New Group Offers Alternative Voice in Support of Israel

April 28, 2008 07:22 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
J Street, a new pro-Israel lobbying group, represents many American Jews who question Israeli policies and say established pro-Israel groups are too right-wing.

30-Second Summary

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), boasting more than 100,000 members and a $100 million endowment, has long been the largest and most influential U.S. advocacy group in support of Israeli interests.

But J Street, led by executive director Jeremy Ben-Ami, feels that groups like AIPAC are too unquestioning in their support of Israel’s policy positions.

The “best way to bring security and peace to Israel is to help (U.S.) political candidates who support that country, but will occasionally question some of its policies, like maintaining or expanding settlements in disputed territories,” Ben-Ami told
The International Herald Tribune.

He said many supporters of Israel have stopped participating in the U.S. political debate on the issue, alienated by traditional pro-Israel groups’ stance that "to oppose any Israeli policy is to be anti-Israel."

Ezra Klein agrees, describing J Street as “an appeal to all those who walked out of their temple because they couldn’t stand the sermon.”

But Jonathan S. Tobin questions the premise that AIPAC is just an advocate for the Israeli right. He argues that AIPAC represents a “broad coalition of groups” and has a record of supporting “the point of view of all Israeli governments,” including those promoting the Oslo peace accords and withdrawal from Gaza.

A 2007 study found that many American Jews feel a growing distance with Israel, and that young, non-orthodox Jews are not as supportive of Israel as are older generations.

Headline Link: The advent of J Street

Background: American Jews and the question of Israel

‘Study finds U.S. Jews distance themselves from Israel’
‘Essay Linking Liberal Jews and Anti-Semitism Sparks a Furor’
‘Prominent Jews call for open debate on Israel’

Opinion & Analysis: Israel: Democratic ally or occupying power?

‘Making Sense of the “J Street” Jive’
‘No Time For Neutrality’
‘Jews who are a danger to Zionism’
‘“Progressive” Jewish Thought and the New Anti-Semitism’

Key Players: J Street and AIPAC in their own words

Related Topic: Ultra-Orthodox Jews meet with Ahmadinejad


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