Setting the Record Straight: J Street Positions

Does J Street support US aid to Israel?

Yes. It is first on the list of our endorsement criteria for all J Street endorsees.

The United States plays an indispensable role in supporting Israel’s future as a safe, secure, democratic homeland for the Jewish people.

Throughout our history, we have advocated for robust security assistance packages, including the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) negotiated between the Israeli government and the Obama administration, as well as lobbied in support of legislation to authorize and appropriate all of the aid pledged. We advocate that Israel should continue to annually receive the full $3.8 billion in aid pledged under the MOU. J Street believes that US security assistance to Israel plays a critical role in maintaining Israel’s security against serious external threats, and helps to advance US national interests.

Does J Street support cutting or conditioning US aid to Israel?

No. J Street believes Israel should continue to receive the current level of US aid, as stated in the 2016 MOU. We also think that US foreign assistance to Israel should be dispersed without conditions.

As with all nations that receive US foreign assistance, aid to Israel should have the usual oversight and transparency requirements. This is vital to ensure that US security aid is used to address Israel’s genuine defense needs, and not diverted to implement or sustain illegal, unilateral actions which undermine Israel’s security, trample on Palestinian rights and contravene longstanding US interests and values. We believe that both the White House and Congress should take steps to ensure that US security assistance is not diverted to implement or maintain annexation, aid the expansion of settlements, towards the demolition of Palestinian homes or other moves that further entrench the occupation.

Restrictions are standard practice for US foreign assistance. They are not the same as advocating for security assistance to be “cut” (i.e. ended or reduced outright) or “conditioned” (i.e. withheld until certain conditions are met).

Does J Street support the “McCollum Bill” (H.R. 3103)?

J Street supports H.Res 3103, the “Defending the Human Rights of Palestinian Children and Families Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act,” which was introduced in the 118th Congress by Rep. Betty McCollum, and was previously introduced by her in similar form in previous sessions.

The bill is an example of an “aid use restriction,” which J Street supports (see above). The bill would ensure that US security aid is used by Israel for genuine defense needs and not diverted by any Israeli government to detain children, seize or destroy Palestinian property or aid in any unilateral annexation in the West Bank.

The bill would not cut aid or impose preconditions on aid to Israel.

Does J Street support Iron Dome?

Yes. J Street strongly supports US security assistance to Israel for Iron Dome and other missile defense systems. Iron Dome is a critically important defense system that consistently saves the lives of Israelis facing indiscriminate rocket attacks.

The US provides $500M annually to Israel specifically to support Iron Dome and other missile defense programs, included in the $3.8 billion annual security aid package. J Street supports and consistently lobbies for all this funding under the terms of the MOU signed by President Obama. It is the first part of our endorsement criteria for political candidates.

All candidates endorsed by J Street voted to support this full assistance package, including support for Iron Dome.

Did J Street support the special September 2021 House vote of an additional $1 billion for Iron Dome?

Yes. J Street supported the House vote to appropriate a supplementary $1 billion to the Israeli government for the replenishment of Iron Dome.

A handful of J Street-endorsed candidates voted against the additional $1 billion extraordinary appropriation for Iron Dome in September 2021. Why does J Street still endorse those candidates?

J Street recognizes and respects that a number of Members of Congress, including some who voted for the supplementary appropriation and some who did not, had legitimate concerns about the process and rationale behind the request to appropriate a large amount of additional money for Iron Dome at that time, above and beyond the significant funding already provided in the MOU.

Some critics of those Members have unhelpfully framed this as a vote to fund or to defund Iron Dome, when in fact this vote for additional, extraordinary funding was outside the normal appropriations process and on top of the annual funding.

We reject vitriolic attacks that seek to present those Members of Congress who did not vote for this supplementary appropriation as anti-Israel or anti-Semitic. These attacks are particularly inappropriate given that all J Street endorsees who voted “no” or “present” on this supplementary appropriation also voted in support of the annual appropriation of $3.8 billion in security aid to Israel, including funding for Iron Dome, in each recent appropriations bill.

At times, candidates endorsed by J Street have taken different public positions than J Street on some bills, resolutions, letters or other topics. Why does J Street still endorse those candidates?

J Street only endorses candidates who share our core values and commitments – to Israel’s safety, Israeli-Palestinian peace, a strong US-Israel relationship, human rights and self-determination for both Israelis and Palestinians and effective diplomacy-first American leadership. Our full, core endorsement criteria can be found here.

We do not and will not endorse any lawmaker who voted against Congressional certification of 2020 election results on January 6 or otherwise supported the “Big Lie,” which falsely claims that Donald Trump won the 2020 election.

We are proud that both President Biden and the majority of the Democratic caucus in both the House and the Senate are aligned with these core commitments and endorsed by J Street.

We recognize that Members of Congress make decisions based on a number of concerns and considerations, acting in what they believe to be the best interests of their constituents. J Street endorsement does not mean that endorsed Members of Congress will always agree or see 100% eye-to-eye with us on every issue, all of the time.

We advocate regular, robust conversation with both endorsed and non-endorsed Members of Congress. If it becomes clear that J Street and a particular candidate may no longer be aligned on our core values and commitments, their endorsement will be revisited.

What is J Street’s position on BDS?

J Street is opposed to the Global BDS Movement. We do not advocate for or support any boycott, divestment or sanctions initiative.

The Global BDS Movement does not support the two-state solution, recognize the right of the Jewish people to a state or distinguish between opposition to the existence of Israel itself and opposition to the occupation of the territory beyond the Green Line. Furthermore, some of the Movement’s supporters and leaders have trafficked in unacceptable anti-Semitic rhetoric. The Movement is not a friend to Israel, nor does its agenda, in our opinion, advance the long-term interests of either the Israeli or Palestinian people.

You can find J Street’s full BDS policy here.

What about boycotts or divestment focused just on settlements?

J Street neither supports nor opposes boycott, divestment, or sanctions initiatives that explicitly support a two-state solution, recognize Israel’s right to exist, and focus only on settlements on occupied territory beyond the Green Line.

It is critical to maintain the distinction between the state of Israel and the territory that it controls over the Green Line, and that distinction must be maintained.

We believe that individuals should have as much information and agency as possible when deciding how to contribute money to Israel. Individuals should be able to choose for themselves whether they wish to purchase products made in the occupied territory. Labels that accurately distinguish between products made in the state of Israel and those originating in the territory over the Green Line maintain this important distinction and provide consumers the information they need in making their consumption decisions.

We believe that non-profit organizations and institutions have an obligation to provide the members of their communities with maximum transparency about how, where and why funds are spent in Israel and in Israeli-controlled territory.

We believe that the actions of the US government should reflect the long-standing bipartisan opposition to settlements and we advocate for the US to maintain and enforce that policy through its actions. We oppose legislative efforts at the state and federal level which, by blurring the distinction between Israel and the territory it controls over the Green Line, act to contravene that long standing policy.

Does J Street support “anti-BDS” legislation?

J Street does not support federal and state-level legislation that would criminalize individuals’ and non-governmental organizations’ BDS activities, penalize BDS supporters or impose BDS-related litmus tests on individuals.

This type of misguided legislative overreach is the wrong way to fight BDS. By alienating and angering the progressive audiences that BDS seeks to engage and recruit, it actually empowers the BDS Movement.

This legislation can too easily violate constitutional free speech protections and is fundamentally inconsistent with our democratic principles as Americans and as Jews. We urge lawmakers and Jewish communal leaders to engage Americans who are sympathetic to BDS in serious and open conversation and debate, rather than seeking to silence them by aggressively penalizing their actions and positions.

Does J Street support normalization efforts between Israel and Arab countries throughout the region?

J Street has supported the Abraham Accords from day one, celebrating Israel’s normalization with Arab states as welcome news for all who wish to see a stable and prosperous Israel living in peace and security alongside all of its regional neighbors. We have also noted the fact — emphasized by the officials of Arab countries normalizing relations with Israel themselves — that comprehensive peace between Israel and its neighbors in the Arab world will only be achieved through an agreement that resolves the issues at the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and leads to the establishment of a viable and independent Palestinian state alongside Israel.

J Street devoted our new Policy Center’s first major symposium and report to proposing a strategy for maximizing the full potential of the Abraham Accords to secure peace and prosperity for Israel and its neighbors. As an American pro-Israel organization, we will continue to support a strategy for further normalization agreements and regional integration that best serves US and Israeli interests, and oppose cynical efforts to misuse normalization as a means of bypassing the Palestinians and stoking tensions in the region.