In the Tent, or Out: That is Still the J-Street Question

[Note:  On May 3rd, Daniel Gordis addressed the “J-Street Leadership Mission to Israel and Palestine.”  The following column is based on his remarks that day.]

Good morning and welcome to Jerusalem.  It’s a pleasure to meet with this Leadership Mission; I understand that there are some first time visitors to Israel among you, so a particular welcome to those of you who’ve never been here before.

Before we got seated, one member of your group conveyed a message from the Israeli Consul General in his home community.  The message was that I shouldn’t speak to you.  As you can imagine, I received similar advice from a wide array of people after I received your invitation; but I’ve chosen to ignore it.  As most of you know, I disagree strongly with much of what you do.  But I think that we have an obligation to meet with people with whom we disagree.  Given the extent of the forces aligned against Israel, seeking to delegitimize the very idea of a Jewish State, the pro-Israel camp needs a big tent.  Neither Israel nor the Jewish People will survive if we work only with those with whom we agree.  A big tent, by definition, means including people whom we disagree passionately, but who still share our basic goals.

Even a big tent, though, has its limits.  There are things that one can say, or do, that place a person or an organization outside that tent.  You know very well that there are many people who believe that J-Street is outside the tent, not in it.  I’m not yet certain.  That’s why I’m here.

Let me begin with a basic assumption:  I assume that we want the same thing.  We seek two states in this region, one a thriving, Jewish, democratic Israel, and the other a thriving, non-Jewish, democratic Palestine.  Of course, there are Israelis on both ends of the political spectrum who do not wish this.  Some Israelis no longer believe in the importance of a Jewish State and would prefer a State “of all its citizens” between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.  But as that would make Jews a minority in this country and thus end the Zionist project, I’m utterly opposed to that.  There are also Israelis who still resist the idea of a Palestinian State and who would prefer to either exile millions of Palestinians or forever keep them under our thumb as non-citizens, either of which is morally obtuse.  But the vast majority of Israelis, if presented with a genuine opportunity to live side by side a democratic, transparent, peaceful, de-militarized Palestine, would accept it.

So, assuming that that’s what you also seek, I assume that our disagreement is about how to get there.  You believe that people who are not willing to make major territorial concessions to the Palestinians right now are not serious about a two-state solution.  You think that those of us who claim that we favor a two-state solution but who are not willing to give up the store at this moment are bluffing.  Or we’re liars.  Or, at best, we’re well-intentioned but misguided.  But bottom line, if we’re not willing now to make the concessions that you think are called for, then we’re not really pursuing peace.

But that is arrogance of the worst sort.  Does your distance from the conflict give you some moral clarity that we don’t have?  Are you smarter than we are?  Are you less racist?  Why do you assume with such certainty that you have a monopoly on the wisdom needed to get to the goal we both seek?

In preparing for this morning’s session, I did a bit of reading of statements that you’ve issued on a whole array issues.  One, just released, is a perfect example of the certainty and arrogance of which I’m speaking.  Reacting to the most recent Fatah-Hamas agreement, this is what J-Street had to say:

“In fact, many who oppose a two-state deal have, in recent years, done so by arguing that divisions among the Palestinians make peace impossible. Obviously, reconciliation [between Fatah and Hamas] reduces that obstacle – but now skeptics of a two-state agreement have immediately stepped forward to say that a deal is impossible with a Palestinian unity government that includes Hamas.”

“Obviously,” you say, “reconciliation reduces the obstacle [to a peace treaty].”  But I would caution you against ever using the word “obviously” when it comes to the Middle East.  Nothing here is obvious.  If you think that something is obvious, then you simply haven’t thought enough.  Why is it obvious that Fatah’s signing a deal with Hamas, which rejects Israel’s very right to exist, reduces obstacles to peace?  Isn’t it just as plausible that it makes peace impossible, or that signing a deal and returning large swathes of land to a group still sworn on our destruction would be suicidal?  I suppose that reasonable minds could debate this matter, but how is it “obvious” that this is good news for peace?

And then you go on to say that “skeptics of a two-state agreement have immediately stepped forward to say that a deal is impossible with a Palestinian unity government that includes Hamas.”  There you go again, telling us that if we don’t agree with you, then we’re not serious or honest.  If we think that the Fatah-Hamas deal is terrible news for peace, then we’re just “skeptics of a two-state agreement.” In your worldview, there’s no possibility that we’re just a bit more nervous than you are, that we do not want to make a mistake that will turn our own homes into Sederot, that we are frightened of restoring the horror of 2000-2004 to our streets, buses and restaurants.  No, that possibility doesn’t exist, because anyone who doesn’t agree with you is by definition a “skeptic of the two-state agreement.”  I’d suggest that if you want to convince those of us still deciding whether you’re part of the big tent that you are “in,” that you drop this sort of condescension.  It’s arrogant and intellectually shallow; it doesn’t serve you well.

And if you want those of us who are still unsure to become convinced that you are part of the Big Tent, then I have another piece of advice for you – recognize that not everyone can be part of the tent.  There are groups who are clearly opposed to Israel’s existence as a Jewish state; they are our enemies.  It doesn’t matter if they are in Israel or outside, or if they are Jewish or not.  If they are working to end Israel, or to end it as a Jewish and democratic state, then they are our enemies, plain and simple.  There are enemies who cannot be loved or compromised into submission, and you need to recognize that.  The BDS [Boycott, Divest and Sanction] movement is a case in point.  No one in their right mind doubts that BDS is opposed to Israel’s continued existence as a Jewish State.  So why were they invited to your annual conference?  There need to be limits to those whom you’d welcome into your tent.  You need to show us that you care about Israel more than you care about dialogue with Israel’s enemies.

I still remember the first time I was struck by this tendency of yours to assail Israel when you’d been silent about what Israel’s enemies were doing.  It was the first day of the Gaza War at the end of 2008.  Sederot had been shelled intermittently for eight years, and relentlessly in the days prior to the beginning of the war.  It was obvious that this couldn’t go on, for the first obligation of states to their citizens is to protect them.  For years, Israel had been failing the citizens of Sederot.  But when Israel finally decided to do what any legitimate state would do, J-Street immediately called for a cessation of hostilities.  The war was only hours old, nothing had been accomplished and the citizens of Sederot were still no safer than they had been.  But J-Street had had enough.  Why?  Why had you said almost nothing for all the years that Sederot was being shelled, but within hours of the war’s beginning were calling for it to end?  What matters more to you – the safety of Israel’s citizens, or advancing your own moral agenda in our region of the world?

If you want us to be convinced that you’re in the Big Tent, show us.  Show us that there are times that you will stand up for Israel, not her enemies.  Explain why you lobbied Congress against a resolution condemning incitement in Palestinian schools.  Explain why, when Israel is marginalized as never before (a recent poll showed that Europeans rank Israel and North Korea as the greatest threats to world peace!), you pressured the US not to veto a UN resolution on settlements, which the mainstream of American Jewry all thought need to be vetoed.

And ask yourselves this:  if you were to take all the money you’re spending in the United States and do your work here in Israel, trying to strengthen the political parties who are more inclined to do what you seek, how much traction would you get?  We all know that you would get a pretty chilly reception.  Ask yourself why that is.  Is it that we Israelis really don’t want to end this conflict?  We enjoy sending our children off to war? We look forward to the next funeral at Mount Herzl?  We’re not aware that time is not on our side?

Or is it that we live here, and that even rank and file Israelis know a bit more about the complexity of this conflict than you give us credit for?  Why would you assume that we’re stupid, or immoral, or addicted to the conflict?  Why do you insist that the Fatah-Hamas agreement is a good thing, or that it’s best for Israel if the United States twists its arm even harder?  At a time when Israel is so alone, can you see why it’s hard for many of us to buy the argument that you’re genuinely pro-Israel, or that you should be part of the Big Tent?

It’s time for you to show us.  Show us that you seek peace, that you care about the Palestinians, but that even more (yes, more, because that’s what the particularism of peoplehood requires), that you care about us.  It’s one thing to put “pro-Israel” in your tag line, and another to be “pro-Israel.”  You certainly don’t need to be a rubber stamp for Israeli policy – that’s not what’s at issue.  Israel desperately needs critique, and Israelis issue it all the time.  So, too, should Diaspora Jews.

No, what’s at issue is for us to see you pressure someone, anytime, to be in Israel’s camp on something.  That’s what we want to see.  When we see that, more of us will believe that you’re part of our tent, and then, even with all our disagreements, we’ll be convinced that we could work together for a better future for all the peoples of this region.

 

Postscript: in the Q&A session that followed, J-Street Founder Jeremy Ben Ami asked the first question.  He said that he found it “astounding” that I had given an entire presentation “without mentioning the occupation of another people.”  But interestingly, in the May 12th issue of Globes, Vered Kellner, who traveled with the group and went with them from my session to their meeting with Salaam Fayyad, noted that Fayyad didn’t mention the occupation either.  “Is it possible that the occupation conversation simply doesn’t interest anyone anymore?” she asked.

“True,” Ben Ami answered, “neither Gordis nor Fayyad raised the occupation, but we’re here to remind Israelis that you can’t pretend that the occupation isn’t part of reality.”

So here’s my final suggestion – if the way that you’re framing the issues is no longer the way that Israelis and Palestinians are discussing them, is it possible that you are not even addressing the core issues that matter to the people actually in the conflict?  Perhaps the time has come to ask yourselves what matters to you more: actually moving the policy needle, or assuaging your own discomfort with the undeniably painful complexities of this conflict.  If what you want to do is to affect policy, how effective would you say you’ve been thus far?

 

About Daniel Gordis

Dr. Daniel Gordis is Senior Vice President and the Koret Distinguished Fellow at Shalem College in Jerusalem. The author of numerous books on Jewish thought and currents in Israel, and a recent winner of the National Jewish Book Award, Dr. Gordis was the founding dean of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at the University of Judaism.

113 Comments on "In the Tent, or Out: That is Still the J-Street Question"

  • Yona says

    Did you mean to say in the last paragraph “So here’s my final suggestion – if the way that you’re framing the issues is NO longer the way that Israelis and Palestinians are discussing them”? It doesn’t make sense without the word “no”.

  • Priscilla Halper says

    Bravo.

  • Marlene Maier says

    KOL A CHAVOD!! Once again, you have managed to put into words what I have been unable to articulate, with eloquence and clarity. As I see it, at best J Street sees the conflict from the comfort of the U.S. and not the real world complexities of the region. Any errors in judgement have no consequences for them, but dire ones for our beloved Israel.

  • Jerry Burg says

    Slam dunk, fantastic. Thank you for speaking truth into the ears of “J Street”. I commend you most enthusiastically.

  • Menachem Lipkin says

    Absolutely magnificent! Shows the importance of engaging with those with whom you disagree.

  • Ben Derusai says

    Daniel, this is magnificent! This should be required reading for anyone involved in Israel advocacy.

  • I agree with you. I myself had the chance to make your last point directly to Jeremy after he had finished debating David Suissa here in Los Angeles in March/April of this year. I urged him to take steps to show that he and J-Street agree that they have much in common with other Zionists and Israel. I urged him to show a real bond with the people of Israel by helping the people of Sderot with financial donations to aide the children hurt by continuous bombing. I urged him to make a few good will gestures. Not sure that he has done that yet.
    Kol Hakavod.

  • martha says

    Once more you are incisive, direct and very accurate. Kol hak’vod. J-Street makes my blood boil by their dishonest approach to our issues in the Middle East and their alliance with people who would destroy us. J-Street has nothing to offer because of this.

  • Robert Gasner says

    Daniel,

    My late father used to say, “when you are arguing with a fool, make sure he is not doing the same”

    I believe you acquited yourself well and could never be categorized as one who uses a foolish argument, however, can you really look into the mirror and say, “J-Street are not a bunch of fools?” I think if you want to be kind you can muster all kinds of arguments that they are misguyided, have other interests or agends, have love in their hearts, etc, but when push comes to shove its still kind to only call them fools…ok, useful idiots for our enemies would be more precise.

    You presented a cojent argument when you said that, …recognize that everyone does not belong in that tent….so? nu? I do not think they belong in the tent for a myriad of reasons least of all the fact that they don’t live here and have no skin in the game. I had very strong opinions about Israel, the jewish people, and each individual’s part in the re-birth of Medinat yisrael. So after doing what I could from the comfort of Toronto Canada, at huge sacrifice to my family in many areas of life, and tied my future to this people and this land. I get to be in the tent, they have to earn a spot.
    Besides, knowing what you do about them individually and collectively, do you think they really would help? Have you ever been in a heated discussion and you are doing fine, then some “fool” jumps in on your side and really gives the other side a huge advantage. Think about Jeremy Ben-Ami or his tyoe adding to the already muddy political situation here and you might get what I mean.

    We are doing well without them. We are doing just fine with them working against us in Washington. Giving them the honor of your time, wisdom and experience is a waste of time as you learned with the first question asked in the Q&A.

    Tevye’s blessing of “keeping the Czar far away from us” is as pertinent in pogrom-plagued Russia 150 years ago as it is in anti-Israel Pac Washington today. Besides, the effort you put into their negativity is far better spent in the park with your kids, true patriots and the real future of Am Yisrael

  • Bob Carroll says

    Very well done. Especially, but not only, your “unpacking” of the statement about Hamas-Fatah unity. I would love to read an official response to all of it.

  • “There are also Israelis who still resist the idea of a Palestinian State and who would prefer to either exile millions of Palestinians or forever keep them under our thumb as non-citizens, either of which is morally obtuse.”

    Dr. Gordis, the implication is that we must line up alongside these two neat positions you offer. There are other positions, such as my own: Gaza and Jordan are TWO existing de facto Palestinian states. The Arabs of Israel are not under our thumb. Israel treats them better than they are treated in Gaza or in Jordan. If they prefer the rule of their own people, they are free to leave.

  • Amy Lipiton says

    Brilliant and compelling. Thank you!

  • Saul LIeberman says

    Worthy of a joint session of congress!

    Anyone else would have, at best, strived for valid, perhaps nuanced, criticism.
    YOU created a path for J Street to enter the tent.
    The J Street leadership may not change. But I am certain that you had a positive impact on their membership.

  • Allen Nutik says

    Oren’s response is both patient and excellent!
    Regretfully, J Street is in the wrong tent.
    I am simply astounded that so many American Jews just don’t ‘get it’.
    Israel and worldwide Jewry are irrevocably linked…. but so many in diaspora Jewry are blind to our precarious perch.
    “Am Yisrael Chai”

  • Sol Bleiweis says

    As usual an excellent article. J Street can not be pro Israel and meet and agree with Israel’s enemies. Ben Ami showed his true colors when the only question he had was about the “occupation”.

  • Hillel says

    Your analysis is instructive on several counts. It explains much of the distrust of J Street — poor judgment (eg naive about Hamas), rushing to judgment (eg on Israeli military responses), and lack of consistent or balanced criticism (eg apparently refusing to judge Palestinian wrongs), etc. in other words, you offer unambiguous reasons to doubt their judgment (or exercise thereof).

    But the talk also relies on a discourse of dis/loyalty, which is less helpful because it is vague, ad hominem, or circular. (Eg, they’re arrogant, they are wrong if they don’t live in Israel, they don’t get others to join the “israel camp.”) Instead, it would be good to hear you state clearly why you (do or might) reject them on the basis of their foundational principles. In particular, Isn’t their basic premise that a negotiated final agreement (2-states) is essentially (even necessarily?) in Israel’s best interests and hence pro-Israel? Or, similarly, don’t they assume that a mutually negotiated end to the occupation must be the overriding priority for Israel’s own sake? So, while it’s important to know about your discomfort or distrust, please also explain whether those premises are necessarily anti-Israel. Otherwise, If these premises (or emend my formulations as needed) are correct or at least plausible, then aren’t they actually fulfilling your “loyalty test” of bringing people into what your talk calls (vaguely) the “Israel camp?”

    Thanks very much and chag same’akh.

  • betty steinberg says

    Thank you, Dr Gordis! Just brilliant.

  • Hillel Stavis says

    Ba da boom, Daniel! Notice that the lawyer, Ben Ami, chose not to address the many, unassailable points made by you, but, rather, employed the old courtroom trick of shifting the theme to something else: The “Occupation”. And you answered that equally well. (except I would have added that it is impossible for a people to “occupy” its aboriginal territory. One final note: If J Street is so insistent on demanding that Israel “dialogue” with its self-described mortal enemies, then why has Ben Ami steadfastly refused to sit down with evangelical Christians in this fight?

  • Mitchell Shadowitz says

    What a brilliant piece. The audacity of Mr. Ben Ami to side step the issue is noteworthy. I believe J Street is anti-Israel. I commend you for addressing them because you had a lot to say and ask. You have moral clarity of mission and experience. You didn’t even have to mention Goldstone or the Flotilla.
    If J Street is pro-Israel they have yet to show it. If they are pro-Israel they should stop wasting their contributors funds and join the wide fold of the AIPAC tent and not waste precious resources.

  • erika says

    Well said, Danny. Kol hakavod for opening the dialogue. Everyone who claims to be pro Israel has to have red line that they simply won’t cross. What are J Street’s?

  • Jim Morgenstern says

    I am a dual US/Israeli citizen; I have lived 20 years of my life in Israel.

    The prime lesson I have learned is that being in the Land changes ones perceptions. I have known hawks who became doves and doves who became hawks when they moved to Eretz Yisrael.

    The American Declaration of Independence ends with the statement that the signers pledge their lives, their fortunes and their honor. Living in Israel means that we have committed our lives (and our families lives) and our fortunes — the conversation is no longer an academic exercise in philosophy but has traveled the distance from our brains to our gut. Until someone makes that shift from brain to gut they just don’t really know how they would respond.

    Governments/States/Peoples are required to act in their own best self-interest. Placing ‘morality’ ahead of state self-interest is in its own way immoral.

  • I agree with the rest of the comments – an extremely cogent, powerful argument, which sums up, much better than I could, what is wrong with J-Street’s approach.

    I’d love to hear more about their reactions. Not only “did they realize the error of their ways” type of stuff (which, let’s face it, almost never happens in any setting like this!), but also whether they had some valid counter-points to what you said. Any insight?

  • Sam I Am says

    Thank you Dr. Gordis, for nailing this issue right on the head. J-Street continues to dwell in a language that is no longer relevant to the discussion of peace, causing serious harm to the efforts of Israel in the process.

    It is sad that there are still Israelis and Jews (such as Varda Epstein–see above comment) who embody your statement “(t)here are also Israelis who still resist the idea of a Palestinian State and who would prefer to either exile millions of Palestinians or forever keep them under our thumb as non-citizens”, and who thus also remain outside the tent. One can only hope that these “outsiders” on both sides (and particularly J-Street) will become smaller in numbers, and become more marginalized, while not causing additional damage to the efforts of peace.

  • Billie Kozolchyk says

    Another brilliant piece. Dr Gordis. And this is post my good luck hearing you once again at AIPAC. In that talk, you spoke a truth that the members of J Street seem not to know. Hamas wishes the extinction of Israel: “Israel will exist until Islam obliterates it as it has obliterated others before it.” The whole Hamas covenant is filled with such charming thoughts. Do you think anybody at J Street has read it? And I, like you, am for that ever elusive 2 state solution. In whose lifetime? Certainly, as a woman in her 70′s, not mine.

  • Miriam Segall says

    An elegant analysis. But J Street isn’t interested in working in Israel because they know that they wouldn’t have traction there. They are interested in changing American policy because they think that American pressure will get Israel to do what J Street wants (to the applause of their own American friends). And with Obama as President they have had traction in the US. (Whether Obama is beginning to perceive some of the reality that Daniel Gordis so accurately describes is another question.)

  • Sam I am too says

    Having reread your article several times, I think you have answered the question posed in its title rather completely
    OUT

  • Sam I am completely misunderstands me. I do not resist the idea of a Palestinian state. I resist giving them a third.

    No one is under anyone’s thumb, except maybe Israel under the thumbs of those forcing salami tactics on her citizens in exchange for missiles, more terror, and never peace nor acceptance.

    A handshake on the White House lawn? A pat on the head as we die in our homes and on the streets of our cities?

    They have two states. I do not resist giving them a state or self determination. I resist giving them a third state, carved out of mine.

  • Jed says

    “One of the curious things about the Arab-Israel conflict is that the truth behind the conflict cannot be said: The simple truth that there is no “peace process”, there never was a “peace process”, and the Arabs want Israel eliminated. It’s a testament to how off-limits this truth is that, until this Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal, for all its conservatism, never published an op-ed saying so. Perhaps Stephens’ piece is the start of something new.

    It’s impossible to enact intelligent policy when it’s based on a lie. Of course, Israel contributes to the problem by endorsing the ‘two-state solution’. Israel needs to be the first to say this is a delusion. Only then can we expect things to change.
    Mr. Netanyahu had broken through the wall of silence when he said: “My friends, the root of this conflict never was a Palestinian state, or lack thereof. The root of the conflict is, and always has been, their refusal to recognize the Jewish state. It is not a conflict over 1967, but over 1948, over the very existence of the State of Israel.”
    There it is. The cat’s out of the bag. Truth is back in style. We can now expect a drastic change of policy. The prime minister understands the nature of the conflict and, following things to their logical conclusion, will put a stop to a policy that assumes the Arab-Israel conflict is a territorial dispute.”

  • carol denbo says

    Thank you Daniel for so brilliantly stating why J Street should NOT be included in the tent of true “PRO-ISRAEL” organizations. Would love for you to forward this to Boston JCRC who has recently voted otherwise!

  • Woldyworld says

    J-Street is borne out of the need for certain American Jews to express publicly their discomfort at standing with Israel. As J-Street supporters are principally serving their own personal needs through their support of J-Street, naturally, their positions would not necessarily align with supporting Israel.

    Supporting Israel is not the point for people active in J-Street. They feel a need to show how as American Jews they can stand apart from Israel, while still upholding the charade of being pro-Israel (it is probably difficult for Jews to be perceived by others to be anti-Israel so they won’t get much support if they don’t at least pretend to be pro-Israel). In reality, their priorities are elsewhere. Put them on sodium pentathol and they will admit to that.

  • Nan Kerry says

    I would wish that a dialogue can be maintained with J St and published by both sides with the responses and counterresponses, so that the public can come to its own conclusions as to whether J St belongs in the tent.
    Since the score so far is lopsided for the Gordis positions, my sense is that J St wont continue to play this game, but continue their attacks on Israel and now possibly on Gordis.
    My real hope and prayer is that J St will use this encounter as a segway back into the big tent by actually beginning to support Israel as much as they do the Palestinians.

  • Josh says

    A very good piece, and, more importantly, it’s about time people in the pro-Israel camp actually engaged those in the J Street and challenged them to carefully consider their goals and ideals and the methods they employ.

    One note on consistency:
    “But I would caution you against ever using the word ‘obviously’ when it comes to the Middle East. Nothing here is obvious. If you think that something is obvious, then you simply haven’t thought enough.”

    Three paragraphs later:
    “Sederot had been shelled intermittently for eight years, and relentlessly in the days prior to the beginning of the war. It was obvious that this couldn’t go on, for the first obligation of states to their citizens is to protect them.”

    Be careful about making statements that are too broad . . .

  • It is invariably an error to impute sincerity to those who don’t have it. One of the commenters above hit it right when Jews who don’t care about Israel are embarrassed before their neighbors to be disloyal and so “profess” to be pro-Israel when, in fact, they are not. Such people contribute to J-Street ( providing employment and notoriety for Ben-Ami ) as well as “other donors”, we know not of.

    What reason does anyone have to believe that J-Street and Ben-Ami aren’t merely hostile Leftists (or, worse, paid hacks ) whose sole goal is to undermine Israel? That some of their members might be “Jewish” means nothing, just as being “Jewish-but-uncaring-of-Jewish survival” fits Ben Shapiro’s phrase “J.I.N.O.s.” ( Jews In Name Only ). Jewish history is replete with apostate Jews whose allegiance to Jewish peoplehood is not only suspect but clearly negative. One has only to mention once-born-Jews Noam Chomsky and George Soros in the present and, yes, Karl Marx in the past, to realize that such people have been around for a long time (e.g. Josephus, once a Jewish general who defected profitably to the Romans ) and have always been a danger, never a plus.

    What would happen to such people paralleled in the Muslim community? J-Street is fortunate (or discerning ) in their choice of targets for disloyal behavior ( as well as being opportunistic for fund-raising.) Perhaps this is an area in which Islam is more practical, and certainly more successful.

  • Aisha2 says

    Git Gesucht!

  • Shelley says

    I agree with Varda Epstein’s comments above. The original partition of Palestine after the Second World War made two new states: Israel and Jordan (which was Transjordan before). The fact that the new state of Jordan refused citizenship to the displaced Palestinians (as did all other Arab countries in the region) does not mean that Israel should be the only country expected to solve the problem of this displaced group. Jordanians and Palestinians are the same people: they share language, religion, ethnicity. Why is this issue always framed as Israel’s problem to solve? Where are the Palestinians’ fellow Arabs in all of this?

  • Annie Cohen says

    Bless your heart Daniel Gordis!!!

  • Jed says

    “We seek two states in this region, one a thriving, Jewish, democratic Israel, and the other a thriving, non-Jewish, democratic Palestine.”

    Daniel that is very liberal of you, and I wish everyone in the world would get along peacefully and the world could live as one , but here on the ground we need to deal with Islam. Islam is not compatible with democracy.

  • Jed says

    Ruth King nails it.

    MY SAY TO ALL THE ENABLERS OF THE OBAMA PLAN
    There have been some terrific responses to the president’s nasty speech, but … oh my!!!! All the high dudgeon from the folks who enabled the current state of events is truly annoying.

    What about the folks here and in Israel who parroted the two state suicide and the surrender of Gaza? Hello Krauthammer and Dershowitz and Bret Stephens and the ADL and all of you fools. Where did you think the two state plan and the removal from Gaza was going?

    Did you ever understand the jihad against Israel? It did not suit you to support Geert Wilders … not too comfy at dinner parties if you act like an Islamophobe, is it?

    You learned to say Myanmar instead of Burma and Beijing instead of Peking, but you would never utter the words Judea and Samaria.

    And all the CYA faux supporters of Israel … Where were you to denounce the Oslo agreements; to give backbone to Israel’s noble and patriotic settlement movement; to denounce any and all suggestions that Israel’s capital could be divided; to denounce the surrender of Hebron which is the first capital of the Jewish people; to denounce all the clones of the original Rogers plan based on Israel’s surrender of its patrimony and legitimacy including Bush’s appalling “road map”….????

    Well you failed. At least Americans for a Safe Israel stood fast and firm.

    Spare me your alligator tears now.

  • boubou aylik says

    i believe J-Street is the enemy of the jewish state ,why ?because we the real jewish people

    the1 with yerouchalaym as capital dont think like you,so please you from the J-Street

    live us alone we dont need you keep your self busy with your life ,thank god we have ashem

    Bibi Natanyhou and Vivi Lieberman why dont you check the mexican frontier.

    J-street !Get lost please.

  • rachel says

    Mazel Tov! Gordis is at his best here! Thank G-d someone can phrase what so many Jews around the world feel about J Street. I cannot stand them and for me they have NO place in the tent…Jeremy’s first question to Gordis shows that he wasn’t even listening. Yasher Koach…This needs to be forwarded to everyone.

  • Zach says

    May you and the pen you write with continue to be blessed with your honesty, forthrightness and articulate manner. Thank you.

  • A brilliant piece by Dr. Gordis. One more point. A country has a government. A democratic country has an elected government. Israel has policies established by its government. The policies of the current government are the policies of Medinat Yisroel at this time. There are, of course, minority positions among the Israeli people. Organizations in other countries which attempt to influence their own governments against the policies of the Israeli government, cannot possibly be considere to be pro-Israel in their activities. If they were the loyal opposition to the Israeli government they could certainly attempt to influence the Israeli people to change their government or they could attempt to influence the Israeli government to change its policies. However, if they attempt to influence another government, e.g., the U.S. government, to pressure the Israeli government to make changes, then they are not a “loyal” opposition, i.e., they are not in the tent.

  • Yuriy says

    Love how well put this is, and so glad someone at least attempted to explain this to J-Street! Amen!!

  • Edie Goodman says

    I think you raised very important issues and used words that were well thought out and to the point. It is a real starting point for some
    intelligent discussion—unlike some of the remarks of your readers. We are dealing with very complex issues and have become polarized as Jews as well as Americans. I think that people need to think about what Obama REALLY said not what they already think about him. I found Netanyahu to be arrogant and disrespectful taking advantage of a political opportunity rather than creating even the slightest hope that a dialogue is a possibility. JStreet presents real problems to liberal Jews here in America. Nevertheless dialogue is important and I thank you for creating the opportunity for it to take place.

  • bendavidNY says

    You tried to appeal to JStreet’s sense of fairness and reason. Not many people could have done so in such a fair, balanced, and eloquent manner!
    Unfortunatley, the truth must come out: there are people in JStreet, especially among the leadership, that are more closely alligned with the Palestinian vision for the future of Israel, and they are willing to risk Jewish lives to force Israel to negotiate with Hammas, or make dangerous concessions.
    Thanks for trying to keep dialogoue alive. In this case, JStreet is far out of the tent.

  • Mladen Andrijasevic says

    Daniel Gordis writes: “In your worldview, there’s no possibility that we’re just a bit more nervous than you are, that we do not want to make a mistake that will turn our own homes into Sederot, that we are frightened of restoring the horror of 2000-2004 to our streets, buses and restaurants. “ I agree, but our nervousness also comes from some of us here having done our homework. For instance Article 7 of the Hamas Charter reads:
    http://www.memri.org/report/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/1609.htm

    “The hour of judgment shall not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them, so that the Jews hide behind trees and stones, and each tree and stone will say: ‘Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him,’ except for the Gharqad tree, for it is the tree of the Jews.”

    The above words in Article 7 of the Hamas Charter are those of Prophet Muhammad taken from Bukhari Volume 4, Book 52, Number 177
    http://www.usc.edu/schools/college/crcc/engagement/resources/texts/muslim/hadith/bukhari/052.sbt.html

    “Narrated Abu Huraira:
    Allah’s Apostle said, “The Hour will not be established until you fight with the Jews, and the stone behind which a Jew will be hiding will say. “O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, so kill him”

    In other words, the question to J Street should be: Do you really believe that Hamas, a religious organization, is going to disregard their Prophet and change Article 7?

  • Barry Weiss says

    I would have answered Jeremy Ben Ami, “Why are you pre-occupied with the [OCCUPATION]lies of the Arabs who have refused to accept a Jewish Homeland and blindly adopt their “Nakba” claim? They deny Jewish history. The only legal title to our Homeland given in the San Remo Conference of 1920-22 has never been quit-claimed. George Soros funded Obama and got a $2 billion loan guarantee for Brazilian oil drilling by Paribas in which he has a $900 million dollar stake. Soros funds you. What does he get in return?

  • misaacm says

    I’ll support J Street when I see an A Street; a pro-peace Arab advocacy organization willing to tell uncomfortable truths to the Arab world, promote compromise, promote equal rights for Palestinians in Arab countries, and working to end anti-semetic incitement.

    Until then, J Street is just another group of useful idiots (Lenin’s term).

  • Irv White, PhD says

    Danny,
    Having just returned to LA from the AIPAC conference, I received a number of e-mailed copies of “In the Tent” forwarded to me, though I do get yours directly. It’s apparent that you hit a chord of assenting emotion within all of us (or most) based on my reading of the above comments. You are no longer “kol hakoreh min hamidbar” but a clarion call loud and clear, musch like Netanyahu’s address to both AIPAC and Congress.

    (I bcc’d to you my own gratitude in receiving a “forward” of your article from a close friend in Canada who has become an important admirer of your dugri style.)

    Kol hakavod!

    Irv White

  • Ed Cogen says

    Fantastic !!! Daniel Gordis hit a grand slam home run !!! Should be required reading for every J-Streeter who really believes J Street is “pro-Israel.”

  • Scott Gordon says

    As always, on the mark and I hope you were able to pound some sense into JStreet’s followers–the arrogance of any of us diaspora Jews assuming that we know better than those of you on the front line never ceases to astound and disappoint me. Shabbat Shalom from near Siena Italy!

    Scott

  • Robert Gutman says

    Rabbi Gordis, I live in a hot bed of J Street activity (your good friend Rabbi Greyber will soon be my Rabbi). The spark you give our efforts to discover the other side of opinion in the woodwork of the community is of inestimable value. What piercing accuracy!! Thanks. BTW, we are making some progress here.

  • Extremely well said. J Street is a dangerous organization as it largely composed of younger Jews who are uncomfortable in their own skin. They seem to be “self-haters” as they can find nothing good or positive about Israel. Do they think that the gentiles will be more accepting of them as the “good Jews”?

    They are equally dangerous because they give succor to Israel’s enemies and to those who seek the destruction of Israel as a Jewish state and with that the eventual disappearance of the Jewish people. We don’t need their so-called conscience to tell us that the deaths of Palestinian children of the continuation of the Arab/Palestinian-Israeli conflict is a bad thing. We know it is, but we also know that despite the very sincere efforts of successive Israeli leaders to end the conflict, the Arabs/Palestinians have said “No, No, No. It is only the destruction of Israel that will satisfy us and end the conflict.”

    Israel needs the J Street crowd to tell the Arabs/Palestinians to tell the Israeli people that they will accept and live peacefully alongside Israel as a Jewish state, and to stop teaching their children to hate all Jews and to become martyrs until the Jewish state has been destroyed. Only then will J Street be worthy of living inside the Jewish tent.

  • paul morton says

    great,great column {as usual ] ,what saddens me is not just J street being outside the tent,but a senior director of J street and NIS, being elected as the new president of the Reform movement
    Also when the president of JFNA thinks it is not appropriate for the federation “to take sides” after Obama’s speech. Just what we need from our leadership-NON LEADERSHIP

  • Yoni says

    My first reflexive reaction when I read this was: “Who are you to tell me whether I am in the tent or not?”
    Apparently everyone defines the “tent” differently (being a Major, Res. in the IDF with two wars history is enough?).
    David Ben Gurion’s tent, for example, was “B’li Herut veMaki”. (without the Communist and Begin’s parties).
    It takes a lot of chutzpah for those who will be out of the tent by BG definition, to make themselves the gatekeepers of the tent now….
    So who is the arrogant here?

  • “It’s a pleasure to meet with this Leadership Mission; I understand that there are some first time visitors to Israel among you, so a particular welcome to those of you who’ve never been here before.” Dr. Gordis says it all in the first paragraph: apparently you can assume leadership position in J-Street without ever having stepped foot in Israel.

  • Janet Tatz says

    Excellent article! I hope this gets lots of press. Those of you who are reading these words, please spread around this article. Very important and timely. Daniel Gordis is a gem ~ a beacon of light in a world that often appears dark.

  • Graham Sher says

    Articulate, passionate and searingly accurate in an area filled with endless complexity. Just excellent, and written with remarkable clarity, thank you.

    I reserve the right to criticize Israel, as I should, but first I support its right to exist, to thrive and to prosper by supporting her insitutions, her people, and her fundamental being. I do not support all her actions, nor all her policies, and I yearn for the two state solution to happen sooner than later, but as you say – in so doing we cannot give away the store, all its contents and the secutiy system that protects it. Trade and barter we must, but retain significnat, proud and relevant ownership after all is said and done! Thanks again Dr Gordis

  • The response from Ben Ami showed very clearly that there is no sense in considering J-Street as inside the tent. Sadly J-Street have opened up a new front against Israel in the UK: we now have a group called ‘Yachad’ which appears to have exactly the same agenda (and sources of funding).

    Edgar

  • Eric K says

    It’s fascinating to me an article about Israel and Palestine and no mention of the biggest problem ISLAM.

  • J Street doesn’t have to take action on behalf of Israelis like sederot in order to be pro Israel; if its mission is to lobby for a two state solution than that activity is not relevant to its statement of purpose.

    However, if J Street takes actions that are clearly detrimental to Israels welfare, no amount of care packages to sderot would make them pro Israel. Advocating againt the US veto was just such an action

    I also thing that living in Israel is no more a reasonable criteria for J street than it would be for AIPAC. That should have been left out of the speech.

  • Also Ben Ami should note that Gordis DID bring up the occupation: He said “There are also Israelis who still resist the idea of a Palestinian State and who would prefer to either exile millions of Palestinians or forever keep them under our thumb as non-citizens, either of which is morally obtuse.”

  • Just a Thought says

    A tempest in a teapot. There will be no peace for several centuries, regardless of what Israel or the Jews do or don’t do.

  • Rob says

    An interesting read, with some fairly strong points. However, Gordis’ central argument strikes me as somewhat unreasonable. It’s fairly clear to me that there is a continuum of positions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as well as some positions that fall outside that continuum. For JStreet to only associate with members of Gordis’ “Big Tent” would be to concede that only JStreet and more rightwing groups have acceptable positions, and effectively stake the claim that JStreet itself represents a fringe viewpoint. What organization would make this claim?

    Case in point: Gordis claims that “[n]o one in their right mind doubts that BDS is opposed to Israel’s continued existence as a Jewish State.” But of course plenty of people doubt that, in fact, its pretty clear to me that many people (particularly the boycotting universities) support the boycott campaigns out of sympathy for the Palestinians (poorly channeled in my opinion).

    I’m also skeptical of the “we live here, we no better” argument. Yes, living in Israel implies a certain level of familiarity with the conflict, it also implies a fair degree of bias. I regret that many JStreet activists likely aren’t sufficiently educated about the conflict, but I’m sure that many are, and while they sometimes strike me as too extreme, I don’t think they can ever sign up for Gordis’ big tent and remain true to their ideals.

  • Bernard Smith says

    To be pro-Israel is to comment positively whenever possible about Israel. J Street is more concerned with anything that might lead to a 2 state solution, no matter how obviously that something might endanger Israel. The members of J Street just do not have the knowledge to advocate. They have to start reading the likes of Bernard Lewis,Shmuel Katz, Dore Gold and the legsl position for Israel’s rights by Howard Grief. They need to start listening to what the Hamas keeps saying and take it very seriously. To me it is clear that J Street is too pro- Palestinian and too little pro-Israel to claim to be pro-Israel.

  • Eric K says

    Ben Chorin has it right.

    “It seems that some people have a hard time understanding what was so
    problematic about Obama’s speech. This is especially the case of Jews
    committed to the Democratic Party (or, more precisely, committed to a
    particular self-image) at all costs. In order to explain the point
    succinctly, it is necessary to say explicitly something that Israeli
    politicians generally talk their way around.

    There will be no peace with the Palestinians and the Arab world. They
    want us dead. We engage in sham “negotiations” with them only because
    of the high diplomatic, economic and political price of not doing so.

    In order to maintain the appearance of negotiating, we need to state
    positions on the central issues. There are two tactics with regard to
    this. One is to offer concessions that are limited enough — either
    territorially or functionally — to do little harm in the event that
    they ever need to actually be paid. This is a fool’s game because the
    amount we can profitably concede in the face of continuing hostility
    is so limited as to not even constitute the appearance of negotiating.
    The second tactic is to condition any concessions on corresponding
    Arab concessions that they are unlikely to ever pay. At the moment,
    requiring cessation of claims on the part of the Arabs is a
    sufficiently high bar, though not without risk.

    What Obama did in his speech (and what Europeans have been doing for
    years) was to counter both tactics simultaneously. First, he demands
    concessions (the 1949 armistice lines as the default in the absence of
    agreement on swaps and no Israeli military positions in the conceded
    territory) that are indefensible in the absence of genuine stable
    peace. Second, he demands these concessions prior to cessation of
    claims by the Arabs (refugees and Jerusalem to be negotiated after
    borders).

    There is a point at which the price of participating in these sham
    negotiations becomes higher than the price of not participating in
    them.”

  • Avichai Levy says

    For me, as an Israeli, and a zionist, it was very annoying to read Gordis’s article which has one main strong argument – “we live here – we know better” – as if the argument is between people who dont live here and who think like j-street, and people who live here, and do not. I live here, was in the army, was as an officer in 85 in lebanon and in 87 in Gaza, and I agree with what j-street say a 100%. I think its unacceptable that we maintaint he occupation for more than 40 years, and to continue would be againsts Israeli interests – morally and practically – even if we have a lot of critisism on the palestinian behaviour. By maintaining the occupation until the palestinians behave better, we punish ourselves only.

  • Thank you Daniel for once again making a cogent article out of something so mercurial and hard to frame that for most folks the mere conversation is avoided due to lack of clarity.

    From all of us who work on College campuses attempting to provide clearer answers to challenging questions… THANK YOU!

  • mordechai goldman says

    Bs”D

    Daniel,
    Yet another angle on this “Mah tovu ohalecha Ya’acov…” question can be seen in the following article:

    “Can a Jew legally cancel his Jewishness?”
    [http://www.jpost.com/Magazine/Features/Article.aspx?ID=222303]

    As a religious Jew who strongly believes in free choice, I have confidence that most of today’s Jews will come back into the tent – of their own volition – BUT:
    it behooves us to convince them that we are NOT trying to convince them to change their thinking. We would like them to expose themselves to listen to others, AND – being in the same tent – we must force ourselves to listen to those we classify as “others”, instead of just talking. The Jewish People is the ultimate pluralistic people, but we prefer to cast aspersions on each other instead of seeking ways of forging our differences to create a new “compound”. – this is the chemist in me coming out, but as long as we’re in that realm, try out the following:
    Common table salt is the chemical compound NaCl – sodium chloride. It is produced by a reaction between two very different elements – antagonistic to each other: Sodium is a very active metal, while Chlorine is a very active (and poisonous) non-metal. They not only react violently with each other, they are each also inimical to the human being and its metabolism. However, once they do react, not only are they no longer dangerous, but the opposite occurs: they become a compound that is ESSENTIAL to human survival.
    An entirely new set of properties is the result of this transformation, and very little was involved in making this happen.
    And the analogy – to the Jewish People, I think is self-explanatory.

  • Gladys Gimpel says

    Dear Danny, you are on the mark and I think this speech is just fantastic.
    Todah, Gladys

  • Louis Kaufman says

    Rabbi Gordis’ cogent arguments undermined his initial assumption about J-Street: that J-Street is pro Israel. The various positions taken by J-Street point to the conclusion that they are opposed to the Jewish state. The only open question is whether this opposition is due to J-Street’s being benighted or malicious. If J-Street is composed of intelligent people, then the latter is true because intelligent people understand that the J-Street arguments are lacking in logic and their positions, if accepted, would lead to the destruction of Israel and the slaughter of millions of Jews; if, however, their postions derive from a lack of understanding of their own positions, then this group is simply composed of the invincibly benighted.

  • Sue Meltzer says

    Excellent article. I hope to pass it on to people who might be thinking along the same lines as “J Street.” Your “arguments” were so well put. Thank you.

  • Richard lindner says

    You bring up a lot of great points.
    Let me try to express my thoughts on this in a short and succinct manner.

    Stop. Stop everything. Stop discussing the giving up of land. Stop discussing Hamas. Stop discussing Fatah. Stop negotiating with them.

    As long as they believe that we should all be killed; as long as their charter says to kill us; as long as they teach their young children to sacrifice themselves to wipe us out; as long as their maps try to make believe that we don’t exist – there is nothing to negotiate, nothing to talk about.

    It has been proven that giving up land for peace doesn’t work. Let us stop making believe and make one definitive statement.

    NO FURTHER NEGOTIATIONS OR CONCESSIONS UNTIL THEY STOP TRYING TO DESTROY ISRAEL AND THEIR JEWISH NEIGHBORS.

    -30-

  • Evelyn Rosenbaum says

    Daniel thank you for talking to these misguided young people. you should be blessed with many years of strength to talk to other misguided jews who believe the arab propaganda. even if they don’t hear you the first or second time the message will penetrate eventually.

  • David says

    Very interesting article. I agree almost completely. At points I disagree with the policies of the Israeli government, but one has to pick his battles. J-Street picks almost every battle, and often chooses to fight the wrong ones the hardest.

    Really strong piece.

  • Miriam says

    Thank you for this wonderful presentation of the situation. I also heard you speak eloquently in Washington, D.C. a week ago. We can only hope that your logical arguments will enlighten their membership and effect some changes in the direction and actions of J Street. BTW, there is no substitute for the experience of living in Israel. The Palestinian’s wouldn’t be “occupied” had any of their leadership chosen to accept any of the earlier peace proposals or stopped barraging Israel with missiles and homicide bombers.

  • Julie says

    Excellent presentation to a group that seems misguided, self-righteous, and more concerned about appearing politically popular than truly just.

  • Yosi Horowitz says

    Dear Dr. Gordis

    You really told it as it is.

    As for Jeremy Ben Ami, he either has never researched the history of the conflict between Israel and her neighboring land masses, or he id deliberately revising history.

    In order to be occupying a territory, there had to be an established entity to occupy. In this conflict, there never was one.

    With the defeat of Germany and her allies in World War I, the Ottoman Empire came to an end. The League of nations unanimously voted to create a Jewish homeland in the historical Biblical land of the ancient Hebrews. Britain, with it’s Balfour Declaration, was given the mandate to administer this land and promptly violated the mandate by creating several Arab States, some of which should have been part of Israel, including what is now known as Jordan. Therefore it can justifiably argued, that parts of Israel are being occupied by Arabs. The UN partition plan violated League of Nations mandate.

    Mr. Ben Ami and his followers would do well to study a little history before shooting their mouths off.

    Yosi Horowitz

  • Nicole says

    Well done! I love your comment that if anyone refers to anything in the Middle East that they haven’t thought about it enough.

  • Nicole says

    I meant, if they refer to anything as obvious..then they haven’t thought about it enough.

  • Al Forman says

    J Street is Hamas wearing a yarmulke.

  • Gordis writes: the particularism of peoplehood requires….

    I’m a little confused… If we all agree that peace would be best for both peoples then can’t you be pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian?

    Here’s an idea… June 5th is the next time we expect the palestinians to “peacfully” demonstrate at Israel’s borders for Naksa day… why don’t peace wanting Israelis gather on the border too and protest..? If your “Pro-Palestinian” and think that the Israeli Government is the problem, you can face towards Israel, if your “Pro-Israeli” you can face the border and if you just want peace you can just shout “I want Peace”! either way it will move the conversation forward.. it’s not a zero sum game… no one needs to win or to achieve the moral high ground and score points… it’s about putting pressure on the various governments to love their children more then they hate their enemies… It’s not about being pro or anti any particular people.. and that’s where Gordis and J-Street are equally at fault…

  • Dear chevra,

    When Martin Luther King went to jail in Birmingham, was he “inside” or “outside” the tent of Alabama? Was he inside or outside the tent of liberal Christian & Jewish clergy to whom he wrote a vigorously challenging letter because they urged him to “wait”?

    When Senator Wayne Morse voted, alone, to oppose the US war against Vietnam, was he “inside or “outside” the American tent, and Lyndon Johnson’s version of the American tent?

    When Tom Hayden led a peaceful demonstration against that war in Chicago, 1968, for which he was later indicted, was he “inside” or “outside” the American tent?

    When Abraham Joshua Heschel stood beside Dr. King to demand an end to that war despite urgent demands from established Jewish organizations and Israeli officials to shut up, was he “inside” or “outside” the tent of the Jewish people?

    When Ismail welcomed Yitzhak into his tent at Beer Lachai Ro’I after they had together buried Ibrahim, was it shameful, or glorious, for Yitzhak to sit within that tent?

    Is it shameful, or glorious, for Israelis and Palestinians to sit together in the tent of the Circle of Bereaved Families whose family members have been killed by “the others” — swearing to make peace, not more killing, out of their grief?

    Perhaps the most important question is not whether they — and J Street — were “inside” or “outside” the tent, but whether they were right in the eyes of God and history?

    And perhaps — if the deep meaning of the tzitzis is that they are threads of connection from each one of us to the world; that as fringes they mix each one’s own cloth with God’s air, YHWH’s Breath; that they teach us that not good fences but good fringes make good neighbors — then perhaps after all we do not really know each other until we do indeed check each others’ tzitzis: Do they make connection, or not?

    Shalom, salaam, shantih, peace –

    Rabbi Arthur Waskow, director, The Shalom Center http://www.theshalomcenter.org; newest book, co-authored with R. Phyllis Berman, is Freedom Journeys: The Tale of Exodus & Wilderness across Millennia (Jewish Lights),

  • barbara monnette says

    I believe there’s a significant type in the last sentence: “If the way you’re framing the issue is longer the way ….” I think you meant “no longer the way”…. jarring.

    Your coined phrase, “particularism of People hood” is very interesting. I assume you mean “tribalism”.

    I found your remarks polarizing and arrogant. To my mind, they do not invite further discussion except to say “you’re right” or “you’re wrong”. I am an outsider, and don’t understand all the emotional/practical ins and outs of this issue, but as someone without a stake in either side, your article appears to alienate rather than mediate, unless one agrees with “your side”.

    When you mention that Israel is not winning any popularity contests in the world, and you use your alienated position as an argument for more support, I want to ask you what your thoughts are as to why you are losing popularity and are being marginalized. Are you interested?

  • Kenneth P. Katz says

    Outstanding speech.

    The only real question about J Street is what is the proportion of useful idiots and what is the proportion consciously anti-Israel activists.

  • Evan says

    If Jeremy Ben Ami’s non-sequitur in response to your speech does not put an end to your ambivalence about whether J Street is in or out of the tent, I am not sure what more proof you would need. Not only are they not in the tent, but by actively seeking to undermine Israel from within the “pro-Israel” community itself they are a Trojan horse seeking to burn the tent down.

  • It’s time to decide if Doc Gordis is better suited to teach government approved History classes, post pictures from Anthony Weiner’s Twitter account and, through his tactics, help Israel increase its evangelical Christian support and further reduce its Jewish Diaspora and world support.

    He may or may not be one of Israel’s leading authors but he is certainly one of its leading peace talk pessimists. Gordis defines who gets to enter the “pro-Israel tent” in terms of whether an individual or organization passes the Gordis “pro-Israel” qualification screen. (Although he would likely argue that his screen is really the Israeli government’s screen.)

    In his recent Shakespearean-titled article — “In the Tent, or Out: That is Still the J-Street Question” — discussing whether J Street, an American based, primarily Jewish organizational supporter of a two state solution, qualifies for pro-Israel tent membership, he starts off by sharing a few points of agreement with J Street: Israel should be a Jewish state and keeping Palestinians in exile or “forever under our thumb, is “morally obtuse.” Good start. Build that bond with your audience.

    But then J Street suffers from Gordis’s slings and arrows as he takes arms and inflicts a sea of mischaracterizations and “straw man” assumptions in an ignoble attempt to tarnish J Street’s pro-Israel bona fides. (Well, Gordis started this Shakespearean thing. I’m just carrying it to its logical conclusion.) He even engages in a pattern of liberally using “we” to purport to speak for “those of us (Netanyahu’s government) who are not willing to make major territorial concessions to the Palestinians right now.” Gordis writes, without equivocation, attribution or reference, that J Street believes people (like him and the Israeli government, of course ) are either “well intentioned but misguided,” “liars,” or are “not really pursuing peace” because “we” won’t follow J Street’s advice. (All juicy red meat for the anti-J Street crowd, even though J Street has neither said or suggested any of that.)

    Or perhaps Gordis meant to express his thoughts in terms of the royal “we,” as in, ‘We are not amused by J Street ‘s public disagreements with our rulings. We do not like dissent.’ In fact, in his latest bloviation on the potential evils of J Street — we aren’t sure if they’re thoroughly rotten yet so we must let their ideas ripen while we offer more guidance to their misdirected and misguided — he clearly demonstrates that he is equally comfortable suggesting that his beliefs represent the way all or most Israelis think and that he also knows precisely what J Street thinks about Gordis and his minions.

    In fact, Gordis apparently sees J Street as such an existential threat to his (Israel’s) and the Palestinians’ comfortable, uncomfortable intransigence that he feels it necessary to exaggerate points of difference and threaten to sew up his/Israel’s pro-Israel “Big Tent” flaps. (Which must differ from his/Israel’s regular tent flaps in some way, but Gordis does not make clear how.) In one particularly revealing part of Gordis’s attack, he criticizes J Street for calling for the 2008 Gaza War to stop and saying “almost nothing for all the (8) years that Sderot (a border city) was being shelled (before that).”

    Hyberbole? Nope. He’s right. He is even kind to say J Street said “almost nothing for all of the (8) years.” Actually, J Street literally said absolutely nothing. Since J Street was actually founded in 2008 that would have been quite a challenge. But it’s an attack that resonates with Gordis and anti-J Street fans and better ensures Gordis’s/Israel’s tent will have even more room for the vetted faithful.

    Gordis also didn’t like J Street’s open door policy at its recent Washington convention, where 2500 Jewish Americans (including 500 young adults) gathered in support of Israel. He spent several sentences lecturing J Street about the evils of the BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement against Israel, while ignoring that J Street is adamantly opposed to BDS and has reiterated that position on many occasions. His main gripe is that J Street included a BDS group on a debate panel at the convention.

    Why do that? J Street’s approach is a quintessentially Jewish one: They use their convention to present a broad spectrum of ideas, with the overarching thought being that J Street’s (and in this case Gordis’s/Israel’s) message resonates even stronger when presented in this context.

    It’s why J Street also welcomes settlement community speakers, right-wing politicians and even people like Gordis who may have permanently closed tents along with their regular size and Big Tents. Still, Gordis doesn’t appreciate J Street’s approach: “You need to show us (both the royal “us” and the Israeli government “us”) that you care about Israel more than you care about dialogue with Israel’s enemies.” And with Gordis’s approach, he appears well suited to create a few more and to also move people who thought they were part of the pro-Israel tent into either other campgrounds or other pursuits.

    Both Netanyahu and Gordis seem to need some help in expanding their thinking about their definitional choices, which focus too heavily on tactical maneuvers and not heavily enough on strategic ideas. Netanyahu’s “defensible borders” translation seems to be based on a belief that strong fences (and security and travel restrictions) make good (and peaceful) neighbors and that Israel will always be able to rely on America’s support to bolster whatever Israel decides it must do to protect itself from a incontrovertibly hostile world. Didn’t Obama just say America would always do exactly that?

    Here’s the problem: Having to so strongly rely on another power to preserve your freedom of action, even if that power is America, is a gaping weakness. To have a strategy that suggests another country will always come to your rescue with superior arms, or just its vote in the United Nations, is to assume America will never suffer a diminishment in its economic, military or political strength and that your “values connection” and key regional security role will forever remain unchanged in a world that is constantly undergoing change, mostly when change is least expected or predicted.

    Netanyahu can look in Israel’s rear view window and see the 1967 lines extremely well, but his view becomes cloudier when other aspects of 1967 are considered. Up until then, Israel’s chief benefactors were the Soviets and French. France, somewhat unexpectedly, broke with Israel after the 1967 war. That led to America stepping in and providing such a large amount of assistance that by 1974 it grew to 25% of Israel’s GDP.

    Israel’s economy has grown significantly since then and while America’s aid has remained roughly the same, it now amounts to only 2.5% of Israel’s GDP. But those who suggest this reduction in America’s contribution to Israel’s GDP is a sign of Israel’s growing self-reliance miss the key point: Because Israel views its security needs more in terms of territory, weaponry and seeking to counterbalance what it sees as the uncontrollable hostile actions of its neighbors, than in terms of diplomacy, strategic alliances, and proactive actions to better ensure more peaceful relationships with its neighbors, Israel is not only dependent on American support, it must have American support.

    Netanyahu can make political decisions to continue adding more and more settlers and settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, maintain a strong but also destabilizing West Bank security presence, and restrict freedom of movement in Gaza and elsewhere, precisely because he knows Israel’s security needs will be met by America’s most advanced weapons technology as well as its U.N. support. Should American support change, even minimally, and Israel maintain its present policies, George Friedman, head of Stratfor, a global intelligence service comprised of former high level intelligence officials, warns that, “This (will be a) mortal danger to Israel — a national security requirement that outstrips its ability to underwrite it.”

    Gordis makes no pretense about the fallacy of peace negotiations. He has written a book whose title — “Saving Israel: How the Jewish People Can Win a War That May Never End” is a window into the “two steps back, two steps forward” ideal stasis that he sees. Yet Gordis is comfortable opening his “pro-Israel” tent to those whose “pro-Israel” actions are at times seriously disconnected from what are traditionally seen as Jewish values. Give the secret “pro-Israel” tent fraternity handshake to Foreign Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who once called for Arab Knesset members to be executed as “collaborators,” and has been widely accused of racism. Welcome Israeli Immigration Committee Chair Danny Danon, who advocates for Israel to annex the entire West Bank. Give the secret entry code to the tent elevator (but have it automatically stop at all the floors on Shabbat) to the ( religious) Shas party and its leader Ovadia Yosef, who described the Holocaust as God’s retribution against the reincarnated soul of Jewish sinners, blamed Hurricane Katrina on a lack of Torah study, said the “sole purpose of non-Jews is to serve Jews” and who prayed for God to strike down the Palestinian leader, Abu Mazen.

    Maybe Gordis is right to question whether J Street fits in this tent.

  • HOWARD STEVENS says
  • martha says

    Regarding J Street’s response to Daniel Gordin:

    While they insist they are inside the tent, they write: “Our tent should be opened as wide as possible to friends of Israel, even those who are at times critical of the government’s policies.” My comment is that there is a tremendous difference between constructive criticism and J Street’s actively working against the State of Israel.

    J Street writes: “I would challenge Gordis to lay out a realistic path to a two-state solution to which both parties could agree and that the world would accept with parameters other than those outlined above.” My response would be to challenge J Street to do the same, and to let the other side try to come up with a solution. I, personally, do not see any solution to a problem when only one side wants a solution and the other side is completely working against it. Specifically, Hamas and the PLO are concerned only with destroying the Jewish state and founding the Palestinian state on its ashes. This cannot be new to J Street: whatever the leaders of these organisations have said has been well publicized. So my point is that J Street would do better to start pushing at the other end and not to try to push Israel into untenable situations that could cause her to risk her very security.

    J Street believes “that the state of Israel has the right and the duty to protect its citizens and to defend itself, within reasonable limits.” Tell me, what are these limits when Israel is fighting for her life?

    J Street writes that they believe “that the proper approach to the reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah is to ‘wait and see’ how the new government acts.” This is totally absurd. You have two organisations, both of which have written charters that state their raison d’etre is to destroy the Jewish state. In addition, they reiterate daily that they will never accept the Jewish state. For what should we wait, do you think?

    J Street writes: “Without a change in the status quo, the Jews of Israel will soon be a minority ruling over a majority of non- Jews while denying them their democratic rights.” This is pure bunk. Arabs in Israel have full democratic and civil rights and serve in the Knesset, the courts and anywhere else they wish. Those Arabs who are not Israeli citizens have full rights to vote in Palestinian elections [whenever those might be]. Just what democratic rights are being denied?

    J Street seems to think very simplistically. If it is not A then it must be B. Tell us how to manage this when 1] we believe in having a Jewish State and a Palestinian state and 2] the Palestinians want only to replace the Jewish State with their own? Don’t be so naive as not to recognize the fact that every compromise or gift we have given has returned an intifada to us. Ehud Barak nearly offered to give away the store, and Arafat’s response? One of the bloodiest intifadas we have ever experienced. I admit that it took me until that time to understand exactly what was being demanded of us. I finally wised up and I suggest that if J Street really cares, that they do too.

  • Marlene Langert says

    Dear Daniel Gordis, I just finished reading your book :Saving Israel”. It was fantastic. I do not recall reading another book that explained so clearly the different factions in Israel, in the Palestinian and arab waaorlds and the jews in the diaspora and how dierent oes cam to the plce they are both in their beliefs, their outlook and how they got there. I do not think there is anyone more opeminded than you. I could hardly put it down I thank you for your incites

    Dr. Arthur Waskow was the head of the Jewish Renewal movement. We have one in Maryland run by Rabbi David Schneyer. From the beginning of the INtifada, he was with the arabs and still is. I had loved the openness of Jewish Renewal, bu now it is very much J Street and I left years ago because they became so anti-Israe and pro-palestinian. It was and still is crushing for me. All those good hearts wated on something that will neve be, we pray.

    Anyway, I love the way you think and hope your thoughts will be heard in high places both here on earth and in heaven.

  • martha says

    An interesting article by Professor Moshe Sharon:

    How to bargain in the Middle East

    No peace, No peace plans, No price for Peace (A short guide to those
    obsessed with peace) Moshe Sharon

    Everybody says that his donkey is a horse.

    There is no tax on words.

    (Two Arab proverbs)

    On December 24th 1977, at the very beginning of the negotiations
    between Israel and Egypt in Ismailia , I had the opportunity to have a
    short discussion with Muhammad Anwar Sadat the president of Egypt .
    “Tell your Prime Minister,” he said, “that this is a bazaar; the
    merchandise is expensive.” I told my Prime Minister but he failed to
    abide by the rules of the bazaar. The failure was not unique to him
    alone. It is the failure of all the Israeli governments and the media.

    On March 4, 1994, I published an article in the Jerusalem Post
    called “Novices in Negotiations” The occasion was the conclusion of
    the “Cairo Agreement.” A short time later, Yasser Arafat, proved yet
    again that his signature was not worth the ink of his pen let alone
    the paper to which it was affixed, and his word was worth even less.
    Then, as in every subsequent agreement Israel was taken aback when her
    concessions had become the basis for fresh Arab demands.

    In Middle Eastern bazaar diplomacy, agreements are kept not because
    they are signed but because they are imposed. Besides, in the bazaar
    of the Arab-Israeli conflict, the two sides are not discussing the
    same merchandise. The Israelis wish to acquire peace based on the
    Arab-Muslim acceptance of Israel as a Jewish state. The objective of
    the Arabs is to annihilate the Jewish state, replace it with an Arab
    state, and get rid of the Jews.

    To achieve their goal, the Arabs took to the battlefield and to the
    bazaar diplomacy. The most important rule in the bazaar is that if the
    vendor knows that you desire to purchase a certain piece of
    merchandize, he will raise its price. The merchandise in question is
    “peace” and the Arabs give the impression that they actually have this
    merchandise and inflate its price, when in truth they do not have it
    at all.

    This is the wisdom of the bazaar, if you are clever enough you can
    sell nothing at a price. The Arabs sell words, they sign agreements,
    and they trade with vague promises, but are sure to receive generous
    down payments from eager buyers. In the bazaar only a foolish buyer
    pays for something he has never seen.

    There is another rule in the market as well as across the negotiating
    table: the side that first presents his terms is bound to lose; the
    other side builds his next move using the open cards of his opponent
    as the starting point.

    In all its negotiations with the Palestinian Arabs, Israel has always
    rushed to offer its plans, and was surprised to discover that after an
    agreement had been “concluded” it had become the basis for further
    demands.

    Most amazing is the reaction in such cases. Israeli politicians,
    “experts” and the media eagerly provide “explanations” for the Arabs’
    behaviour. One of the most popular explanations is that these or other
    Arab pronouncements are “for internal use,” as if “internal use” does
    not count. Other explanations invoke “the Arab sensitivity to
    symbols,” “honour,” “matters of emotion” and other more patronising
    sayings of this nature. Does Israel possess no “sensitivities” or does
    it have no honour? What does all this have to do with political
    encounters?

    It is therefore essential, as the late President Sadat advised, to
    learn the rules of the oriental bazaar before venturing into the arena
    of bazaar diplomacy. The most important of all the rules is the Roman
    saying: “If you want peace — prepare for war.” Never come to the
    negotiating table from a position of weakness. Your adversary should
    always know that you are strong and ready for war even more than you
    are ready for peace.

    In the present situation in the Middle East and in the foreseeable
    future “peace” is nothing more than an empty word. Israel should stop
    speaking about “peace” and delete the word “peace” from its vocabulary
    together with such phrases as “the price of peace” or “territory for
    peace.” For a hundred years the Jews have been begging the Arabs to
    sell them peace, ready to pay any price. They have received nothing,
    because the Arabs have no peace to sell, but they have still paid
    dearly. It must be said in all fairness that the Arabs have not made a
    secret of the fact that what they meant by the word “peace” was
    nothing more than a limited ceasefire for a limited period.

    Since this is the situation, Israel should openly declare that peace
    does not exist as an option in the Arab-Israeli conflict, and that it
    has decided to create a new state of affairs in the Middle East ,
    compelling the Arab side to ask for peace; and pay for it. Unlike the
    Arabs, Israel has this merchandize for sale.

    From now on Israel should be the side demanding payment for peace. If
    the Arabs want peace, Israel should fix its price in real terms. The
    Arabs will pay if they reach the conclusion that Israel is so strong
    that they cannot destroy it. Because of this, Israel s deterrent power
    is essential.

    Therefore, if anyone asks Israel for plans, the answer should be: no
    “plans,” no “suggestions,” no “constructive ideas,” in fact no
    negotiations at all. If the Arab side wants to negotiate, let it
    present its plans and its “ideas.” If and when it does, the first
    Israeli reaction should always be “unacceptable! Come with better
    ones.” If and when the time comes for serious negotiations, once the
    Arabs have lost all hope of annihilating the Jewish state, here are
    ten rules for bargaining in the Middle Eastern bazaar:

    . Never be the first to suggest anything to the other
    side. Never show any eagerness “to conclude a deal.” Let the opponent
    present his suggestions first.

    . Always reject; disagree. Use the phrase: “Not meeting
    the minimum demands,” and walk away, even a hundred times. A tough
    customer gets good prices.

    . Don’t rush to come up with counter-offers. There will
    always be time for that. Let the other side make amendments under the
    pressure of your total “disappointment.” Patience is the name of the
    game: “haste is from Satan!”

    . Have your own plan ready in full, as detailed as
    possible, with the red lines completely defined. However, never show
    this or any other plan to a third party. It will reach your opponent
    quicker than you think. Weigh the other sides suggestions against this
    plan.

    . Never change your detailed plan to meet the other side
    “half way.” Remember, there is no “half way.” The other side also has
    a master plan. Be ready to quit negotiations when you encounter
    stubbornness on the other side.

    . Never leave things unclear. Always avoid “creative
    phrasing” and “creative ideas” which are exactly what your Arab
    opponent wants. Remember the Arabs are masters of language. Playing
    with words is the Arab national sport. As in the market, so also at
    the negotiating table, always talk dollars and cents.

    . Always bear in mind that the other side will try to
    outsmart you by presenting major issues as unimportant details. Regard
    every detail as a vitally important issue. Never postpone any problem
    “for a later occasion.” If you do so you will lose; remember that your
    opponent is always looking for a reason to avoid honouring agreements.

    . Emotion belongs neither in the marketplace nor at the
    negotiating table. Friendly words as well as outbursts of anger,
    holding hands, kissing, touching cheeks, and embracing should not be
    interpreted as representing policy.

    . Beware of popular beliefs about the Arabs and the
    Middle East — “Arab honour” for example. Remember, you have honour
    too, but this has nothing to do with the issues under negotiation.
    Never do or say anything because somebody has told you that it is “the
    custom.” If the Arab side finds out that you are playing the
    anthropologist he will take advantage of it.

    . Always remember that the goal of all negotiations is to
    make a profit. You should aim at making the highest profit in real
    terms. Remember that every gain is an asset for the future, because
    there is always going to be “another round.”

    The Arabs have been practising negotiation tactics for more than 2000
    years. They are the masters of words, and a mine of endless patience.
    In contrast, Israelis (and Westerners in general) want quick
    “results.” In this part of the world there are no quick results, the
    hasty one always loses.

    Moshe Sharon is Professor of Islamic History at the Hebrew University

  • Richard Lindner says

    I think the Proffesor has great understanding of this age old relationship. I wish we would take heed of his words.

  • Sheila Novitz says

    Good work, Dr Gordis. As always. Unfortunately you have a number of jealous detractors, one of whom is someone called Gershom Gorenberg who tries to tortuously twist the tone of everything you write and/or say. One would think he’d perhaps be more interested in joining your fight to save Israel. But no. He denounces and denigrates you, and follows this with an advertisement for his forthcoming book! Guess what is his main priority? Certainly not the fate of Jewish Israel.

    Keep up your remarkable work. All of us are with you, heart and soul.

  • L wineman says

    I was going to write a comment but Gershon Gorenberg citizen of israel f0r 30+ years, idf vet, historian of settlement policy and parent of current chayelet did such a great job I’ll just give his link

    http://southjerusalem.com/2011/06/arrogance-101-lecturer-daniel-gordis/

    the tent is alot broader than the one rabbi gordis erectd

    $64 billion has been spent on settlements am i outside the big tent to think it would have been better spend in the peripheria of the galil and negev inside the green line ?

    you can read a report on the encounter with jstreet here
    http://www.globes.co.il/news/article.aspx?did=1000644643&fid=861&fromsend2friend=1

  • L wineman says

    i worry alot more about behavior like this being considered “inside the tent” then about jstreet. Most israelis have never heard or care about jstreet. This unfortunately is happening at home

  • martha says

    I watched the video you posted, L Wineman, and my translation of what was being sung/chanted was not what was written on the screen. That video with those subtitles seemed to be a video to incite the viewer?

  • L wineman says

    you need to work on either your hebrew or auditory skills here are times on video the quotes and the translation
    1:06 mohammed mayt (mohammed is dead)
    1 33 shyesraf lcfar (may your village be burned)
    1 42 “mavet l’shmolanim”= death to leftists
    2 56 another round maavet l aravim

    instead of denying reality how about joining those of us who believe this behavior belongs “outside the tent”. These are young high school kids the future of israel educating them in this way is far more dangerous to the future of israel than a few 1000 jstreeters

  • L wineman says

    here just for you martha is a longer one with no translation(you can even listen to some nice american mclala girls and their views)

    you can provide your own more accurate translation right here in the comments section

  • Yehuda ben Rifkeh says

    Although not a member of J-Street, I tend to sympathize with their vision of a reasonable two-state solution: 

    • Two states for two peoples – with borders whose definition should be based on the 1967 lines adjusted through equivalent and mutually agreed land swaps so that the major settlement blocs can remain inside Israel; 

    • Security arrangements including demilitarization of the Palestinian state and international forces on its borders to ensure against arms smuggling and terrorism; 

    • Resolution of the refugee issue through financial compensation and relocation of refugees to the state of Palestine or third countries (i.e., “no right of return to Israel” – though negotiations could provide for some minimal family reunification); 

    • The capital of both states in Jerusalem – with Jewish neighborhoods part of Israel and Arab neighborhoods part of Palestine; a special international regime would administer the holy sites, ensuring free access for all.

    Rabbi Dr. Gordis may or may not agree with this rather simple outline. J-Street, however, challenged him to engage in a public and vibrant discussion of the merits of the J-Street proposal. Perhaps in Jerusalem in a public venue? Maybe repeat it in Washington, New York and LA? I anxiously await Danny Gordis’ response.

  • lwineman says

    zeev sternhell one of israel’s most istinguished historian and winner of the israel prize israel’s highest honor
    http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/netanyahu-s-tidings-of-destruction-1.366888

    but i guess he is uninformed and ourside the tent too

  • It’s not the J Street vision of the two state solution that is at issue here. It’s not very different from what PM Netanyahu endorsed when speaking to the US Congress last month.
    It’s the path to get to that vision that is problematic. J Street believes that the way to get there is to increase pressure on Israel, including for the US to allow one-sided resolutions against Israel to pass the Security Council. J Street believes that the way to get there includes supporting Congressional candidates who REFUSED to vote in favor of a resolution supporting that exact two state solution while also supporting Israel’s right to defend itself (in Operation Cast Lead)–at the same time that Jeremy Ben-Ami says that he is not a pacifist and supports Israel’s right to self defense. J Street believes that settlements are a greater threat than Iran and opposed US sanctions against Iran when first proposed.

    Note that Daniel condemned those on the Israeli, as well as the Palestinian, side who did not support such a two-state solution.

    Read the speech again. Read the bottom line: “No, what’s at issue is for us to see you pressure someone, anytime, to be in Israel’s camp on something. That’s what we want to see.”

    The “debate” isn’t about what peace would look like. It’s about how to create the climate for peace. And with the likes of J Street seeking to pressure Israel– and only Israel– why would the Palestinians ever think about making the necessary compromises for peace?

  • martha says

    Hats off to you, Mike Harris, for injecting a little sanity here! J Street advocates keep on and on about what they keep on about, but they do not ever talk to the issue at hand: One who tries to cut off the legs of Israel at every possible opportunity is not, and cannot be called, pro-Israel.

  • fortune says

    Either the J Street membership accepts the fact that Jews always lived in Israel and Israel is Jewish State or it needs to deny their Judaism and take their place with the anti-Israel groups and be honest about it.

  • lwineman says

    fortune
    the jstreet position is pretty clearly set out by ben ami here.

    http://www.jpost.com/Magazine/Opinion/Article.aspx?id=223309

    I think an objective observer would label it “inside the tent”.

    If not our tent has become fairly narrow indeed.

    If you think this doesnt reflect his actual views or those of the organization, that’s your privilege

  • LWineman raises a valid point– is what Jeremy Ben-Ami says truly outside the tent? As I pointed out above, it is not that different from what PM Netanyahu stated before Congress. And Daniel pointed out himself in his speech “Let me begin with a basic assumption: I assume that we want the same thing. We seek two states in this region, one a thriving, Jewish, democratic Israel, and the other a thriving, non-Jewish, democratic Palestine.”

    So the short answer is no, what Jeremy BenAmi SAYS he stands for is not “outside the tent”.

    Now, IF J Street acted in a way to further that vision, then we wouldn’t even be having this discussion. So let me propose these questions:
    Jeremy Ben-Ami supports a peace between a Jewish state of Israel and a future Arab state of Palestine. He also supports Israel’s right to defend itself.
    So why was it, when the US Congress passed (by an overwhelming majority) a resolution in January 2009 supporting BOTH of those points, and 22 members of Congress refused to vote for it (instead voting “present”), that J Street subsequently endorsed 10 of them for re-election? Why is it that if J Street (better late than never) supported the Iran Sanctions Act, and only 12 members of the House of Representatives voted against it, that J Street subsequently endorsed 5 of them for re-election? And why did J Street try to set up meetings between Congressional staff and Richard Goldstone?
    (all documentation for the above is available at http://www.bluetruth.net/2010/10/potholes-on-j-street.html)

    When J Street starts acting consistently with its own stated principles, then they will stop being so controversial.

  • rdavidson says

    the problem with Mr. Harris’ statement that the jstreet ideas are what bibi presented to the US congress is that bibi never presented these “ideas” to the knesset before or after his congressional speech. Top members of his likud party did condemn it or explain it as no different than Begin’s plan for “autonomy” without a state.

    Yet after a weekend pow wow of coalition members all expressed confidence the ruling coalition is as solid as a rock…..draw your own conclusions

  • USA says

    Mr. Gordis, Thank you for your excellent article. Too answer your question, “J” Street along with it compadre organizations should call themselves “Jews For Palestine” if their actions and words aligned with their true goals. The big tent must draw lines somewhere and clearly J Street is not within it.

  • rdavidson says
  • USA says

    rdavidson- Peres is not outside the tent, he has just never spoken from the tent he lives in. Israel must never act out of fear, but out of courage. Below was a comment to Peres’s words by someone who has it right. But let’s not get stuck on Peres. This is about J Street.

    Peres Should Be Immediately Fired
    Gianni 17.06.1105:32
    His position, a ceremonial one, does not allow such expressions. But this guy was always after having his insane opinions in the spotlight, in spite of the small fact that the population rejected him, time after time, after time. It is forbidden for an Israeli president to be a spokesman for negotiations and International affairs. His statements are reserved for the PM. Hexk, he’s not even part of the Knesset. Someone, anyone, put this windbag out of his misery. At the very least, out of the Office.

  • rdavidson says

    in this shabbat’s newspaper peres made clear that although he hesitates to make political views public at this point the country is so headed to a train wreck he had to speak up. Earlier in the week hanan gouri formerly a secular champion of settlements wrote a long article about how the dream of holding onto the territories must come to an end. Tzipi Livni (whose party btw won more seats in the last election than likud) expressed similar views. These are pretty much exactly the words ben ami speaks. You may disagree with the head of jstreet and/or put words in his mouth but to say his views are”outside the tent” is simply factually wrong.

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