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Closer Scrutiny for J Street's Endorsement | Letter to the Editor

Durbin Accepts Endorsement From Pro-Peace, Pro-Israel J Street,” by CQ Roll Call staff writer Jonathan Broder and posted on Roll Call on April 30, contains unsubstantiated editorializing in the guise of reporting.

It labels the American Israel Public Affairs Committee as “hard-line” and does so without attribution. It alleges that until recently “candidates who sought votes and political donations from the Jewish community adopted hawkish positions on how Israel should relate to its neighbors ... believing most Jewish voters held hard-line positions on the issue of Israel and the Middle East.”

These straw man generalizations attempt to distinguish AIPAC and its supporters invidiously from the self-described “pro-peace, pro-Israel” J Street. In reality, since the 1993 Israeli-Palestinian Oslo Accords, AIPAC and — as public opinion polls repeatedly have shown — most American Jews have supported Israel’s commitment to reaching a negotiated settlement with the Palestinian Arabs, if possible.

Denigrating AIPAC, Roll Call’s account does not question J Street’s bona fides. But at its founding the organization was funded, secretly at first, by billionaire George Soros. Soros is a Holocaust survivor who feels alienated from Jewish peoplehood, blames Israel for much of the Arab world’s problems and is hostile to AIPAC’s success — led by both Democrats and Republicans, as it has been — in speaking for a broad range of American supporters of close U.S.-Israel ties.

J Street has lobbied Congress against a resolution condemning Palestinian anti-Israeli incitement and invited anti-Israel “boycott, divestment, sanction” supporters to one of its conferences.

When it called on both Israel and Hamas to stop fighting in the Gaza Strip in 2008, Rabbi Eric Yoffie, past president of the Union for Reform Judaism, said J Street’s implied equivalence of Palestinian terrorism and Israeli self-defense was “morally deficient, profoundly out of touch with Jewish sentiment and also appallingly naive.”

J Street obviously finds its “pro-Israel, pro-peace” slogan useful. But since there is no significant pro-Israel, anti-peace American Jewish organization, Roll Call might want to dig a little more deeply.

— Eric Rozenman is the Washington director for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America

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