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J Street Tag

As regular readers doubtlessly know, the 2018 midterm elections presented Americans with a new phenomenon in the form of the congressional "Squad": several avowedly anti-Israel (and often Islamist-allied) first-term U.S. Representatives. Now, as the smoke from #Election2020 begins to dissipate, it seems that (spoiler alert) The Squad's congressional anti-Zionist cabal is about to get a little bigger.

J Street is a  group that calls itself  "pro-Israel."  Yet "J Street’s critics argue that J Street is nothing more than a Trojan horse meant to weaken American support for Israel." As we wrote in 2009:
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.

Keith Ellison, Democratic Congressman from Minnesota, is the favorite to become Chair of the Democratic National Committee. He has the support of big names like Chuck Schumer, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Harry Reid, among others. Yet for years there have been questions about Ellison's past association with Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam, as well as his association with anti-Israel groups. We touched upon Ellison's background in two recent posts: Scott Johnson of Power Line, who is based in Minnesota, has been following the career of Ellison for a decade. Scott talked about some of what he has learned about Ellison in a recent radio interview, Ten Years On The Ellison Case:

Bernie Sanders gave a glimpse at his potential foreign policy on Sunday, and his choices of BDS supporter James Zogby and left-wing J Street raise serious questions. Sanders, the Jewish Senator from Vermont, is infamous for his avowed socialism.  On foreign policy, he is more or less a blank slate, making his choice of foreign policy advisers a valuable window into his mindsight and the least-worst predictor of a President Sanders's policy. On Sunday, two of the three advisers Sanders chose to identify were vehemently anti-Israel.  Sanders told Meet The Press he met recently with Larry Korb, Jim Zogby and J Street.

On April 28, 2014, I wrote about how J Street issues media Fatwa against its toughest pro-Israel student opponent:
[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.

We wrote the other day of the tensions between J Street and other pro-Israel groups, including on campuses, J Street issues media Fatwa against its toughest pro-Israel student opponent. J Street wanted to join the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, but it was rejected today. Via JTA:
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: Fundraising letter to follow, no doubt. Before the vote, Jonathan Tobin at Commentary argued that it was better for J Street itself to lose:
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:

We have addressed J Street multiple times before. J Street is the progressive lobbying and political action group created as an alternative to AIPAC and other mainstream pro-Israel groups. J Street was co-founded by Jeremy Ben-Ami, with major early funding from George Soros and a mysterious Hong Kong financier.  J Street initially denied the Soros funding, but that was exposed, as we wrote in 2010, Yup, Soros Is Behind J-Street. J Street has grown rapidly, and is on the verge of being accepted into the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations. J Street's critics argue that J Street is nothing more than a Trojan horse, meant to weaken American support for Israel. The J Street Challenge, a movie being screened now, presents the case against J Street. Under the guise of supporting Israel's right to exist, J Street allegedly relentlessly criticizes Israel, and plays into the anti-Israel narrative behind the BDS and other movements, even if it doesn't support such movements openly. Gullible liberals, particularly liberal students, it is argued, fall for the J Street line, and thereby legitimize the demonization and delegitimization of Israel.  J Street calls many of the accusations Myths. Part of the drama between AIPAC and more traditional pro-Israel groups, on the one hand, and J Street, on the other hand, plays out on college campuses, where J Street U -- the very active college division of J Street -- routinely hosts anti-Israel speakers and fails to push back against anti-Israel agitation. Brandeis University is one place where that tension has been sharp the past academic year, as Daniel Mael, a religious Jew who writes for pro-Israel websites like, has exposed and criticized J Street. Mael has been a relentless critic of J Street and its college chapters, authoring at least the following articles (these were pulled from Mael's Twitter feed, where he has been tweeting the links):