The N.Y. Jewish Week is reporting that at long last progressive Zionists are forming an alternative lobby to AIPAC and will announce their plans next month. Under the working title, the "J Street" group (an inside reference to AIPAC as the "K Street" group), it will hold a fundraiser next Monday. An invitation reads:
"For too long, the loudest American voices in political and policy
debates have been those on the far right — often Republican
neoconservatives or extreme Christian Zionists… J Street aims to change that. We are the first and only
lobby and PAC (political action committee) dedicated to ensuring
Israel’s security, changing the direction of American policy in the
Middle East and opening up American political debate about Israel and
the Middle East.”
The group will be headed by Jeremy Ben-Ami, an Americans for Peace Now board member who worked for N.Y. politician Mark Green, and Daniel Levy, who is involved with the Century Foundation and Israel Policy Forum. I assume M.J. Rosenberg of IPF is a major player in the group, and that Dan Fleshler of realisticdove.org is in there, too. Marcia Freedman of Brit Tzedek is mentioned, who once said that the "organized [American] Jewish voice" was "directed" by the Israeli Foreign ministry.
This is historic. An alternative to the Israel lobby has been bruited about for years. Now it is happening. This shows that the Jewish community feels safe enough to speak in different voices before the American public, to express a diversity of opinion and trust the American people to help sort things out. Till now, the Jewish leadership has been fierce about a united front; and Americans for Peace Now fell into line–an anti-democratic process, for it said that Americans had to be instructed what to do, rather than let in on the discussion. It is also historic because it shows my community moving leftward. It is a demonstration of American Jewish independence from the state of Israel and of a shift in Jewish identity away from Zionism. The tide is ours. Before long the Jewish campaign for Nakba recognition will also be mainstreamed.
I have lots of questions about J Street. Like, are they too late? Will they be effective? The only thing to say this morning is God bless.