Dear J Street, Get Off The High Horse

The establishment of Justice and Uniting the Mideast in Peace (JUMP) has garnered significant attention over the last 48 hours. Yesterday, for example, The Times of Israel‘s Amanda Borschel-Dan wrote an extensive story on its founding and Mondoweiss published a non-substantive, ad hominem-filled article targeting JUMP’s founder, Raphael Fils. Fils was also interviewed by TLV1 Radio yesterday about the group. Without a doubt, JUMP is starting to become legitimized as a liberal organization dedicated to highlighting issues throughout the Middle East.

It comes as no surprise, however, that J Street supporters already started to slam its new competition. J Street mislabels itself as pro-Israel and pro-peace when its words and actions contradict the mission statement. Thus, the mere thought of another liberal organization focusing on the Middle East must frighten J Street. If that was not the case, then one of J Street U’s former board members would not have had the audacity to go on a public forum to dismiss JUMP’s intentions. Interestingly enough, one of Jeremy Ben-Ami’s media analysts also decided to follow JUMP’s new Twitter page. By deduction, J Street is obviously troubled by JUMP, and its staff and student leaders are not hiding that from the public. Once again, J Street does not know what it is talking about when it comes to defining the word “liberal.”

The reality is that J Street has done a terrible job at incorporating liberal perspectives on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Its continuous bombardment on Israel has repainted the organization’s reputation from a potential force for good to a perpetual propaganda machine more interested in appeasement than true compromise. J Street missed the mark not because it failed to call attention to the Palestinian narrative, because it will respond kindly to any demand given by Mahmoud Abbas. However, it completely fails to hold the Palestinians’ problems to the same standard as it does to Israel.

Obviously, Jewish state is far from perfect. As a parliamentary democracy, Israel is subject to the same faults as any other free, democratic nation in the world. Some of its policies and actions have a right to be questioned by international bodies and its most crucial allies. However, when an organization focuses its direct attention on Israel and not on the rest of the Middle East, then it lines itself up for continuous criticism for the double standards maintained thereafter.

J Street has a choice to make now that JUMP has acquired its moment in the spotlight: either to accept JUMP’s existence and respect its liberal approach or to attack JUMP, as it did with AEPi, and put the organization in its crosshairs. Fortunately, J Street U’s former student board member left nothing to the imagination. Once again, these actions show how J Street and its followers are completely and utterly opposed to hearing the opinions of any other organization that does not hoist the J Street banner. Its arrogance and libelous words can no longer be ignored, especially after the fiasco that resulted following J Street’s rejection from the Conference of Presidents.

If J Street wants to demonstrate how open-minded and “liberal” it is, then it would welcome JUMP into the discussion and given it a chance. However, just like Mondoweiss, members of J Street decided to slander an organization before it had the chance to show its true potential. Judging a book by its cover only results in eventually eating your words and fading away into obscurity. Our friends at J Street do not seem to recognize that its pattern has been noted and that it no longer has the luxury of working below the radar to pull any additional illiberal activities. J Street needs to get off its high horse and come back down to earth.

Perhaps J Street can learn a thing or two about liberalism from JUMP.  It is about time that an organization has come to challenge J Street and J Street U on how to address the Middle East justly. J Street fell upon its own sword when it tried to market itself as a liberal group bent on creating peace. I am confident that JUMP will set the standard on how to challenge the human rights violations of the Middle East and learn from J Street’s failures.

About the Author
Elliott Hamilton is a JD/MPH candidate at Boston College Law School and Tufts University School of Medicine. He was credited as a researcher in the 2016 film "Hate Spaces: The Politics of Intolerance on Campus."
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