Any pretense that J Street is a pro-Israel organization has been destroyed by that organization’s refusal to participate in a solidarity rally for Israel during the recent crisis in Gaza.
The Boston Jewish Federation worked hard to create a rally that included all elements of its diverse community. Its goal was to send a single and simple message: at a time when so many in the world are united against Israel’s efforts at defending itself from Hamas rockets and terrorist tunnels, the Boston Jewish community stands in solidarity with the nation state of the Jewish people. In order to assure that this message of unity was sent, no signs were permitted except for the unity message that was intended to be sent. That message was: Stand With Israel. Simple and straight forward.
Speakers were limited to those who were part of the broad Jewish consensus including Rabbis, political and business leaders and the highly regarded head of the Federation, Barry Shrage, whose commitment to peace and the two state solution is well known.
Initially J Street agreed to be a co-sponsor of this unity event, but then—presumably after receiving pressure from its hard left constituency, which is always looking to bash Israel and never to support it—J Street was forced to withdraw its sponsorship. The phony excuse it offered was that the rally offered “no voice for [J Street] concerns about the loss of human life on both sides” and no recognition of the “complexity” of the issues or the need for a “political solution.”
This is total nonsense and an insult to those who spoke at the rally. The executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council spoke of the “suffering” of the people of Gaza and how “painful” it is “to see innocent people dying, including children.”
Barry Shrage spoke of the “tragedy” of innocent Palestinians being killed. All the speakers acknowledged the “complexity” of the issues and want to see a political solution to the conflict. Yet J Street refused to be part of this unified show of support for Israel.
J Street has whined about being excluded from the mainstream Jewish community, but it is J Street that has excluded itself from joining in community activities such as this rally. It was J Street that decided not to participate in a unity event that was jointly sponsored by the Jewish Federation and the Jewish Community Relations Council.
J Street has sought and received membership in these sponsoring organizations but then made a decision to withdraw its own sponsorship from this community-wide event, precisely at a time when unity was most needed. J Street has always insisted on a double standard. On the one hand, it wants to be part of the Jewish community’s Big Tent, but on the other hand, it refuses to allow dissenters into its own narrow, ideological tent. I know, because I have personally asked to speak to its members at its convention.
J Street has adamantly refused to allow its members to hear my centrist point of view—I support the two state solution and oppose Israel’s settlement policies—while welcoming extremists speakers who support boycotts of Israel and who refuse to recognize Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people.
Its own tent flap is open only on the left side, not in the center. J Street’s decision to refuse to sponsor this community-wide Stand With Israel rally during so critical a time has drawn a line in the sand. If you can’t support Israel now, how can you call yourself a pro-Israel organization? How can any member of J Street now look at themselves in the mirror and say, “I belong to a pro-Israel organization.”
I call on members of J Street who are truly pro-Israel to leave that divisive organization and to join with us who truly support Israel during times of crisis, while remaining critical of some of its policies. If you are pro-Israel, you do not belong in J Street, because J Street can no long credibly claim to be pro-Israel.
If there was ever any doubt about that, J Street’s actions in refusing to join the Stand With Israel Rally should resolve them. So if you want to stand with Israel, stand up against J Street and stand with organizations that support Israel during times of crisis.