New Israel Lobby Makes Picks

By Jennifer Siegel

Published June 16, 2008, issue of June 27, 2008.
  • Print
  • Share Share

In its first entrance into the electoral fray, a dovish new pro-Israel group has endorsed five congressional hopefuls and a pair of incumbents.

PICKS: Rep. Steve Cohen (top), a Democrat from Tennessee, and Rep. Charles Boustany (bottom), a Republican from Louisiana, were among the political picks of the new J Street project.
PICKS: Rep. Steve Cohen (top), a Democrat from Tennessee, and Rep. Charles Boustany (bottom), a Republican from Louisiana, were among the political picks of the new J Street project.

The slate, including one Republican and six Democrats, was announced Monday, June 16, by a political action committee associated with the nascent J Street project. Leaders of the group say they intend to bolster rising politicians who will back an aggressive diplomatic approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“J Street was founded on the premise that there is a crying need for a new voice in American politics to support a strong, sensible pro-Israel policy based on peace, diplomacy and conflict resolution,” said Jeremy Ben-Ami, executive director of both J Street and JStreetPAC, on a conference call announcing the endorsements.

Since bursting onto the political scene this past spring, J Street — the group’s name is a riff on Washington’s lobbying corridor K Street — has drawn considerable attention by billing itself as a left-leaning alternative to Washington’s established pro-Israel behemoth, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. But with its first round of endorsements, J Street settled on liberal politicians who are also comfortable within the orbit of Aipac, a nonpartisan group that does not endorse candidates.

“I don’t see J Street and Aipac as being antithetical in any way,” said Rep. Steve Cohen of Tennessee, a first-term congressman who traveled to Israel with Aipac last summer and made it onto JStreetPAC’s list. Speaking to the Forward minutes before the June 16 announcement, Cohen characterized himself as an “independent thinker” who may have differences with both groups on specific issues.

J Street also endorsed Rep. Charles Boustany, an Arab American Republican lawmaker from Louisiana who is finishing his second term in Congress, as well as five Democratic congressional hopefuls: Donna Edwards, who is running in Maryland’s Fourth District; Darcy Burner from Washington’s Eighth; Debbie Halvorson from Illinois’s 11th; Mary Jo Kilroy from Ohio’s 15th, and Dennis Shulman from New Jersey’s Fifth. The only Jews on the list are Cohen and Shulman, who is a Reform rabbi.

The endorsed challengers, all of whom are in tight races and taking in money from a variety of left-leaning groups, were selected through interviews, according to Ben-Ami. In total, J Street plans to make 30 to 40 congressional endorsements over the course of the summer. Individual supporters of the project will be able to send donations directly to the various candidates through JStreetPAC’s Web site, while the PAC itself will raise funds on behalf of a half-dozen candidates who will be selected, based on competitiveness, as the November election approaches.






Find us on Facebook!
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • Backstreet's...not back.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.