J Street Loses Its Focus With Peace Process Dead

Lobby Should Fight Israel's Occupation, Not BDS

Adrift: Jeremy Ben-Ami, J Street’s leader, now needs to find a new raison d’etre for the group.
J Street
Adrift: Jeremy Ben-Ami, J Street’s leader, now needs to find a new raison d’etre for the group.

By Larry Derfner

Published June 09, 2014, issue of June 13, 2014.
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What is J Street doing? Why has it begun to act in concert with unambiguously right-wing Zionist organizations such as AIPAC and StandWithUs in their efforts to kill the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement while offering no alternative for ending the occupation?

Because the truth is that J Street offers no alternative anymore; now that John Kerry’s talks have failed, and all the secretary of state has to show for them is a footprint on the seat of his pants courtesy of Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, America is through trying to make peace between Israel and the Palestinians. And everybody seems to acknowledge this except J Street. Which is not a surprise, because without America in the peace process, J Street’s reason for being is gone.

That’s tough; the organization is going to have to change or close shop. And I hope it does change successfully by finding a new way to advance the two-state solution. Moreover, I hope it finds a less antagonistic way than BDS to accomplish this. And if it does find such a way, I will join J Street in a minute, because as an Israeli I don’t particularly enjoy supporting the boycott of Israel — but I do it because I see no other way anymore to end the occupation and allow the two-state solution to come into being. And nobody else has come up with another way, either. So as far as anyone can see, it’s either BDS or occupation forever.

Yet, de facto, J Street has put itself on the side of occupation forever. With nothing left to offer except hollow pep talks about the peace process, it has been fighting BDS — often alongside the pro-Netanyahu, pro-occupation American Zionist right.

Its Seattle branch just joined with AIPAC, StandWithUs, the Jewish Agency for Israel and Hillel to defeat a BDS motion before the University of Washington’s student government. Not only that, its Seattle branch wrote on its Facebook page that “global BDS is an ineffective, and worse, anti-Semitic, movement.”

Anti-Semitic? Is Jewish Voice for Peace anti-Semitic? Is Stephen Hawking anti-Semitic? Is the European Union anti-Semitic? That’s slander. That’s not liberal Zionism, that’s McCarthyite Zionism.


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