It’s a testament to J Street’s waning relevancy that its highly entertaining feud with Rabbi Daniel Gordis has gotten very little attention over the past few days. Apparently the debate began during J Street’s leadership trip to Israel, when Gordis, senior VP of the Shalem Center and a COMMENTARY contributor, was invited to address the organization. J Street may have ended up regretting that invitation, because Gordis’s remarks cut a little too close to the bone.
The rabbi not only denounced J Street’s positions as “arrogant” and “intellectually shallow,” he also called the group out for supporting anti-Israel policies and promoting a condescending view of Israeli citizens.
“You think that those of us who claim that we favor a two-state solution but who are not willing to give up the store at this moment are bluffing,” Gordis said to the organization. “But that is arrogance of the worst sort. Does your distance from the conflict give you some moral clarity that we don’t have? Are you smarter than we are? Are you less racist? Why do you assume with such certainty that you have a monopoly on the wisdom needed to get to the goal we both seek?”
Gordis went on the say that J Street’s positions raised legitimate questions over whether it should be included in the pro-Israel “tent.”
“Why would you assume that we’re stupid, or immoral, or addicted to the conflict?” he asked the group. “Why do you insist that the Fatah-Hamas agreement is a good thing, or that it’s best for Israel if the United States twists its arm even harder? At a time when Israel is so alone, can you see why it’s hard for many of us to buy the argument that you’re genuinely pro-Israel, or that you should be part of the Big Tent?”
Since Gordis’s speech, J Street has defended its stance, saying that as a group of American Jews, it has a “different perspective” that can be a “unique asset” to solving the conflict in Israel.
“An outside perspective is often invaluable to cutting through the fog of war,” wrote J Street Board Member David Gilo in a response to Gordis in the Jerusalem Post.
From the sound of Gilo’s column, J Street isn’t much interested in taking Gordis’s advice. Which is unfortunate. The group really could use it.