The late April vote to exclude J Street from the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, the umbrella group representing American Jewish interests in Washington and internationally, has led to a moment of soul-searching among community leaders and activists.

The vote, while expected, has crystalized what seems to be a growing divide between the established leadership of the community and a rising number of its rank and file when it comes to the issue of Israel. It has highlighted the question: What is American Jewry’s role in its relationship with Israel? Is it simply to salute and support the government, or is there room for a constructive dialogue where both sides frankly and honestly express their views and ideas? J Street has contended since its inception six years ago that the established American Jewish community was increasingly shutting down intelligent debate about Israel in favor of a rigidly enforced conformity in which the only acceptable position was to blindly support anything and everything the Israeli government does. It would be difficult to find a better illustration of this than the Conference of Presidents’ vote.

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