By Symi Rom-Rymer
In advertising the November debate between Alan Dershowitz and Jeremy Ben-Ami, the 92nd St. Y framed it as a discussion over Israeli policy, Iran, and military vs. diplomatic strategies in the Middle East. Yet it turned out to be a debate not so much about foreign policy, as a fight for the right to represent the Jewish community. A clash between the old and the new. Who has the right to speak for American Jews? Can that right extend to more than one group? And most importantly, (at least to Dershowitz) who has earned that right?
There was, of course, the requisite tussling over J Street’s branding and each of their positions on Iran but the real flashpoint erupted around J Street’s very existence. Despite its successes in its first 18 months, including being named as “in” on the Washington Post’s “What’s In and What’s Out for 2010” list, Dershowitz dismissed it is a small and unimportant organization. Instead, he magnanimously offered to fold J Street into AIPAC, thus preserving its position within and without the Jewish community. Furthermore, he made it clear that AIPAC deserves this distinction because it “has been the standard, traditional organization”—in other words, it has been around longer. Continue reading
By Sarah Breger
The interweb has been abuzz this past weekend over the publication of the NYT magazine profile of J Street.
Critics of the left-leaning Israel group have promptly responded, asserting that having moderate Arab and Muslim board members makes the group anti-Israel and calling into question polls J Street has published.
No matter how you feel about J Street, you have to admit it is pretty impressive that the not even two-year-old organization has received so much media attention. Or as M.J. Rosenberg at Talking Points Memo puts it, Don Draper has nothing on Jeremy Ben Ami, J Street’s executive director. Continue reading
By Jeremy Gillick
In August of 2005 the United States made an unlikely indictment: following an FBI raid on AIPAC’s offices, it accused Steve Rosen, one of the pro-Israel group’s most senior and influential lobbyists, of passing classified information leaked to him by a Pentagon analyst to the Israeli government.
The pro-Israel community rushed to his defense, but newspapers worldwide pounced on the case, using it as a springboard to attack AIPAC. The indictment itself was sufficient to disgrace Rosen, who soon lost his job, and whatever the trial’s outcome, it seemed unlikely that he would ever regain his influence or stature.
Now, with his long-awaited trial less than two months away (it’s scheduled for April 29), Rosen has re-emerged, according to several reports, as the man responsible for the downfall of Charles (Chas) W. Freeman, Jr, who recently accepted an appointment as Chairman of the National Intelligence Council.
After a lengthy absence from the small world of Middle East policy, last November, Rosen began blogging about the Obama administration for the Middle East Forum, a think tank run by the neo-conservative Daniel Pipes.
On February 19, Rosen wrote a post about Freeman entitled “Alarming appointment at the CIA.” Continue reading
By Jeremy Gillick
The Forward has published its annual list of America’s 50 most important Jews: the Forward 50.
Winners include Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s newly appointed Chief of Staff, about whom you can read here.
There’s also Morris Allen, a Conservative Rabbi from Minnesota who helped re-invent kashrut as a moral rather than merely legal imperative, just as Agriprocessors, America’s largest kosher meat producer, sunk deeper and deeper into sin, exploitation and eventually, bankruptcy.
Jeremy Ben-Ami, founder of the new, liberal Jewish, Israel lobby group J-Street, is at the top of the list too. Although this choice is perhaps more a reflection of the Forward‘s editorial stance than of Ben-Ami’s success, the creation of a viable alternative to AIPAC is, at the very least, a major symbolic accomplishment. And it could become much more than that. Here’s what Moment columnist Eric Alterman had to say about J-Street back in July. Continue reading
Posted in Arts & Culture, Culture, Misc, Politics, religion
Tagged Agriprocessors, AIPAC, Dara Torres, David Saperstein, Eric Alterman, Forward, Forward 50, Ilan Stavans, J-Street, Jeremy Ben-Ami, Jews, Jon Stewart, Morris Allen, Rahm Emanuel, Sarah Silverman, Sidney Offit
Watch Joe Biden deliver last night’s opening speech at the National Jewish Democratic Council’s Washington Conference.
Jewish politicians known for their support of Israel lashed out against the Republican Jewish Committee this morning, accusing it of dividing America’s Jewish community for the sake of politics.
During a panel discussion titled “Israel: Bipartisan Consensus or Partisan Wedge Issue” at a conference hosted by the National Jewish Democratic Council in Washington DC, House Representatives Shelley Berkley (D-NV) and Brad Sherman (D-CA), and former Representative Mel Levine (D-CA) criticized the RJC’s anti-Obama campaign as “BS,” emphasizing that historically Democrats have been the most staunchly and consistently pro-Israel party.
“You cannot denigrate and destroy our community in the interest of getting someone elected and that’s exactly what they [the RJC] are doing Continue reading
Posted in Politics
Tagged AIPAC, Biden, Brad Sherman, Elections, Israel, jewish, Mel Levine, NJDC, obama, RJC, Shelley Berkley