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J Street Searches for Legitimacy, Boots the Poet

J Street, like the Communist Chinese trying to clear the streets before the Olympics pulls into town, has been trying to remove the most embarrassing participants from its conference. One of those who got the boot is the poet Josh Healy, the author of Queer Intifada who compared Guantanamo to Auschwitz. But Healy is squawking and giving us some insight into J Street’s PR efforts:

In an interview with Haaretz, Josh Healey didn’t conceal his disappointment. “I had a conversation with ‘J Street’ staff, and they explained that they are playing the game — Washington politics, and seeking legitimacy. And they are not willing to fight this battle. I was born in Washington, so I’m not surprised to become Van Jones of J Street” (U.S. President Barack Obama’s “green jobs czar” who resigned over the controversy about his past political associations).

So let’s be clear: J Street needs to become respectable so as to gain a foothold in Washington. Ah, could be a problem for a group positioning itself as pro-Israel but whose positions invariably line up so neatly with the Palestinian propaganda machine. What to do, what to do? Well, maybe dump the wackiest of the speakers – since they’ll give away the conference as an Israel-bashing fest. (How long will panelist Kevin Coval, who declared Israel a “whore” and expressed his own desire to “kick Joe Lieberman in the face,” last?)

The name of the game here is, as J Street candidly explained, to construct an artifice of legitimacy, to clean out the riffraff and make it appear as though J Street really is a pro-Israel group that just wants what’s best for the Jewish state. Now it’s true it’s definition of what’s good for the Jewish state in no way matches up with the views of even reliably liberal American Jews or Israelis themselves. But really, would you doubt the sincerity and question the legitimacy of the group that invited Healy and Coval, not to mention Muslim Public Affairs Council executive director and 9-11 truther Salam Al-Marayati?



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