The True Face of J Street

J Street, the controversial pressure group, explains on the “About Us” page on its official website that “J Street is the political arm of the pro-Israel, pro-peace movement.” Since its inception in 2008, J Street has undergone growth that must be considered no less than remarkable.

In large part, the success of J Street has occurred without any serious investigations into how this group grew so incredibly fast and just where it came from.

Jeffrey Goldberg, writing for The Atlantic on October 27, 2009, stated “J Street grew organically, and continues to grow organically.” Goldberg’s essay was published during J Street’s first conference. The conference was held near Capitol Hill and 1,500 delegates attended. An October 29m, JTA news service report stated “activists had meetings in 210 of the 535 lawmakers’ offices on the Hill, including about 100 meetings with the lawmakers themselves…”

Organic? How could such a new group create such a powerful infrastructure and nurture such impressive contacts so quickly? There should be no doubt that J Street came from somewhere. The question is from where?

The statement on the “About Us” page goes on to state:

“J Street was founded to change the dynamics of American politics and policy on Israel and the Middle East. We believe the security and future of Israel as the democratic home of the Jewish people depend on rapidly achieving a two-state solution and regional comprehensive peace. Our mission is to promote meaningful American leadership to achieve peace and security in the Middle East and to broaden the debate on these issues nationally and in the Jewish community.”

On J Street website’s “Myths and Facts about J Street” page, J Street declares:

“J Street’s Advisory Council consists of over 170 prominent Americans – including three Former Members of Congress, 28 Rabbis, a number of former Jewish community leaders and professionals, and many others.”

Researchers with the Philadelphia Chapter of Americans For A Safe Israel/AFSI initiated a study of the rabbis connected to J Street in order to understand just what the backgrounds of “former Jewish community leaders” involved in J Street are. What light can be shed on J Street’s agenda by examining its structure and organization?

Being Philadelphia based, AFSI researchers had prior familiarity with many of these players. A large number of J Street rabbis have played senior leadership roles in the Pennsylvania based Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and the locally headquartered network of Jewish Renewal organizations. A cadre of these individuals were also leaders of the now defunct Philadelphia chapter of New Jewish Agenda, which was specifically noted for its radical stance — even in that radical group.

The results of the AFSI research into these rabbis is startling.

A JTA report from October 25, 2009 stated that “The left-wing lobby J Street is absorbing Brit Tzedek v’Shalom’s chapters and rabbinic wing.”

The national president of Brit Tzedek v’Shalom at the time of the merger was Steve Masters. Masters is a Philadelphia attorney and a former leader of the Philadelphia Chapter of the New Jewish Agenda. Jeremy Ben-Ami, the executive director of J Street, was introduced by Masters at a local kick-off event in Philadelphia on February 4, 2010.

Many of Brit Tzedek v’Shalom’s rabbis were among the founders and key activists of New Jewish Agenda including Rabbi Gerald Serotta, Arthur Waskow, Rabbi Everett Gendler and others. Serotta, Waskow and Gendler are also all involved in a group called Jewish Fast For Gaza – but more on that later. Waskow attended the February 4, 2010 event also.

It is well worth noting that many of these rabbis were first involved in an organization called Breira (meaning alternative) that was universally opposed by almost all sectors of the American Jewish community. I. L. Kenen the founder of AIPAC claimed that Breira “undermined U.S. support for Israel.”

The majority of Brit Tzedek v’Shalom/J Street rabbis hold radical views that go far past anything that even Breira advocated in its hay day.

Half of the rabbis on J Street’s Advisory Council were members of Brit Tzedek v’Shalom’s Rabbinic Cabinet – before the merge.

There is a very significant overlap between the rabbis from Brit Tzedek v’Shalom and the Jewish Fast for Gaza group. Fast for Gaza made its first public announcement in July 2009. Rabbi Brian Walt was listed as the contact for the group’s initial press release. Walt is a member of Brit Tzedek v’Shalom’s Rabbinic Cabinet.

The Fast for Gaza group purpose is “To call upon Israel, the US, and the international community to engage in negotiations without pre-conditions with all relevant Palestinian parties – including Hamas – in order to end the blockade…”

Here are the facts:

More than half of the seventy-eight rabbis listed on the Fast for Gaza website are also members of Brit Tzedek v’Shalom’s Rabbinic Cabinet. Put another way, about 12.5 % of all of Brit Tzedek v’Shalom’s Rabbinic Cabinet are involved with the Fast for Gaza and call for talks with Hamas.

For example, Rabbi Arthur Green is listed by J Street as an Advisory Council member. Green is a former dean of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College (RRC) and was a prominent member of Breira. Another Advisory Council member is the former president of RRC, Rabbi David A. Teutsch. Rabbi Mordechai Liebling, a former director of the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation, is on Brit Tzedek v’Shalom’s Rabbinic Cabinet and is a “Rabbinical Supporter of the Fast for Gaza”. Teutsch too attended J Street’s February 4, 2010 event.

Breira. New Jewish Agenda. Brit Tzedek v’Shalom. Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. Is J Street really just old wine in a new bottle? Has this wine turned to vinegar? Where are the likes of I. L. Kenen among today’s American Jewish leaders to stand up to J Street? An article on the website of the Forward newspaper (December 9, 2009) states that Israel’s Ambassador Michael Oren recently publicly labeled J Street as “a unique problem in that it not only opposes one policy of one Israeli government, it opposes all policies of all Israeli governments. It’s significantly out of the mainstream…”

Ambassador Oren should have been applauded for his statement. And loudly. After all, shouldn’t it be apparent to even the casual observer that forces within the highest echelons of the Obama Administration and/or the Democratic Party are assisting J Street, or perhaps even pulling its strings?

Moshe Phillips is a member of the Executive Committee of the Philadelphia Chapter of Americans for a Safe Israel/AFSI. The chapter’s website is at: phillyafsi.com and Moshe’s blog can be found at phillyafsi.blogtownhall.com.

  • William Smart

    What's the exitement? Jstreet is regular Zionism that says nothing about returning the lands, homes and businesses that have been stolen. All they say is "leave the Palestinians some tiny patch to live on". As we said in my New York days "big deal".

    • gorky

      It is easy to twist history. In 1948, most of arabs living in the U.N. partition of the Holy Land, fled expecting the nascent State of Israel to be destroyed. Their "land, homes and businesses" were NOT STOLEN. The remainder of arabs stayed and now number some 20% of the population of Israel. The Palestinians living in so-called refugee camps NEVER lived in Israel but are subsequent generations removed from the "Palestinians whose land has been stolen". In addition, you must know that ALL cities/towns,etc., like Tel Aviv, Ashdod, Haifa, are "theirs" in a sense that these are "occupied" Palestinian arab cities/towns, etc.

    • retired

      Hey Smart,__You should change your name to clever because you'r not very smart!What gets me about guys like you is you jump right into agit/prop talking points as though they were obvious truths that everyone could see.The points you make are mostly false hogwash

    • Cheryl Mav

      And as we say in our Boston days, "screw YOU!"
      J Strasse is a JOKE. J Strasse is the little shteytle Jew with a "kick me" sign on his back. No, better still, J Strasse is the Jew who walks around with a cross around his neck so nobody identifies him as Jewish.

      Sure, the Palestinians can have a patch to live on. It's called JORDAN, and it's their only legitimate homeland. Or better yet, give them Haiti – it's already destroyed, so the Palestinians don't have to waste any effort wasting it further. They can even call their new capital "Port au Palestine."

      As for the Haitians, give Gaza and the West Bank to them – they'll prove excellent, peaceful and hardworking neighbors.

  • boston

    Hey smart did you return your house to american indians

  • stern

    Mr Smart, do you have anything to say about Jewish lands, homes and businesses that were stolen by Arabs in 1948 and before? For example, the Gush Etzion bloc, or Hebron? I challenge you to demonstrate that you are not simply another Israel/Jew basher.

  • Linda Rivera

    All who advocate for a Muslim TERROR State in Israel, have the exact same goal as global jihad – PA/PLO/Hamas/Hezbollah, the Arab League, et al.

    In 1980 PLO Leader Arafat explained the peace process: "Peace for us means the destruction of Israel . We are preparing for an all-out war, a war which will last for generations."

    The PLO Charter calls for the destruction of Israel.

    On the same day Oslo "Peace" Accords were signed in 1993, PLO leader, Arafat stated: "Since we cannot defeat Israel in war we do this in stages. We take any and every territory that we can of Palestine, and establish sovereignty there and we use it as a springboard to take more. When the time comes, we can get the Arab nations to join us for the final blow against Israel."

    The Arab League's Charter states its goal is to eradicate the Zionist entity.

    Hamas Charter of RELIGIOUS HATE and RELIGIOUS Mass MURDER:
    'Israel, by virtue of its being Jewish and of having a Jewish population, defies Islam and the Muslims. Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.'

  • seels4truth

    Yes there is an organization standing up to J Street: it is called ZStreet. They have been speaking out against J Street for several months now.
    Smart is always at the ready to post his anti-semitic viewpoint. He is a serial poster of anti-semitic views that have no connection to reality.

  • Gorky

    Ben-Ami attacks all organizations, like CUFI (Christians United for Israel) as a continuation of a slash-and-burn policy against those who do not accept J Street's warped concept of how to resolve the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

    The litany of J Street's actions must delight Israel's implacable neighbors. It constantly encourages President Barack Obama to pressure Israel to take positions contrary to those of the democratically elected Israeli government. It supported the infamous Goldstone Report, criticized Israel's military operations in Gaza and called for a freeze of Israeli building in east Jerusalem, elimination of checkpoints and cessation of attacks on the Gazan tunnels system. It freely uses the word "occupation" in reference to legally established Jewish communities across the artificial Green line, like Ariel, Ma'ala Adumin, and Efrat.

  • gorky

    (continuation)

    More recently, J Street encouraged 54 members of Congress to sign a letter advocating that Israel lift the Gaza blockade, ignoring that Israel shipped 750,000 tons of humanitarian supplies into Gaza last year alone, that tunnels are used by Hamas to import weapons, and, of course, Egypt's blockade.

    It is the height of Chutzpa for an American organization 6,000 miles away and with ties to Israel's detractors, like the overtly anti-Israel Churches for Middle East Peace, to believe it knows what is best for Israel. Anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiment is increasing throughout the world. J Street's divisive antics do not help.

  • Joel

    A simple objective study of Middle East history reveals the constant presence of Jews in Palestine, the term which all Jews once used to call the area before it was hijacked by Arabs when the new Jewish state chose to call itself "Israel". When Mark Twain visited the Holy Land in the late 1800's, he remarked about the vast emptiness of the land. At that time, it was the backwash of the Turkish Empire, never a state, and most arabs criss-crossing the area were nomads who claimed little of it as their home. So much for the Arab claims to the land.

  • joel

    The historical demographic materials available, such as Baedeker, as well as the first hand accounts of many travellers through the Middle East in the 19th century, speak of the sparceness of the population. When Jews began to return to the Homeland and tilled the soil and planted and drained the swamps and built communities calling for the need of intensive labor, it was then that Arabs were attracted to Palestine like a magnet attracks steel. The "so-called" displaced Arabs were new to the area and most today cannot trace their family histories back further than that. One asks the question,"Why was a Palestinian state not created in the two decades when Jordan controlled the land? The anwer is that Arabs have no need for a Palestinian state UNLESS THERE IS A JEWISH STATE IN PALESTINE AS A TARGET FOR THEM TO TRY TO DESTROY. Nevertheless, they are there now and have a right to self- determination, but no right to distort history to support their selfish claims.

  • jsoko1948

    Your shocking expose breathlessly exposes the fact that certain liberal rabbis are members of a liberal lobbying group. This is news? Rabbis whose political views lean to the right are members of right-leaning political groups. Rabbis who are vegetarians are often members of vegetarian organizations whereas those who eat meat are not. What's new? Nu? Maybe you could say why you think their ideas are mistaken rather than simply assert guilt by association. Last I saw, it was a free country and people had a right to express their views and try to convince others to agree with them. That's what democracy looks like.

  • Cheryl Mav

    Most American Jews sincerely believe that their liberalism, together with their commitment to the Democratic Party as its main political vehicle, stems from the teachings of Judaism and reflects the heritage of "Jewish values." But if this theory were valid, the Orthodox would be the most liberal sector of the Jewish community. After all, it is they who are most familiar with the Jewish religious tradition and who shape their lives around its commandments.

    Only in America – where the Diaspora Jew, at last, feels that life is so good that he no longer has any use for God. Amazing how 50 years of "the good life" can erase 1900 years of persecution. How tiny the mind of Man, and how brief our memory truly is.

    • Eliyahu

      Actually, Cheryl, it is no more surprising than the German Jews' willingness to keep acquiescing to increasingly anti-Semitic activity on the part of their elected government in 1930's Germany. The original home of "liberal Judaism" and the Reform movement in the most "enlightened" (AND hedonistic) Old World nation, Germany seemed an ideal place to assimilated German Jews even as Hitler and his Brownshirts consolidated their power. The Nuremberg Laws (1935) should have woken them up, but few paid attention. Then Krystallnacht (9-10.11.1938) should have made it eminently clear that Germany was no longer hospitable to the Jews, but still they stayed. Reports of mistreatment and mass murder of Polish Jews almost immediately after the outbreak of the war still didn't penetrate those stiff-necked peoples' ears. And even after the Wannsee Conference (20.1.1942) decided on Die Endlösung – the "Final Solution," there were many German Jews who didn't believe.

      There is no limit to the ability and willingness of humans to lie to themselves and disbelieve unpleasant truths. Call it human stupidity if you like, but it's the way ALL people are, not just Jews. However, as with many other human character traits, we Jews try hard to excel and be the best … self-deluded fools, too.

  • Hymie Zoltsveis

    Thank you for another partial expose’ on J-Street.

    However, no expose’ of the real villians behind J-Street would be complete without exposing the initial funding of J-Street by George Soros—the living Dr. Evil–and the clandestine help of Obama’s Chicago mobsters.

    The true purpose of J-Street—similar to the purpose of the Fakestinians/ or PLO/PA/Fatah/Hamas is the splintering of Jewish support for Israel, and also as a means of pursuading Jews to blindly support Obama—the muslim Devil Marxist—-an enemy of Jews and Israel