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Ron Radosh

J-Street: The Anti-Israel Lobby

January 9th, 2009 - 2:13 pm

In a previous blog, “With Friends Like These:The Return of Moral Equivalence,” I wrote about those purported friends of Israel who in reality are its worst enemies. Now, Jamie Kirchick, writing in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, has given us the single most effective expose of its real agenda. Kirchick rightfully calls it “The Surrender Lobby.”  His main point:

What makes J Street’s pretensions to being “pro-Israel” so dubious is that it advocates policies overwhelmingly rejected by Israelis. For instance, direct negotiations with Hamas, which is opposed not just by the governments of Israel, the United States, and the rest of the Quartet, but also by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Such negotiations would undermine the legitimate representatives of the Palestinian people, embolden a genocidal terrorist organization, further erode the credibility of the peace process, and ultimately cause more harm to the Palestinians themselves, who have suffered terribly under Hamas rule.

Not only is J-Street opposed to the positions of most American Jews, it also opposes the position of more than 80 per cent of  Israelis. Claiming falsely that it- not other Jewish groups represent the mainstream-J-Pac, Kirchick proves, is “either stunningly ignorant of the recent history of the situation or actively hostile to Israel.”  They do not, he concludes, support Israel’s security. Rather, they “support its surrender”

On the issue of whether or not Israel’s response to the Hamas bombings is disproportionate, the eminent political philosopher Michael Walzer, the man most known for his brilliant treatise on just war, explores on TNR’s website and Dissent magazine’s site, the arguments offered against Israel.  Walzer writes:

So Israel’s Gaza war was called “disproportionate” on day one, before anyone knew very much about how many people had been killed or who they were. The standard proportionality argument, looking ahead as these arguments rightly do, would come from the other side. Before the six months of cease-fire (when the fire never ceased), Hamas had only primitive and home-made rockets that could hit nearby small towns in Israel. By the end of the six months, they had far more advanced rockets, no longer home-made, that can hit cities 30 or 40 kilometers away. Another six months of the same kind of cease-fire, which is what many nations at the UN demanded, and Hamas would have rockets capable of hitting Tel Aviv. And this is an organization explicitly committed to the destruction of Israel. How many civilian casualties are “not disproportionate to” the value of avoiding the rocketing of Tel Aviv? How many civilian casualties would America’s leaders think were “not disproportionate to” the value of avoiding the rocketing of New York?

Walzer understands that commentators who accuse Israel of a disproportionate response have the responsibility to ask hard and tough questions before making foolish accusations, such as asking whether the tactics used by armies are protective of the civilian population. Israel does that. Hamas does not, using its civilians as human shields.

So I have one question for Michael Walzer.  He is listed on J Street’s website as a member of its Advisory Council. Isn’t it time he publicly join those who rebuke the organization, and withdraw from membership and a position that implies support of the organization’s basic purposes? After all, he clearly is not among those who favor Israel’s surrender.

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