Myths & Facts:
Our staff and leadership

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

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.

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

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 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.

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”.

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: “A J Street co-founder” said Israel’s creation was an “act that was wrong” and that “Israel really aint a very good idea”.

Daniel Levy was part of the original group that conceived of J Street. 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-1990’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 the dream of the Jewish people for a home of their own was realized in 1948 by a war , one result of which was the creation of the Palestinian refugee crisis.

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 that led to the creation of the Palestinian refugee problem included acts that were wrong. These acts took place against the background of a war for the survival of the nascent state of Israel just three years after the end of the Holocaust.

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,” he said. Levy asks hard and challenging questions of all sides while ultimately advocating for a coalition for ending the conflict.

Right-wing bloggers also took Levy’s words out of context in 2011, after he spoke on a plenary at J Street’s second national conference. They claimed that Levy had argued that “Israel really ain’t a very good idea,” when in fact, he had made the opposite case.

Levy’s argument was against the cynical premise that Israel can never be accepted by its neighbors in the Middle East, and therefore, it is condemned forever to “live by the sword.” Dismissing this myth, Levy said that those who “believe Israel can live in that space” are the “real embracers of the idea of Israel.” He argued that there is hope, that through a two-state resolution of its conflict with the Palestinians, Israel can reach peace agreements with its neighbors and achieve long-term peace and security.

The accusations against Levy were debunked by New Republic writer Jonathan Chait, who said:

“The quote here is making the opposite of the point Kristol suggests. Levy is arguing that if his opponent’s 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 cite such an argument as evidence the speaker believes B is… completely unsurprising actually.”

MYTH: “J Street’s president called Jewish organizations a “multi-headed hydra.”

On one occasion, J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami referred to the organized Jewish establishment as a “multi-headed hydra.” He was trying to make the point that the Jewish community is not monolithic, but in fact has a diverse pantheon of organizations.

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