Commentary Magazine


Contentions

Touchy, Touchy

The J Street gang has set up a “microsite” (a website with an itty-bitty following?) to attack the Emergency Committee for Israel. ECI board member Bill Kristol’s response: “I don’t WANT to speak for them!” Really, it’s a silly catchphrase. ECI is speaking for those friends of Israel who don’t buy into the notion that Israel-bashing is a pro-Israel activity. The real question is: whom does J Street speak for?

The site is revealing nevertheless. J Street’s purpose at the outset was to serve as an alternative to AIPAC (which takes wacky positions like defending Israel against the Goldstone Report, urging the administration to stop picking public fights with Israel, and reminding the public that settlements are a final-status question). J Street has been from the get-go and remains an anti-pro-Israel group with no significant constituency. Now it’s faced with an administration that has in effect rejected J Street’s advice (e.g., no preconditions for talks) and the likelihood that their highest profile endorsee, Joe Sestak, will not only be defeated but be damaged by the J Street association.

J Street’s problem is that its message (when not trying to water it down and make it indistinguishable from that of ECI and AIPAC) is so toxic that not even their endorsed candidates want to speak for them. So what to do and how to keep its donors and supporters happy? Go back to its bread and butter — attacking friends of Israel. It is a sign of just how desperate — and irrelevant — J Street has become.



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