Over the past few days, I’ve been thinking about the lies that J Street published about me in an official tweet which called my criticism of Jesse Jackson Jr’s Jerusalem Post op-ed “crazy, disgusting and racist.” I thank Max Blumenthal, Phil Weiss, Gabriel Ash, and a number of others who’ve blogged, tweeted and posted to Facebook about this serious dispute.
Personally, as an alum of the Bill Clinton School of Triangulation, I think Jeremy Ben Ami’s strategy is to point out to his centrist donors how crazy those to his right and left are. That, he thinks, will leave him smelling like a rose with the fat-cats showering J Street with all that now barely regulated campaign cash. The only problem with this sort of triangulation is that J Street seeks to co-opt a bit of the rhetoric of the right and a bit of the rhetoric of the left and thinks that somehow that makes it the credible center, when instead it makes it a group full of internal contradictions. Not to mention that when your group apes the views of an administration whose Israeli-Arab policy is a shambles, you’re consigning yourself to political irrelevance (which is what the current Obama policy is).
So I think Jeremy’s staff figured that smearing me was a good deal for them because making me out to be the crazy left would make them look good with all their liberal Zionist donors who run scared from the sort of ideas I espouse.
Again, the only problem with this is I’m not going to take it. J Street is a mainstream Jewish organization which adopts the tropes, concerns and concepts of the Jewish community in its organizing and fundraising. I too take my place as a Jew in the American Jewish community. I will allow no one, especially not an ostensibly mainstream group like J Street. to lie about me and tarnish my good name in the Jewish community. If Jeremy Ben Ami wants his staff to smear people like me he picked the wrong Jew.
I have written to Jeremy asking him to take down the tweet about me and apologize in J Street’s twitter feed for publishing it. He has not replied. I gather he does not intend to. When two Jews are embroiled in a serious intractable conflict a good Jewish way to resolve it is by convening a beyt din. Three rabbis come together, hear evidence and either mediate or judge the dispute.
Of course, I would prefer not taking as serious a measure as this. There are ways to resolve this dispute short of a beyt din. But I am thinking that this may be the best way to air the issues involved in this matter so that J Street, it’s supporters and the Jewish community can judge for themselves.
Finally, let me say that I have no problem with those who criticize or disagree with my views as long as they actually read what they’re criticizing and characterize it accurately, something J Street never did. Also, I have been critical of J Street over the past two years and this is likely why the group piled on after Adam Holland, the pro-Israel blogger attacked me. But in my criticism of J Street I have always quoted statements or positions with which I disagreed. I have always characterized positions with which I disagreed as accurately as I could. I never called J Street or Jeremy crazy, racist or disgusting. Not even close.
So Jeremy, do we need a beyt din decide this matter? I await your reply.
To those who support me in this campaign, would you consider loaning your blog, Twitter, Facebook or other social networking account on its behalf and advancing it among your friends? Jeremy’s Twitter account is here. Tweet him and ask him why he refuses to defend J Street’s accusations against me. Why he made them in the first place? Why he won’t take these lies down?