Josef Olmert

J Street in the Trump Era-Anti Israel All the Way?

It did not take much time to Jeremy Ben Ami , the leader of J street, to make it abundantly clear that President Obama’s legacy should be also include a strong American anti settlement resolution in the Security Council. For many months, I call attention in this blog and in many other media outlets, to the danger of exactly such a resolution, which will have the potential of evolving into a possible Sanctions regime against Israel. So, when Jeremy Ben Ami states it so categorically, I , for one, take him seriously. His organization was the Voice Of Obama to the Jewish community in the last 8 years, was well-rewarded for it politically and even financially, and they are definitely in the know about what their erstwhile benefactors in the White House are going to do.

The Obama Administration did not need Ben Ami and J street as part of their political education about Israel and the Middle East. Rashid Khalidi, Ali Abunima and Bill Ayers seemed to be much more effective and influential. But in line with a well-known phenomenon in our history, this Administration, as well as so many regimes in the past needed their ”Court Jews” and J Street was a perfect, accessible fit. So, having a group claiming to be ”pro-Israel, pro-peace” as their loud speaker to the Jewish community was a reasonable political move. J Street thus became what they castigated AIPAC of being a one party political lobby group.

The truth is, that AIPAC has never been a one-party lobby group. It definitely seemed to be tilting towards the Republicans, and this impression was enhanced with the Iran nuclear deal, particularly the way this issue was handled by the Netanyahu Government. J Street therefore, from its very inception based its existence on a premise which it never fulfilled, clearly never intended to fulfill. It was established with the aim of weakening Israel’s position in Congress, and that could be done ONLY by being purely partisan, in that case, serving the agenda of those Democrats who decided to shift away from the traditional pro-Israel stance of the Democratic Party. J Street never had any impact among Republicans, whereas AIPAC still retains a measure of impact among Democrats. So, what can J Street do now, with a new Administration which will not need/use exploit them any more?

President-Elect Trump made so many promises to the pro-Israel community, among them to move the American Embassy from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem. The likelihood of him making good on this promise, is lesser than that of Israel winning the soccer Mundial. J Street will not attack Trump from the Right, and this is a safe bet, but will still have enough opportunities/excuses to attack him from the Left, because even if many of Trump promises will not be fulfilled, enough will be to justify J Street be on the attack against him.

Here is a challenge to J Street; JVP,Tru’a and other extreme Left anti Israel Jewish[?] groups will always be as anti Israel as one can [or cannot] imagine. Keith Allison, who is tipped to be the new DNC chairman, will be as anti Israel as can possibly be imagined, so who needs also you in the cacophonic anti Israel chorus to be expected from more and more elements in the Democratic Party? The noise of these guys will be defeaning, and with that in mind, the question is, does J Street really need to be the third or fourth pedal in this anti Israel unholy coalition? Isn’t it time for J Street to form a reliable Left Wing lobby group, which will go after Trump and Netanyahu when they feel it needed, but will not do it automatically, will not compete with them about who would be the most anti Israel, and try to do work even among Republicans , in order to be a REAL bi-partisan lobby group? The last they need mow in J Street is any piece of advice from me , of all people, but me, NOT being naïve, not being a new comer to the political arena, I still am waiting for the ”pro-Israel” side of J Street to show itself.

Ironically enough, now of al times , maybe the right time for J Street to be the Left Wing pro-Israel wing of the American Jewish community, not a mouthpiece of the anti Israel elements in this community, and in the American public at large. Why, after all, I still have a sense that I am so naïve about that?…

About the Author
Dr Josef Olmert, a Middle East expert, is currently an adjunct professor at the University of South Carolina