J Street, a left-wing organization that was founded by liberal Jews to counter traditional pro-Israel advocacy in Congress, has crossed the line into hate group status with its invitation to Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat to address its conference later this month.
Erekat infamously accused Israel of committing a massacre in the Jenin refugee refugee camp, and of killing over 500 people there, in 2002. The accusation fueled anti-Israel hatred worldwide–but it was a complete lie.
The actual number of people killed in Jenin was one-tenth of that number–and half of those were Palestinian terrorists. The context was Israel’s Operation Defensive Shield, a largely successful effort to root out terror organizations in the West Bank after Palestinians bombed a Passover seder in the Israeli coastal city of Netanya, killing 30. In battles in Jenin, 23 Israeli soldiers were killed. There was no “massacre”–but Erekat never retracted or apologized for his sensational claim.
There is a consequence to such lies. They encourage millions of people to hate Israel–and Jews–and encourage hundreds to take up arms or join terror organizations.
Erekat’s lie was the contemporary version of the medieval “blood libel”–the false accusation that Jews killed non-Jews, particularly children, for ritual purposes. (Part of the reason that Erekat’s lies were so widely believed in the Arab world was because of the widespread dissemination of such blood libels against Jews.)
The Israeli government has to deal with Erekat. Not so J Street, which has chosen to promote one the worst propagators of antisemitism in the Palestinian leadership today. Small wonder, then, that Hillel chief Eric Fingerhut withdrew from J Street’s conference over Erekat’s presence.
J Street has fired back, accusing Fingerhut of shunning “pro-Israel, pro-peace students.” But no organization that invites Erekat has a right to call itself that. On the contrary, it belongs in the gutter.