In today’s entry I want to write a bit about the Jewish Lobby in America. For a great many years it has been controlled by a right wing Neocon Zionist organization called AIPAC. Extremely powerful, it is quite rare for any congressman, Senator, or most importantly, any President to get elected without being in the pocket of AIPAC. In today’s entry I will not be going into great depth about AIPAC, which will be another entry. However, after some reflection I want to tell people about an alternative to AIPAC that is starting up the the USA.
On a personal note, Whilst I would prefer that no lobby group representing another country hold great power over American politicians, because to do so means they influence American Foreign Policy in the world. Basically this takes away the politician’s ability to decide the best course for America, without undue influence from Israel. But, American politics being what it is, this will never happen sadly. So, I am being a “realist.” and today I want to introduce people to this new American Israeli Lobby group called “J Street.” As they are a FAR better alternative to AIPAC and appear to have the ability to be reasoned with, I say cautiously.
VIEW THIS VERY SHORT VIDEO FIRST PLEASE:
Next, let’s look at AIPAC taken from The Washington Independent :
AIPAC, which calls itself “America’s Pro-Israel Lobby,” is considered among the most powerful lobbies in America. It raises money to promote a conservative definition of American “support” for Israel, one in which Israeli interests and Arab interests are defined in opposition, particularly pressing its case to members of Congress and successive administrations. It is close to many influential donors and organizations who raise and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars each election cycle to fund candidates with the same view. It also possesses an intimidating number of members — more than 100,000 — whom it has cultivated over its 30-year history. Against J Street’s $1.5 million budget for 2008 — for which it has only raised half so far, according to Ben-Ami, from mostly wealthy donors — is AIPAC’s operating budget of nearly $100 million.
More substantially, AIPAC and its occasional allies, like the Zionist Organization of America, are not above intimating that its political opponents are anti-Semetic — as with the campaign against John Mearshimer and Stephen Walt’s critical book “The Israel Lobby” — something that causes politicians to hew to a circumscribed discussion of Israel policy for fear of being labeled as prejudiced or offending the lobby.
Right-leaning Jewish political action committees raised and spent at least $5 million in every federal election cycle since 1990, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, with 35 distinct entities and many more individuals spending $10 million in the 2006 cycle alone. That has contributed to an ugly cycle of debate, where some who question the lobby’s influence suggest that Jews play an out-sized and nefarious role in U.S. politics; and the lobby’s allies in the media — a right-leaning group that includes Fox News, The Wall Street Journal editorial page, the New York Post, the Weekly Standard, Commentary and New Republic magazines, as well as a bevy of commentators — often counter-suggest that criticism of Israel is prima facie anti-Semetic.
Jews are not immune to the charge of anti-Semitism emanating from AIPAC or its allies. Last month, the Zionist Organization of America denounced the director of Hillel at Harvard University, Bernie Steinberg, for “violating the Jewish law of not bearing false witness, and playing into the hands of Israel’s enemies.” Steinberg had allowed Hillel to display an exhibit on human-rights violations committed by the Israeli military.
AIPAC’s allies have already suggested that J Street may not achieve much. “Let a thousand flowers bloom,” its former executive director, Morris Amitay, told the leading Jewish newspaper, The Forward, for today’s edition. “The question is, will they have any effect on pro-Israel initiatives in Congress? I’m guessing they won’t.”
Others go further than that. Asked on the phone if J Street would add any value to the debate about Israel, Morton Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America — which some consider more hard-line than AIPAC — responded simply, “No.”
Klein said. “All they’re telling me is that they want a Hamas-like state in Judea and Samaria like the one in Gaza. My eyes are open. Their eyes are closed.” Judea and Samaria are the Jewish biblical names for the West Bank of the Jordan River.
AIPAC and other right-wing Jewish groups opened their wallets (and gave to US Politicians), yet liberal Jewish groups did not. As a result, Rosenberg continued, the majority of members of Congress are “inflexibly hawkish on Israel, because it’s the safe position. But that can change. Take the fear away of those there — the fear that the lobby is gonna get them.”
The two founders are expecting their actions to attract a backlash from right-wing Jewish groups and the media outlets who present a conservative line on Israel. Already, The New Republic is reportedly preparing an article attacking J Street.
As stated, you can see how powerful AIPAC is and J Street is an alternative to the powerful AIPAC for American politics. They support talking to Iran; they are against the recent Israeli aggression into Gaza. They believe that the Middle East situation can and should be resolved by talking and Politics, not war. This is a good start to getting somewhere and a huge change in the mindset of Israeli American lobby groups.
J Street has had some success so far despite AIPAC’s attempt to destroy it; however, it continually comes under attack from AIPAC and Zionist groups, pro-Zionist media and Pro Zionist politicians. The two men who are behind the creation of J Street are leading liberal Jews. Firstly, Jeremy Ben-Ami the former Clinton administration domestic policy adviser who also was a former policy director for Howard Dean’s 2004 presidential campaign The second man is Daniel Levy the former Israeli peace negotiator.
Below is an excerpt from an article where Ben-Ami was interviewed after creating J Street. From a great editorial at Salon by Gary Kamiya and I would encourage people to read the entire article at Salon:
Apr. 29, 2008 For years, liberal American Jews who have chafed under the taboo against criticizing Israel have dreamed of starting a political organization that would speak for them. Now, with the launch of J Street, that dream has become a reality.
Jeremy Ben-Ami, the group's founder, says that the incident that drove him over the edge took place when he was working as policy director for Howard Dean's 2004 presidential campaign. Dean said the U.S. should take an "evenhanded" approach to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian crisis, Ben-Ami recalled. He was immediately, and predictably, savaged as anti-Israeli and a coddler of terrorists. "All hell broke loose," Ben-Ami said. "And this from a man who's married to a Jewish woman, who's raising kids in the Jewish faith, and is extremely pro-Israel in everything he'd ever said and done. But to use that one word, and then to have that cascade into a torrent, was just amazing to me. And it's certainly been repeated and magnified with the attacks on Obama and some of his aides, some of them crossing any line that any of us should have about civil discourse."
The taboo isn't only enforced by such personal matters, of course. It's also aggressively enforced by powerful Jewish lobbies like AIPAC, mainstream Jewish groups and leaders like Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, who claim to speak on behalf of all Jews. Congress, intimidated by the moral authority (or moral blackmail) and political clout wielded by these organizations and afraid of offending Jewish donors who are a major force in Democratic fundraising, invariably falls into line. The fact that Congress has staked out a position on Israel to the right of the Bush administration's pretty much says it all.
That debate has been skewed, Ben-Ami said, because most liberal American Jews have a broad range of interests and are not obsessed with Israel, whereas their hard-line counterparts tend to be focused on that single issue. This means that although the loudest voices on Israel come from the right, large numbers of American Jews hold much more moderate positions.
So just where does Ben-Ami see J Street going?
Again from The Washington Independent :
Ben-Ami sees J Street as an extension of the new liberal mood of decentralized, bottom-up political action — a development in which the Jewish community, in his view, has lagged behind. And that’s a wave of change that has yet to hit the Jewish community.” Ben-Ami envisions a move away from “a small number of large donors essentially holding the community hostage” to its right-wing political views and instead moving toward “an online, netroots feel to endorsements and activism.”
So, what exactly is J Street all about then? To give you an idea, here is part of the statement they issued during the attack on Gaza, on January 4th this was released:
Statement in response to Israeli Ground Invasion of Gaza
January 4th, 2009
J Street reiterates its call for strong and immediate American diplomatic leadership to bring an end to the violence through an immediate ceasefire.
as Americans and as friends and supporters of Israel, we do not believe the continuation of the present military operation is in the best interests of either the United States or Israel. Rallies and protests in Iraq and Afghanistan in opposition to the Gaza now bring the conflict squarely into arenas where American troops are actively deployed. Demonstrations throughout the Middle East and the Muslim world indicate that this week’s events are only further damaging America’s image, interests and relationships around the world.
It is time for a new direction for American foreign policy in the Middle East, and J Street calls on President-elect Obama and the new Congress convening this week to work actively and immediately – with international support – to reach a ceasefire that stops the violence, ends the rockets and lifts the blockade of Gaza.
The United States must understand that this week’s events did not occur in a vacuum of just Hamas’ rocket fire and Israel’s military response. The situation is also influenced by the ongoing blockade of Gaza and its impact on the one and a half million residents of Gaza as well as the larger political conflict between Israel and the Palestinian people which, unresolved, continues to fuel deepening anger, violence and death.
Without an immediate end to the present violence, hundreds more will die and be injured in the coming days and weeks, including innocent civilians on both sides. Anger against Israel, the United States and moderate Arab regimes will continue to rise –
While armed conflict may inflict serious – though temporary – damage and loss on Hamas, it will likely enhance the movement’s political strength, not only in Gaza but on the West Bank and regionally.
The most important question we asked last Saturday remains: what is the end game? If the goal is a negotiated end to the rocket fire – then let negotiations begin now.
So as we can see, a more rational approach from J Street as opposed to Zionist AIPAC. A starting point to begin from, a new direction in American politics based on reasoning, rather than Nazi style force with AIPAC. I say again, there is NO getting away from Jewish lobby groups in American politics, the best that American’s can do is to help the left leaning groups like J Street to break the strangle hold of the Neocon Zionist groups like AIPAC who now control American politics and politicians at the most highest levels.
So, for this reason alone, I am placing a J Street graphic on this blog, and I would encourage others to do the same. It’s not the best situation, but it’s the best alternative to AIPAC and the only viable way to neuter the Neocon Zionist stranglehold on American Politicians. If you are Jewish and reading this then you should sign up to J Street for their news letters and donate to support them. I have included a video by Ben-Ami telling his story and why he felt the need to creat J Street, also some links below the video for those interested in learning more:
Here is Ben-Ami's own personal story as to why he created J Street:
Attack on J Street from Rabid Zionist Rabbi:
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