J Street’s application to join the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations failed today. According to JTA, the vote was 22-17 against with three abstentions. This will, no doubt, be represented by J Street as proof that the mainstream community is trying to stifle dissent. But, as the Conference noted in a subsequent statement, there is already no shortage of liberal and left-wing groups among its members. If J Street has alienated so many other Jewish organizations by its strident criticism of Israel’s democratically-elected government and efforts to include anti-Zionist groups in the community, it should not be surprised that many want no part of it. Indeed, the willingness of so many groups to say no to them is a heartening sign that many American Jews have grown tired of its shrill one-note act.
Yet as I noted earlier, a negative vote is probably on balance a good thing for J Street. This rejection will give it material with which it can continue its already flagging efforts to delegitimize mainstream groups like AIPAC and to masquerade as the true voice of American Jewry. Gaining admission would have deprived it of that talking point and relegated it to being just one more among dozens of groups that call themselves “major” but are, in fact, nothing of the sort.
Nevertheless, no one should be under the impression that J Street is either a significant player in Washington or speaks for an under-represented constituency. J Street has failed in its effort to supplant or even significantly challenge AIPAC. That it is not even able to gain admission in what is one of American Jewry’s least exclusive clubs is one more indication that it is a dismal failure.