Posted by: Lister | April 16, 2008

Jeremy Ben-Ami

A new Jewish lobby is trying to represent the majority of Jewish opinion.

“The term ‘pro-Israel’ has been hijacked by those who hold views that a majority of Americans, Jews and non-Jews alike, oppose,” says executive director Jeremy Ben-Ami, a former adviser to President Bill Clinton.

He says J Street will campaign for a two-state solution to the conflict in the Middle East.

Its political fundraising sister group – J Street PAC, for political action committee – will raise money and donate to sympathetic politicians.

[…] J Street says Aipac does not reflect the liberal views of a large number of its existing donors, let alone the mainstream of Jewish-American opinion.

[…] “The most pro-Israel thing any American politician or policy maker can do is help to bring about a two-state solution and a comprehensive peace agreement between Israel and her neighbours,” says Mr Ben-Ami.

[…] Financially, J Street is certainly unlikely to pose a threat to Aipac.

Its first-year budget of $1.5m (A£750,000) will be no match for Aipac, which has an endowment of more than $100m (A£50m), over 100,000 members and 18 offices around the US.

From Rosner’s Blog, at Haaretz:

The two organizations and a host of public figures joining the project illustrate its intent more than its declared goals: Friends of Peace Now and Brit Tzedek Veshalom – Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace. The long list of supporters includes former Senator Lincoln Chafee, not usually on the traditional list of Israel’s supporters; Clinton peace-team member Robert Malley; Alan Solomont, a prominent Jewish supporter of Senator Barack Obama; and Victor Kovner, a donor to the Hillary Clinton campaign.

Israeli supporters on a seperate list include former minister Shlomo Ben-Ami, former Foreign Ministry directors general David Kimche, Uri Savir and Alon Liel, former Knesset speaker Avraham Burg, retired Israel Defense Forces generals Amnon Lipkin-Shahak and Amram Mitzna (a former Labor Party chairman and candidate for prime minister in the 2003 election), and Haaretz journalist Daniel Ben-Simon.

The J Street Project supports a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, dialogue with Syria and opposes any use of force against Iran. Its future test: the extent to which it will be able to impact U.S. policy, and how much broad public support it will engender. Its leaders assume that the liberal bent of most American Jews will be to identify with the organization; the heads of more established Jewish groups say that in most cases, people who care are not close to the left-leaning goals of the J Street Project.

During its formative stage, the heads of the J Street Project were reluctant to show publicly their opposition to the strongest and most established Jewish lobby, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). But in yesterday’s conversation, this was made officially clear. “I’m not with AIPAC; I do not support AIPAC,” Kovner said. The new organization will try to erode AIPAC’s strength and restrain what they see as its identification with the American and the Israeli right.

It will not be easy with a budget of $1.5 million now being discussed, not when AIPAC has $100 million in its coffers. J Street Project’s people assume that the silent majority of American Jews are on their side. But AIPAC has more than 100,000 registered supporters in almost 20 branches across the U.S.

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Responses

  1. An opinion piece at Forward, saying that the clock is ticking on a two-state solution and that “nothing is more pro-Israel than pressing for immediate, sustained and meaningful American action to end the conflict between Israel and its neighbors.”

  2. highgly pleased to learn of your existance and positions on mid east. Is most unpleasant and offensive to be thought of as antisemitic or against Israel when opposing US [policy and activities in Iraq or Mid East. Especially encouraging to see opposition to an attack onIran…


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