J Street, the left-leaning pro-Israel group, is having its big conference in Washington starting this weekend. It’s not going to be an AIPAC-sized 13,000-person circus, but J Street is still expecting 2,500 people or so. One person who won’t be coming is President Obama, even though (or perhaps because) roughly 100 percent of the attendees will be Obama supporters. The Administration isn’t sending the vice president, the secretaries of state or defense, or the national security adviser, either, to speak at the conference. Instead, in a clear sign that the Administration is spooked by AIPAC, which sees J Street as a left-flank threat, the White House, according to J Street’s Jeremy Ben-Ami, is sending Tony Blinken, the vice president’s national security adviser and a senior official of the National Security Council, to speak to the gathering next Monday.
One important note: Tony Blinken is a great guy (and a friend-of-Goldblog), a huge brain, a powerful inside player, and a highly-respected adviser to both the president and vice-president. But he’s not the president, or the vice-president, or a cabinet-level official. He’s the choice of a White House that isn’t interested in upsetting its tenuous relationship with the Jewish establishment.