J-Street is a ruse. We’ve seen this before. Only Israel is wrong. Only Israel is brought up on charges when it defends itself. Only the Jewish people’s millennial history in the Holy Land is illegitimate, while the Palestinians’ 40-year old national identity is sacrosanct.
Asked from whom he's getting foreign-policy advice, Bernie Sanders name-checks Larry Korb, James Zogby, and J Street @meetthepress— Mark Murray (@mmurraypolitics) February 7, 2016
[Daniel] Mael has been a relentless critic of J Street and its college chapters.... One of Mael’s articles even is featured in the trailer for the J Street Challenge.... Considering that The J Street Challenge is one of the biggest thorns in J Street’s side, it’s not much of a guess to believe that Mael’s affiliation with the movie is not popular at J Street...I noted that J Street had issued a press statement requesting that media and bloggers "distance themselves" from Mael after an incident at Brandeis University, where Mael is a student. Mael alleged that a J Street U member verbally abused him, a claim which was denied. For whatever its reason, J Street corporate headquarters through its communications team got involved in this local dispute (emphasis added):
... we ask that others in the Jewish community and media – even those who don’t agree with us politically – will distance themselves from this blogger and others with a history of conduct driven by malice and deceit. While J Street and J Street U remain deeply committed to a vibrant and respectful campus conversation, there is a line that cannot be crossed. Unfortunately, some questionable bloggers and campus figures have consistently and consciously crossed that line. We will not tolerate harassment of our student leaders, and we see no reason for us to have any further interaction — on the Brandeis campus, online or in other venues — with those peddling in slander. We hope others will make the same determination.Since then, two things have happened.
J Street failed to gain admission to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. The vote of conference members Wednesday was 17 in favor, 22 against and three abstentions, according to four sources. J Street needed a two-thirds majority of the entire membership, 34 out of 51, for entry.It was a no lose vote for J Street in reality. If it was admitted, it would be vindication for the relatively young group that it was a major player. If it lost, it could play victim, accuse others of smears (as it did to the Brandeis student who challenged it), and otherwise leverage its anti-establishment narrative. Indeed, J Street lashed out at "right-wing" groups:
We are especially disappointed that a minority of the farthest right wing organizations within the Conference has chosen to close the Conference’s doors to this emerging generation of inspiring and passionate young leaders. In the long run, it does a grave disservice to the American Jewish community to drive some of our brightest young people away and to tell them that there is no place for them in an ever-shrinking communal tent where the conversation on Israel’s future is limited.And its saavy media operation tweeted out a photo of a collapsed tent:
J Street Founder and Executive Director Jeremy Ben Ami called it's the Conference's loss:
So to speak. pic.twitter.com/zVHdOhEKRS— J Street (@jstreetdotorg) April 30, 2014
Fundraising letter to follow, no doubt. Before the vote, Jonathan Tobin at Commentary argued that it was better for J Street itself to lose:
Vote today was more a test for Conference of Presidents and Jewish establishment than for J Street. Sadly, the establishment failed.— Jeremy Ben-Ami (@JeremyBenAmi) April 30, 2014
The point here is that rather than signifying its acceptance, today’s vote is merely a sign that J Street failed in its mission to overturn the Jewish consensus on Israel. A seat in what is, for all intents and purposes, a debating society–most of whose members are little known even among American Jews–strikes me as a poor consolation prize for such a defeat.It's not at all clear, however, that the rejection has to do with J Streets politics. Yair Rosenberg notes that there are members who are even more left-wing than J Street. It appears to be personal, based on J Street's sharp elbows:
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