Increasing attention is being paid to the upcoming J Street conference taking place in Washington DC on October 25-28. I will be attending this conference and am greatly looking forward to it. A recent article from The Forward, reprinted on the Ha’aretz website, called Sure, J Street is pro-peace – but is it pro-Israel? illustrates pretty clearly the problem of the current Israeli government. The article says J Street
is still struggling to prove its pro-Israel credentials. The latest bump in the road was the refusal of Israel’s ambassador to the United States to meet with the group, citing concerns that J Street’s views might harm Israel’s interests.
The problem here is that the Israeli government has not proven that it is truly interested in making any efforts to engage in real negotiations. The simple dismissal that has come from the Israeli embassy does not bolster their case. No specifics are offered as to what they don’t like, and instead of engaging in discussion, the ambassador chooses to ignore the group’s invitation.
I think J Street is a pretty moderate group that clearly supports the State of Israel. I know people on the left who are skeptical of the group because of their strong support of the country. In my opinion, J Street is acting pragmatically and I have real hope for the group.
If the Israeli government really regarded peace as an important goal, it would at least claim to support J Street’s aims. Israel has a history of undermining American Jewish groups that advocate for peace efforts. In the 1970s Israeli officials spoke out against the group Breira, which urged Israel to make greater efforts for peace with the Arab world.
Today’s Ha’aretz has an article elaborating on the Israeli response, and the positive reception by the Obama Administration. It’s encouraging and perfectly understandable that the Obama Administration would see J Street in a positive light, particularly as the Israeli government has been less than honest with the American government. As pointed out in an article from a few days ago pointing out that ‘despite promises to Obama, construction continues in dozens of W. Bank settlements’ . It’s difficult to take claims by Netanyahu seriously when he constantly thumbs his nose at the US. A group like J Street is needed for those who genuinely care about Israel. The Israeli’s seem set on driving off a cliff, and J Street is trying to stop them.