The terms pro-Israel and pro-peace seem to have a straightforward meaning, but as a slogan for J Street, they have become examples of doublespeak. On Nov. 21, for example, while news alerts from around the world reported that a Hamas terrorist opened fire with an automatic weapon in Jerusalem’s Old City, killing one Israeli and wounding four others, J Street was sending out a fundraising appeal.
Did it denounce this horrific attack?
Did it express sympathy for the Israeli victims?
Did it acknowledge the ongoing terrorist threat and support the government’s steps to fight terror? Did it mention how unending Palestinian terror and intransigence are the greatest obstacles to peace?
Given J Street’s record, it should come as no surprise that the answer to every question is no. There was no mention of the attack. Instead, J Street condemned Israel as a country “rooted in control, discrimination, intimidation and injustice.” Not one pro-Israel word appeared.
This was just the latest example of the lobby’s incessant campaign to demonize the Israeli government—even one with an Arab Islamist party, left-wing Zionist parties and no Benjamin Netanyahu—and serve as apologists for Palestinian terror and obstinacy.
In the simplistic world of J Street, Palestinians are blameless paragons of virtue and democratic values who pose no threat to Israel. If those stiff-necked Jews would just end the “occupation,” there would be a utopian world of two states living in peace where Islamists don’t exist, rockets aren’t launched by the thousands, and Jews wouldn’t be in danger of being murdered by terrorists.
Exactly what happened when Israel signed the Oslo Accords and withdrew from Gaza.
Israel has repeatedly offered peace to the Palestinians. Can J Street produce a scintilla of evidence the Palestinians are interested in coexisting with Israel? I can produce at least nine case studies of the opportunities they missed. J Street is not just out of touch with Israelis but also Palestinians, most of whom oppose their two-state solution.
How is J Street pro-Israel or pro-peace?
Consider a few of J Street’s press releases:
“J STREET WELCOMES STATE DEPARTMENT CONDEMNATION OF SETTLEMENT EXPANSION, URGES FURTHER ACTION.”
Translation: There is one place in the world Jews should not be allowed to live.
“ISRAELI MINISTER’S DESIGNATION OF PALESTINIAN HUMAN RIGHTS AND CIVIL SOCIETY GROUPS AS ‘TERRORISTS’ IS REPRESSIVE AND WRONG — US MUST SPEAK OUT.”
Translation: Funding should continue to flow to organizations supporting the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine terror organization.
“J STREET WELCOMES INTRODUCTION OF THE TWO-STATE SOLUTION ACT.”
Translation: The United States should impose a solution on Israel and, as per the legislation; falsely state that settlements are illegal; prevent products created in the West Bank from being labeled “Made in Israel”; restrict U.S. aid; undermine Israeli sovereignty over its capital by reopening a consulate in Jerusalem; and, rather than enforce the Taylor Force Act, incentivize Palestinians to fight incitement and reform their prisoner payments program because they otherwise have no reason to stop using American taxpayer money to subsidize the murder of Israelis.
“WELCOMING CEASEFIRE, J STREET URGES FUNDAMENTAL RESET OF US POLICY TO BREAK THE CYCLE OF VIOLENCE, END THE OCCUPATION.”
Translation: Hamas terrorists indiscriminately firing thousands of rockets at Israeli citizens while using Palestinians as shields are no different than Israelis defending their citizens, and the United States should force Israel to repeat the mistake of evacuating the Gaza Strip so the Palestinian state of Hamastan can be established in the West Bank. (The release also repeated Hamas propaganda about casualties.)
“J STREET DEEPLY CONCERNED BY ONGOING EVICTIONS OF PALESTINIAN FAMILIES IN OCCUPIED EAST JERUSALEM.”
Translation: J Street, knowing better than Israel’s world-renowned independent judiciary, has determined that Palestinians who refuse to pay rent cannot be evicted from homes they do not own.
“J STREET DISMAYED BY VITRIOLIC ATTACKS ON NEW HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH REPORT.”
Translation: We support the anti-Semitic libel in a discredited report that Israel is like Afrikaner South Africa.”
“J STREET’S COMMITMENT TO CONFRONTING ANTISEMITISM.”
Translation: We selectively oppose anti-Semitism. BDS is not anti-Semitic because its proponents don’t really mean what they say when they call for a one-state solution and Israel’s destruction, and the “pro-Israel” position is to fight anti-BDS laws.
J Street insists it is “pro-Israel” because they know what is best for the Jewish state sitting 6,000 miles away in their La-Z-Boys in the United States where their children do not have to serve in the military, where they don’t need bomb shelters in their homes and where they don’t have to worry that a Palestinian terrorist will stab them in the back, set off a bomb at their local pizzeria or blow themselves up at their child’s college cafeteria or their family Passover seder.
J Street envisions a “secure and democratic Israel” while denying the threats to Israel, lobbying Congress to undermine its ability to defend itself and discrediting the nation’s democracy because Israelis have the audacity to cast their votes for politicians who represent their interests and not those of a fringe group of American Jews. Four elections were held in Israel without the Palestinians being an issue; nevertheless, like parrots, they squawk, “Polly wants a two-state solution,” ignoring the interests of the people of Israel and the reality on the ground.
J Street insists it represents most American Jews but as the saying goes, “money talks, BS walks.” According to its annual report, J Street’s total income for 2019-20 was a relatively paltry $2.7 million (it did raise another $7.7 million for its “education fund”). The more extreme anti-Israel Jewish Voice for Peace budget was more than $3 million. Even if you combine the two fringe groups, their resources and support pale in comparison to AIPAC, which had total revenue of nearly $134 million in 2019.
AIPAC’s slogan—America’s Pro-Israel Lobby—is easily demonstrable. It could throw in pro-peace as well.
J Street does have one big advantage over pro-Israel organizations. Executive director Jeremy Ben-Ami feeds the media’s interest in the “man bites dog” angle represented by Jews like him who criticize Israel and promote Palestinian victimhood. The free publicity that the media gives J Street helps create an image of influence—never mind the group has had no impact on Israeli, Palestinian or American policy. Meanwhile, AIPAC helps secure Israel’s aid package and funding for a host of bilateral military and civilian programs every year, educates members of Congress and strengthens the U.S.-Israel relationship with little publicity because its officials are rarely quoted in the press.
J Street has had success in raising money to support Democratic candidates for Congress who share their ideology (AIPAC does not make campaign contributions). Total contributions by its political action committee increased from a little less than $400,000 in 2008 to $4.1 million in 2018 but declined to $2.7 million last year. That was still the most of any “pro-Israel PACs” (the Republican Jewish Coalition’s $3.1 million in contributions included nearly $1.8 million that went to conservative groups rather than directly to candidates). Overall, however, pro-Israel contributors outspent J Street by more than 10 to 1.
J Street and its members are entitled to their views, however misguided, but truth in advertising demands that they adopt a more accurate slogan that befits their more appropriate home in the Arab lobby. How about: “Don’t Laugh: We Know What’s Best For Israel”?
Mitchell Bard is a foreign-policy analyst and an authority on U.S.-Israel relations who has written and edited 22 books, including “The Arab Lobby, Death to the Infidels: Radical Islam’s War Against the Jews” and “After Anatevka: Tevye in Palestine.”