The happy news that J Street had been denied membership in the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations was something of a surprise. Some liberal Jewish organizations that disagree with J Street vehemently on Israel, including the Anti-Defamation League, voted to include the organization. But a majority voted against the George Soros-funded outfit, which exists solely to disrupt the close U.S.-Israel alliance.
As is typical of the group, J Street greeted the decision by a) attacking the rest of the Jewish community, and b) lying. J Street’s statement after the vote claimed that the Conference had sent a message to young Jews that “there is no place for them in an ever-shrinking communal tent where the conversation on Israel’s future is limited,” and that they had been thwarted by “a minority [sic] of the farthest right wing organizations [sic].”
The latter claim, clearly contradicted by the fact that only a minority voted to include J Street, is only the latest in a series of lies by the organization and its president, Jeremy Ben-Ami. In 2010, Ben-Ami was forced to admit that he had lied about receiving money from Soros. Also in 2010, J Street was forced to change a video ad that attacked pro-Israel stalwart Alan Dershowitz by using a false voiceover to place words–literally–in his mouth.
J Street’s claims that its exclusion shows the intolerance of the Jewish community is also laughable. There is no more intolerant organization in the Jewish community today. In 2008, J Street campaigned to have Gov. Sarah Palin un-invited from a pro-Israel rally in New York, putting pressure on Jewish organizations and celebrating when they buckled. In 2010, J Street demanded that the U.S. Treasury investigate Jewish charities in Israel.
At the time, I confronted Ben-Ami about that effort–which may, in retrospect, have been connected to the IRS scandal, as the IRS that year began an aggressive investigation of a pro-Israel non-profit group called “Z Street.” I questioned him at a cocktail party that the group organized in Chicago on the eve of Tisha B’Av, the night when the rest of the Jewish world mourns the destruction of the Temples in Jerusalem. (Not J Street, evidently.)
When I asked him why, if he felt Jewish charities in Israel might be contributing to conflict in the Middle East by providing services in the West Bank, he was not also demanding an investigation into Islamic charities providing services in anti-Israel countries, his answer was crude and curt: “I don’t give a shit about Islamic charities,” Ben-Ami said. Neither he nor J Street cares about peace. They just care about attacking Israel’s supporters.
The J Street campus organization operates in a similar mode, bullying pro-Israel students and accusing Jewish organizations of intolerance if they dare to insist that Jewish institutions honor a commitment to Israel. And in Congress, J Street proudly acts as President Barack Obama’s “blocking back”–i.e. blocking opposition to his policies on Israel. To that end, J Street backed the libelous Goldstone Report and has opposed sanctions on Iran.
J Street’s exclusion from the Conference means that the Jewish community will be spared the radical harangues of a group that has sought to defame its leaders and institutions, and that is undermining Jewish commitment not only to Israel but to freedom and openness in America. J Street has earned its defeat, and the leadership of the Jewish community, which has struggled in recent years to find its backbone, deserves a hearty “mazel tov.”