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memri
November 23, 2009 No.
2626

Article in UAE Daily: "The New Jewish Lobby J Street [Has] Provided the U.S. and Other Countries with Political and Media Ammunition"

In a recent column in the UAE daily Al-Ittihad, columnist Dr. As'ad 'Abd Al-Rahman wrote about the Jewish-American advocacy group J Street, arguing that its importance is in that it provides the U.S. administration with "political and media ammunition" against Israel, especially in the absence of an Arab lobby in the U.S.

The following are excerpts from this article:[1]

"The Emergence of J Street Has Brought About a Significant Change"

"A prevalent view in the U.S. and outside it is that the Jews determine and control America's Middle East policy, mostly through [the Jewish lobby] AIPAC. But since President Obama's July 13, 2009 address to the leaders of the Jewish-American organizations, [in which he] set out his Middle East policy, there have been accusations from Jewish circles that Obama is being manipulated by two of his Jewish aides who have renounced [the usual pro-Israeli views] - Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod.

"Journalist J. J. Goldenberg, author of Jewish Power: Inside the American Jewish Establishment, thinks that one of the goals [of these aides] is to restrain the Jewish-American community by means of two organizations that attack Israel, namely 'Americans for Peace Now' and 'J Street.'

"But our topic today is J Street, which held its first conference last Monday... Its founders say that it represents the 'voice that is absent' from America's Middle East policy. J Street defines itself as 'the political arm of the pro-Israel, pro-peace movement' founded to 'promote meaningful American leadership to end the American-Israeli and Israeli-Palestinian conflicts peacefully and diplomatically.'

"Though AIPAC is still in control, the American media reports that the emergence of J Street has brought about a significant change..."

"[J Street's] Influence Has Not Yet Reached the Dimensions of AIPAC's, But It... Has Won Some Significant Points [Against It]"

"In terms of its perspective on the Arab-Israeli conflict, J Street is an extension of the Israeli Left, while AIPAC represents the views of Israel's political Right. Therefore, it is not surprising that [J Street] faces harsh censure for its criticism of the Israeli policy...

"True, the influence of this new lobby has not yet reached the dimensions of AIPAC's [influence], but it has taken AIPAC head-on, and has won some significant points [against it]. During the recent attack on Gaza, J Street collected 30,000 signatures in an online petition that condemned [Israel's] aggression, characterizing it as 'disproportionate' and stressing that 'there can be no military solution to a conflict that is essentially political.' J Street campaign director Isaac Luria wrote that 'while there is nothing "right" in raining rockets on Israeli families or dispatching suicide bombers, there is nothing "right" in punishing a million and a half already-suffering Gazans for the actions of the extremists among them' - a statement that was supported by 69% of American Jews, though AIPAC's response to it was endorsed by the majority of congress members.

"[J Street's] second important [action] came during Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's visit to Washington. J Street asked the U.S. administration to intervene and impose a two-state solution, even if this meant exerting pressure on Israel. AIPAC, on the other hand, asked Washington not to intervene but to leave the issue to the decision of the two sides in the conflict.

"AIPAC and other large Jewish organizations have brutally attacked J Street for its views on resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict. [J Street's] Statement of Principles advocates the creation of a viable Palestinian state as part of a negotiated two-state solution, based on the 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as the joint capital of the two states. [The organization] also calls for dialogue with Hamas, even through mediators." [2]

"There Is No Arab Lobby in Washington... To Work Towards Changing U.S. Policy"

"I think it unfortunate that there is no Arab lobby in Washington to support the Arabs' official and popular position and to work towards changing U.S. policy on the Middle East conflict..."

"J Street [Has] Provided the U.S. and Other Countries With Political and Media Ammunition"

"Needless to say, the views of the new Jewish lobby J Street have provided the U.S. and other countries with political and media ammunition. The Arab lobby, on the other hand, has remained nothing more than an unrealized dream or idea, even though, over the years, there has been need for it."

Endnotes:

[1] Al-Ittihad (UAE), November 1, 2009.

[2] In actuality, J Street's Statement of Principles makes no reference to Jerusalem. (See http://www.jstreet.org/page/j-street-statement-principles ). As for the issue of negotiating with Hamas, the "Myths and Facts" section on the organization's website states that it "would not oppose a decision by the Israeli government, the United States, or other countries to find unofficial, indirect ways to engage Hamas in order to advance U.S. and Israeli interests" (http://www.jstreet.org/page/j-street-myths-and-facts ).