The Embassy of Israel in the United States on Tuesday announced that it would send an “observer” to the left-leaning lobby group J Street’s first national conference next week, in place of Ambassador Michael Oren.
“In response to the question about J Street’s invitation to participate in its conference, the Embassy of Israel has been privately communicating its concerns over certain policies of the organization that may impair the interests of Israel,” the embassy said in a statement.
“Accordingly, the embassy will send an observer to the conference and will follow its proceedings with interest.”
J Street responded to the statement by saying it was still awaiting a direct response from Oren on the matter.
“J Street still looks forward to receiving a direct response from Ambassador Oren to our invitation to speak at the conference,” spokeswoman Amy Spitalnick.
“We believe the Government of Israel will be missing an opportunity should it choose not to engage with the over 1,200 pro-Israel activists who will be in attendance at the J Street conference next week,” she added.
“The invitation to address the conference’s participants remains open, and we look forward to working with the Embassy to secure Israel’s future as a democratic homeland for the Jewish people.”
Since his appointment, Oren has repeatedly snubbed the young and energetic “pro-peace and pro-Israel” Washington lobby, J Street, and refused to meet its members.
Oren has eluded questions over the last few weeks regarding whether he planned to attend the October 25 conference in Washington.
In a recent address at the Washington Hebrew Congregation, Oren was asked about his conflict with J Street, but would not say whether he would attend the conference.
He said that the American Jewish community’s strength was always in its diverse opinions. He praised the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations as an appropriate framework for representing American Jews. He just did not mention that J Street is not included in that organization.