Hyperbole about J Street
01/26/2011 - 16:43
James Besser

I don't know whether to laugh or cry at the response I'm hearing to my story  and my blog about J Street and the controversy over a UN resolution condemning Israeli settlement activity.

For starters:  talk about over-the-top Holocaust analogies – not that most Holocaust analogies aren't over the top.

J Streeters are the “kapos” of the 21st Century, some readers inform me. They're the “Judenrat” of modern times. Their goal is nothing less than the eradication of the Jewish state, just like Hitler tried to destroy Europe's Jews.

None of this “they're wrong, and here's why” stuff for J Street haters, no siree; they're genocidal maniacs, self-hating Jews, Jewish anti-Semites, haters of Israel. They're part of George Soros' plot to bring down Israel and America.

Tell me why you think J Street is wrong and we can have a discussion;  I'll probably agree with you on some points. Tell me that they're a bunch of Jewish Nazis, and there's not much to talk about.

I continue to marvel that J Street – which, in my view, probably reflects the views of a majority of American Jews on Middle East peace but a minority of those who are actively involved in pro-Israel activism and which has committed some big blunders in its short existence – moves people to  such fits of hyperbole. (I hear the same thing from some on the left about AIPAC - a conspiratorial organization if ever there was one, they say, warmongers, underminers of democracy, the secret allies of Israeli extremists. That's just as counterproductive as the J Street invective, just as much a sure-fire discussion ender.)

What are people so scared of? Last I looked, J Street was still a small blip compared to the established pro-Israel lobby in all its manifestations.

This isn't a defense of J Street; it's a defense of rational debate and discussion. Which I don't hear when it comes to J Street.

Comments

One major problem with James Besser's article is his statement that J Street "......probably reflects the views of a majority of American Jews on Middle East peace....."; this is a consistant statement that is always made by J Street but never supported by any independent study. J Street therefore takes the position that if you tell a lie long enough, people will believe it to be. J Street from the start denied that George Soros was funding the organization. This is another lie perpetrated by J Street. Why should they ever be believed? J Street is nothing more than a far-left organization that represents a small minority of American Jews. Their ideas do not reflect the needs and desires of the majority of Jewish Americans, and therefore, must be fought. When I think of the term "J Street", the words "hidden agenda" always come to mind.
It's the same reason so many Americans believe we have a madrassa educated Kenyan born president. A dedicated minority can often shape the minds of the majority though fear. In j streets case they have done this by associating j street with anti Israel countries using laughably flimsy connections. The fear is not j streets policies , it's that j street is controlled by the mullas. The original "facts" or lack thereof behind these connections don't matter , only that these connections were advertised as such. Is president Obama a Muslim, of course not but that falsehood has spread to the point where a chunk of Americans believe it to be fact. Once a falsehood gains hold the accompanying fear is hard to allay with facts. The may be a minority but that does not mean they are powerless to influence.
I agree with the gist of that you're saying here, except for the false equivalence at the end. Calling someone a "warmonger" - accurate or not, incendiary or not - is not really comparable to calling them a capo or a Nazi.
J Street represents the moderate Jewish peace camp. Efforts to portray them as extremists do an injustice. What about Jewish Voice for Peace? International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network? Jews for Palestine? Portraying J Street as extreme is just plain wacky, like Glen Beck explaining that 'social justice' is a Communist plot.
I think Mr. Besser is right on target here. The main point of his piece was not the specific positions of J Street and whether they're good for Israel or whether the majority of American Jews agree with J Street. His main point is that if you disagree with J Street then one should argue civilly on the basis of these issues and not simply via name-calling and attacks on their motives. If one can't do better than name-calling and attacking their motives then I wonder as to how strong the critic's arguments are given that they can't seem to express them at all or at least civilly.
I thought that imbedded in Jewish discourse through the ages is the Fiddler on the Roof's "on one hand this, on the other, that." Talk of Kapos, Jewish Nazis, etc., makes that discourse impossible. And without it, how will we as a people continue to think out of the box, the major source of our enduring strength? That is what this writer was getting at--and I am behind that 100%
As one who agrees that the settlement enterprise has been the worst mistake Israel has made in its existance, and a believer in the requirement of a two state solution out of negotiations between the parties with the help of the US, I find it hard to reconcile J Street actions with what they say: Goldstone Report-J Steet urges Congressman not to sign on a resolution to condemn it. I read the Goldstone report-it is much worse than the press makes it out. Mavi Marmara--the only entity that defends Israel's right to self defense is the US Congress--J Street urges congressman to not sign on the resolution Resolution calling for a negotiated settlement--J Street calls on Congressmen not to sign on because the resolution does not condemn Israel. UN Resolution Condemning Israel while Palestinians refuse to come to the table--J Street urges Obama administration not to veto the resolution in the UN. Now wonder Ackerman has had it--with friends like J Street, who needs enemies? Also is it in Israel's best interest to make support for Israel a partisan issue? J Street is grossly partisan. I am sorry that I disagree with your assertion about J Street being aligned with American Jewish thought. Actions are different from opinions-most Jews I know would not agree with the above J Street actions.
The lady doth protest too much, methinks. This article is indeed a defense of J Street, especially when Mr. Besser claims that J Street represents a majority of American Jews. And whose poll says that? The polls conducted by Jim Gerstein, J Street's vice president. And let's say for argument sake that J Street does represent a majority, then that majority is poorly served by an organization that lies, depends on questionable donations, violates IRS deduction regulations, and has an abismal record of decision-making (until recently opposed sanctions against Iran). Has anyone asked who makes decisions there? Is there a board that decides whether to call for American support of an anti-Israel UN resolution?
can we get bloggers at a jewish paper who aren't blind supporters of this vile Soros-funded front group that lied about its funding and is lying about being "pro-Israel"?

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