According to the Jerusalem Post, "J Street's university arm has dropped the 'pro-Israel' part of the left-wing US lobby's 'pro-Israel, pro-peace' slogan to avoid alienating students." (See http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1256557968276&pagename=JPost/JPArticle/Printer).
Since J Street has been harshly critical about just about everything Israel does, particularly actions taken to save lives, while pretty much condoning attacks on Israel, it's been pretty obvious Israel is not a Zionist organization.
"Yonatan Shechter, a junior at Hampshire College, said the ultra-liberal Massachusetts campus is inhospitable to terms like 'Zionist' and that when his former organization, the Union of Progressive Zionists (which has been absorbed into J Street U), dropped that last word of its name, 'people were so relieved.'"
Obviously, for the activists at J Street, the term that designates the national liberation of the Jewish people is a dirty word.
"Shechter said that J Street U allows students who support Israel to have an address on his campus, adding that nothing more to the right exists or would be sustainable and the only other Jewish student group 'is decidedly not political... they won't go beyond having felafel on Independence Day.'"
One wonders what address Shechter is talking about, since it obviously isn't J Street U.
"Ben-Ami described his organization's goal as one that includes changing the nature of the debate about Israel in America to one of a big-tent approach where different viewpoints and perspectives were welcomed."
The pro-Israel community already had a big-tent approach, including many different viewpoints and perspectives. It's rather ironic that Ben-Ami can say what he said with a straight face, especially since there doesn't seem to be much room in the J Street tent for the Zionist perspective.
J Street's web site still claims "J Street is the political arm of the pro-Israel, pro-peace movement," an assertion which would be misleading even if J Street was pro-Israel, since the definite article "the" falsely implies other groups, which actually are pro-Israel, are not pro-peace.
Indeed, while Palestinian Arab groups including Hamas and the supposedly "moderate" Fatah proclaim the centrality of armed struggle and one would be hard pressed to come up with a single Palestinian Arab leader who could honestly be described as pro-peace, I've never heard of a single Zionist organization that isn't pro-peace. Indeed, that someone who is pro-Israel is pro-peace is taken for granted.
Also from their web site: "J Street was founded to promote meaningful American leadership to end the Arab-Israeli and Israeli-Palestinian conflicts peacefully and diplomatically. We support a new direction for American policy in the Middle East and a broad public and policy debate about the U.S. role in the region."
It is the greatest desire of all Zionist groups that the entire Arab-Israeli conflict, including the Palestinian Arab portion of that conflict, be settled peacefully and diplomatically. The only disagreements regard the best means for achieving that goal. Unfortunately, J Street's prescription is to strengthen the counterproductive elements of American policy, to pressure Israel to make unreciprocated concessions which have in the past only fed Arab intransigence and made the conflict more intractable. If an organization were to be judged by the likely outcome of its agenda rather than its stated goals, J Street would have to be judged as anti-peace.
If anything, American policy needs to be changed to impress upon the Arabs that they need to come to terms with the reality of Israel, end their reliance on war and terror and negotiate in good faith, matching already immense Israeli concessions with at least minimal concessions of their own.
Finally, also from its web site: "J Street represents Americans, primarily but not exclusively Jewish, who support Israel and its desire for security as the Jewish homeland, as well as the right of the Palestinians to a sovereign state of their own - two states living side-by-side in peace and security. We believe ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is in the best interests of Israel, the United States, the Palestinians, and the region as a whole."
This is a statement which reflects the policies of virtually every pro-Israel organization.
Were J Street truly driven by the goals it professes to favor, it would disband, recognizing there are already many pro-Israel organizations working towards those goals whose effectiveness can only be compromised by by a new organization whose words and actions are antithetical to those goals.