In a recent op-ed, “Why J Street speaks to us
” (March 22), student activists
Jesse Rothman and Logan Bayroff claim they “love Israel
It is just the policies of Israel’s current government
that they feel they must criticize and that justify corrective
If only these apparently well-meaning students realized
that the vast majority of J Street’s critics have absolutely no problem with
American Jews shrugging off the outdated paradigm of unconditionally supporting
Israeli policy. This is not the issue.
The issue is whether they are
choosing the appropriate forum to express these dissenting views. Unfortunately,
J Street is not such a forum. It has increasingly become a useful tool for
fringe groups working to delegitimize Israel while claiming that “even the Jews
agree with us.”
The issue is choosing partners and conference speakers
who advocate economic war on Israel, and who do not support a solution that
would preserve Israel’s Jewish character.
If, as the authors say, they
love Israel, then they would enlarge the tent of support to include other true
pro-Israel and Zionist actors, rather than enlarging it to embrace those who
subtly but effectively call for its destruction.
participants at the recent J Street Conference state that those moderate
speakers who spoke of a two-state solution received only weak applause, whereas
the (many) speakers who called for BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions) and
lawfare received wildly enthusiastic responses.
The authors proudly write
about the members of the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement with whom they
This is a movement that questions the right of return of
Jews to the State of Israel – the raison d’être of the country. In a recent
quote in The Jerusalem Post, Avner Inbar, the spokesman for Sheikh Jarrah
Solidarity Movement, said Israeli policy allowing Jews to immigrate freely while
denying similar rights to Arabs and Palestinians clashed with his organization’s
manifesto, and that he considered the Jewish Law of Return
Is this really who Rothman and Bayroff want to be
associated with? Do they honestly believe that what is best for Israel is to
engage with deniers of its right to exist as a Jewish homeland? Moreover, do the
authors really think that those on the Right whom they accuse of attacking J
Street don’t want Israel “to be both patriotic and democratic, to protect the
security of the state and its Jewish character while honoring the rights of all
peoples”? The more J Streeters demonize what they refer to as the Right for
critiquing the organization, the more they marginalize
Finally, while wrapping themselves in the mantle of famous
humanists such as Martin Luther King and Abraham Joshua Heschel (who were social
activists as well as strong supporters of the Jewish state) may give credence to
their views, it cannot cover the unsavory and potentially dangerous elements
they are associating with through J Street as it is currently
Fight for your particular vision of a democratic and just
Israel by all means; just find a forum to do so with those who want essentially
the same thing as you – a proudly Zionist country that can provide a secure
homeland for the Jewish people.
The writer is chairman of Hadar-Israel’s
Young Leadership Division.
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