Commentary Magazine


J Street: An Anti-Israel Group

Rabbi Eric Yoffie is president of the Union for Reform Judaism, and is a very liberal fellow. Yet even for him, J Street’s campaign to undermine and discredit Israeli self-defense has gone too far. Taking J Street out to the woodshed over its statements on Gaza, Yoffie says that the group

could find no moral difference between the actions of Hamas and other Palestinian militants, who have launched more than 5,000 rockets and mortar shells at Israeli civilians in the past three years, and the long-delayed response of Israel, which finally lost patience and responded to the pleas of its battered citizens in the south. “Neither Israelis nor Palestinians have a monopoly on right or wrong,” it said, and it suggested that there was no reason and no way to judge between them: “While there is nothing ‘right’ in raining rockets on Israeli families or dispatching suicide bombers, there is nothing ‘right’ in punishing a million and a half already-suffering Gazans for the actions of the extremists among them.”

These words are deeply distressing because they are morally deficient, profoundly out of touch with Jewish sentiment and also appallingly naïve. A cease-fire instituted by Hamas would be welcome, and Israel would be quick to respond. A cease-fire imposed on Israel would allow Hamas to escape the consequences of its actions yet again and would lead in short order to the renewal of its campaign of terror. Hamas, it should be noted, is not a government; it is a terrorist gang. And as long as the thugs of Hamas can act with impunity, no Israeli government of the right or the left will agree to a two-state solution or any other kind of peace. Doves take note: To be a dove of influence, you must be a realist, firm in your principles but shorn of all illusions.

J Street’s appalling missive concludes: “This is our moment to show that there is real political support for shedding a narrow us-versus-them approach to the Middle East.” What if you shed an us-versus-them approach to Hamas, but Hamas doesn’t shed its us-versus-them approach to you?

J Street in the past has been unrealistic, silly, and dishonest. But its treatment of the Gaza crisis is simply contemptible. Are there any limits to the group’s capacity for self-delusion about the nature of Hamas? May we now conclude that J Street is incapable of recognizing when it is staring genocidal fanatics in the face?

It is time that thinking people started calling J Street what it actually is — an anti-Israel group.