Irrelevance of J Street
The Yom Kippur liturgy talks about the two goats which marked the Yom Kippur holiday in ancient times. One goat was sacrificed on the temple altar and the other goat carried the sins of Israel symbolically on its back and was sent out into the wilderness of Azazel. So the children of Israel purified themselves by ridding themselves of their collective sins. J Street, it seems to me, increasingly has taken upon itself the sins of liberal Zionism and wanders ever farther afield into political Azazel.
Jeremy Ben Ami was interviewed by Reuters about his views of Bibi Netanyahu’s upcoming visit and speech to the U.S. Congress, and the upcoming General Assembly meeting at which the PA will lobby for the recognition of a Palestinian state. Ben-Ami’s views continue to show why my past fervor for J Street has been considerably dimmed. J Street, like the Israeli and U.S. governments, takes a dim view of Palestinian statehood. They’re in favor of it theoretically, you understand. Just not in practice. So when a real chance to declare a Palestinian state comes along, its thumbs down.
So what is Ben Ami’s antidote to a General Assembly-recognized Palestinian state?
…The only way to effectively delay the plan and reduce tensions stoked by surrounding Arab uprisings was for Netanyahu to chart a clear path to a two-state deal.
…”We are urging, from our perspective, that the prime minister’s initiative should be a serious plan…”
Ben-Ami said Netanyahu ought to present a deal along lines agreed in past years of negotiations, including proposed land swaps in exchange for settlement blocs Israel would keep.
“Put a proposal on the table that meets a bar of credibility, not a provisional state on 30 or 40 percent of the land, but a real state, and let them decide if they’re serious about peace or not,” Ben-Ami said.
That’s all well and good. But really, Jeremy, how likely is it that Bibi is going to present anything like what you suggest? Can we get real here? Pretending that Bibi is a statesman or has even a minute possibility of being one is a total waste of everyone’s time. Would you like to believe that Bibi could do such a thing? Do you want to believe that Israel could be a serious, responsible partner for peace? Sure, we all do. But the difference between what J Street wants Bibi to be and what he is is so great that mouthing platitudes as Ben-Ami has done, makes himself and whatever movement or constituency he represents look foolish and ineffectual.
Right now, there is only one serious game in town: the General Assembly proposal and the Fatah-Hamas unity deal. Yes, it may break down. But if you compare what Abbas has on the table with what Bibi has on the table, there’s no comparison. The first offer bears hope, the second bears nothing.
The J Street leaders finally words on the Palestinian proposals once again shows his Pollyanna qualities in stark outline:
Ben-Ami said UN endorsement of a Palestinian state without Israeli agreement on borders could engender violence as the conflict continues.
“Frustration will be higher,” Ben-Ami said. Such sentiment “leads to explosions and all you need is one match on the tinder and we’re very worried about what that leads to.”
You mean creating a Palestinian state would add yet another match on the tinder than the ones Israel has thrown repeatedly over the past few decades? I also find it interesting that a constructive Palestinian approach that doesn’t call for killing anyone or stealing anyone’s land is labelled by Ben Ami as incendiary; but an Israeli approach that offers nothing but more blood and more conflagration is somehow different and less worthy of condemnation.
Get real, Jeremy. You’re so divorced from any conceivable reality it makes you and J Street into almost a laughingstock. You may retain your donors and your constituency, but you’ve lost all political relevance. Which isn’t surprising considering that your sponsors in the Obama administration have lost theirs as well as far as Israel-Palestine policy is concerned.
14 thoughts on “Irrelevance of J Street – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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I don’t think he’s losing or has already lost any political relevance.
I just think he isn’t a radical.
The total opposite of you, which is why you’ll fail to see this point anyway.
Whatever liturgy may say, Jewish or Catholic, even if past-sins may be forgiven upon confession or by means of sacrifice — a proposition one may wonder about and which the criminal law denies — there can be no forgiveness for on-going sins. Or for sins planned.
Speaking of forgiveness and sacrifice, what is the proper punishment for Israel’s ever-continuing never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity to make a just and lasting peace? Didn’t the PLO in 1988 offer the 1967 lines (and renounce going after the 1947 UNGA-181 lines or the 1946 Mandatory lines)? And didn’t Israel ignore the offer? And still today, even more so? Even when made by the entire Arab League? Does Zionism mean never having to say, “Yes”?
Sacrifice? Will sacrificing the settlements and bringing the settlers home to Israel be a sufficient sacrifice?
declaring a Palestinian state is one thing.
declaring a Palestinian state that may actually result in the establishment of a Palestinian state another.
not everything that looks like an opportunity IS an opportunity.
the UN thing may or may not be one and it’s important to get this one right and not have another horrible false start to again disappoint and further burden the Palestinians, who have been fed false promises too often and have far too many disappointments and burdens already.
there’s not likely to be any real Palestinian state as long as the Israelis and the US aren’t satisfied that it’s the result of a deal reached with the Israelis.
It’s likely the U.S. & Israel will never agree to such a state & waiting for their approval is a recipe for eternal statelessness.
Smartphones behave in hinky ways when you try to use them to blog. In this case it let me reply to you but not approve yr comment. Go figure.
Hamas’ aim is NOT the destruction of Israel. It is the realization of Palestinian nationhood in a viable state & justice for refugees displaced by Nakba.
” Hamas’ aim is NOT the destruction of Israel.It is the realization of Palestinian nationhood in a viable state & justice for refugees displaced by Nakba.”
that includes setting people on land that lies inside Israel and having sovereignty over that land that’s is currently Israel be vested by people who are not Jews.
That aim is not consistent with the continued existence of Israel, Richard, so maybe there are aiming at destroying it or having it cease to exist or be wiped off the page of history or sumthin.
You simply don’t know what you’re talking about. Any refugee who returns will be a citizen of Israel & a voter in Israeli elections. YR claim that returning refugees would not be under Israeli sovereignty is purely made up.
As soon as 51% of the voting population is Islamic Arab, the vote will be to change the name of Israel to Palestine and to declare it to be an Islamic nation.
Fortunately, Richard, no one is really listening to you because most realize that you “simply don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Nice to see that you’re not only clairvoyant but are so close to “Islamic Arabs” that you can read their collective minds.
You remind me of the little child who sees something that disturbs him & shuts his eyes believing as long as he can’t see the thing it isn’t there. So while you are clearly not listening to me, hundreds of thousands are. That’s so inconvenient to yr ideological bubble that you hum loudly & cover yr eyes & ears thinking that no one else can read my work as long as you can shut it out yrself. Infantile, but effective as far as you’re concerned.
Richard, my claim isn’t that returning Palestinians wouldn’t be citizens of Israel, it is that Hamas wants sovereignty over the land to pass from Jews to Muslim Arabs.
the “and” is my sentence was not meant as “via”.
—-Who represents Hamas at a more senior level, Zahar or Meshal? Meshal of course. Did Meshal say what Zahar did? No.—-
The idea that it doesn’t matter because Meshal didn’t say it is poor. Zahar in some ways actual is senior to Meshal, but even if Meshal outranks, he’s still no one to blow off.
He speaks and counts, even as he delivers the hard words for the organization’s more “enthusiastic” members and Meshal offers the kinder, gentler words.
When they play good cop, bad cop both represent the organization and Zahar’s speaks words that Meshal has not repudiated and will not repudiate.
Take Zahar seriously or dismiss what he at peril of wishful, willful error.
All well & good except that no less a figure than Meshal himself has said that Hamas would accept a Palestinian state within 1967 borders. So that shoots yr claim all to hell.
Not only is Zahar not senior to Meshal in “some ways.” He’s not senior to him in ANY way. And where did your superior knowledge of the internal structure of Hamas come from anyway? Meshal chairs the Politburo. Haniya chairs Hamas in Gaza. Those are the 2 senior positions. Zahar doesn’t even have a formal leadership position. He used to be foreign minister, but no longer. Nice try but…
Zahar speaks & counts for anti-Hamasniks like you who dote on every word of the rejectionists because then you can trot them out to say: “You see, Hamas is hopeless & no partner.” That way you align yrself with the Bibistas while claiming you’re really a reasonable Zionist who wants what’s good for everyone…except those pesky Palestinians just don’t seem to want to cooperate.
In my opinion, J Street represents the exodus from narrowly tribal mindset to the Promised Land of universal rights ethic. Now they march through the difficult sands of “what Jews should do for their own good”.
I call it Epicurean Zionism. The idea is that mistreatment of others does not lead to happiness but to a life of fear. In general, Epicurus was very reasonable, too bad that he cannot be quoted as an authority (on the account on not being a Jew).
I think the idea of going through “what Jews should do for their own good” is in principle very good. But what happens when you trek through a desert is that you can be diverted by mirages. Mirage number one was that Jews must not mistreat Palestinians too much BECAUSE IT WILL PREVENT THE NECESSARY ATTACK OF WESTERN NATIONS ON IRAN. An intelligent observer can figure out that that attack is neither necessary nor to be expected, so it should not divert Israelis from full enjoyment of treating Palestinians as they damn please.
Now the second reason, to PREVENT THE POLITICAL TSUNAMI, is almost similarly farfetched, so it will be pooh-poohed with similar ease. Basically, what Ben-Ami says is that to avert the calamity of the nations recognizing Palestinian state with 1967 border Israel should make such a recognition on her own. Again, clever but too clever by half.
But the art of being politically relevant is tricky. If you are too correct, you are an extremist and thus irrelevant. Perhaps some strategic stupidity is politically necessary.
Piotr, you fail to understand what is meant by “for their own good”.
It’s not to avoid negative consequences of the reaction of others, as your somewhat sneering comment suggests, that the caution is offered.
Sort of a living up to moral obligations that one’s assumed is the idea, if you can grasp that sort of thing.