MYTH: J Street is out of touch with the majority of American Jews.
Like J Street, 80 percent of American Jews support a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, according to a 2014 election night survey by GBA Strategies and commissioned by J Street. Similarly, in the 2013 Pew survey–the most extensive poll of American Jews to-date—61 percent agreed that “there is a way for Israel and an independent Palestinian state to coexist peacefully.” Like J Street, 85 percent of American Jews support US leadership to help Israel and the Palestinians, according to GBA Strategies.
Like J Street, the majority of American Jews also supported the JCPOA nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1. Polling commissioned by J Street and conducted by GBA strategies in July found that American Jews supported the agreement by a 20 percent margin. That tracks closely with the results of a poll commissioned by the LA Jewish Journal which found that American Jews supported the agreement by an 18 percent margin.
J Street’s willingness to publicly engage with supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement indicates that the organization itself supports BDS.
We believe that it serves the long-term health and vibrancy of our community to engage in discussions of the substance of these issues, even – and especially – when we have fundamental disagreements with some of the individuals or organizations we debate. Closing the door to an open, robust conversation only drives away many of those our community seeks to engage, especially when it comes to younger Jews.
MYTH: J Street U co-sponsored a pro-BDS panel at Smith College.
In March, 2014, J Street U at Smith College was asked to co-sponsor a panel on BDS with Students for Justice in Palestine. The panel was originally set to include Miri Talmon, a professor of Israel Studies and Israeli consulate-recommended speaker who has argued strongly against BDS. J Street U agreed to cosponsor the event, believing that it provided a good opportunity for the campus to air different perspectives regarding the boycott movement.
Unfortunately, Talmon decided to withdraw less than 24 hours before the event, and J Street U was not notified of the change in program. As a result, the panel only featured pro-BDS speakers–a missed opportunity for the pro-Israel community to publicly refute the case for boycotting Israel.
What happened at Smith underscores why its not enough to simply “boycott the boycotters.” The only way to defeat BDS is to bring to light the case against it, to prove that it’s a dead-end for both Israel and the Palestinians.
MYTH: J Street hosted an “anti-Israel” UNRWA representative.
J Street is proud to have sponsored a speaking tour featuring John Ging, the Gaza Director of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). Ging’s commitment to peace and human rights should be an example for all of us working to resolve the conflict.
MYTH: J Street asked the IRS to cancel the non-profit status of American charities that support Israeli entities located beyond the Green Line.
MYTH: J Street U was rejected at UC Berkeley because it supports BDS.
MYTH: J Street featured an anti-Birthright panel at its national conference.
MYTH: J Street U leaders wore t-shirts glorifying terrorism.
MYTH: J Street declined to be interviewed for the J Street Challenge smear film
Dear Mr. Ben-Ami,
We are a small new film production company, in the process of producing a documentary about the Israel/Palestine issue within the American Jewish community.
We are interested in interviewing you while you are visiting Boston in connection with your Dec. 17th presentation at Temple Israel. The interview would be about 30 minutes. We hope to get J Street’s position on the Middle East conflict and the role of the American Jewish community in helping to solve it.
Thank you for consideration,
As Jeremy was not familiar with Mr. Kumahia and had no background on his project, this request was forwarded to the J Street Communications department, which followed up on it. Jeremy’s schedule was full on the proposed date, and when Mr. Kumahia provided no alternative options for dates and no further background on the project, we let the matter drop.
That was the extent of communication between the film’s production team with J Street. Never were we asked to participate in a film about J Street, nor were we told the identity of the film’s producers or the project’s purpose and scope.
The deception involved in approaching us this way and then claiming that “we declined to be interviewed for the project” is sadly in keeping with the pattern and practice of lies and deceit that follow this film, those associated with it, and the larger effort to discredit and defame J Street and its work.