When the anti-Israel group J Street endorsed Joe Biden for president last month, he welcomed the endorsement by an organization he describes as having “unyielding dedication to the survival and security of Israel.” With his action, he enhances the group’s policy-making influence.
Joe Biden has now validated J Street’s agenda of policies that endanger Israel’s existence. This is the same person who says, “My name is Joe Biden, and everybody knows I love Israel.”
Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz, a card-carrying Democrat and supporter of a two-state solution, calls out J Street as “one of the most virulent, anti-Israel organizations in the history of Zionism and Judaism. It has given cover to anti-Israel attitudes on campus and particularly its approach to Israel’s self defense.”
Founded in 2007 as a progressive counterweight to AIPAC and funded by George Soros and other anti-Zionists, J Street spends almost all its time and money disparaging Israel, promoting Palestinian messaging, boosting U.S.–Iran relations, opposing pro-Zionist students, and backing politicians and legislation advocating boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) of Israel, the purpose of which is to eliminate the Jewish state.
J Street has no problem partnering with Islamist and anti-Israel groups like Students for Justice in Palestine and the Muslim Public Affairs Council in hosting events that routinely espouse virulently anti-Israel rhetoric. J Street’s officials echo the words of their fellow travelers. Co-founder and board member Daniel Levy has called Israel’s rebirth in 1948 “an act that was wrong…. [T]here’s no reason a Palestinian should think there was justice in the creation of Israel.” He excused terrorism against innocent Israelis, calling it “ ‘natural’ for Gazans to want to attack Israelis.” J Street’s Advisory Council member Marcia Freedman has advocated that Israeli Jews accept a status of “protected minority” in an Arab-majority “bi-national” state.
J Street worked with pro-Iranian and Arab lobbyist groups to promote the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran. That deal was opposed by Israel as an existential threat to the Jewish state, but J Street currently advocates the reinstatement of the agreement President Trump canceled.
J Street claims that it opposes the BDS movement, but the organization invites prominent BDS leaders such as Mustafa Barghouti and Rebecca Vilkomerson to address its conference. It supported a congressional resolution introduced by Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), and John Lewis (D-Ga.) affirming the right to boycott Israel. J Street lobbies against all anti-BDS legislation and opposed the recent Title VI Executive Order Combating Anti-Semitism to protect Jewish students from discrimination on campus.
The progressive lobbying group actively supported the passage of UN Security Council Resolution 2334, a Palestinian–Arab effort that falsely implies that Judaism’s holiest places — the Temple Mount and Western Wall — are occupied Arab land.
J Street’s campus arm, J Street U, has become a primary vehicle for conveying anti-Israeli poisonous messages at American universities, opposing pro-Israel events, hosting teach-ins and sleep-ins, protesting at Israeli embassies, and forming coalitions with other anti-Israel progressive campus organizations. It attempts to undermine the Birthright program, an American-Jewish initiative to introduce young American Jews to Israel, claiming that Birthright does not provide “Palestinian perspectives and narratives.”
In 2016, J Street supported the newly added pro-Palestinian language in the Democratic Party platform. Now that Biden has enhanced their credibility, the group hopes to use their influence to add language to the 2020 platform that more expressly condemns what they call “settlement expansion” and clearly supports Palestinian aspirations.
Republicans have always shunned J Street. Mainstream Democratic politicians initially kept their distance. Not any more. Biden’s move to the left and embrace of J Street’s endorsement is being hailed by the group as evidence of its own increased power and relevance. “The alignment in the Democratic Party and the shift of the conversation on our issues allows us to feel really great about lining up behind someone like Joe Biden,” said Jeremy Ben-Ami, J Street’s president.
Former lawmaker Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.) summed up J Street best when he noted that J Street “is so open-minded about what constitutes support for Israel that its brains have fallen out.” Honestly, he could be saying the same about J Street Joe!
Ziva Dahl is a senior fellow with the news and public policy group Haym Salomon Center.