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Saturday, December 24, 2011

J Street shunned over critical approach to Israel's government

  • Published 06:24 24.12.11 Latest update 06:24 24.12.11

J Street followers split between those who reject the liberal group and those who identify with its position; J Street president: group is pushing for 'greater openness and a broader definition of what it means to be pro-Israel.'

By Naomi Zeveloff 

In November, J Street found itself rejected again. The recent decision by the Jewish Student Union at the University of California, Berkeley was but the latest in a handful of incidents in which the self-described pro-Israel, pro-peace organization has been frozen out of local Jewish institutions in such places as Tennessee and Boston.

Depending on whom you ask, these instances point either to a wholesale rejection of J Street — and of those who identify with its position — by the Jewish communal world, or they are a series of small setbacks for an organization making gradual headway among Jews nationwide.

J Street Jewish groups in some cities and universities have frozen out J Street, but others have embraced it.
Photo by: Courtesy of J Street / Forward

“It is going to be a series of skirmishes and battles and fights in cities all over the country,” J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami said. “But the main tide is running in the direction of greater openness and a broader definition of what it means to be pro-Israel.”

Roz Rothstein, national director of StandWithUs, a more hawkish pro-Israel advocacy group, disagreed. “I think that J Street has to take account of what its priorities are in order to gain greater acceptance,” she said. “I don’t hear them putting pressure on the Palestinian Authority or Hamas. They only blame Israel for the lack of peace.”

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