The right-wing hasbarasphere is reporting that J Street has invited Israeli ambassador, Michael Oren to speak at the upcoming national conference in Washington, DC. and that Israel’s chief representative in this country has refused. Not only will he not appear, but the foreign ministry has released a finger-wagging statement aimed at taking the group down a notch or two.
Oren’s rejection is extraordinary. Usually Israeli ambassadors practically troll for speaking invitations before Jewish groups. An appearance by the Israeli prime minister and ambassador is de rigueur at the annual Aipac national conference. Oren’s is the ultimate diss-kiss-off.
You remember way back when Bibi appointed Oren, the pro-Israel right trumpeted it as a brilliant move to appoint a Zionist “moderate” with impeccable academic credentials who could talk to Obama and to Jews across the political spectrum. I didn’t buy it then. And it looks like Oren’s bosses in Tel Aviv have dispensed with this fiction. Now, fangs are bared. J Street is an ally of the Obama administration and as such is the “enemy.” The only problem with this scenario is that it presumes that American Jews will buy the notion that a Jewish group allied with a sitting president is an enemy of Israel BECAUSE it supports his policies. This is a bit extreme even for those American Jews with almost a Pavlovian response to the notion of supporting Israel come what may.
The foreign ministry’s favorite stenographer, the Jerusalem Post, dutifully serves as conduit for the MFA reproach of J Street:
[J Street] has been reaching out to the embassy and invited Ambassador Michael Oren to speak at its first annual conference in late October. Despite early indications the embassy was looking to engage the group, Oren has yet to meet with executive director Jeremy Ben-Ami or agree to participate in the conference.
Instead, the embassy has “communicated to J Street its views on the peace process and on the best way to ensure Israel’s security,” according to embassy spokesman Yoni Peled.
The message, Peled said, is that “while recognizing the need for a free and open debate on these issues, it is important to stress concern over certain policies that could impair Israel’s interests.”
This will certainly not hurt J Street. If anything, it will point to the extremism of the current government, which refuses to recognize an American Jewish group with whom 100,000 Jews have affiliated. Israel likes to make a pretence of representing all of world Jewry. By turning down J Street, it stands exposed before the world as the ultimate partisan. And there are at least 100,000 Jews who will not fall into lockstep with the Netanyahu government’s dictum that the group is anti-Israel.
There is an unintentionally astonishing passage in the Post article which notes that J Street actually has the temerity to agree with U.S. policies when they contradict those of the Israeli government. Imagine, J Street actually has the guts to stand up to the settler government and follow a line endorsed by U.S. Jews. If you draw this out to its logical conclusion, it means that the Israel lobby groups who oppose J Street’s views on issues like Iran sanctions and the settlement freeze actually oppose U.S. policy. They have chosen Israel’s interests over America’s as defined by the sitting president. This in turn gives the lie to the lobby’s claim that Israel’s and the U.S.’ interests are one and the same. Clearly, they are not. But someone has told neither Malcolm Hoenlein nor Tchaikovsky the news :
J Street has taken several positions at odds with the Israeli government in recent months, including arguing against the immediate imposition of additional sanctions on Iran even as Israel pushes for greater action, and backing US President Barack Obama’s call for a complete settlement freeze in the face of Israeli opposition.
The smears against J Street are rising to a fever pitch. The latest entry is an anonymous blog, J Street Jive, written by the pseudonymous Parrhesia. With the help of some readers and online research, it appears that Mr. P. hasn’t done a good job of covering his tracks. J Street Jive began life as J Street Monitor. There is only one reference to J Street Monitor online and it is a tweet by Martin Solomon, author of the hasbara blog, Solomonia, announcing the new site’s launch. Either Solomon was announcing the launch of his own site or of a site run by a close ally. [UPDATE: I’ve asked Solomon and Stavis twice to confirm or deny their involvement. They chose not to reply directly. But they did reply indirectly and guiltily. You’ll never believe what’s happened! Martin Solomon has disappeared one of his own tweets. Sorry, Martin but we’ve anticipated those shenanigans and saved a screenshot of it so that you couldn’t rewrite the history of your own surreptitious involvement in this site. And by taking down the tweet Solomon only reinforces the impression of his having a hand in this despicable blog venture. So it appears that this week the Republican National Committee has been embarrassed into deep sixing a tweet which praised a parody of a Hitler biopic in which der Fuhrer praises Nancy Pelosi. That puts Solomon in good company.]
Unfortunately for Parrhesia, in J Street Jive he attacks a particular person as an enemy of Israel. In my own exchange with the victim (let’s call him/her ‘V.’), the very specific details cited by Parrhesia in his post allowed V. to identify the post author as former Boston bookstore owner gone-bust, Hillel Stavis. Stavis happens to be a co-author of guess which blog? You guessed it, Solomonia. So we’ve very probably narrowed Parrhesia down to either Solomon, Stavis or some combination.
I put my money on Stavis, who’s led a rather checkered career as an enforcer for Boston’s David Project. I’m featuring here a video of Stavis stalking a Jewish Voice for Peace protest. At the end of the video, Stavis threatens:
If you get too close to me I’ll put my fist through your fuckin’ mouth.
Ooh, Hillel, not nice. Apparently, our Hillel has forgotten the dictum of his Talmudic namesake, “that which you hate, don’t do to others.”
I also tracked down this rather bizarre story in which Stavis hoaxed a Boston reporter by claiming to be a “Phil Davis” complaining about the International Solidarity Movement. After the story aired on radio, listeners called in to report the informant was none other than Stavis. Needless to say, the reporter wasn’t terribly happy.
And as any good attorney will tell you, my next question is: “If you lied then, Hillel, how do we know when you’re telling the truth? And what are you concealing through your anonymity at this site?”
The above paragraph answers the question: why someone would go to the trouble of creating an anonymous smear site. The guy is clearly an obsessive with simmering hostility brewing just beneath the surface of a borderline personality. In my experience, only the sleaziest, most paranoid Jewish far-right extremists like the author of Masada2000 go to such trouble to protect their identity. Anonymity serves as a cloak allowing the author to speak in the most aberrant, anti-social terms. This is true more of M2K than J Street Jive. But lies thrive in anonymity. Truth suffers in darkness. And the putative Solomon-Stavis site thrives in such a cesspool.
Another of the Jewish neocons writing for what Dan Siedarski so aptly calls Tabloid, er Tablet, Michael Weiss, comes up with yet another rightist spin on the MFA’s attack on J Street:
There’s little love lost between the Netanyahu government and J Street, but by refusing to even engage with the organization, Israel is more or less delegitimizing it as a foreign ally of the Jewish state—an embarrassment that’s going to be hard to combat in J Street’s U.S. public-relations work. Imagine a pro-American group in, say, Egypt being told that the State Department won’t meet with its representatives because it puts American interests at risk.
It never crossed Michael’s mind that the group might not want to be an agent of Israeli influence (cf. “foreign ally of the Jewish state”). Not to mention he doesn’t understand that the current government of Israel isn’t ISRAEL. It is the government of Israel and there are many legitimate perspectives on what Israel’s interests should be and what U.S. interests are, that diverge from those of Israel’s far-right ruling coalition. Since, hasbaroids, representing American Jewish interests is not the same as representing Israel’s, J Street, thank God, is in no imminent danger–least of all from the far Jewish right.
So with enemies like Stavis and Solomon, J Street, as I wrote in a post yesterday, is golden.