especially when the activities are directed against Israel.
Naturally, having as cold a disposition toward Israel as it does, J Street in the same posting cites data from the anti-Israeli NGO American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA) to claim that Gaza is undergoing a "full-blown humanitarian crisis" -- a claim that is extensively refuted here, here, and here.
J Street also offers more of its patented, it's-a-perfect-world, everyone-comes-out-ahead recipes, such as: "The proper response to the flotilla would have been-and to future ships, will be-a shift to a policy that sensibly protects Israel, prevents weapons importation and allows in all other humanitarian and basic supplies."
How do you that without stopping the ships? Lift the naval part of the blockade? Then how do you prevent Gaza's coast from becoming an Iranian port? J Street doesn't say. On Tuesday the head of Israel's domestic security agency said that lifting the naval blockade would be a "dangerous development for Israel" and a "huge security breach." Could J Street care less? Don't bet on it.
J Street keeps failing to make any moral distinction between Israel and its enemies, keeps urging the U.S. president to use his "full power" to impose "peace" on Israel even if Israel considers it the opposite of peace, and even approves murderous tactics used against Israel. The right reaction to J Street is not to join it but to shun it.
P. David Hornik is a freelance writer and translator in Beersheva, Israel. He blogs at pdavidhornik.typepad.com.