Washington — The Israeli ambassador to Washington says his dispute with J Street is close to resolution and that the group was “much more in the mainstream.”
Michael Oren stirred controversy last summer when he refused to attend the inaugural conference of the dovish pro-Israel lobby, and again late last year when he told a group of rabbis that J Street’s policies endangered Israel.
In an interview this week with the Los Angeles Jewish Journal, Oren said “the J Street controversy has come a long way toward resolving. The major concern with J Street was their position on security issues, not the peace process.”
He cited J Street’s support in December for the Iran sanctions bill advanced by U.S. Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), the chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, and its call on the United Nations not to be one-sided in its handling of the Goldstone commission’s allegations of Israeli war crimes.
“J Street has now come and supported Congressman [Howard] Berman’s Iran sanction bill; it has condemned the Goldstone report; it has denounced the British court’s decision to try Tzipi Livni for war crimes, which puts J Street much more into the mainstream,” he said.
J Street always backed the Berman bill; its shift in December was to back its immediate passage, as opposed to keeping it in reserve as leverage toward getting Iran to make its nuclear program more transparent.
On Goldstone, J Street has not directly attacked the report, calling on the United Nations to avoid one-sidedness in how it handles the report, as well as on Israel to independently investigate its conduct in last winter’s Gaza war. J Street has called for an end to personal attacks on Richard Goldstone, who led the commission.