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J Street cheerleading for Kerry features Congressman warning Palestinians will demand the vote if two states fails

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New York Congressman Jerry Nadler speaking at J Street's town hall in Manhattan. (Photo: Gili Getz/J Street Facebook)

New York Congressman Jerry Nadler speaking at J Street’s town hall in Manhattan. (Photo: Gili Getz/J Street Facebook)

The liberal Zionist group J Street is pulling out all the stops in support of the U.S.-led peace process in Israel/Palestine. Last night, the organization, which in recent years has increasingly garnered establishment support, held their latest town hall gathering in New York City featuring Congressman Jerry Nadler (D-NY); former Shin Bet head Ami Ayalon; and Matt Nosanchuk, the White House liaison to the Jewish community.

The lobby group has embarked on a million dollar campaign to bolster Secretary of State John Kerry’s quest to help establish a Palestinian state.

“We are so fortunate to have a secretary of state in John Kerry and a president in Barack Obama who couldn’t be more deeply committed to reaching an end to this conflict,” said Jeremy Ben-Ami, J Street’s founder and president, to a crowd of over 200 gathered in the New School’s Tishman auditorium. Watch the full event here:

Displaying J Street’s full integration into the Democratic Party establishment, staffers who work for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Representatives Hakeem Jeffries and Yvette Clark were on hand. Ben-Ami also praised Israeli Prime Benjamin Netanyahu’s participation in the negotiations, and told the crowd to prepare to support Kerry’s framework agreement to keep talks going, reportedly set to be released by the end of April.

The centerpiece of J Street’s “2 Campaign” are a series of town hall meetings featuring prominent Israeli former officials members to make the case for why Kerry’s efforts need support–and need it now. The main message is that disaster–support for a one-state solution and international isolation–awaits if Kerry fails, and that the survival of Israel as a “Jewish and democratic” state depends on a two-state solution.

But the devil is in the details when it comes to what Kerry is pushing for: recognition of Israel as a Jewish state and no large-scale refugee return. J Street’s position on the state’s Jewish character is that Israel should be recognized as “the homeland for the Jewish people without diminishing the rights of minorities who are citizens of the state.”

J Street also advocates, as Kerry does, for “land swaps” between Israel and a future Palestine so that the majority of settlers could stay where they are. While the group doesn’t detail which settlements they want to preserve, some settlements around Jerusalem–like Ma’ale Adumim–impede freedom of movement for Palestinians going from the West Bank to East Jerusalem.  And in the past, Ben-Ami has said he envisions a peace agreement that would see Israel retain “major settlement blocs”–which could spell doom for the viability of a Palestinian state.

In New York City last night, Ben-Ami was host to a slick, well-organized gathering complete with a video presentation on support for a two-state solution, posters and petitions to send to elected officials asking them to sign onto a House resolution in support of Kerry’s efforts.

Ben-Ami mostly played cheerleader for Kerry without getting too deep into the weeds as to what specific positions–the language formula for Israel being recognized as a Jewish state, how many refugees could symbolically return, and what settlements to dismantle–his group supports. But J Street’s full-throated support for Kerry, and what their chosen stars of the night had to say, was telling.

Nadler, perhaps the most prominent J Street supporter in Congress, raised the specter of a one-state solution if Kerry’s initiative fails. “What will we do otherwise when the Palestinian leadership stops demanding a separate state and instead, as some are beginning to advocate for already, as simply to be permitted to vote. How do we oppose a demand for one person, one vote?” Nadler asked.

Nadler came out forcefully against Palestinian refugee rights, while also saying that settlers should be able to live in a state of Palestine without Israeli army protection if the Palestinian Authority agreed to do so. “There’s no reason why Jews should not live in any country they want to, including the Palestinian state,” the Congressman said. But when it came to Palestinian refugees expelled in 1948 and their descendants, the Palestinian state should suffice, he said. And Nadler and Ayalon also expressed support for recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.

Hamas and Gaza–the besieged territory that has been largely ignored during discussions of the peace process–came up during the Q and A. Ayalon was frank about why Hamas was elected: Fatah corruption and the perception that Israel only responds to violence. Both Ayalon and Nadler expressed hope that a peace agreement would weaken Hamas’ power.

“Hopefully, Hamas would no longer control the territory after a while,” said Nadler. Nosanchuk, the White House official, displayed the paucity of fresh thinking in the Obama administration when he simply restated the U.S. position on Hamas: they’re a terrorist group who won’t be involved in negotiations unless they renounce violence, recognize Israel and accept previous agreements. There was no discussion about how to integrate Gaza into a Palestinian state when the territories are split both geographically and politically–a policy first begun by Israel and exacerbated by Palestinian politics and U.S. backing for the attempted Fatah coup in 2007.

Unremarked upon was what J Street would do if Kerry failed. It would be a major blow to J Street and liberal Zionism, especially since Kerry and Obama have warned that this may be the last chance to forge a two-state solution. If the peace talks fail, Israel would likely face growing isolation and an energized boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement. Since J Street has thrown its chips into Kerry’s efforts, they’d be left out in the cold while BDS and calls for a one-state solution grow.

Alex Kane
About Alex Kane

Alex Kane is a freelance journalist who focuses on Israel/Palestine and civil liberties. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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45 Responses

  1. W.Jones
    W.Jones
    March 11, 2014, 5:53 pm

    If the peace talks fail, Israel would likely face growing isolation and an energized boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement. Since J Street has thrown its chips into Kerry’s efforts, they’d be left out in the cold while BDS and calls for a one-state solution grow.
    Peace talks failed in the late 1960’s. There was a US government memo worrying back then that the situation would become chronic and a de facto annexation.

    Since then, peace talks have been window dressing to manage the situation. “Successful” peace talks will not stop Israeli oversight of Palestinian territory. Just realize that fact.

  2. W.Jones
    W.Jones
    March 11, 2014, 5:54 pm

    I see Jstreet is now advocating for the settlements to become recognized and for refugees to start kicked out.

    What would Jstreet look like to Palestinian Solidarity activists if there was no AIPAC?
    AIPAC.

  3. amigo
    amigo
    March 11, 2014, 5:57 pm

    “Ben-Ami also praised Israeli Prime Benjamin Netanyahu’s participation in the negotiations, and told the crowd to prepare to support Kerry’s framework agreement to keep talks going,”

    This is Job One.The talks must be kept going until Israel has rid itself of all Goys.

    • amigo
      amigo
      March 11, 2014, 7:17 pm

      Why is a post recd 51 minutes after mine cleared but mine is not???.

      Just asking.

      • amigo
        amigo
        March 12, 2014, 7:38 am

        Now the gap is over 12 hours and only my post awaits moderation.

        Must be a reason and i would really like to know what that is.

      • German Lefty
        German Lefty
        March 13, 2014, 5:54 pm

        Why is a post recd 51 minutes after mine cleared but mine is not?
        Amigo, such things happen to me, too.

      • amigo
        amigo
        March 14, 2014, 2:26 pm

        “Amigo, such things happen to me, too.” GL

        Thanks for letting me know I do not suffer alone.

  4. Citizen
    Citizen
    March 11, 2014, 6:01 pm

    Nadler? LOL
    He’s stuck in the muck.
    Time to really match liberal values with BDS instead of Liberal Lite:
    http://muzzlewatch.com/2014/03/10/liberal-values-and-the-boycott-divestment-and-sanctions-movement/

  5. ritzl
    ritzl
    March 11, 2014, 6:54 pm

    I know I’d have to ask them to get an answer/non-answer, but what does J-Street hope to accomplish with these kinds of panels? Do they really expect to generate and lead a massive crescendo of re-envigorated demands for “Two States, NOW!”? Or is this just boilerplate for their place in future history books (i.e. I/we tried!)?

    It sure seems like way too little, way too late to have any effect whatsoever on current events in the region. They’ve lost if this is their only plan.

  6. James Canning
    James Canning
    March 11, 2014, 7:42 pm

    I continue to think some very minor border alterations should be considered by the government of Palestine. On fair-exchange basis. Otherwise, leave the illegal Jews where they are. (Provided compensation is paid etc etc etc etc).

    But if Israel insists on destroying itself, by failing to end the occupation, the primary object should be to limit the damage Israel could inflict.

    • Sumud
      Sumud
      March 12, 2014, 10:27 am

      I continue to think some very minor border alterations should be considered by the government of Palestine. On fair-exchange basis.

      Nice in theory but the settlements are not just on any old land, they’re built on top of the West Bank aquifer – there is NO equivalent-value land Israel can offer, because Israel uses much more water than it owns – half of it’s fresh water being stolen from the WB.

      Abbas would have to be extremely stupid to trade away the water resource – especially since they currently have to buy stolen Palestinian water back from Israel’s water company.

      • James Canning
        James Canning
        March 12, 2014, 7:43 pm

        The water rights under the currently illegal settlements could, perhaps, be retained by Palestine? Maybe Hostage knows pertinent legal aspect.

      • German Lefty
        German Lefty
        March 13, 2014, 6:06 pm

        The water rights under the currently illegal settlements could, perhaps, be retained by Palestine?
        Why just the water rights? How about Palestine retains all of Palestine?

      • James Canning
        James Canning
        March 15, 2014, 4:27 pm

        Fine with me.

  7. Kathleen
    Kathleen
    March 11, 2014, 9:26 pm

    Nadler ““What will we do otherwise when the Palestinian leadership stops demanding a separate state and instead, as some are beginning to advocate for already, as simply to be permitted to vote. How do we oppose a demand for one person, one vote?” Nadler asked.” They can’t oppose “one person, one vote” and if they do the apartheid state of Israel will really be totally exposed.

    “Nadler came out forcefully against Palestinian refugee rights, while also saying that settlers should be able to live in a state of Palestine without Israeli army protection if the Palestinian Authority agreed to do so. “There’s no reason why Jews should not live in any country they want to, including the Palestinian state,” the Congressman said. But when it came to Palestinian refugees expelled in 1948 and their descendants, the Palestinian state should suffice, he said. And Nadler and Ayalon also expressed support for recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.”

    Talk about another totally hypocritical stance.

    • German Lefty
      German Lefty
      March 13, 2014, 6:07 pm

      Talk about another totally hypocritical stance.

      Right! Nadler makes me want to puke.

  8. just
    just
    March 11, 2014, 9:33 pm

    It’s clear that the Zionists never really wanted a 2SS or anything like a just peace. Now that they are faced with the 1SS, they are scrambling and hysterical– ‘Hurry up, the gate is closing! Provoke! Make them fight back as we murder, plunder, pillage, and more! Delay, divert, provoke!”

  9. Sibiriak
    Sibiriak
    March 11, 2014, 9:55 pm

    ritzl:

    Do they really expect to generate and lead a massive crescendo of re-envigorated demands for “Two States, NOW!”

    Yes, or at least to try.

  10. ToivoS
    ToivoS
    March 12, 2014, 12:16 am

    “Unremarked upon was what J Street would do if Kerry failed. ”

    Duh, who in their right mind thought Kerry could succeed. If J street has no plan beyond Kerry’s success they are more irrelevant than I thought before. This whole liberal Zionism thing becomes more and more divorced from reality as each year passes by.

    • Sibiriak
      Sibiriak
      March 12, 2014, 1:42 am

      ToivoS :

      …who in their right mind thought Kerry could succeed.

      Kerry’s proposals are so much in Israel’s favor, so much the fulfillment of longstanding Israeli goals, and so unjust to the Palestinians, that it is not entirely unreasonably for some Liberal Zionists to think that Israel just might be pressured into accepting them. If that happened and the Palestinians balked, taking the blame, a road might open for the unilateral imposition of the U.S. backed Kerry proposals, or something close to them–so the thinking might go.

      • JeffB
        JeffB
        March 14, 2014, 1:58 pm

        @Sibiriak

        If that happened and the Palestinians balked, taking the blame, a road might open for the unilateral imposition of the U.S. backed Kerry proposals, or something close to them–so the thinking might go.

        Which is incidentally a realistic scenario. The Palestinians tell Kerry to go pound sand and then Kerry and Netanyahu negotiate a unilateral settlement they can live with. Something probably to the right of the original Camp David offer with Palestine de jure independent but de facto a colony. Everyone gets to recognize the end of the conflict and life continues.

      • Woody Tanaka
        Woody Tanaka
        March 14, 2014, 5:02 pm

        “…then Kerry and Netanyahu negotiate a unilateral settlement they can live with.”

        Making an agreement with one’s lawyer is not “negotiating” anything.

        “Everyone gets to recognize the end of the conflict and life continues.”

        If the Palestinians had told Kerry to pound sand, then there would not yet be an end to the conflict. It would, and should, continue.

      • German Lefty
        German Lefty
        March 15, 2014, 2:49 pm

        to go pound sand

        What a funny expression!

      • puppies
        puppies
        March 15, 2014, 4:17 pm

        @Sibiriak – “Kerry and Netanyahu negotiate”
        Friday is ordered by Robinson.
        We practice deception when we do not use the proper wording.

    • Citizen
      Citizen
      March 12, 2014, 8:02 am

      @ TiovoS

      “Duh, who in their right mind thought Kerry could succeed.”

      Kerry? He does seem to have a big ego, and I wonder if he’s ever done any research on his own about the area, and about lesser known aspects of the past I-P peace processes. Most politicians are good at selling prescriptions, but not practiced in getting their arms around the prescription itself–that’s basically handed to them.

  11. talknic
    talknic
    March 12, 2014, 1:04 am

    JStreet/AIPAC = good cop/bad cop

    Dec 2009 http://wp.me/pDB7k-lU

  12. anthonybellchambers
    anthonybellchambers
    March 12, 2014, 4:22 am

    Bogus ‘peace talks’ exposed by congressional vote HR938

    http://thehill.com/sites/default/files/hr938.pdf

    Now that the US House of Representatives has acquiesced to the AIPAC’s demand to effectively appoint Israel as the ’51st State of the Union’ (HR 938) – where does that leave America as the claimed independent arbiter and conciliator of the so-called ‘peace talks’ chaired by Secretary of State, John Kerry, who is instructed by President Barack Obama; Obama is instructed by Congress, and Congress is instructed, of course, by the Israel lobby!

    What we can now see is a strategy, if not a stratagem, by the Israel negotiating team to convince the international community of the integrity of its position when, in fact, the expected outcome of failure was apparently already planned prior to commencement.

    And that includes making the Palestinians the scapegoat for the inevitable failure of the talks and the continuance of Israel’s forced expansion into the Occupied Territories. Settlement is an illegal policy that accords with the charter of the Likud party of which Binyamin Netanyahu is the head. A policy in direct defiance to the will of the UN and the EU.

    This is a dangerous confidence trick that will shape not only the future of the Middle East for the next decade, but also the world.

  13. March 12, 2014, 9:36 am

    It is hard to figure out where J-Street really stands on many issues – I see them as half way between AIPAC and reality – they have to show some irrational right wing characteristics in order to get any Zionist support – and they have to show some liberal trends in order to get any liberal or progressive support – it is a tricky situation – in the best case scenario they are not as bad as AIPAC – they have definitely modulated a lot of hard core and primitive hostilities towards the Palestinians and they are a relatively rational voice for Zionists who are not too irrational about Israel – it is a modest movement in the right direction –

    • German Lefty
      German Lefty
      March 13, 2014, 6:16 pm

      it is a modest movement in the right direction

      Yes, “right” in the sense of right-wing!

      • Citizen
        Citizen
        March 14, 2014, 12:20 pm

        Aw, come on…even a tiny step back from the far right, helps–OTH, not if just clouds up the basic issues more–I guess that’s your point, niche wahr?

      • German Lefty
        German Lefty
        March 15, 2014, 6:22 pm

        OTH, not if just clouds up the basic issues more–I guess that’s your point
        Yes, that’s my point. By the way, what does “OTH” mean? My dictionary tells me that it stands for “over-the-horizon radar”. Urban Dictionary suggests that it is the abbreviation for the TV show “One Tree Hill”.

      • Citizen
        Citizen
        March 16, 2014, 3:25 am

        @ GL
        OTH is short for OTOH, acronym for “on the other hand”

      • James Canning
        James Canning
        March 16, 2014, 3:09 pm

        on the other hand?

    • puppies
      puppies
      March 15, 2014, 4:13 pm

      @unverified: “it is a modest movement in the right direction”
      The right direction being that of calling attention to some insignificant paint jobs while the bad cop continues the war to further progress towards its goal: Palestine, whole, plus appendages, cleansed of its owners (except perhaps the 15% Weitz quota?) Keep that starry-eyed look.

  14. a blah chick
    a blah chick
    March 14, 2014, 11:28 am

    “How do we oppose a demand for one person, one vote?” Nadler asked.

    You’ve been doing a bang up job till now, don’t change a thing!

    • Citizen
      Citizen
      March 14, 2014, 12:17 pm

      LOL
      a blah chick
      Love all your comments all the time. You ain’t hardly blah, more like bright, very bright and moral/ethical.

      • German Lefty
        German Lefty
        March 15, 2014, 3:12 pm

        You ain’t hardly blah, more like bright
        I assumed that the “blah” in “a blah chick” refers to this incident:
        http://crooksandliars.com/diane-sweet/santorum-i-didnt-say-black-people-i-sa

      • Citizen
        Citizen
        March 15, 2014, 8:30 pm

        @ GL
        Thanks; I didn’t know about that incident. I was thinking:

        blah |blä| informal
        used to substitute for actual words in contexts where they are felt to be too tedious or lengthy to give in full: the typical kid, going out every night, blah, blah, blah.
        noun
        1 (also blah-blah )used to refer to something that is boring or without meaningful content: talking all kinds of blah to him | [ as modifier ] : his blah feeling.
        2 (the blahs) depression: he battled a case of the blahs | the winter blahs.
        ORIGIN early 20th cent. (originally US): imitative.

    • MHughes976
      MHughes976
      March 14, 2014, 1:00 pm

      The ‘bang up job’ has worked by endlessly promising negotiations for a 2ss, by endlessly convening conversations on that topic and by gaining enormous acceptance for the Generous Offer accounts of how the conversations went. This time it won’t be quite so easy, since if Kerry does make a proposal it is impossible that it will favour Israel enough to be accepted gladly, since it will administer the poison pill of giving the Palestinians the right to be there that Zionism in its heart and soul denies them. But I think abc is quite right to imply that all sorts of reasons to demur and prolong ‘negotiations’ can still be found and quite likely be believed in Western power centres.

      • Citizen
        Citizen
        March 14, 2014, 3:36 pm

        I agree with the MW commenter who said when she sees and hears Nadler she want to puke. If memory serves, that’s our woman from Germany, but perhaps I’m wrong.

    • James Canning
      James Canning
      March 14, 2014, 3:08 pm

      Reference is to area within Israel (including “annexations”).

      • puppies
        puppies
        March 15, 2014, 4:09 pm

        @Canning – Bah. Any area is “within Israel”. All of Palestine is occupied, some of it additionally blockaded by the Zionist entity, so why the make-believe jobs?

  15. Woody Tanaka
    Woody Tanaka
    March 14, 2014, 5:00 pm

    “‘There’s no reason why Jews should not live in any country they want to, including the Palestinian state,’ the Congressman said. But when it came to Palestinian refugees expelled in 1948 and their descendants, the Palestinian state should suffice, he said.”

    Behold the bigotry of the zionist. A Jew may force himself into Palestine, but a Palestian has no right to force himself into israel.

    • James Canning
      James Canning
      March 14, 2014, 7:35 pm

      You don’t like the idea of Jews living in Palestine? Or, is it the barring of Muslims from settling in Israel?

      • German Lefty
        German Lefty
        March 16, 2014, 1:10 pm

        @ James Canning
        Woody simply wanted to express that he is upset about Nadler’s double standards. No more, no less. So, don’t you dare to read anti-Semitism into his statement.

        You don’t like the idea of Jews living in Palestine?
        You can’t be serious! Rejecting landgrab and illegal settlements has nothing to do with anti-Semitism. The Jewishness of the illegal settlers is NOT the issue.

        Or, is it the barring of Muslims from settling in Israel?
        Muslims!? OMG! Sounds like all Muslims are the same to you. You mean barring Palestinian refugees from returning to their homeland. Besides, Palestinians can have any religion or no religion at all.

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