Latest tactic against ‘J Street’– anti-Arab racism

on 24 Comments

The main attack on J Street now includes racism. Here is Lenny Ben-David, who used to work at AIPAC and then worked for the Government of Israel– I gather his name was Lenny Davis once–attacking J Street for taking money from Arab-Americans. It’s in Pajamas Media, another branch of the Israel lobby and its sleepwalkers:

Did you really say J Street has only five Arab and Muslim donors? A partial listing quickly extracted from the U.S. Federal Election Commission shows more than 30 contributors, many with ties to Arab-American organizations…

Who drives policy at J Street? It’s difficult  to imagine that the unwieldy J-Street 160-member board of advisors directs policy. Some of those members are also foreign agents who worked for Egypt and Saudi Arabia. It also seems unlikely that your big bucks, 50-member Finance Committee provides decision-making guidance. That’s where the heads of the pro-Iranian and Arab-American lobbies sit.

24 Responses

  1. US_Objector
    October 20, 2009, 10:23 am

    Another ham-handed attempt to play the Islamofacist card. Not sure if it’s comical, pathetic or horrifying.

    There is a new movement afoot to demonize Muslims/Arabs / Islamists in a n increasingly desperate attempt to rebrand Israel as “our best friend in the region” with “values just like ours!” I was stunned to see four Congressmen actually call a press conference to claim there’s a “Muslim Mafia” trying to infiltrate the US government. Though Rachel Maddow still has yet to breathe a word about white phosphorus weaponry being used by the IDF to incinerate innocent women and children in Gaza, to her credit she made the four Congressmen look like dopes and dupes on her show this week.

    The hasbara keeps trying to steer the conversation away from Goldstone, and away from peace. Infuriating, but futile.

  2. America First
    October 20, 2009, 10:24 am

    Aaron Klein:

    The organization mostly is led by left-leaning Israelis while it receives funds from Arab and Muslim Americans.

    link to

    Note the placement of “mostly.” How ironic, Arab money corrupting even Jewish politics, reminds me of the old stories about Arabs owning AOL and Citibank.

  3. wondering jew
    October 20, 2009, 10:43 am

    J Street purports to be pro Israel. It receives some of its funding from Arabs who are assumed to be anti Israel. Is such an assumption racist? Borderline, I’d say. Larry Ben David, (who cares what his original name was) is not accusing these Arab financial people of being evil, merely of being anti Israel.

    • Cliff
      October 20, 2009, 11:29 am

      Uh, ya it is. Why not just say anti-Israel? No, it said ARAB-AMERICANS

    • Chaos4700
      October 20, 2009, 12:25 pm

      Who wouldn’t be against rampant ethnic cleansing, Geneva Conventions violations and the blatant use of incendiary weapons against civilians populations? Oh wait — that’s right. You.

    • syvanen
      October 20, 2009, 3:22 pm

      I have worked with Arab Americans that support Palestinian rights. These are people that are actively involved in American politics on many levels. We share a common vision for how peace can be achieved. There is nothing anti-Israel in that vision. So, in short, your assumption that Arabs are anti-Israeli is simply false.

      • wondering jew
        October 20, 2009, 6:49 pm

        syvanen- What is that common vision for how peace can be achieved? Are you in favor of a two state solution?

      • syvanen
        October 20, 2009, 8:11 pm

        WJ. Yes it is 2-states based on the 1967 borders with a fairly vague right of return worked in somehow — basically 2004 Arab plan.

    • potsherd
      October 20, 2009, 8:17 pm

      Maybe the Arabs are anti-AIPAC.

      • wondering jew
        October 20, 2009, 8:50 pm

        I am in favor of a two state solution. I believe that there can be a symbolic return of some Palestinians, but any treaty signed cannot be vague, for that would be a recipe for continued warfare rather than peace.

        I am intrigued by the idea offered by Russell Nieli in Tikkun Magazine trying to combine a two state solution with a right of return. It strikes me as unworkable, but it is the type of thinking outside the box that is the sign of a good will and an active mind.

        link to

        As such I think my approach is probably closer to J Street’s than it is to AIPAC’s. But then again the current zeitgeist in Israel is closer to AIPAC’s than it is to mine. And respecting the will of the Jewish electorate in Israel is something that I remain loyal to. How to be a loyal opposition seems to be a tricky proposition.

        An assumption that Arabs or Arab Americans are anti Israel is borderline racist. (An assumption that Jews are pro Israel I guess is also borderline racist and it is something that this web site is trying to disprove.) This type of discourse by Lenny Ben David is not of the loftiest order, but I think to label it as McCarthyism or a smear is certainly overstating it.

  4. Citizen
    October 20, 2009, 10:56 am

    Rachel Maddow needs to do more to bring objective reporting about the USA and its relation to the I-P affair, and the combo consequences for the USA and the world. I missed her this week; glad to see she’s stepping up her game a tad–I don’t know how many times I watched her show since the Gaza turkey shoot, waiting for her to say something even merely acknowleging something happened over there and somehow
    the USA was tied to it in a big way; well, she did also bring up the slamming of Arab Americans for trying to get some of their own young
    congressional aides into congress–without mentioning the Jewish American orgs have been doing this for many years, and very successfully.

    • pineywoodslim
      October 20, 2009, 12:16 pm

      Perhaps you missed it, but during the Gaza War itself, Maddow had a rather lengthy spiel about how the war was justified in light of Israel’s right to defend itself against Hamas missiles. It was a no-holds barred defense of Israel, without nuance, without apology–a recitation of Israeli government talking points.

      I can’t imagine even the Goldstone report has changed her perspective.

      • Chaos4700
        October 20, 2009, 12:23 pm

        Yeah, I’ve been disappointed in Maddow in that perspective too. I like her analysis on anything domestic but frankly… she’s a bit of a racist, or perhaps just Islamophobic, otherwise.

        Too bad for her the collapse of American foreign power is pretty much going to take her by surprise, then.

      • Nolan
        October 20, 2009, 11:02 pm

        Personally, I think the problem is the US media culture as a whole.

        There are those so-called journalists who don’t know the first thing about foreign issues, be it Afghanistan, Pakistan, Taliban or Gaza, Israel or Hamas.

        It’s much easier for them to get the talking points from any government official and regurgitate them. Or, if the president is towing that line, go along with it. Media shouldn’t be an arm of the government, but a watchdog of the democracy.

        Instead of offering in depth analysis on various topics, 99% of journalists prefer to focus on the banal, balloon boy-like stories or car chases. Really? Is that the best they can do? It happens over and over.

        Every time the health debate is brought up, the media speaks in generalities. A few years ago when the Iraq surge/withdrawal was being discussed, the national discourse was reduced to “Stay the Course” and “Cut and Run”, “He said…She said”.

        What’s going to happen to the US in 20 years when the next generation of Americans join the job market?

        You’ve got your Carlson Tuckers, your David Gregorys and Glenn Becks, and then you’ve got the ideologues like the Blitzers of cable news, the Anderson Coopers, Paula Zahns and everyone at Fox.

        Michael Ware was on Real Time (with Bill Maher) on July 31, 2009. As Ware talked at length and with great insight regarding the situation in Afghanistan you could see the blank looks on the faces of the three guests that night. One of them happened to be Rachel Maddow.

  5. marc b.
    October 20, 2009, 11:00 am

    Given that the existence and influence of J Street will likely be a common feature of the I/P debate moving forward, can someone please explain more clearly the distinctions between AIPAC positions and those of J Street? The J Street statement of its policies doesn’t necessarily distinguish itself from AIPAC in a meaningful way, but maybe that is just my superficial reading. Its analysis of the Iranian threat, for example, seems consistent with the standard rhetoric regarding that country, ignoring any information that doesn’t lead to the conclusion that a ‘nuclear Iran’ is intent on stockpiling weaponry in an attempt to dominate the region through its continued support of ‘terrorists’ and nuclear blackmail.

    • tree
      October 20, 2009, 12:49 pm

      Somewhere around 15 to 20 years ago, AIPAC became more and more an outlet of Likud, rather than Labor, in terms of serving the “interests” of Israel. With that shift it became more right-wing, less interested in speaking in terms of “peace” as a “process” and more interested in US and Israeli military aggression as a solution to Israel’s problems.

      I see J-Street as an attempt to get back to that Israeli Labor Party mode of operation, and little more. It won’t solve Israel’s problems, and it won’t address the core issue of Zionism’s injustice and inequality, nor will it clearly deal with the issue of a US political group putting the needs or wants of a foreign country ahead of the US’s interest. Its AIPAC-lite–attempting to move AIPAC more in line with liberal double-talk. (And I say that as a self-identified, but disillusioned, liberal. Liberal double-talk is no better than conservative double-talk, and does more damage to liberalism. )

      • marc b.
        October 20, 2009, 2:02 pm

        Thanks for the synopsis, Tree. I am hopeful (naively so?) that a movement is afoot to radically alter the debate, but I am not so certain that J Street isn’t just an attempt defuse that debate, as you imply. Some critical oversight of the J Street phenomenon seems appropriate.

      • syvanen
        October 20, 2009, 3:32 pm

        The important distinguishing feature between J street and aipac is that the former is willing to criticize Israeli policies, aipac will always rally around anything Israel does. That is its importance. They are making legitimate open critical discussion of the West Bank settlement movement and pointing out that this is not just some extreme aberration but is basic state policy involving both left and right wing Israeli governments.

        These are not arguments that nonJews in this country could make without being branded antisemites. It is true that J streets official policies are not too appetizing but they are opening this broader discussion so hopefully all of us can participate in the main political arenas.

      • Dan Kelly
        October 20, 2009, 3:47 pm

        How has J-Street criticized Israeli policies? If it has indeed made public statements against the settlements, why doesn’t it take the next logical step and criticize U.S. taxpayer support of Israel, support that goes directly to destroying Palestinian infrastructure to make way for said settlements? In fact, J-Street supports all U.S. aid to Israel.

      • syvanen
        October 20, 2009, 4:16 pm

        DK wrote If it has indeed made public statements against the settlements, why doesn’t it take the next logical step and criticize U.S. taxpayer support of Israel?

        Because it is playing Washington politics, it is seeking influence. If they took the next logical step they would become instantly irrelevant. You have heard it before: politics (like diplomacy) is the art of the possible. No is asking you to support their platform, but I believe it is in our best interests if the succeed in doing what they are doing today.

      • marc b.
        October 20, 2009, 5:24 pm

        I agree that J Street is maneuvering within the new environment of a more well-rounded debate, but is it responsible for this debate in any meaningful way, or is J Street, acknowledging the inevitability of the rupture, seeking to help manage the debate? The site policy statement and links make clear that its primary goal is to protect the ‘Jewish character’ of a ‘Jewish state’ within the context of a two-state solution. I couldn’t find a clear explanation of the anticipated status of remaining muslims, christians, etc. in the surviving ‘Jewish state’ though.

  6. Nolan
    October 20, 2009, 5:18 pm

    Notice how even a US ally, Egypt, is vilified in that article. Sadat put his life on the line to make peace with Israel and that’s the thanks he gets from AIPAC and the like.

    So what incentives do other Arab states have for signing peace agreements with Israel? More bashing?

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