J Street Must Cease Its Mishagas

J Street prides itself as “a political home for pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans.” Since its president Jeremy Ben-Ami founded it six years ago, J Street has captured the attention of members of the American Jewish community, as well as other liberally-bent individuals who hope to see peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. It seemed that from their initial statements, there was hope for another positive voice discussing the nuance of the Israeli-Arab conflict. However, its words are nothing more than mishagas when one takes note of their actions.

The reality is that J Street is neither pro-Israel nor pro-peace, and those two descriptors do not belong on its website, its mission statement, or anywhere for that matter. The past few months have demonstrated it. Ben-Ami’s statements and commentary have confirmed it. Most importantly, J Street’s admonishment over various Jewish institutions, libels of Zionist activists, and defense of anti-Semitism within the ranks of the Palestinian Authority have done nothing more but dig their hole deeper into the abyss of hypocrisy. Their intent is to ridicule the Israeli government, to demonize the State of Israel, and to hijack the strategic relationship between Israel and the United States of America.

Let me be clear about what I mean by these statements. If one goes on the J Street website and reads every press release, one will find at least one criticism of the State of Israel and little to no criticism of the Palestinians. The Palestinian Authority, riddled with corruption, anti-Semitism, and terrorist hero-worship, has not been condemned nor been the center of J Street’s attention. Not one comment about Abbas’ extraordinarily long term as President. Not one statement about Fatah’s Abbas Zaki’s call for Allah to kill Israelis. Not a word about the rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip targeting innocent civilians within Southern Israel.

It is not a problem to be critical of Israel, but it is completely unjust to hold Israel to such a double standard when it comes to the peace process. When it comes to the Palestinians’ demands for peace, J Street figuratively kisses their feet and calls for Israel to meet those demands. If Israel pushes for a particular concession, J Street demands that Israel keep its mouth shut. Jeremy Ben-Ami even had the audacity to make a statement calling for Benjamin Netanyahu not to push the “Jewish state” descriptor of Israel during the peace negotiations in March. How can somebody who claims to be “pro-Israel” be so anti-Israel simultaneously? Either he is genuinely confused over the definition of a “Zionist” or he is intentionally lying through his teeth.

The reality is that J Street catches onto the absurd belief that the Jewish people should feel guilty about Israel’s involvement in the conflict and that we should expect Israel to give up more than it already has for peace. J Street forgets how the Jewish people were initially given the land meant for a Jewish homeland that includes Israel, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and Jordan following the Balfour Declaration. It also forgets about how the Israeli government has spent the last twenty years trying to negotiate a peace deal with the Palestinians, including disengaging from the Gaza Strip and releasing convicted terrorists from its prisons. And while Fatah decided to strike a unity deal with a terrorist organization whose charter calls for Israel’s annihilation and Israel suspended talks, J Street members argued that it was Israel’s fault that the peace talks fell through. The fact that J Street defended Kerry when the latter made a comment regarding Israel potentially turning into an “apartheid” state also lowers J Street’s credibility as a legitimate organization bent on protecting Israel’s interests. I read about all of these statements and I cannot help but imagine how delusional J Street is when it comes to the facts on the ground.

Then there is J Street U. How can a “pro-Israel” organization allow its student activists to co-sponsor events with the frequently anti-Semitic Students for Justice in Palestine and/or to take an active part in the BDS movement? Within the growing leftist climates of college campuses, people love to talk peace and social justice and then climb onto the anti-Zionist crusade. J Street U embodies such “trendy” movements that love to bash Israel and target Zionist activists who actually care about Israelis and Palestinians. I could talk about Brandeis University’s J Street U, how its new Vice President has a penchant for using outrageous statements to harass her peers, and how J Street defended her and called to isolate a critical Zionist activist, but I have already discussed this. Such anti-Israel and anti-Semitic activities are unbecoming of an organization that calls itself “pro-Israel.”

This is why J Street should stop kvetching about its rejection from the Conference of Presidents because it brought this upon itself. Following that vote, J Street acted like a spoiled brat who still demands to get ice cream after its misbehavior. Sorry J Street, just because you say “please” does not mean you are exonerated from your morally reprehensible actions against the State of Israel.

Here’s my question for Jeremy Ben-Ami: Would you put effort into ending a dispute with your neighbor after he becomes best friends with a raging anti-Semite bent on your annihilation? If your answer is no, then you are demanding Israel to do something that you would not do, which is completely hypocritical. The Jewish people have spent millennia trying to stay clear of anti-Semitism. That is why Zionism was founded in the first place. However, you and your group of seemingly “pro-Israel” colleagues are undermining the very mission that Theodore Herzl had in store for the Jewish people. Instead of defending the Jewish people from anti-Semitism, you are demanding that the only Jewish state continues to make peace agreements with anti-Semites who would rather see Israel destroyed than to live in coexistence! If that is not the classic definition of “counterintuitive,” then I have no idea what is.

If J Street wants to be part of the discussion regarding Israel’s future, then it must cease its mishagas, halt its anti-Israel attitudes, and start taking accountability for its actions. Since it has not figured out by now that its conduct has been inconducive to its efforts to reach the front lines of pushing policy, it needs to take in a slice of humble pie, swallow its undeserved pride, and put an end to its arrogant approach on how to solve the conflict.

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."