Israeli Ambassador Ends Informal Boycott of J Street

By Nathan Guttman

Published April 15, 2010.

The informal boycott imposed by Israel’s ambassador to Washington on the dovish lobby J Street ended Thursday with a meeting between Ambassador Michael Oren and Jeremy Ben-Ami, J Street’s founder and president.

Prior to Thursday’s meeting, the Israeli embassy in Washington maintained only low-level contacts with the dovish lobby and ambassador Oren declined an invitation to speak at the group’s inaugural conference last year. Oren also said, in a December gathering of the Conservative movement, that J Street presents a “unique problem” and that it is “significantly out of the mainstream.”

The meeting Thursday marked a new page in relations between J-Street and the Israeli diplomatic mission. Ben-Ami and other J Street officials were also invited to the embassy’s reception on Wednesday marking Israel’s 62nd independence day.

A brief statement by the Israeli embassy confirmed the meeting took place and said it was part of the “growing outreach of the embassy to Jewish organizations and interest groups.”

J Street’s statement offered more information. The meeting, according to J Street, builds on months of prior discussions aimed at “clarifying the Israeli government’s understanding of J Street’s views and included a forthright discussion of points of agreement and disagreement.”

Jeremy Ben-Ami said after the meeting that he applauds the ambassador’s commitment to build bridges to the pro-Israel pro-peace community. “The Ambassador clearly recognizes the importance of dialogue and communication between the State of Israel and those parts of the American Jewish community that are deeply pro-Israel but at times disagree with the policies of its government,” said Ben-Ami.



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