Yesterday afternoon Jeremy Ben-Ami, founder and president of J Street, the other Jewish lobbying organization, was supposed to discuss Democratic electoral politics with J Street’s vice president of Governmental Relations, Dylan Williams. J Street, flush from its victory on the Iran deal, wants to stay in the game. They want to keep the money flowing, they want to grow their influence.
But, alas, Israel/Palestine is in the grip of a new uprising. Natasha Roth, at +972 magazine brings us up to date:
As I write this on Tuesday afternoon, three Israelis have been killed over the course of a few hours following a double attack in Jerusalem that involved shooting, stabbing and running over Israeli civilians with a vehicle. One of the alleged Palestinian attackers was shot dead at the scene.
The incidents took place alongside two stabbing attacks in the central Israeli town of Ra’anana that left several Israelis wounded in an exceptionally violent morning, even by the standards of a gruesome fortnight that has seen dozens of Israelis injured and four more killed in stabbing and shooting attacks. Meanwhile nearly 30 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli security forces either while demonstrating, following a stabbing attack or — in the IDF’s own words — “by accident.” The number of Palestinians injured since the beginning of October has passed the 1,000 mark.
In light of this ongoing violence, Ben-Ami diverted his talk to discuss a euphemism: “the current situation.” Notably, he made no effort to describe “the current situation.” What can we, as Americans do to “shorten this reality show?” he asked.
J-Street has nothing to say on “the current situation.” These people are not serious about peace.
What can we do as Americans, asked Ben-Ami of his government relations vice president. Williams answered rhetorically that we have two choices: we can (A) push our government in a more pro-active direction, or (B) passively sit back and do nothing.
And what should we push our government to do? First, we should push the U.S. government for a vision: the two-state-solution. Not as an imposed solution, mind you, but as a basis for negotiation “when conditions are right in the future.”
Second, they said, the U.S. government should push back on Israeli settlement activity. And how should the U.S. government do that? By “once again” calling the settlements illegal. But I did not hear J Street loudly say that settlements are illegal themselves, so I submitted a question:
Consistent with the vision of having our government “push back” on settlements by calling settlements illegal, how about J Street loudly saying settlements are illegal? If we’re serious about that, doesn’t it follow we must also loudly say: immediately dismantle existing settlements and get out of WB?
They did not respond to my question. I can see why because on their website they don’t say settlements are illegal at all. I don’t hear them talking about removing settlements; to the contrary, I hear them incorporating existing settlements into Israel with revised borders. We should also note that J Street is strongly opposed to the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement. No, these people are not serious about putting pressure on anyone regarding settlements.
Third, they said, the U.S. government should work on human security concerns. We should push our government to promote investment in underserved areas of Israel as well as in the West Bank. We should support water projects for Gaza and the West Bank. We should invest in conditions that will “one day” lead to a two-state-solution.
J Street is fighting hard to be accepted by their peers in the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations. They may succeed despite their support of the Iran deal. After all, success counts for something. What’s clear is they won’t take risks for peace. They are not out to ruffle feathers.
This post appeared yesterday afternoon on Roland Nikles’s blog.