Why do we need J Street?
Some members of the American Jewish community question the need for J Street, believing that a multitude of existing mainstream organizations are already sufficiently pro-Israel and pro-peace. Others define pro-Israel to mean unconditional support for the Israeli government and Israeli policies and oppose groups like J Street, whose views do not meet their definition.
What We Say:
The Jewish community is not a monolith and never has been. No single organization can accurately represent the sentiments of all American Jews. And many American Jews today feel that traditional Jewish organizations do not adequately represent their values, or their support for strong US leadership to achieve a two-state solution.
J Street was formed to change the conversation on Israel, in our community and in our government. We work to give voice to the majority of pro-Israel American Jews who believe that as friends of Israel, we have a responsibility to vocally oppose Israeli government policies that threaten Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic homeland. We advocate for a strong US role in helping to achieve a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict because we believe that Israel’s survival depends on it.
Efforts to deny differences in the Jewish community will only push those who dissent from establishment views away from pro-Israel advocacy for want of a place where they can support Israel in a way that is consistent with their Jewish and democratic values.
Facts and Figures:
A poll of American Jews found that an overwhelming majority supports a two-state solution and wants the US to play an active role to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. GBA Strategies, 11/7/2012
After intense lobbying from J Street, AIPAC-supported attempts in the US Senate and House of Representatives to penalize the Palestinians for seeking an upgrade of status at the United Nations garnered historically low support. JTA, 12/5/12, Forward, 12/24/2012
Author Peter Beinart spoke to a sold-out crowd in Atlanta at a J Street-sponsored event after an earlier appearance at the Atlanta Jewish Community Center was cancelled over Beinart’s views on Israel. The New York Times, 11/13/2012
The New York Times editorial board criticized the rigid discourse on Israel in the US. The New York Times, 2/4/2013
Rabbis for Human Rights Rabbi Jill Jacobs confronted the “overwhelming silence” from most American Jewish organizations over Israeli plans to construct settlement housing in the West Bank area known as E1. Forward, 12/4/2012
Columnist Joe Klein argued that “AIPAC and many leaders of the American Jewish community don't speak for the overwhelming majority of American Jews who voted for Obama, love Israel and want it to survive as a Jewish democracy but do not favor the military adventurism that has brought us so much grief in the region.” The “voices of the silent American Jewish majority” are starting to be heard. Time, 1/14/2013
Former Washington correspondent James Besser warned that American “support [for Israel] will wither if AIPAC and other mainstream Jewish leaders don’t forcefully reject the zealots in their midst.” The New York Times, 12/26/2013
Columnist Roger Cohen wrote that the debate over Hagel’s defense secretary nomination “is much needed because Jewish leadership in the United States is often unrepresentative of the many American Jews who have moved on from the view that the only legitimate support of Israel is unquestioning support of Israel, and the only mark of friendship is uncritical embrace of a friend.” The New York Times, 1/7/2013
Former Haaretz editor David Landau explored the ways in which for “Israel's friends, Jewish and Gentile, left and right, abroad... the looming prospect of the slide toward a one-state solution and what that means for the Zionist dream is finally getting through to them.” Haaretz, 12/27/2012