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Neocons Target Pro-Peace Lobby

As the pro-peace, pro-Israel lobby J Street’s first annual conference approaches, neoconservatives are leading an effort to undermine the group and diminish its support on Capitol Hill. Initially dismissed by more hawkish pro-Israel groups as irrelevant, J Street has become … Read More

By / October 21, 2009

As the pro-peace, pro-Israel lobby J Street’s first annual conference approaches, neoconservatives are leading an effort to undermine the group and diminish its support on Capitol Hill. Initially dismissed by more hawkish pro-Israel groups as irrelevant, J Street has become an increasingly powerful force over the last year, outspending all other pro-Israel PACs individually and winning the ear of the Obama administration on foreign policy matters. The consensus on the right has thus shifted from J Street being irrelevant to posing a strategic threat. Last week, Israeli ambassador Michel Oren — an appointee of the right-wing government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — declined J Street’s invitation to its convention, writing in an open letter in the Jerusalem Post that J Street’s policy positions "impair the interests of Israel." Those vilified positions include J Street’s endorsement of the Obama administration’s call for greater diplomacy towards Iran and a freeze on settlement construction in the West Bank, issues on which, polling indicates, the American Jewish community largely agrees with J Street. Following J Street’s announcement of its conference’s congressional co-sponsors later in the week, the Weekly Standard’s Michael Goldfarb, who has been leading the charge against J Street online, proceeded to contact each of the 160 representatives on J Street’s roster inquiring as to why they were supporting the group’s allegedly anti-Israel activities.

Within days, 10 predominantly Democratic representatives — including both of New York’s senators, Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand — withdrew from the conference. The success of their campaign has neoconservatives smelling blood in the water. The question looms: Why are Democrats allowing themselves to be intimidated by the same hawks responsible for strategizing and selling the Iraq War? Those same individuals now crying foul over J Street’s purportedly egregious offenses (most notably, inviting a poet with unfortunate taste in analogies to read at their conference), have been unrepentant in their defense of the indefensible.

Goldfarb himself has supported America’s use of torture against detainees, alleged that President Obama is secretly a Muslim who "pals around with antisemites," and targeted members of the House for investigating Blackwater’s corruption.

If this is who the Democrats are allowing to define what falls within the spectrum of pro-Israel belief, is it any wonder that the U.S. is failing to advance peace in the Middle East?

 

Editor’s Note: Jewcy is a media partner for the J Street conference. This piece was not commissioned by Jewcy and all views expressed in it are those of the author.

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