By Moshe Phillips
J Street, the controversial Jewish pressure group that was created to lobby for a Palestinian state, is back in the news. J Street is now in the news in -- of all places -- Amman, Jordan because of its unauthorized freelance diplomacy mission there. The Jordan Times reported on May 2 that "[t]heir Majesties King Abdullah and Queen Rania on Sunday met with delegates from the American organization, J Street, who are on a visit to the Kingdom as part of a regional tour."
The question is, why would the Jordanian monarchy be interested in meeting with J Street in the first place? One might think that a group that held its first national convention only in October of 2009 would not be deemed worthy of meeting with Jordan's king and queen.
It is also curious that the visit to Jordan did not generate the headlines that J Street has been getting somewhat used to. After all, J Street has been making the news a lot since 2009.
Perhaps the Jordanian government believed that it was worth meeting with J Street because of the connections J Street has with the Democratic Party.
A key strategy of J Street from its very outset has been to use the gravitas that even the most radical Democrats now have in the Obama era to provide it with the cover it needs to advance its pro-Palestine agenda.
Five of the Democratic congressmen who signed a controversial letter that urged President Obama to increase pressure on Israel were rewarded by the radical J Street lobby organization with a five-day President's Day weekend tour of Israel, Jordan, and the so-called "Palestinian Territories." That this letter precipitated what many have termed the worst crisis in U.S.-Israel relations in decades must not be discounted.
Representative Keith Ellison of Minnesota, the first Muslim to be elected to the United States Congress, was the key organizer of the letter to President Obama asking the administration to use diplomatic pressure on Israel to end the so-called blockade of Hamas-controlled Gaza. Ellison and the 53 other Democrats who signed the letter were widely labeled as the "Gaza 54."
Matt Brooks, the Executive Director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, released the following statement about the letter on January 29:
By now, you've probably heard that 54 Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives (no Republicans) sent a letter to President Obama -- a letter in which they urge him to pressure Israel to loosen security measures on Israel's border with Hamas-controlled Gaza. This is outrageous. And we need to raise our voices to respond! These security measures were implemented to counter the threat from terrorism originating from the Hamas-controlled Gaza strip.
Every congressman on the J Street-sponsored President's Day trip signed Ellison's letter, which J Street endorsed.
J Street's February 12 press release on its "first Congressional mission" read in part:
Representatives Lois Capps (CA-23), Bill Delahunt (MA-10), Bob Filner (CA-51), Mary Jo Kilroy (OH-15), and Donald Payne (NJ-10) will meet with Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian government officials as well as civil society leaders to get an in-depth, on-the-ground look at the state of the peace process, and to explore the American role in bringing about regional, comprehensive peace. "We're excited to start bringing members of Congress to the Middle East as part of our overall effort to promote strong US leadership to achieve a two-state solution and regional, comprehensive peace," said Jeremy Ben-Ami, Executive Director of the J Street Education Fund.
Several important nuanced phrases in Ben-Ami's statement and the press release illustrate the cause for alarm that J Street has generated from its critics both in Israel and in the U.S. Zionist community.
J Street's very radical stance is based on the idea that the U.S. should pressure Israel into accepting a "two-state solution" and that a "two-state solution" is the remedy for a "regional, comprehensive peace." This is a seriously dangerous view. How will a "two-state solution" make peace magically happen between Muslims and Christians in Lebanon or Shiites and Sunnis in Iraq? Will a "two-state solution" bring a stop to the murder and persecution of Coptic Christians in Egypt? This "two-state solution" rhetoric gives credence to the ridiculous claims that Israel's existence is the obstacle to peace in the Middle East. According to the May 2 Jordan Times, King Abdullah stated to J Street "that the continuation of the status quo will lead to a new cycle of tension and violence in the region."
There is no reason to believe that a "two-state solution" will be any solution at all. After all, the creation of a de facto Islamic Republic in Gaza not only hasn't brought peace to the region, but it has dramatically increased the footprint of Iranian backed Islamic terrorism in the area.
J Street had stated that the congressmen were to meet with Palestinian "government officials." Which officials did they mean? The Fatah terrorists posing as a government in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) or the Hamas terrorists posing as a government in Gaza?
Were leaders of Israel's settlers granted any access to the congressmen? Without meeting the settlers -- the only community being transferred and displaced by J Street's "two-state solution" Palestinian statehood scheme -- how could these Americans ever hope to get an accurate idea of the full situation?
J Street is more interested in the views of Jordan. Jordan's Prince Zeid Ra'ad Al-Hussein, Ambassador of Jordan, was a presenter at the J Street Conference on October 26, 2009, the first full day of the Capitol Hill event. And this was just weeks after Christiane Amanpour's October 2, 2009 CNN interview with Queen Rania when Rania directly attacked Israel stating "can the world afford for this conflict to keep the way -- I mean, it is -- it's a disgrace to humanity that there is still this occupation, that there's an entire population that's still dehumanized, that's still under occupation and suffering."
J Street seemed in part to be following Queen Rania's lead when it joined an alliance of organizations with a strong history of criticizing Israel when it too endorsed Ellison's letter. These staunch critics of Israel include The Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation (HCEF), the American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP), the American Near East Refugee Association (ANERA), the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), and Rabbis for Human Rights.
Since being elected to Congress in 2006, Ellison has caused controversies several times, perhaps most significantly when he demanded to use a Koran for his ceremonial swearing-in in 2006. Ellison has traveled to Iraq, Israel, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Gaza since being elected. In February 2009, Ellison and fellow Democratic congressman Brian Baird toured Gaza. At the time, Ellison and Baird issued a joint statement assigning moral equivalency to Israel and the Hamas terrorist group, saying, "The first and most urgent priority must be helping the people in Gaza. At the same time, the rocket attacks against Israeli cities must stop immediately. Just as the people of Gaza should not be subject to what they have experienced, the Israeli civilians should not have to live in fear of constant and indiscriminate rocketing."
So far, J Street's JStreetPAC has distributed over half a million dollars to U.S. congressional candidates it is backing for the November 2, 2010 elections. Ellison was among those that the JStreetPAC financially contributed to and has officially endorsed.
Did these congressmen show their appreciation to J Street by setting the stage for J Street's unusual May visit to the Jordanian Royal Court when they were there back in February? How will J Street reward the 49 others of the Gaza 54? We will have to keep watching.
Moshe Phillips is a member of the executive committee of the Philadelphia Chapter of Americans for a Safe Israel / AFSI. The chapter's website is at phillyafsi.com, and Moshe's blog can be found at phillyafsi.blogtownhall.com.
hursday, February 18, 2010
J Street's Wheels Coming Off The Bus in Israel
Two Sides of the Same Coin
The centuries old Islamic doctrine of "Al Taqiyya" or sacralized lying in order to further the interests of the ummah or community of believers has been remarkably taken up by the hard left group, J Street. Raymond Ibrahim (The Al Qaeda Reader) recently published an examination of this kind of "Holy Lying" here.
For two years, J Street and Jeremy Ben Ami have been lying to Americans in general and American Jews in particular by branding themselves - ad nauseam - as "Pro Israel." On bags, buttons, letterheads, websites, on television, in newspapers - everywhere - the label "Pro Israel" has become indelibly inked onto the brand.
In spite of the presence of virulent, anti-Israel groups and individuals in their midst and recipients of their George Soros-funded PAC money (like the CAIR and Muslim Brotherhood associated Keith Ellison of Minnesota), the lying has pretty much succeeded, especially among Congressmen who tend to give forth a Pavlovian drool when confronted with a putative Jewish group that chants "Pro Peace" from dawn until dusk.
But the latest taqqiya move by J Street is so blatant and disingenuous that it threatens to vaporize all the lies and all the hype.
J Street has teamed up with Churches for Middle East Peace (CAMERA exposes this other "Peace" group here and here) in bringing a select Congressional delegation to Israel. Select - in the sense that most of the travelling politicians (who footed the bill?) have a distinct record of anti-Israel statements or policies. And if they don't - Ben Ami will make certain that they will in the future.
But the wheels on their bus appear to be falling off this week. The lead Democrat Congressman (they're all Democrats) on the "fact finding" trip to Israel is one William Delahunt, representative for Massachusetts' 10th District for the past 13 years.
Phone: (202) 225-3111
In a uni-party state like Massachusetts (a big crack appeared, of course, with the astounding election of Sen. Scott Brown), dominated by a university culture that is distinctly anti-israel and Pro Obama, his presence on a J Street junket was predictable.
But due to a bizarre confluence of events, Delahunt has found himself in an unwanted spotlight this week. "Snubbed", as he put it, by Danny Ayalon, Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister,when he refused to meet with the delegation along with J Street because of the latter's demonstrably hostile policies and statements towards The Jewish State. Delahunt's wounded pride got worse by the simultaneous revelations surrounding his potential malfeasance in the Amy Bishop murder case when he was Norfolk County District Attorney 20 years ago. The latest on this embarrassment is here. His presence on the trip may prove moot in light of rumors that he will not seek re-election. More and more, he seems to be crying "My Assistant ate My Homework."
As for the other villain in the piece, Churches for Middle East Peace, Solomonia has an excellent backgrounder.
Pretty soon, we're going to see a national licensing bureau in charge of requiring groups with "Peace" in their title to live up to their billing. I suspect 99% of groups like CFMEP and J Street will have their licenses revoked.
Let's look at the other members of Jeremy Ben Ami's Congressional group. Mary Jo Kilroy of Ohio has had a long and cordial association with CAIR (The Council on American Islamic Relations) and with its national vice chairman, Ahmad al-Akhras.
Phone (202) 225-2215
Pho (202) 225-2015
It is worth noting that CAIR has seen many of its officers and members indicted and convicted on terrorism related charges. The organization itself was a named an unindicted co-conspirator in the successful prosecution of the terror-supporting Texas charity front, The Holy Land Foundation in 2008. Central Ohians Against Terrorism chronicled Kilroy's connections to CAIR.
Mary Jo Kilroy, incidentally, comes in third in J Street PAC's dollar recipients for 2009: $47,132.00
Phone: (202) 225-3601
Lois Capps, Democrat representative for California's 23rd District is the author of this statement on Israel's Operation Cast Lead:
"...I fear the current military operation in Gaza represents a vastly disproportionate response that will further destabilize the region."
Representative Capps received $4303.00 from J Street's PAC in 2009.
While condemning Hamas' rocket attacks, she nonetheless appears to endorse the infamous Goldstone Report. Indeed, Representative Capps was one of a handful of Congressmen who voted "No" to the resolution condemning the Goldstone Report.
Bob Filner, from California's 51st District, was also among the few who refused to sign onto the resolution - another member of J Street's delegation to Israel. Rep. Filner also holds the dubious distinction of being one of only two Congressmen to refuse to sign a letter circulated by AIPAC in May of 2009 which urged:
“absolute Palestinian commitment to end violence, terror and incitement” and urges “far greater involvement and participation by the Arab states both in moving toward normal ties with Israel and in supporting moderate Palestinians.”
Phone: (202) 225-8045
"Pro Peace" Bob, like Capps, voted "No" in the critical resolution on the Goldstone Report.
Congressman Donald M. Payne, of New Jersey, currently chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, while generally voting on Israel's side, was a signatory to a CAIR crafted letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton which failed to mention the daily threat and actualization of terror against Israel.
Phone: (202) 225-3436
While certainly better than the others in fairness to Israel, the overall apparent qualification for joining the J Street mission to Israel appears to be a hyper-critical record on Israel and the relative exculpation of Palestinian violence.
Danny Ayalon was certainly morally and tactically correct in refusing to lend credibility to J Street and CMEP by meeting with their delegation. Taqqiya, Ben Ami style, is rapidly going out of style.