J Street is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, just like Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Bayit Yehudi faction chairwoman Ayelet Shaked said on Wednesday.
She spoke after the American organization criticized Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s Tuesday speech at the UN.
Also on Wednesday, MK Tzachi Hanegbi of Netanyahu’s Likud party defended his appearance at the J Street conference in Washington to The Jerusalem Post, saying that if everyone who criticized the prime minister deserved to be boycotted, Shaked would fit into that category.
On Tuesday night, J Street said Netanyahu missed an opportunity by using most of his UN speech to talk about Iran and not addressing “the promise of a better future with the Palestinians... as if to make it clear that peace is not a high priority for him.”
According to Shaked, J Street “constantly undermines Israel” and is “most similar to the wolf in sheep’s clothing Netanyahu described in his speech.”
“I don’t agree with all of the prime minister’s policies,” the MK, who was a senior aide to Netanyahu when he was opposition leader, said, “but there is no time more important than now to stand behind him.
“The Iranian threat becomes more relevant every day. For Netanyahu to be able to give speeches about an agreement with the Palestinians, he first has to make sure there will be a Jewish state to negotiate with.
The prime minister’s courageous declaration that he will not let Iran have nuclear weapons is important for Israel and the world,” Shaked said.
She called it unfortunate that J Street was “on the populist, bleeding-heart side,” instead of supporting Israel.
The Bayit Yehudi lawmaker took issue with Israeli politicians participating in J Street’s conference this week, writing on Facebook: “Dear MKs, are these [J Street members] your friends? Are these the people with whom you identify? Your participation in the organization’s conference legitimizes their extremist, unbalanced criticism of Israel.”
Shaked cited cases in which J Street called the IDF’s Cast Lead January 2009 offensive against Hamas a crime and called IDF commandos landing on the Mavi Marmara Gaza protest ship in 2010 “cruel brutality.”
Similarly, Deputy Transportation Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) said that in light of the international community’s response to the Iranian nuclear threat, Israeli legislators should show unity and stand behind the prime minister.
“MKs that used an international forum to bash the prime minister behaved irresponsibly,” Hotovely said. “If they have criticism, they should have expressed it in Israel.”
Hanegbi, however, said he was happy to represent the Likud at the J Street conference.
“J Street is a left-wing pro- Israel organization, which shares attitudes with many Israeli citizens. This was a good opportunity to hear their stances and show them mine, without softening or whitewashing the disagreements between us,” he explained. “I don’t agree with them, but [their criticisms of Israel] are legitimate.”
There is a difference between supporting Israel and agreeing with all of its government’s policies, he added.
Hanegbi touted the importance of dialogue, saying it was the only way to have an influence.
“I’m willing to talk to Palestinians, Iran and the extreme Left. We need better communication,” he said.
In addition, criticizing Netanyahu is not a reason to boycott or ignore a group, according to Hanegbi. “There are MKs who have issues with the prime minister’s speech.
Should we boycott them, or newspapers that were critical?” he asked.
In a reference to an opinion article written by Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon, Hanegbi pointed out that “there are deputy ministers in the Likud who criticize Netanyahu in The New York Times and we don’t boycott them.”
Shaked and Hotovely do not hold back their criticism of the prime minister either, Hanegbi said.