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!
  • Is pot kosher for Passover. The rabbis say no, especially for Ashkenazi Jews. And it doesn't matter if its the unofficial Pot Day of April 20.
  • A Ukrainian rabbi says he thinks the leaflets ordering Jews in restive Donetsk to 'register' were a hoax. But the disturbing story still won't die.
  • Some snacks to help you get through the second half of Passover.
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love. http://jd.fo/f3JiS
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • 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.