This past Monday, eight Israel supporters and I decided to go to a meeting of our local J Street Chapter. We wanted to see for ourselves what the current J Street message is, and how many people are being seduced by it. We also wanted to confront the J Streeters with serious questions about the J Street mission.
The meeting was scheduled for 7 pm in the Social Hall of the local Reform Synagogue (the synagogue has about 350 families–and our town is home to approximately 75,000 people–most of whom can be described as “very liberal”). We expected a large crowd, but when we arrived, there were only about ten other people in attendance. Shortly thereafter, seven more arrived–meaning that (not counting us) there were only 17 people–a number which included the two speakers.
In their presentations, the speakers reiterated their identification as “pro-Israel pro-peace” ad nauseum. At every turn, they relied on polls to inform us that J Street is “mainstream American Judaism” and that the Palestinians want “a two-state solution”. In fact, I had not realized the extent to which J Street is driven by poll numbers instead of moral principles.
In the question and answer period that followed, I was aghast at the lack of knowledge exhibited about Israel and the Middle East. For example, when asked “Can you give us a short history of Palestinian nationalism?” the main speaker answered “I don’t know anything about that”–an answer which was given on several occasions. Taking another tack, several of us asked the question “What gives J Street the right to tell Israelis what is good for them?” The answer was no answer: “Israel is not just about Israel–it is about the worldwide Jewish community.” Apparently, the residents of our sleepy little town are just as much in danger as those living in Sderot or the rest of Israel. We left the meeting feeling alternately encouraged (by the poor turnout) and depressed (by the information being disseminated).
Continuing in the same vein, a new missive from Jeremy Ben-Ami concerning the reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas was sent to all J Street members this morning. It reads in part:
“Overcoming the split between Fatah and Hamas, and between the West Bank and Gaza, has always been a precondition for final resolution of the conflict (emphasis Ben-Ami). . . skeptics of a two-state agreement have immediately stepped forward to say that a deal is impossible with a Palestinian unity government that includes Hamas.
We are well aware that there are those in Hamas who are not interested in a two-state solution but who seek the long-term destruction of the state of Israel as a Jewish national home. No one should have any illusions about the dangers and risks ahead.
I leave tomorrow with a delegation of J Street leaders for an 8-day visit to the region . . . We will press our message of the need to explore opportunities with eyes wide open to the risks.”
This is J Street’s new message: Israel must negotiate with Hamas–an organization that restates every day its total dedication to the destruction of Israel.
And one last thing: one cannot miss the absolute hubris of J Street trying to force Israel to negotiation “with eyes wide open to the risks”. Risks to whom? To all those J Streeters living comfortably, far from the rain of Hamas rockets and reach of Hamas terrorists? No. Israel needs to risk the lives of its own citizens, citizens on the front line with Hamas. Absolutely pathetic.