Our Leadership


 

  • MYTH: J Street’s Advisory Council is anti-Israel.

  • FACT: J Street’s Advisory Council consists of over 200 prominent Americans – including former members of Congress, rabbis, former Jewish community leaders and professionals, and many others. Click here for the full list.

    Some on the Council have been publicly critical of Israeli policy – and so has J Street, at times. We do not equate opposition to the policies of a particular Israeli government or official with being anti- Israel – just as we don’t equate opposition to a particular American party or official with being anti- American.

    We have a particular view on the policies that would be most beneficial to Israel and to the United States – and we realize that there are those who disagree. We urge an open and robust debate on the merits of our positions and an end to ad hominem attacks and name.

    It is worth noting as well that J Street has the support of numerous Israeli security officials, foreign officers, politicians, writers, and artists. Click here for that list and to see a video featuring prominent Israeli supporters of J Street.

  • MYTH: J Street’s polling is compromised by the fact that its pollster Jim Gerstein served on its Board of Directors.

  • FACT: J Street publicly releases the survey methodology, composition of the sample and the full question wording for our polls of American Jews. This full disclosure and transparency reflects J Street’s commitment to opening up its research to professional scrutiny and is unparalleled among other organizations conducting public opinion research of American Jews.

    Some who disagree with J Street choose to attack the credibility of our pollster, rather than debate the views held by the vast majority of American Jews. Jim Gerstein’s role as a founding member of J Street’s Board of Directors has in no way influenced his accuracy as a pollster, or the recorded opinions of American Jews.

    Over the past few years, J Street’s opinion research has confirmed what surveys by other organizations have shown over the years: the majority of Jewish Americans hold moderate views when it comes to Israel and the Middle East.

    A majority of Jewish Americans support a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, oppose expanding settlements in the West Bank, and favor assertive American diplomacy to end the Israeli-Arab and Israeli-Palestinian conflicts. They supported Barack Obama for president by 70 percent over Mitt Romney in the 2012 elections, and they have consistently been among the most progressive American voters on a whole range of foreign and domestic policy issues.

    Gerstein’s views on Israel and the Middle East are no secret --nor is his involvement as a key and early founder of J Street.

    He was the Executive Director of the Center for Middle East Peace and Economic Cooperation for many years. He lived in Israel in the late 1990s, where he was a member of Ehud Barak’s polling and communications team, and he currently serves as secretary of the board of the American Friends of the Yitzhak Rabin Center and on the board of Americans for Peace Now.

    Much as Romney and Obama chose pollsters who shared their politics to guide them through the 2012 campaign, J Street chose Gerstein to be its lead pollster and a key strategist precisely because he combines a pro-Israel, pro-peace perspective on issues relating to Israel and the Middle East with deep expertise in analyzing American politics.

  • MYTH: J Street President and Founder Jeremy Ben-Ami is connected to work by his prior employer, Fenton Communications, for the Qatar Foundation and its “al-Fakhoora Project.”

  • FACT: As stated in his bio on our website, Jeremy Ben-Ami was a Senior Vice President at Fenton Communications from late 2004 until the end of 2007, at which time he resigned to launch J Street.

    Ben-Ami has retained no connection to Fenton after he left the firm, has had no involvement in its management and operations, and has had no financial interest in and has received no compensation from the firm since that time. J Street does not retain Fenton Communications and has had no formal or informal relationship with the firm.

    The contract between Fenton Communications and the Qatar Foundation was entered into in early 2009, over a year after Ben-Ami left the firm. Ben-Ami is unaware of any contact between the firm and the Foundation during his employment at Fenton. Any contact between Fenton Communications and the Foundation occurred after he left--and without his knowledge.

  • MYTH: J Street’s use of the public relations firm its president owned in the late 1990’s represents a conflict of interest.

  • FACT: Jeremy Ben-Ami co-founded Ben-Or Communications in 1998 and left the company at the end of 1999. For eleven years, since moving from Israel back to the United States, Ben-Ami has had no involvement in management or operation of the business. In that time, he has never received one penny from the company. The company is a small business, which pays no dividends and whose shares have no market value.

  • MYTH: A “J Street co-founder” said Israel’s creation was an “act that was wrong.”

  • FACT: Daniel Levy was part of the original group that conceived of J Street. By way of background, he is Israeli and worked for the Israeli government as part of the team negotiating with the Palestinians in the period after Camp David in 2000-2001, including at Taba. Prior to that, he was a part of the negotiating team in the mid-90’s during his Israeli Defense Forces service, under Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

    Levy has been a life-long Zionist, having made aliyah at age 23 after having been elected president of the World Union of Jewish Students. He has worked passionately to secure Israel’s future through a two-state solution for nearly twenty years.

    He believes that resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict requires recognition that a root of the conflict lies in the fact that the dream of the Jewish people for a home of their own was partially realized at the expense of Palestinians and led to the creation of a large Palestinian refugee community.

    Levy’s remarks have been misreported. In an answer to a question on a panel he appeared on in Doha, Qatar, Levy argued in favor of progressive Zionism. He did not call Israel’s creation “an act that was wrong.” He believes that the events of the creation of the Palestinian refugee problem included acts that were wrong, but that could be excused for him by the particular and unique moment in Jewish history that we were living through in 1948: “I believe that where Jewish history was in 1948 excused, for me – it was good enough for me – an act that was wrong.”

    Levy went on to say that he sees no reason why Palestinians would agree with his response to that history, “I don’t expect Palestinians to think that.” Levy’s entire speech at that Forum, in which he asks hard and challenging questions of all sides while ultimately advocating for a coalition for ending the ’67 occupation, can be viewed here.

    Right-wing blog claims that Levy said that “Israel really ain’t a very good idea” are debunked here by Jonathan Chait:

    “The quote here is making the opposite of the point Kristol suggests. Levy is arguing that if his opponents’ premise is true, then Israel is not a good idea. He is making that point in order to discredit his opponents’ premise. This is a very common form of argumentation: if we believe A, then we must believe B, and since B is false, we shouldn’t believe A. For Kristol to site such an argument as evidence the speaker believes B is… completely unsurprising, actually.”

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