Hooray, for the majority of Jewish national organizations who voted today against admitting J Street, the Council of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations (COPMAJO). JNS.org reported this long awaited crucial vote in an article, “J Street rejected by American Jewish umbrella group in ‘big tent’ litmus test”:
In what many observers will see as the de facto expression of mainstream U.S. Jewry’s outlook on J Street, members of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations on Wednesday voted 22-17 (with three abstentions) to reject the membership application of the self-labeled “pro-Israel, pro-peace” lobby. J Street secured the votes of only about a third of the Conference’s 50 members.
The 42 Conference members in attendance in New York exceeded the 75-percent quorum needed to hold the vote, but J Street fell significantly short of the required threshold of a two-thirds affirmative vote from the Conference’s full membership. The result that 25 organizations either voted against J Street or abstained meant that half of the Conference’s members declined to support J Street’s application.
The JNS.org article went on to explain why the COPMAJO rejected J Street:
J Street said in a statement, “This is a sad day for us, but also for the American Jewish community and for a venerable institution that has chosen to bar the door to the communal tent to an organization that represents a substantial segment of Jewish opinion on Israel.”
The Forward reported that at an April 11 meeting during which J Street had failed to win the endorsement of a crucial committee for membership in the Conference. J Street was questioned over donations it has received from liberal billionaire George Soros—whose foundations have come under scrutiny for allegedly funding anti-Israel groups—and over the lobby’s support of the United Nations-sponsored Goldstone Report, which accused Israel of war crimes against the Palestinians. Furthermore, J Street was accused of collaborating with anti-Israel groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine.
Some Conference members were also troubled that J Street, if voted in, would have been the only organization in the Conference of Presidents that endorses or raises money for political candidates through a political action committee.
Andrea Levin—executive director of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), a Conference of Presidents member—told JNS.org that J Street is taking positions “totally out of sync with the Jewish mainstream,” noting its opposition to a 2011 congressional letter criticizing Palestinian incitement in the wake of the Itamar massacre that killed five members of an Israeli family, and more recently, its refusal to condemn the Fatah-Hamas unity deal.
Yet Sarah Stern—president of the Washington, DC-based Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET) think tank and policy group—believes members of Congress are often confused about where J Street stands on Israel. She noted that J Street “has consistently taken the same positions as the Council for American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the National Iranian American Council (NIAC).” CAIR has been accused of being a front group for the Hamas terrorist group, and NIAC routinely takes anti-Israel positions.
Dr. Charles Jacobs—president of Boston-based Americans for Peace and Tolerance, the group behind the new documentary “The J Street Challenge”—explained that J Street breaks a long-honored tradition between American Jews and Israel.
“[American Jews] can freely criticize Jewish leaders in Israel—we can do it publicly, but we who do not live there or have our children on the front lines do not have the right to use our American power to circumvent Israeli democracy, and to try to lobby to get an American administration to impose our views and policies on the Israelis. … J Street’s entire program is designed to break this longstanding agreement,” Jacobs told JNS.org.
There is no reason why the ”pro-Peace Pro Israel” mantra of J Street qualifies it to be inside the Big Tent of the COPMAJO. J Street was seeking the declaration of an instant Palestinian State based on the Palestinian Authority (PA). The PA is corrupt to the core, fraudulently lining the pockets of PA President Abbas, his sons and crony circle with billions of dollars in UN, US and EU aid. The PA has even been called out by human rights groups for violating its own citizens’ human and civil rights. Moreover, it doesn’t meet the 1933 Montevideo Convention defining a state. The unity deal, which was the last straw, was a desperate move by both Fatah and an increasingly isolated Hamas. Hamas is a US designated terrorist group whose 1988 Charter seeks destruction of the Jewish State. Even the Obama White House had to admit that Israel had no alternative but to end the charade. Fatah-Hamas alliance alleged that it now rejected genocidal violence against the Jewish nation could be trusted as a peace partner in any deal. Israel rejected this assertion.
It is not lost on this observer that this vote occurred following the verbal faux pas of US Secretary of State Kerry saying that if a peace deal wasn’t struck by Israel its Arab citizens would be subject to the equivalent of the racist apartheid system of South Africa. All that did was to feed grist for the agit-propaganda mills of Muslim advocacy campus groups in the US promoting Israel Apartheid Awareness. One example is the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) with its dorm eviction notice campaign against Jewish students at a host of American universities. Then there is the anti-Israel Jewish Voices for Peace (JVP), a misnomer, as it supports Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel. Unfortunately, Jewish BDS groups have been backed by some like minded Jewish Federations in New York and Orange County California.
The New York activist group JCCWatch.org organized yesterday evening’s 100 Shofar blast in a protest rally at the mid-town Manhattan headquarters of the UJA Federation of New York. This event was directed at the New York Jewish Federation’s CEO, John Ruskay for inviting The New Israel Fund, Partners for Progressive Israel and B’Tselem to be included in the annual Salute to Israel Parade on June 1, 2014. They are backers of BDS and even the campus Israel Apartheid Awareness weeks.
When PM Netanyahu announced suspension of the Final Status talks, J Street’s mantra virtually collapsed. No instant Palestinian state is possible. Further, J Street’s agenda was blown out of the water by the Palestinian Authority’s Campaign 194 to seek backdoor admittance as a full member at the UN by signing 15 international protocols and agreements.
Today’s COPMAJO vote sends an important message to the United Reform Judaism movement, whose head, Rabbi Rick Jacobs had backed J Street being brought into the big tent. URJ, with a large contingent of its members in the J Street Rabbinic Cabinet constitutes a “back to the future” anti-Israel movement reflecting the pre-Holocaust views of the American Council of Judaism (ACJ). The ACJ rejected a Jewish nation in the ancient homeland, instead staying the assimilation course in America. The ghost of Jeremy Ben Ami’s late Palestinian Zionist Revisionist father and member of the Bergson Group during WWII in America, Yitzhak Ben Ami, must be spinning in his grave over today’s COPMAJO decision. Zionism prevailed, while anti-Zionism was sent packing.
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EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review.