There are few better ways for a peace organization to bolster their credentials than by securing a general to speak at its first national conference. The fact that this particular general, Jim Jones, happens also to be Barack Obama’s national security advisor is perhaps even more significant.
Haaretz also notes the asymmetry of the Israeli ambassador’s refusal to attend the conference, which means J Street is embraced in Washington and dissed by the rightist government in Tel Aviv. For the Israel lobby and nattering nabobs of negativism like Michael Goldfarb, this is proof positive of J Street’s leadership of the “anti-Israel lobby.” For the rest of American Jews who care about this issue, it will reinforce the organization’s bona fides as an independent and honest broker.
Jones has had his share of conflict with the current Israeli government so I’m sure he’s happy to lend J Street a hand in its hour of need/triumph. The Israel lobby has succeeded in spooking five or the original 150 members of Congress who’d agreed to sponsor the conference. I’d say in a trade for Thad Cochran or even Chuck Schumer, Jim Jones more than makes up for the loss.
I find it perversely amusing that even Israeli officials concede that Aipac is driving government policy toward the J Street conference. Usually you think of such a lobby as taking direction from the government on whose behalf it lobbies. But Aipac is the golem that has taken on a life of its own and now controls its master, at least in this particular matter:
In Israel, there is concern that AIPAC will interpret [Oren’s] participation as an act against it. “You don’t turn your back on someone who has acted in your favor for decades,” said a senior Israeli official. “Certainly not in favor of an organization that has done nothing for Israel.” The official added: “We have no reason to build up or bolster J Street.”