Recently, this newspaper took a rather benign approach to J Street, recognizing its right to criticize Israel and its policies, and suggesting that Ambassador to the US Michael Oren should have consented to appear at J Street's current conference in Washington to "challenge the organization," rather than reject its invitation ("Miles from Main Street," editorial, October 23).
As chairman of the American Israeli Action Coalition (AIAC), an organization that seeks to represent the 250,000 Americans living in Israel, I know many who have firsthand knowledge of J Street and understand the havoc it intends to visit upon Israel. We most respectfully disagree.
Israel is a dynamic, democratic country with a well-established history of feisty internal political discourse and sharp internal criticism of its various governments and policies. Were J Street an Israeli organization which engaged in such battles within Israel, The Jerusalem Post's recognition of its right to do so would be eminently correct.
But that is not what J Street is or does. It is an American organization whose purpose is to vociferously criticize Israel and its policies (as well as lobby for the adoption of policies which are contrary to its best interests) before the US government. The American-Israeli community, having lived in the US, is keenly aware of the serious danger of such activities.
Most American-Israelis I have spoken to recognize J Street for what it really is - a radical, far left organization funded and supported by radical forces. A true wolf in sheep's clothing. Indeed, J Street's executive director, Jeremy Ben-Ami, just confirmed that truth by declaring at the J Street conference, "[w]e are here to redefine and expand the very concept of being pro-Israel." Israel's greatest enemies could not have articulated it any better.
J Street calls itself a "Washington-based Israel lobby group." However, it has not disclosed its client. Is it the State of Israel, which to date has - correctly - not identified itself with J Street? Hardly. Is it the Americans living in Israel? Ridiculous. Is it the knowledgeable American Jews who are vitally interested in the security and growth of Israel? Certainly not.
IN AN interview in this newspaper a number of months ago, Ben-Ami made numerous highly questionable assertions. For example, he stated:
1. That a State of Israel "accepted both internationally and in the [Middle East]" does not yet exist.
2. "The single most important thing that can be done to guarantee Israel's long-term survival" is to grant the Palestinian demands.
3. The Arab rejection of the 1947-48 partition plan and prime minister Ehud Barak's overly magnanimous offer in 2002 to Yasser Arafat of 97 percent of Judea and Samaria - each of which would have given the Palestinians the land they now claim to covet - are merely old history which is not relevant to solving today's "problems."
4. Although the Palestinian leadership is "corrupt" and has "squandered" the billions of dollars, euros and shekels in aid that has been poured into it, the PA is "not a democracy" and "the West Bank and Gaza are, in effect, like two warring states," Israel should nevertheless grant all of the Palestinian demands (while getting nothing in return).
5. J Street is foursquare against Israel taking any military action against Iran's nuclear threat - "even if it were effective" - on the ground that to do so would "give Iran [an] incentive to restart the program."
This sounds like Orwell-speak. Iran's nuclear activities pose a serious existential threat to Israel and much serious and realistic thought must be put into finding the correct Israeli response. Many in our community recognize that J Street's flippant response to Israel's most critical current issue belies its claim of true friendship with Israel.
Recently, J Street announced that it (along with its fellow travelers Americans for Peace Now, the Israel Policy Forum and Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, which J Street has just announced that it will mysteriously "absorb") calls on Israel to transfer Judea and Samaria to a PA which included Hamas, even if all of the PA government's members refused to recognize Israel or even renounce terrorism.
We cannot imagine any friend of the US suggesting that it agree to negotiate with al-Qaida. Similarly, they cannot imagine how J Street can have the chutzpah to claim that it is "pro-Israel" by advocating that Israel surrender to terrorists.
IF J STREET were truly pro-Israel, it would, at the very least:
1. Support the positions and policies of the duly-elected Israeli government, rather than work to undermine them;
2. Consult closely with Americans living in Israel;
3. Call for the international recognition of an undivided Jerusalem as Israel's eternal capital;
4. Call on the international community to more directly and forcefully confront Iran and its nuclear threat;
5. Call for all Arab nations to recognize the State of Israel as a Jewish state without preconditions;
6. Call for the adoption of democracy by all of the countries within the Arab world;
7. Call on the Arab world to itself solve the "Palestinian problem";
8. Call on the international community to condemn all terrorist organizations and activities, and undertake to do everything within its power to eliminate the scourge of terrorism;
9. Call on the international community to specifically designate Hizbullah and Hamas as outlaw terrorist groups;
10. Call on the international community to take the strongest possible action against the rising tide of anti-Semitism in the world.
Unfortunately, J Street has failed to do any of the above.
Indeed, the organization's leadership has never clearly explained why it felt the need to form as a separate and distinct American organization to further Israel's goal, rather than simply join one of the many existing pro-Israel American organizations. This is proof that J Street does not actually have Israel's interests at heart.
At its Washington conference, J Street had no moderate speakers. The Israelis whom it recruited to appear are part of the shameful lot of old leftists and self-promoters. On the other hand, many in the American-Israeli community are heartened by the numerous US elected political figures who, upon becoming apprised of J Street's true purposes, withdrew their support for the conference and refused to attend, notwithstanding the threat of the loss of J Street's financial support. Finally, AIAC congratulates the Israeli government for recognizing J Street's dangerous and nefarious goals and deciding not to lend its support to it.
The writer is chairman of the American Israeli Action Coalition.