Who speaks for the American Jews?

For the next few days (October 25-28) – all eyes at the Capitol Hill and Tel Aviv will be focused on the first national conference of a new pro-Israel ‘Jewish Lobby’ group, the J-Street, which is being held in Washington DC. According to J-Street flyer, over 160 US lawmakers have agreed to attend the conference (Jews make 2% of America’s total population of 300 million).

The 18-month-old J-Street has been criticised by the old pro-Israel Jewish Lobby groups (AIPAC, ADL, AJC, ZOA, JFNA, etc.) including the Israeli embassy officials as a “sell-out”. At the heart of this tug-of-war is who speaks for America’s Jews and what it means to be a (true) pro-Israel. Interetingly, J-Street, like the ‘old guard’ have a common agenda for the Native Palestinian Muslims and Christians – that’s to live farever on 22% of their ancestral land and under the constant fear of a nuclear Israel. However, they do differ on how to fool the Americans and their Palestinian victims – and immediate Crippling sanctions against Islamic Iran (AIPAC in favor, J-Street against).

According to Jewish daily FORWARD – While J-Street conference is expected to draw 1000 participants and 160 members of Congress at the dinner gala – AIPAC draws more than 5000 participants and hosts more than half of Congress members at its gala event, alongside top government officials from the US and Israel. No Israeli government official including Israel ambassador, Michael Oren (a US-born dual citizen-holder) has agreed to attend the J-Street conference.

The ‘star attraction’ at the conference is Rabbi Eric Yoffie, who leads the country’s largest Synagouge movement, the Union for Reform Judaism. He will be co-chairing the conference’s  main event, “Israel’s relation with US Jews”. Interestingly, the Rabbi had criticized J-Street earlier this year for not “blaming Hamas for the Israeli massacre of 1400 Gazzan during December-January 2009”. Rabbi told JTA that J-Street’s views deserve hearing in the wider Jewish community, and praised it for doing more than many established groups to promote the Israeli position of a two-state solution. Yoffie also said: “I would not refrain from criticizing some of J-Street’s psitions, particularly on Iran. This is not an area for passivity or indifference, ‘the stakes are too high’.”

William Daroff, the Washington director of the Jewish Federation of North America (JFNA), accused J-Street, last month, of “standing with the Mullahs” by opposing tough Iran sanctions.


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