When last we left the J Street Conference story, the lawmaker-hosts were dropping like flies. Sens. Schumer, Gillibrand, Cochran, and Lincoln had departed, as had a growing list of congressmen. It isn’t hard to see why they might not want to appear at the confab, as this details in reviewing some of the slated speakers and background on the J Street crowd:
- Avrum Burg, former speaker of Israel’s Knesset (parliament), is closely associated with J Street; he declared that “to define the State of Israel as a Jewish state is the key to its end,” then went on to compare Israel to “pre-Nazi Germany.”
- Prominent J Street member Henry Siegman compared Israel to South Africa under apartheid; he also appears to support the Walt and Mearsheimer conspiracy theory about a “Jewish lobby” that controls the American government (search on Power Line for many posts about this offensive and antisemitic absurdity — enthusiastically and monetarily endorsed by Israel’s great friend, former president Jimmy Carter);
- J Street receives much of its funding from Arab-American and Muslim-American organizations, as well as from Palestinian and Iranian lobbying groups;
- J Street is “bitterly hostile to the democratically-elected government of Israel” (especially now, under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu);
- Another luminary invited to speak at the Gala Dinner is “poet” Josh Healey, who suggests that Israel is at least metaphorically “writing numbers on the wrists of babies born in the ghetto called Gaza,” yet another equation of Israel to the Nazis; Healy extols a march he joined for “Palestinian solidarity.”
But the administration isn’t running away from the Israel defamers. Oh no! The administration is sending National Security Adviser James Jones. And why wouldn’t they? J Street has been blocking and tackling for Obama’s effort to put daylight between the U.S. and Israel. J Street has been cheering the engagement strategy and is opposing (as the Russians, mullahs and Hillary Clinton all are) moving ahead with sanctions. Of course the Obami want to press the flesh and encourage the J Street gang. (Can we now dispense with the fiction that the Mary Robinson Medal of Freedom award was some sort of oversight? Robinson, you may recall, was supported by J Street flacks. All one big happy family.)
But what is it that Jones will say? He could review the results of the policies that J Street cheered. The “daylight between the U.S. and Israel” strategy has been a bust and Obama’s anti-Israel gambit has reduced his support in the Jewish state to 4% while bolstering Bibi Netanyahu’s standing. (Like Rahm Emanuel, J Street’s fondest hope is regime change, in democratic Israel that is.) Then there is Iran’s Qom secret facility, which would seem to suggest that engagement with deceptive thugs is a losing tactic. Maybe then some sober assessment by Jones would be in order. Hmm. That’s not likely to engender a warm reception however.
Perhaps Jones could take the opportunity to condemn the Goldstone report unequivocally, repudiating the handiwork of the UN Human Rights Council. That would be a breath of fresh air. But again, not what the J Street crowd is looking for. (Like Chas Freeman, when the ugliest of Israel bashers emerges, J Street goes mute.) Maybe Jones will have the nerve to restate the administration’s opposition to negotiating with Hamas. Still, that is a view that doesn’t sit so well with the J Street crowd.
In sum, Jones will have a choice — ingratiate himself with the grab-bag of left-wingers masquerading as a “pro-Israel” outfit ,or put some … what is the word?… ah, daylight between the administration and the Israel-bashers. The spotlight will certainly be on him, and the expectations are high to make clear just how far the Obami are willing to go in alienating Israel and taking issue with the large majority of Americans (Jews and otherwise) who favor both sanctions and a military option to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran. By showing up at the Israel-hate fest, the administration is going where no other administration, it is safe to say, would be willing to be seen. Now let’s see what they make of the visit.