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September 09, 2014

J Street Funded Representatives Oppose Iron Dome

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J Street claims to be the “political home for pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans.” Yet, 11 members of the U.S. House of Representatives backed by J Street recently either refused to back funding for Israel’s Iron Dome short-range anti-missile system or voted against it.

“Three of the House lawmakers who voted against funding for Iron Dome—Reps. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), and Walter Jones (R-N.C.)—have received a combined $21,145 in this election cycle from J Street, according to publicly available Federal Election Commission (FEC) documents.

“The eight other J Street-funded lawmakers who abstained from the vote are Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Susan Davis (D-Calif.), Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas), John Garamendi (D-Calif.), Jim McDermott (D-Wash.), Raul Ruiz (D-Calif.), Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), and Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.)” (“J Street in Congress Refuse to Support Iron Dome Funding for Israel”, Washington Free Beacon, Aug. 21, 2014).

Members of Congress, Democrats and Republicans, overwhelmingly have supported Iron Dome. As thousands of missiles were launched from the Gaza Strip during the July-August Israel-Hamas war, Iron Dome protected three quarters of the country’s civilians. Had the system not been in place, the number of noncombatants killed in Israel likely would have been much greater than the four who were slain. The response from Israel would have been much harsher, possibly leading to a wider war.

The disconnect between J Street’s “pro-Israel, pro-peace” self-description and the votes of the 11 noted above caused comment.

“Pro-Israel community insiders say that this is proof that J Street cannot even convince its own people to support a vaguely pro-Israel line,” The Free Beacon stated. “ ‘I suspect that if J Street had its druthers, its few congressional allies would have actually voted for Iron Dome funding, just to keep up appearances,’ said Noah Pollak, executive director of the Emergency Committee for Israel.

“ ‘But J Street ’s allies in Congress are genuinely dedicated to being anti-Israel, and so they’re happy to take J Street money and then vote the wrong way, confident that the checks will clear,’ Pollak said. ‘It’s embarrassing for J Street, but it’s also the price of maintaining good relations with anti-Israel members of Congress.’ ”

J Street’s “pro-Israel and pro-peace” self-portrait misleads. Working toward peace with Palestinian Arab leadership has been a goal of the Jewish state at least since the country signed the Oslo accords in 1993. Israel brought the Palestinian Liberation Organization and its leader, Yasser Arafat, to the Gaza Strip, withdrew from West Bank cities and granted Palestinian Arabs autonomy prior to a two-state solution floated by President Bill Clinton and Prime Minister Ehud Barak in 2000. Not only did Arafat reject the proposal, but he also launched an intifada that included suicide bombings and other attacks and resulted in the deaths of more than 1,000 Israelis and visitors, and 4,000 Palestinian Arabs.

Regardless of Palestinian behavior, J Street claims that “being pro-Israel doesn’t require supporting every policy of its government.” True, but frequently opposing policies of Israeli governments chosen by majorities of the country’s voters and funding politicians who don’t support break-through defense programs like Iron Dome are hard to square with pro-Israel activism.

Guilt by association can be unfair. But groups as well as individuals are known by the company they keep—and the politicians they fund. On the Hill, J Street appears to need some new pro-Israel, pro-peace friends. –Ziv Kaufman

Posted by ER at September 9, 2014 02:33 PM

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