The White House has made unmistakable gestures to lend support and legitimacy to J Street (the name is a play on the lobbyist corridor on K Street; Washington has no street named J). After including the group in a private meeting over the summer for major American Jewish organizations, it took the more notable and public step this week of sending Mr. Obama’s national security adviser, Gen. James L. Jones, to deliver Tuesday’s keynote address at the J Street convention.
General Jones did not offer any new policy prescriptions but received prolonged standing applause when he told the crowd of more than 1,000, “You can be sure that this administration will be represented at all future J Street conferences.”
But among the missing at the conference was the Israeli ambassador, Michael B. Oren, who declined to
attend, and more than a dozen of the 161 members of Congress who had agreed to be included on an honorary committee for the event. The Congressional members who reversed themselves asked that their names be withdrawn after some opponents of J Street asserted that supporting the group was not in Israel’s best interests.
Some Israeli officials have said privately that they do not want to offend AIPAC and its members who have loyally supported the Israeli government for years. Ambassador Oren said in an interview that he declined to attend because of concerns “about several of J Street’s policies that may impair Israeli interests.” He said that he was not ordered by the Israeli government to skip the conference but that the government shared those concerns.
“The politicians have been lucky over the generations that the United States supports Israel. During one of my visits to South Africa, a tough Afrikaner said to me that if they had had 5 million Afrikaners in America, they would never have given up South Africa. Maybe this is so and maybe not. But there is no doubt that the American Jews’ strength has caused even those presidents who have not especially loved Jews to support Israel, or will win their support for Israel in the future.”
“The Israeli reaction to serious peacemaking efforts is nothing less than pathological…
This pathology has been aided and abetted by American Jewish organizations whose agendas conform to the political and ideological views of Israel’s right wing. These organizations do not reflect the views of most American Jews who voted overwhelmingly — nearly 80 percent — for Mr. Obama in the presidential elections.
Only a U.S. president with the political courage to risk Israeli displeasure — and criticism from that part of the pro-Israel lobby in America which reflexively supports the policies of the Israeli government of the day, no matter how deeply they offend reason or morality — can cure this pathology.
If President Obama is serious about his promise to finally end Israel’s 40-year occupation, bring about a two-state solution, assure Israel’s long-range survival as a Jewish and democratic state, and protect vital U.S. national interests in the region, he will have to risk that displeasure. If he delivers on his promise, he will earn Israelis’ eternal gratitude.”
Siegman’ right. If 80% of Jews voted for Obama (maybe many of my readers, too), then you voted not only for change in America – you voted for change in foreign policy, and especially in the Middle East. What the American president needs is more backing in Congress to make a move. He needs Senators and Congressmen that have been voted in with help (money!) from JStreet. And if Jtreet can help get into Congress more reasonable voices, like Brian Baird, who seems to have an honest interest in ending the pain on both sides, wouldn’t you want to take part in that? Listen to this guy: