J Street Turns Tables on President Conference After Application Snubbed

Dovish Lobby Basks in Attention — Conference on Defense

haaretz

By Nathan Guttman

Published May 01, 2014, issue of May 09, 2014.
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One day after American Jewry’s pro-Israel umbrella group rejected its bid for admission, J Street, the dovish lobby, posted a tongue-in-cheek thank you note on its website.

“Thank you,” the letter said, “for finally making it clear that the Conference of Presidents is not representative of the voice of the Jewish community.”

The letter, addressed to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, was accompanied by a sign-on box and invited readers to send the letter to Presidents Conference executive vice chairman Malcolm Hoenlein.

The virtual thank you cards are unlikely to reach Hoenlein’s desk. But in the aftermath of the vote rejecting J Street, even some of the Conference’s largest organizational members are voicing frustration with the group that purports to speak for American Jews on issues related to Israel.

The Reform movement, American Judaism’s largest denomination, has been leading the charge for reforming the Conference, which was established in 1956 and tasked with serving as the communal voice on issues relating to Israel and foreign policy.

“As of yesterday, it is clear that the Conference of Presidents, as currently constituted and governed, no longer serves its vital purpose of providing a collective voice for the entire American Jewish pro-Israel community,” said Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, in a statement.

The harsh language was followed by a stern warning: “We may choose to advocate for a significant overhaul of the Conference of Presidents’ processes. We may choose to simply leave the Conference of Presidents. But this much is certain: We will no longer acquiesce to simply maintaining the facade that the Conference of Presidents represents or reflects the views of all of American Jewry.”


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