Commentary Magazine


Knesset Hearing on J Street a Joke

What exactly was the Knesset trying to accomplish with its half-baked “hearing” on J Street today? If the MKs were trying to shamelessly pander for media attention while wasting time and making themselves look like clowns, then it sounds like they probably succeeded:

The American Jewish lobby organization J Street was harshly criticized at a meeting of the Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs on Wednesday. Committee members denied J Street’s self-characterization as a pro-Israel group, claiming that it is only a pro-Palestinian group that does not care about Israel.

While right-wing party members uniformly condemned J Street, members of the center-right party Kadima were split over the organization, with some stating that although one might not agree with the positions taken by the group, it cannot be ignored just because it represents Jewish Americans who “think differently.”

Ha’aretz called the hearings “raucous,” and reported numerous heated exchanges between J Street opponents and supporters.

“You are not Zionists and you do not look out for Israel’s interests. While 50 rockets a day are fired upon Israel, you fight against the American veto to condemn Israel,” Kadima MK Otniel Schneller said to J Streeter David Gila.

Gila shot back that “You cannot ignore the voices of a group of American Jews — and we believe that we are the majority. We are Zionists and we care for Israel.”

Another Kadima MK, J Street supporter Shlomo Molla, accused his fellow party members of “besmirch[ing] the names” of the Israeli politicians who attended the J Street conference earlier this month.

Not only does it sound like the session was completely unsubstantial, it may have even succeeded at painting J Street in a semi-sympathetic light, which is never a good thing. The hearing will likely turn out to be an excellent fundraiser and rallying cry for the group, and it’s sure to anger both its hard-left and moderately progressive supporters.