An unbelievable story from the Forward saying that the liberal Zionist group J Street has failed to gain the endorsement of a committee that considers new members for the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations because of its supposedly anti-Israel positions. One of those positions was supporting John Dingell of Michigan, the veteran congressman who was described as “anti-Israel” in deliberations over J Street.
And Alan Dershowitz was also deployed against J Street. So was this Dershowitz’s game in doing a documentary against J Street, to keep them out of the Conference?
J Street, the dovish Israel lobby, has failed to win the endorsement of a key committee for membership in the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations — a development that makes it unlikely to win admission to the key umbrella group.
In an April 11 meeting described as a “grilling” by participants, members of the Presidents Conference closely questioned J Street president Jeremy Ben-Ami, who came to make the case for accepting his group into the conference.
The Manhattan meeting, held by the conference’s membership committee in preparation for J Street’s application being brought before the full conference on April 30, found that J Street fulfills the administrative and governance requirements in the conference’s bylaws. But most of the discussion focused on J Street’s views on Israel.
…One question was about the support J Street’s political action committee gave to Democratic Congressman John Dingell of Michigan, who was described at the meeting as anti-Israel. Another questioned donations J Street had received from liberal billionaire George Soros…
Participants at the meeting also claimed that J Street had supported the United Nations-sponsored Goldstone report, which found that Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas had committed numerous war crimes and possible crimes against humanity during their conflict in late 2008 and early 2009. Some questioners alleged that J Street cooperates with groups such as Jewish Voice for Peace and Students for Justice in Palestine, which are harshly critical of Israel’s policies.
Questioners also quoted a critique of J Street prepared by Harvard law professor Alan M. Dershowitz….
In the discussion, one participant asked whether J Street would agree to accept the Presidents’ Conference rules that require all members to adhere to consensus positions adopted by the conference, and if J Street would refrain from criticizing other Jewish groups.
So this is the official Jewish community, and it can’t accept a group that is just mildly critical of Israel. My challenge is again to Ameinu and Americans for Peace Now. How can you justify being members of the Conference of Presidents when they won’t let in a liberal Zionist group, let alone Jewish Voice for Peace? And meanwhile it includes rightwingers like the Zionist Organization of America, which calls the West Bank Judea and Samaria and supports settlers.
Why do you even want to break bread with American Friends of Likud? Aren’t American groups past this kind of tribal allegiance? What do you get out of membership in the Conference? Access, I suppose. You can knock on a senator’s door. But is it worth it?
So long as you stay in the Conference, aren’t you signing off on Dershowitz’s McCarthyism? And are you bound by the Conference’s apparent understanding that you can’t criticize member organization AIPAC and ZOA?
Inquiring minds want to know: Has Americans for Peace Now ever criticized AIPAC by name? Update: I stand corrected on this point; APN has often called out AIPAC. Thanks to W. Jones.