Wednesday, October 22, 2008

What Is J Street?

By Morrie Amitay
Founder, Washington Political Action Committee

We found this on the excellent Israel Commentary site, related to the excellent Issrael-Commentary group on Yahoo Groups.

J Street is so counterproductive that we wanted to help give this valuable commentary as wide circulation as possible.

The current election cycle witnessed the creation of 'J Street' and the J Street PAC. J Street describes itself as the 'political arm of the pro-Israel, pro-peace movement' seeking to 'change the direction of American policy in the Middle East and to broaden the public and policy debate in the U.S. about the Middle East.'

J Street was formed to give a political voice to the more established 'blame Israel first' groups, such as - Americans for Peace Now, Brit Tzedek V'Shalom and the somewhat less critical Israel Policy Forum. To no surprise, J Street's creation was heralded as a 'much needed, important new development' by American Arab lobbyist and fanatical Israel critic, James Zogby of the Arab American Institute.

This Congress, J Street took 'pride' in supporting resistance to a 'dangerous' non-binding House resolution (H.Con. Res. 362) -- co-sponsored by 280 members of the House -- 'expressing the sense of Congress regarding the threat posed to international peace, stability in the Middle East, and the vital national security interests of the United States by ban's pursuit of nuclear weapons and regional hegemony.'

The J Street PAC makes contributions and endorses members of Congress and candidates based on J Street's principles. This year J Street PAC endorsed the following House members; Tom Allen (in his race against the very pro-Israel Senator Susan Collins of Maine), Earl Blumenaur, Charles Boustany, Lois Capps, Steve Cohen, Susan Davis, Bill Delahunt, Donna Edwards, Keith Ellison, Bob Filner, Rush Holt, Betty McCollum, David Price, Jan Schakowsky, Adam Schiff, Joe Sestak, Rob Wexler, and John Yarmuth. Also endorsed was the challenger to pro-Israel Senator Gordon Smith of Oregon.

A large number of J Street PAC endorsed members of Congress have some of the poorest Israel/Middle East related voting records in the House. Accordingly, many are also among the 33 House Members in the 110th Congress Pro-Arab 'Hall of Fame' as determined by the virulently anti-Israel, 'Washington Report on Middle Eastern Affairs.' Of interest also is that while J Street PAC claims to be 'non-partisan' there was only one Republican (Boustany of LA) 'pro-Israel' enough for them to endorse.

As a matter of policy, the Washington PAC has decided not to contribute to Members of Congress and candidates who accept endorsements by J Street PAC. We hope that truly pro-Israel political contributors will do likewise.

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