Oren: J Street Clash Ebbing

Warm Word: Israeli envoy Michael Oren described the lobby as ‘much more in the mainstream.’
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Warm Word: Israeli envoy Michael Oren described the lobby as ‘much more in the mainstream.’

By JTA

Published February 10, 2010, issue of February 19, 2010.

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 declined 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 the week of February 8 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 Rep. Howard Berman, Democrat of California, the chairman of the House 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 during Operation Cast Lead in early 2009.

“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 support 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 the Gaza war.

J Street has called for an end to personal attacks on Richard Goldstone, the South African jurist who led the commission.



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