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Washington - 'J Street' Faces Battle in Congress

Published on: May 8, 2010 11:43 PM
By:  JPost
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FILE - President Barack Obama meets with Jewish Community Leaders in the Roosevelt Room at the White House, July 13, 2008. Amongst at the table is J Street Executive Director Jeremy Ben-Ami (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)Washington - Although J Street opened its 25th field office within the past three months on Thursday – a sign of its growing activist base – its founder acknowledged that the lobby still faces an uphill battle pushing its agenda in the halls of Congress.

“It is unbelievably difficult to get members of Congress to sign on,” J Street Executive Director Jeremy Ben-Ami said of efforts to recruit support for a new J Street-backed letter circulating on Capitol Hill.

The letter, co-sponsored by Democrats Bill Delahunt (MA), Ron Kind (WI), David Price (NC) and Vic Snyder (AR), urges US President Barack Obama “to continue your strong efforts to bring US leadership to bear in moving the parties toward a negotiated two-state solution.” It also cites controversial comments by US Gen. David Petraeus to make the case that “continued lack of resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict threatens the security interests of both countries.”


But, Ben-Ami said, the challenge is one J Street is poised to surmount.

“Never before has there been a lobby that says, ‘Yes, you must sign this letter,’” he declared. “One by one, 10 by 10, dozen by dozen, members of Congress are going to sign that letter.”

Ben-Ami was speaking at the launch of J Street’s newest field office, in Washington, DC.

He also noted that one of the crucial lessons the self-described “pro-Israel, pro-peace” lobby has learned in the group’s two years of existence is the importance of demonstrating support for Israel in order to have traction among American Jews.

“It is so important to establish how clearly, how deeply we care about Israel,” said Ben-Ami when asked about the biggest lessons he’s learned since organization debuted in April 2008.

The first message on Israel the group conveys needs to be that “this is a homeland that has every right to exist,” he stressed.

The concerns about delegitimization of Israel are warranted, Ben-Ami pointed out, because of the real claims that it has no right to exist, and ongoing anti-Semitism in the country and around the world.

“I think the toughest challenge is getting beyond that fear,” he said of the organization’s efforts to draw in more Jewish supporters.

Though some 150,000 supporters have now joined the J Street list, according to Ben-Ami, the group has also faced a massive backlash from some quarters of the Jewish community that have attacked the progressive group’s pro-Israel credentials.

As opposed to many organizations which call themselves pro-Israel, J Street has taken several stances critical of the government of the Jewish state and has been willing to endorse pressure on the country to move it toward peace negotiations.

The lobby, which has a partner Political Action Committee, has been loudly opposed to settlement activity, elements of Israel’s military operations in Gaza and other actions it sees as harmful to peace efforts.

It has also received backing from certain individuals and groups calling for a one-state solution and supporting boycotts of Israel, though J Street rejects those positions.

But over the past several months, Israeli officials have said that they’ve observed something of a moderation in J Street’s policies to positions they are more comfortable with – most significantly a reversal of its opposition to sanctions on Teheran in favor of Congressional efforts to bar gasoline imports to Iran.

Moves such as that one cleared the way for Ben-Ami to hold a long-sought meeting with Israeli Ambassador to Washington Michael Oren last month, Israeli sources indicated.

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Read Comments (14)  —  Post Yours »


 May 09, 2010 at 12:06 AM do not trust them Says:

The Jews and the Jewish State is not there main concern, beware of anything that J STREET is involved with. Much of their funds come from pro-arab groups.


 May 09, 2010 at 12:30 AM Anonymous Says:

J Street is a self hating jewish organization..


 May 09, 2010 at 12:47 AM M.E. Analyst Says:

The fact that the 4 original signatories on this hoax of a letter are from states that have a relatively very low jewish constituency-goes in the face of the j street lie that they represent the american jewish public!
Shame on j street!
Countrywide-senators and congressman read jewish sentiment better than our self hating jew -jstreets ben ami.
Recent studies show that jstreet is mainly funded by muslim countries and their sympathizers!
Only way to counter jstreet is by backing aipac! Also email ur senators that jstreet doesn't represent jews but muslims.
Shame on ben ami!!
He would have helped stalin had he been around!


 May 09, 2010 at 01:38 AM Anonymous Says:

This group isn't much different than sesame street. The actors are just as intelligent, only sesame won't harm israel.


 May 09, 2010 at 06:38 AM treif Says:

The J Street is a real treif organisation just go totheir website and read all those reform so-called rabbis endorsing it. It 's pro-palestinian (isn't it the best thing for Israel to have a state of friendly peace-loving Palestinians in the west bank). J street is a creation of Obama administration in order to create a fifth column in our community.


 May 09, 2010 at 06:34 AM Anonymous Says:

You can't be anti-Israel and keep claiming you're pro-Israel. They should continue to have many troubles until no one will buy their lies anymore.


 May 09, 2010 at 02:14 AM sama Says:

150,000 that a long way off behind AIPAC - but what I don't understand is why AIPAC isn't countering J street's efforts


 May 09, 2010 at 10:31 AM Anonymous Says:

Maybe 10 percent of the 150000 are jews but new york times gives them a stage just like they are a mainstream jewish organization


 May 09, 2010 at 02:24 PM Anonymous Says:

Jeremy Ben Ami - Kshmo Kain Hu. Look in the Chumah as the significance of his name. He must be from Amon!!


 May 09, 2010 at 06:47 PM Anonymous Says:

These Shkotzim are a re-incarnation of the Erev Rav- they are one of the biggest dangers to our people- not only do they promote the destruction of Israel by the hands of our Yishmaelite enemies (G-d Forbid) but they also encourage the reform/progressive assimilation of jews and intermarrige- G-d have mercy on your children and save us from our enemies- Internal and external


 May 09, 2010 at 07:06 PM eli Says:

The Congressmen signing the J Street letter are those who oppose Israel - a prime example is Bill Delahunt (MA), whom the Israeli government refused to speak with him when he visited there as he is a supporter of Hamas and Fatah terrorists. He was refused permission to enter Gaza, which he wanted to do. He is a supporter of Hugo Chavez and Daniel Ortega, and in general is a soineh yisrael.


 May 09, 2010 at 11:18 PM normal Says:

J street is a secular Neturei Karta!


 May 10, 2010 at 05:17 AM Milhouse Says:

I see they're still using the alleged quote from Gen. Petraeus, even after he openly denied saying it. Shows how dishonest they are. Typical lefties.


 May 10, 2010 at 03:49 PM manny 222 Says:

jstreet, led by jeremy ben ami, has to be understood before anyone can come to an opinion. Now here is a man born without testicles, as are most other members that should have them but don't. Actually the leaders of jstreet are all women but kept hidden because they know they get more respect when a man fronts for them. In any case, jeremy and his cohorts will always take the easy way out which is peace, peace, peace, and would sacrifice their own mother for peace peace peace.


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