J Street goes on offensive, targets 2 US candidates

Until recently, J Street says, it's worked defensively, "Now we’re taking it to the next level.”

United States Capitol Building Congress 390 (photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
United States Capitol Building Congress 390
(photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
WASHINGTON – J Street opened up a new front in its lobbying efforts Thursday, releasing ads that attack two candidates for not being “pro-Israel” because they don’t endorse a two-state solution.
Until recently, according to J Street spokeswoman Jessica Rosenblum, “J Street has been working defensively, standing up for candidates who stake out pro-peace, pro- Israel positions. Now we’re taking it to the next level.”
The ads represent a new offensive posture of going after politicians whom the organization believes hurt the cause of peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
One ad targeting Representative Joe Walsh, an Illinois Republican, will be broadcast during the Sunday morning news shows in the Chicago media market, while the ad targeting Florida Republican Allen West will only be shown online.
Both productions are similar and accuse the congressmen of “playing with fire” by opposing a two-state solution, noting that Israel’s last three prime ministers have all called for the creation of a Palestinian state.
But the candidates and their staff don’t see the J Street attacks changing their tactics or their appeal to voters.
“J Street does not support the strength and security of the State of Israel, and is in fact anti-Israel,” West fired back in response to the lobby’s ad. “J Street’s efforts to attack me only embolden my stand for our greatest ally and my spiritual home, the State of Israel.”
Walsh chief-of-staff Justin Roth said that his representative wears attacks from J Street like “a badge of honor.”
He added the weekend ad buy could help Walsh with those who see it.
“They’ll think, good, the Congressman is doing something right on Israel,” he argued. “If J Street is attacking you, you know you’re doing something right.”
Rosenblum disagreed with Roth’s assessment.
“I don’t think that will be borne out,” she said. “I believe that J Street’s support for a two-state solution and American leadership has broad and growing support among American Jews.”
Roth didn’t dispute the assertion in the J Street ad that Walsh supports a “onestate solution,” explaining that the Congressman doesn’t believe that a two-state solution is possible now given the lack of an “honest partner” on the Palestinian side, particularly given the strength of Hamas.
Walsh on Thursday also sent a letter to US House leadership calling for all aid to Egypt to be suspended until the government under the new Egyptian President, Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood, “publicly reaffirm Egypt’s treaties, promote peace with Israel, and continue to recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.”
Thirty-four members signed onto Walsh’s letter.