October 26, 2009

OY:

The Space Between Pro-Israel and Anti-Israel (Michael Goldfarb, October 26, 2009, Weekly Standard Blog)

I had the chance to speak with the director of J Street, Jeremy Ben-Ami, as well as his director of policy and strategy, Hadar Susskind. On the issues, the best that can be said about these two is that they are squishes -- at all costs they avoid taking a strong position on any major issue other than settlements. Take the issue of Iran sanctions, for example. J Street has been at the center of the anti-sanctions coalition. Ben-Ami coauthored an op-ed on the Huffington Post with Trita Parsi, the head of the National Iranian-American Council who serves as the Iranian regime's man in Washington, urging against sanctions legislation in Congress. As that position became increasingly untenable for J Street -- support for sanctions on Iran is near universal in the Jewish community and in Congress -- the group has shifted. In the House, sanctions legislation is being shepherded by the chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, Rep. Howard Berman. J Street has tried to square the circle by supporting Berman's mark-up of the legislation while opposing final passage of the legislation. I asked Susskind, "you do not support sanctions but you support Berman?" He answered: "Correct."

The Goldstone report has also put J Street in an awkward position. J Street released two statements on Goldstone, neither of which condemned the report. Meanwhile, Ben-Ami told the Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg that J Street is "refusing to embrace the Goldstone report." I asked Susskind, what is J Street's position on Goldstone? "There's a lot of space between condemn and embrace," he said. When I asked Susskind whether J Street would support a resolution condemning Goldstone, and introduced by the same Howard Berman J Street claims to support on sanctions, Susskind punted, saying he'd not read the text of the resolution. It is, however, hard to believe that the policy director for J Street isn't following this kind of hot-button legislation on the Hill.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 26, 2009 4:12 PM
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