A final thought on J Street: during the call yesterday, one of the organization’s leaders defended J Street’s advocacy of Israeli negotiations with Hamas by citing the fact that 64 percent of Israelis favor the same thing. Do they? Take it away, Gideon Lichfield:
Three weeks ago Ha’aretz’s pollster, Camil Fuchs, published a poll showing that 64% of Israelis favour holding talks with Hamas in order to get a ceasefire and release Gilad Shalit, the captured soldier. Today [March 18th] the Tami Steinmetz Centre has issued the latest monthly Peace Index. It says that only 25% of Israelis and just 17% of Israeli Jews favour negotiating with Hamas. …
The Ha’aretz poll asked people if they supported talks with Hamas: yes or no. The Steinmetz poll asked them the best way for Israel to deal with the Qassam rockets from Gaza: (1) talks with Hamas; (2) a relatively restrained military response . . . (3) a bigger but still limited response (ie, like the ground incursion that killed 110 people or so earlier this month); (4) a massive ground operation to reoccupy Gaza; (5) another option of your choice; (6) don’t know.
When you put the question like this, more Israeli Jews support reoccupying Gaza than talking to Hamas.
It seems to me that the J Streeters are never going to be able to escape the fact that, sitting in Washington, they are advocating policies for Israel that are overwhelmingly unpopular among Israelis — and attempting to brand this paternalism as “pro-Israel.”