Commentary Magazine


J Street’s New Hire Not a Huge Fan of Israel

Is it any surprise that J Street’s newly hired Jerusalem organizer has made some anti-Zionist statements? Probably not, but it’s still astounding to watch the president, Jeremy Ben-Ami, continue to stridently claim that J Street is pro-Israel, even as so much evidence to the contrary has piled up.

Omri Ceren dug up some blog posts that were apparently written by the new leader of J Street U in Jerusalem — Drew Cohen — and found them to be sharply critical of Zionism and Israel’s military actions:

[I]t’s kind of predictable that JStreet’s new Israel campus organizer Drew Cohen would (a) harbor some really ugly antipathy toward the Jewish State and (b) commit to getting other American Jews to embrace his antipathy. This pattern is in line with the rest of JStreetU, which finally had to drop even the pretense of pro-Israel advocacy because it meshed poorly with their “genocidal anti-Jewish terrorists equal Israeli Jewish victims” moral equivocation.

According to Ceren, Cohen has called Operation Cast Lead “unjust and even criminal” and lamented that some Israelis “are engaged in a structural violence against the Palestinian people.”

Cohen also wrote that he’s only comfortable “with people who I am certain do not espouse Zionism or any form of oppression,” which I’m sure won’t be a problem at his new office.

Ceren cites more from Cohen:

* Here’s him snidely passing on a description of Israel’s Gaza Flotilla interdiction, a last-ditch passive option forced by Israel’s having been denied forward defense and active defense, as “a heinous brutality.”
* Here’s him minimizing the danger posed by that Flotilla, which would have detonated Israel’s last chance of blocking Iran’s Gaza proxy, due to it being merely a “mythic threat.”
* Here’s him insisting that Jews who want to reverse Jordan’s gleeful 1948 ethnic cleansing of Jerusalem’s Jewish Quarter “are engaged in structural violence against the Palestinian people.”
* Here’s him musing over the “parallels between the issues at the U.S.-Mexico border and the Israeli-Palestinian security barrier” and here’s him rhetorically leveling ghettos and Bethlehem.

I don’t object to Ben-Ami hiring Cohen, but I am curious as to why he would do so when the Soros and Goldstone controversies are still fresh in people’s minds. Is it simply that J Street doesn’t care how it looks? Were they unaware that Cohen held these views? Or has J Street become so toxic to liberal pro-Israel Jews that only anti-Zionists and people on the hard left are willing to associate with it?