Alan Edelstein

Jeremy Ben-Ami: The hubris of an oracle

I am often amazed at the contradictions and the hubris demonstrated by self-described lovers of Israel who criticize it and lobby the American administration to pressure it for its ostensible good. The two of the most prominent such loving critics are Jeremy Ben-Ami ofJ Street and the writer Peter Beinart.

Ben-Ami and Beinart mourn the supposed demise of Israeli democracy, and then constantly implore American Jews to lobby Washington to counter the policies of the leaders elected by the democratic process in Israel. They profess their respect and love for Israelis, but then self-assuredly assert that, from the comfort of their offices and lecterns in America know better than Israelis what is good for their nation and the future of their children.

Messrs Ben-Ami and Beinart remind me of what my father used to say to me: “I only hope that when you grow up you know half as much as you now think you do.”

While I have generally come to the conclusion that Ben-Ami and Beinart are not particularly serious thinkers, and that they both thrash around in an effort to stay “relevant” and prominent and, in Ben-Ami’s case, to keep the membership involved, they do have the potential to misrepresent and to mislead otherwise well-intentioned people.

Mr. Ben-Ami’s latest letter to his membership is so far afield for one who professes to be pro-Israel that, despite my general feeling that he is becoming increasingly irrelevant and discredited, it got my blood boiling.

As usual, Mr. Ben-Ami knows better than Israelis what is good for them. He knows that they should not pursue a ground war before they have come to that conclusion.

Ben-Ami apparently does not think that his members should thank the president for supporting Israel’s right to defend itself, or that they should urge the President to suppor tIsrael if it decides a ground war is necessary. As usual, Mr. Ben-Ami knows that the answer to almost everything is the U.S. getting more heavily involved in pressuring the parties toward a two-state solution.

Most offensive of all is Mr. Ben-Ami’s assertion, based on information provided by an unstated source, that Israelis have “given up” on peace, that “we” should not talk of it, and that it is a “dirty” word.

My response to Ben-Ami:

Mr. Ben-Ami:

I am an Israeli citizen and live in Jerusalem. I support a two-state solution. I just saw your latest message. I want to remain civil, but I must tell you that it was like a huge hit to my stomach. I felt like I was going to puke. The two lines that were the most offensive are:

We are told the Israeli people have given up on peace, that we shouldn’t talk of peace, that it’s a dirty word today.

Who told you we shouldn’t talk of peace, and that it’s a dirty word today? Everyone I know in Israel, and I know people on all ends of the political spectrum, talk of peace, yearn for peace, pray for peace. No one I know seeks or desires violence. The people in the South tolerated rockets for years before the government finally took this action. No one wants this action. Everyone wants peace. Everyone dreads a ground action. But no one can be expected to continue to live in shelters and in terror. Unless you can tell me and everyone else you sent this message to who told you that you should not talk of peace and that it is a dirty word, I and everyone else can only conclude that you fabricated statements in order to advance your position. 

Send President Obama a message today to thank him for working towards a ceasefire and telling him that his leadership is more important than ever to achieve peace.

Not one word in this statement encouraging people to send a message to the President thanking him for supporting Israel’s right to defend itself and encouraging him to do so during any upcoming ground offensive which might be necessary to protect Israelis. Your presumption that you know better than Israelis do about what is in their best interest is offensive, arrogant, and obnoxious. I suggest you come here with any children you have, live a year in Sderot, and then tell American Jews that they should not encourage the President to support Israel’s military action.

By the way, I am pro-peace and pro-Israel, but I find your arrogance appalling, and I find J Street to be anti-Israel and counter-productive to the efforts to achieve peace. I find your slogan, which implies that those who disagree with you are anti-peace, as offensive as the arrogance you display in preaching to Israelis from the safety of America what they should be doing to ensure their security and future.

Alan Edelstein

About the Author
Alan Edelstein made Aliyah in 2011 and lives in Jerusalem. He was the founding partner of a well-respected California government affairs firm and was involved in California government and politics as a lobbyist and consultant for 30 years. He blogs at He can be reached at