OpinionIsrael at War

J Street lobbies against Israeli war on Hamas

It took J Street a week to turn on Israel. In less than two weeks it was lobbying against Israel.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken delivers a speech at the J Street National Conference in Washington, DC., Dec. 4, 2022. Credit: State Department Photo by Ron Przysucha/Public Domain.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken delivers a speech at the J Street National Conference in Washington, DC., Dec. 4, 2022. Credit: State Department Photo by Ron Przysucha/Public Domain.
Daniel Greenfield
Daniel Greenfield is an Israeli-born journalist who writes for conservative publications.

The Oct. 7 Hamas massacres hit hard at communities where many of the residents were left of center. As a result even some of the usual anti-Israel types temporarily came around to the idea of fighting Hamas.

That included the anti-Israel lobby group J Street.

On Oct. 9, J Street issued a statement denouncing the attacks and stating that “we stand in solidarity with the Israeli people and with the Israeli armed forces that have been battling desperately to protect them. We support Israel’s right to defend its citizens from this barbaric attack, in accordance with international law.”

But in this statement 48 hours after the attacks, it already threw in that “we are deeply worried for the safety of the Israeli people, including the hostages now in Gaza, as well as for the safety of the Palestinian civilians who are now caught in the crossfire—with hundreds of people now reported dead and over 2,500 wounded in Gaza amidst intensive Israeli airstrikes and a full cut of electricity, gas, water and food to the Strip.”

On Oct. 11, J Street U criticised Students for Justice in Palestine’s Day of Resistance celebrating the Hamas attacks, but also complained about the “attempts to use Hamas’s crimes as an excuse to make hateful, racist generalizations against and about the entire Palestinian people” and called for an “urgent end to the ongoing occupation of Palestinian Territory”.

And it was downhill from there.

On Oct. 13, J Street condemned “the Israeli government’s call for the over 1 million civilians of northern Gaza to be evacuated” and urged the Biden administration to pressure Israel to protect civilians.

By Oct. 19, J Street was describing Israel’s attack on Hamas as an “escalation” and claiming that “thousands of Palestinians—many of them innocent civilians—have been killed during the escalation so far.”

“We urge the Biden administration to also make the safety and protection of Palestinian civilians a priority as it rightly supports the State of Israel in defending its citizens. Israel’s actions must adhere to international law. Its response must be guided by a clear, coherent strategy and achievable goals,” it said.

On Oct. 20, J Street accused Israel of “anti-democratic crackdowns” on opponents of the campaign against Hamas. On Oct. 26, it called for “humanitarian pauses.”

“Pauses in the fighting also can and should be used to help ensure that the Israeli government’s plans for further military operations against Hamas are strategic, pragmatic, and in accordance with international law. As it rightly supports Israel’s right to defend its citizens and hold Hamas accountable for its crimes, the Biden administration should also be using all of its influence to push its Israeli counterparts to protect the lives and safety of Palestinian civilians…

“No matter how well-planned, a large-scale invasion of Gaza risks triggering a spiral of escalation that could lead to a multi-front war, with deeply dangerous consequences for Israelis, Palestinians, the wider region, and the United States. The U.S. must be clear with Israeli leaders about these risks—and about lessons learned from our country’s own calamitous invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq after the horrific terror attacks on 9/11.”

J Street endorsed multiple congressional letters pressuring Israel over its campaign against Hamas.

By Nov. 22, J Street had called for an extended ceasefire and declared itself “shocked by the devastating toll that the war is taking on over two million Palestinian civilians in Gaza” and “extremely concerned that the Netanyahu government’s conduct of the ongoing war in Gaza is imperiling the long-term goals of peace.”

Biden “should also make clear that the U.S. will not provide unbounded support for a war with no limits and no exit strategy.” Biden should “immediately announce—and enforce—clear red lines for the ongoing Israeli operation against Hamas” and “should be clear that the U.S. cannot support an operation” unless it hands over control of Gaza to the PLO.

The Nov. 30 statement demanded that “the administration should make very clear that a resumption of widespread high-intensity bombing—and the resulting high civilian casualties—is unacceptable” and the only acceptable Israeli military campaign “highly targeted” and followed by an Israeli withdrawal “in a defined and reasonable time following the end of hostilities.”

On Dec. 7, J Street issued a statement falsely claiming that “J Street has been unwavering in support of Israel’s right—and the country’s moral obligation—to respond to this attack, to defend itself and to ensure that Israeli civilians never again come under threat from Hamas’s terror stronghold in Gaza.”

Then it followed that up by stating that, “If Prime Minister Netanyahu fails to modify the nature of the military campaign or to take the steps urged by the United States, J Street will call on the Biden administration to change course. Over decades, the U.S. has built up considerable leverage and capital with Israel, and the president should be prepared to wield it in telling Israel that the time has come to stop this all-out military campaign.”

It also advanced a move to tie military aid to Israel providing humanitarian aid to Hamas territories and abiding by “international law”.

“If we do not see evidence soon that the government of Israel is, in fact, making meaningful changes to its conduct of the war and its attitudes regarding post-war arrangements, then J Street will no longer be able to provide our organizational support for the current military campaign,” the anti-Israel group warned.

What “organizational support” is that?

J Street began undermining the military campaign 48 hours in. Its support for the campaign could be measured in days.

J Street is pitching its Dec. 7 statement as a “moment of truth.” The real moment of truth came when it began condemning Israel mere days after the attacks. By Oct. 13, it was attacking Israel’s conduct of the war while demanding impossible measures that would protect Hamas.

J Street got most of what it wanted, at the expense of Israeli lives, and yet it only increased its attacks on Israel.

By Oct. 19, less than two weeks after the attacks, it was back to officially lobbying against Israel. The actual lobbying would likely have been private and accordingly was likely taking place even earlier.

It took J Street a mere week to turn on Israel. In less than two weeks it was lobbying against Israel.

In less than a month and a half, it was pushing for a cutoff of military aid.

Much like Hamas, J Street is what it has always been: an anti-Israel group. Anyone who was fooled into thinking otherwise by its initial statements should be waking up by now.

J Street cloaks its attacks on Israel in criticism about how pounding Hamas somehow undermines American and Israeli interests. The leftist group doesn’t give a damn about either country. It’s motivated, like most of the left, by hostility toward both countries which it cloaks in the guise of human rights. Oct. 7 didn’t fundamentally change what J Street is.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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