Elliott Hamilton

My Take on “The J Street Challenge”

No film ought to be screened on college campuses more than the one that I saw in New York City nearly two weeks ago. At a time where political correctness, postmodernism, and increasingly “liberal” attitudes flood campus dialogue and lecture halls, tackling the manipulation of these ideologies remains paramount when it relates to the Israeli-Arab conflict. “The J Street Challenge” highlights the dangers of using deception and seduction at the hands of a public relations genius to attract the dreamers, the ideologues, and specifically, liberals.

When it comes to the Israeli-Arab conflict, nothing compares to its complexity, its nuance, and its overemphasis in the media and in international politics. In an attempt to simplify the reasons behind its issues and to present a “solution,” J Street entered the realm of American politics as a movement bent on becoming a “home for pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans.” Since its inception, all it markets are beliefs and actions antithetical to its mission statement. Why is J Street not pro-Israel? It spends more of its time demonizing Israel than holding Palestinian anti-Semitism and terrorism to the same standard. Why is J Street not pro-peace? It hosts various individuals who call for the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement, which calls for the destruction of the Jewish State.

“The J Street Challenge” brought the opinions of prominent pro-Israel figures, including Daniel Gordis, Alan Dershowitz, Caroline Glick, and Charles Jacobs, and highlighted the despicable actions that J Street has committed and still commits to this day. When an organization attempts to divide the Jewish community, including calling major Jewish groups a “multi-layered hydra,” it undermines the community it tries to reach out to. When an organization calls Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who refuses to recognize the Jewish state “a true partner for peace,” it should lose its credibility and its relevance. When one of the co-founders of the organization says that, “Israel really ain’t a very good idea,” people should start turning away from such poisonous rhetoric. “The J Street Challenge” eloquently lays out the reasons why J Street is neither pro-Israel or pro-peace, and it draws the conclusion that its approach and goal is suicidal for the future of Israel.

During the panel that followed the screening, Dr. Charles Jacobs, President of Americans for Peace and Tolerance (APT), urged that college students bring the film to campus. This could not be more valid for me, as I have experienced first hand the problems that liberal and leftists opinions have on the Claremont Colleges. Many liberal arts colleges and other universities act as a burial ground for open-mindedness and classic liberal values in the name of “liberalism.” Under the guise of political correctness, opinions differing from the mainstream remain hushed and silenced in fear of public outcry and criticism.

J Street U chapters, recognizing that trend, often drop the “pro-Israel” from its label in fear that it will be seen as polarizing. This is the kind of honesty that is expected from J Street and J Street U, as the latter has hosted speakers from blatantly anti-Israel groups like Breaking the Silence, Americans for Peace Now, and B’Tselem. When J Street U students wear shirts featuring Palestinian terrorists, it further illustrates the hypocrisy that J Street carries over to the college-aged Jewish community. When J Street U students verbally harass pro-Israel students and claim that “Jews hate you,” it highlights the closed-mindedness that exemplifies the vast majority of college campus dialogue.

More relevant now than ever, J Street continues its barrage on reality and common decency. While most of the Jewish community came together in solidarity with Eyal, Gil’ad, and Naftali, two J Street U members demonized Israel in an article expressing disappointment over a decision ruled by Brandeis University to cut ties with a Palestinian university plagued with anti-Semitism. After the IDF found the boys brutally murdered, Jeremy Ben-Ami published an article in the J Street blog expressing moral equivalence between Naftali’s brutal murder and the unfortunate death of a Palestinian-Arab teenager who decided to harass the Israel Defense Forces when it searched for the kidnapped boys. Ben-Ami then used the murders to push his ridiculous campaign for brokering a two-state solution, which today is less realistic than ever before. J Street did not even condemn Hamas for perpetrating the crime, nor did it demand the Palestinian Authority to arrest the suspects in the same manner that it demanded Israel to handle the despicable murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir. J Street does not hold Israel to the same standard as the Palestinian-Arabs, rather it dedicates its entire mission to demonizing Israel and tries to equate “Jewish values” to pursuing a peace deal that could endanger the Jewish people living the region.

This is why “The J Street Challenge” must be screened at every collegiate institution, Jewish high school, and perhaps even middle school. The leftist trends will not go away, and neither will J Street and its “liberal” approach. However, it remains plausible to show college students how problematic J Street is using factual evidence that can easily detract them away from J Street U. I intend to show this documentary on my campus, and I will invite J Street U Claremont Colleges to it as well.

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."