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J Street has nothing to say on ‘the current situation’

US Politics
on 8 Comments

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.

About Roland Nikles

Roland Nikles is a Bay Area writer and attorney. He blogs here: And you can follow him on twitter @RolandNikles

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8 Responses

  1. CigarGod
    October 14, 2015, 11:38 am

    Gotta keep the money coming. Got bills to pay.

  2. niass2
    October 14, 2015, 1:51 pm

    The US Government should work on human security concerns, such as making sure no one is starving in south Phily. The USA doesn’t do that, doesn’t care about anything such as Human Security. J Street is, as a Jew who cares, a waste of my time. I need a serious pro peace organization, not someone/entity who is more interested in mumbling all day long. Human security blah blah its nice to be in a room with glass glasses. But, forget about j Street based on this they are totally unimportant and kind of like last years joke….not useful for what comes next, but a good way for their staff to get a job, go see the grateful dead, and pretend they share the bands values. NOT. JStreet asks how many times have you beat your wife today? My answer is that I have been to all of my Jewish Cousins weddings, and I only have one Cousin. is Jewish Voice for Peace also committed to arming Isreal with a 30000 ton bomb and a B52 to deliver it? Do they also call that peace as J Street does. Thr answrer is, insanely, YES!!! J Street must think I am very very stupid. I am a Jew, I may or may not be stupid ,but J street seems simply stoopid to me. Whatever, they also use the Holocaust like a bank account. How lame. My ancestors that were slaughtered by the Einstatzgrupen in Baranowicze regret it every day. They didn’t know Mr. Ami and his ilk would be so dismissive of others in a similar situation as they were in. It seems that for J Street the occupation is academic, but as the ancestors who died in the Holocaust are still Dead, the Palestinians still don’t have their country. So, show us your bone, were on the road again.

    • Annie Robbins
      October 14, 2015, 3:47 pm

      is Jewish Voice for Peace also committed to arming Isreal with a 30000 ton bomb and a B52 to deliver it? Do they also call that peace as J Street does. Thr answrer is, insanely, YES!!!

      do tell! where’s your source for this?

  3. jd65
    October 14, 2015, 9:20 pm

    Yo! First things first: Excellent article by Nikles here. He’s absolutely right about J Street not being serious about Peace & Justice. They’re serious about peace FOR ISRAELIS. But they couldn’t care less about justice for Palestine. Nikles points out two major things that make this obvious: their milquetoast “stand” on settlements, and their total opposition to BDS. But Nikles left out what I feel is J Street’s biggest tell: Their denial of the Palestinian Right of Return. J Street doesn’t fool me for a second.

    As for niass2’s mentioning of JVP in his post – It reads to me like it was mistake, and he/she simply meant to write J Street again. Brain fart :) Otherwise, niass2 is just wrong about that. Everyone is wrong about something sooner or later.

    Now for the really important niass2 issue: that Grateful Dead thing… Not sure what’s going on there. That band was pretty apolitical as a general rule; aside from of course being broadly “counter-cultural.” And as far as I’m concerned, that’s as it should’ve been. They were an occasional much needed break from all this/that crap. Wish they were still w/ us…

    • Kathleen
      October 15, 2015, 11:00 pm

      YF when you feel that same kind of hate for those murdering Palestinians you will have tapped into universal justice standards.

      The whole situation is such a sad disaster.

  4. yonah fredman
    October 15, 2015, 8:05 am

    Jeremy Ben Ami is trying to navigate the waters of survival of a Jewish group dedicated to the two state solution, in a time when such an opinion is not prevalent among large Jewish organizations. I will not parse his words or his statements or his omissions, but since my sympathies are near to his: pro Israel and pro two state solution, I will mention my own reaction to the recent events: My predominant reaction is silence. Only when prompted by my zionist brother in law did I blurt out regarding the occupation and the lack of a Netanyahu strategy, but for the most part, blood flowing in the streets, makes me tighten up and bite my tongue. I do not see the Arab reaction as a psychotic blood lust. Only a removal of all context allows Bret Stephens to talk that way. But when I viewed a video of a car mowing down pedestrians in Jerusalem and a man emerging with a knife to stab the man his car had only managed to injure, I hated that man with the knife. And this is a proper reaction. In the context of the occupation, there is a larger issue which must be faced as well and that is the occupation and Israel’s relationship to her Arab/Palestinian citizens and even to Israel’s relationship to those exiled in 48 and 67 and since. there are many issues of injustice that must be faced, that are larger issues than the one man stabbing another man on a street. It is difficult to keep all these feelings and thoughts in mind at the same time and in fact it is likelier that some moments will not contain adequate context or adequate immediate concern.

    So I don’t blame Jeremy Ben Ami on a personal level. As far as navigating the waters of Washington D.C. and Jewish organizational politics in this year of your lord 2015, I thank Hashem daily for freeing me from that kind of a burden. Jeremy Ben Ami wanted such a burden and now he must navigate. I doubt that critiques from someone on Mondoweiss will affect jeremy ben ami’s day, although I have not thoroughly studied his response nor crafted what a perfect response (from his point of view) should have been.

    • Mooser
      October 15, 2015, 3:16 pm

      ” My predominant reaction is silence” “Only when prompted by my zionist brother in law did I blurt out regarding the occupation and the lack of a Netanyahu strategy, but for the most part, blood flowing in the streets, makes me tighten up and bite my tongue.”

      A tongue biter, and a nose-holder! You’ve got the perfect solution. Keep your mouth shut, hold your nose, and you may reap the rewards of the extremist Zionist’s actions.

  5. Sibiriak
    October 15, 2015, 9:36 am

    I don’t hear them talking about removing settlements; to the contrary, I hear them incorporating existing settlements into Israel with revised borders

    From the J Street link in the article:

    Certain agreed modifications to the 1967 lines are possible – allowing some settlements to be incorporated within Israel’s final and agreed borders in the context of reciprocal land swaps.

    Land swaps allowing the main settlement blocs to be incorporated into Israel have been a part of two state settlement proposals for some time.

    The Arab League, for example, has explicitly endorsed the land swap concept:

    “In a sign that Israel will keep its large illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank, Arab foreign ministers have said that they are ready to endorse a new peace plan which includes land swaps and a Palestinian state built otherwise on the 1967 borders.

    Abbas & Co. have also accepted land swaps.

    “President Mahmoud Abbas made sure that his own party, Fatah, was still on board on the land swap idea. In a meeting held in Ramallah this week, the Fatah central committee publicly approved that land swaps are indeed acceptable to them.”

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