Dear J Street ,
It’s time I said “Goodbye”.
Why? Because I am not sure that you represent my values anymore.
Over the years, I have been to various events, went to see such speakers as Jeremy Ben-Ami, and Bradley Burston (both very good discussions), blogged my support at Daily Kos and at my own website The Progressive Zionist, and supported J Street with donations. I no longer feel that I can do that and furthermore don’t really understand how anyone who would consider themselves both “Pro-Israel”, and ”Pro-Peace” could stay in the organization given what is about to happen.
While I agree with most of J-Street’s policy statements (support for reasonable Two State solution, Anti-BDS, Pro-Civil Rights) regarding Israel, giving activists who support BDS, and spread messages of hatred toward Israel an active platform is a step too far. When did this happen? Well here it is.
J Street is hosting a discussion with author David Harris Gershon regarding a book that he wrote wherein he talks about his path to dealing with having his wife being harmed in a Terror attack and how he has tried to reconcile that to his life. Harris-Gershon took the unique step of actually meeting with the family of the terrorist in order to understand just what made that person plant a bomb in a school cafeteria and then to forge some kind of closure to the incident.
All that would be fine and good except for the fact that Harris-Gershon trades heavily in anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic memes. Now these are pretty serious allegations and I don’t make these lightly nor do I make them without proof.
J Street DC Metro, the DC Public Library and Americans for Peace Now are proud to sponsor Harris-Gershon’s discussion, which will be followed by a Q&A and book signing.
Below are some quotes from a person that J Street says they are “proud” to sponsor: “Proud” to sponsor a discussion from a person who regularly uses his twitter account to “re-tweet” messages from Ali Abunimah of Electronic Intifada, Stephan Walt and Max Blumenthal amongst others? I mean nothing says that someone “loves” Israel like “re-tweeting” known anti-Semites and anti-Zionists. Right?
How about this gem that Harris-Gershon “tweeted”:
If you think the world should boycott Russia over occupation, but Palestinians should not via-a-vis Israel, you have some explaining to do.
Now this is a particularly interesting tweet because Harris Gershon has been turned away from speaking in a few Jewish organizations because of his support for the anti-Semitic BDS Movement something that Mr. Harris-Gershon denies that he supports. Interestingly enough this denial came when he began his book / speaking tours to Jewish organizations. But that said, aside from his constant support for those who do favor BDS here are David’s exact words with regards to BDS:
“And I think about Israel’s inability to stop the occupation on its own, about how the only way to stop it may be for outside pressures (emphasis mine) to bear down upon the country I love.
Sanctions. Boycotts. Divestments. (BDS)….
…. And so we come to the confession, to the coming out: as an American Jew invested deeply in Israel’s success and survival — which in turn drives my investment in stopping one of the greatest moral challenges of my generation: the occupation — I have no choice but to formally endorse and embrace BDS…. (emphasis mine)
…. However, I know this for a fact: those who claim in Israel that there is no occupation have only one goal in mind: a single-state solution, a Jewishly-controlled Israel stretching from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River.
And it’s an unworkable, unsustainable goal that will be realized — one state — unless outside forces are brought to bear.”
Yes, because what says “I love Israel” more than asking the world to Boycott, Sanction, and Divest from that nation?
Now… if this is not bad enough.. Harris-Gershon also engages in rhetoric that is reminiscent of the horrible Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Here is his commentary in an article at Daily Kos February 4th, 2013 where Harris Gershon unleashes the old anti-Semitic canard of “dual loyalty” with these two comments:
“The reason for this disproportionate, obsessive focus on Israel with no regard for U.S. troops in Afghanistan? Simple: AIPAC and the “pro-Israel” lobby’s ill-founded concern about the Hagel nomination coupled by the lobby’s disproportionate influence on our representatives to echo that concern.”(emphasis mine)
“But when the hawkish, “pro-Israel” lobby in America can influence our representatives to sound as if they – well – are representing Israel’s citizens more than our own? (emphasis mine)
We have a problem. A problem that must be discussed openly and honestly.”
Straight out conspiracy theory saying that America’s representatives are controlled by “Zionist Interests”… Where have we heard charges like that before and from whom?
SO… with that, I say “goodbye”, “so long”, “Shalom”, to J Street. Why would I support an organization that gives a platform (and is proud of that) to a person who espouses both anti-Zionism and in my opinion borderline anti-Semitic memes? Just as I would not belong to an organization that gave a platform to Gilad_Atzmon nor can I see my money or support going to an organization that would support and be “proud of” and having David Harris Gershon.
I cannot in good conscience support J Street IF this is the type of programming or this is the kind of speaker that they will sponsor. I wish things were different because I do support J Street’s general principles. However, when you give a platform to people like Harris Gershon. What are you really supporting?
A former friend.