Commentary Magazine


J Street Stand on Hamas Pact Follows Administration Lead

Sometimes it’s easy to forget what the left-wing lobby J Street is all about. The group likes to pose as the most ardent advocate of peace in the Middle East. But J Street doesn’t have a greater desire for peace than the overwhelming majority of Israel’s voters who have rejected the policies the group advocates. J Street’s true purpose remains being the Obama administration’s loyal Jewish lapdog.

Interviewed in today’s Jerusalem Post, J Street leader Jeremy Ben-Ami seems to be reading out of the administration playbook when he says we should not condemn the new Hamas-Fatah coalition out of hand but should wait and see what will happen. This is, of course, more or less, the same line being followed by the White House and the State Department as they struggle to find a way to salvage their relationship with the Palestinian Authority.

But the idea that there is really much of a mystery about the nature of the new Palestinian Authority is absurd. Hamas remains what it has always been, an Islamist terrorist organization whose goal is to destroy the state of Israel and kill its Jewish population. Rather than make it easier for Fatah to make peace with Israel as some hopelessly delusional observers contend, Palestinian unity means there is no chance that the PA will give up demands for the right of return or make any other compromise that is a prerequisite for peace.

Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are hoping the Palestinians will give them some sort of an excuse to keep funneling the U.S. aid that keeps the PA afloat in patronage money. The problem is that it is a clear violation of U.S. law for any funds to go to any entity that engages in terrorism. So J Street’s role in the coming weeks, like that of the equally feckless National Jewish Democratic Council, will be to lobby Congress to keep the money flowing to the PA even though it is fatally compromised by the presence of Hamas in its ranks. This won’t promote peace but it will serve the administration’s interests as it seeks room to maneuver around both the law and the irate demands of members of Congress of both parties who are rightly demanding that Obama put the PA on notice that the pact with Hamas is a deal breaker.

Rationalizing indirect aid for a group that began the week in mourning for Osama bin Laden is not exactly what comes to mind when you think of an organization that calls itself “pro-Israel and pro-peace.” But if serves the interests of the administration, then you can bet that’s what J Street will be doing.