NEW YORK, March 21 -- Last week, JStreet, which claims to be a “pro-Israel, pro-peace” organization, falsely claimed that “Israel Defense Forces… have killed over a dozen Palestinian civilians” in military strikes targeting terrorists in Hamas-controlled Gaza. JStreet had publicized a lie.
When called out, how did it deal with it? Dishonestly: it issued a phony and misleading retraction expressing “regret” at having “misstated the number of civilian casualties.” But it hadn’t. None of the 16 Palestinians killed had been civilians. All had been terrorists belonging either to the Popular Resistance Committees or Palestinian Islamic Jihad. But J Street didn’t mention this.
In its statement, J Street, while claiming to “unequivocally support Israel’s right to protect its citizens from attack” largely neutered itself by also “urging all involved to exercise maximal restraint,” implying equivalence between Israeli forces targeting terrorists and terrorists deliberately firing rockets into Israeli to murder Israeli civilians.
JStreet’s false claim impelled MK Otniel Schneller, from the left-wing opposition Kadima Party, to denounce JStreet’s “anti-Israel and anti-ethical statement” in the Knesset and to warn “Israeli politicians and left-wing activists, including members of my party, against supporting and identifying with J Street.”
But this is not the first time JStreet has been caught adopting extremist positions-- more extreme than even most far left-wing Israeli positions -- or of falsifying facts to suit their agenda.
Israel launched Operation Cast Lead in December 2008, to target the Palestinian terrorist groups firing of rockets into Israel from Hamas-controlled Gaza. Cast Lead came after thousands of rocket attacks over several years and enjoyed overwhelming Israeli public support: a Haaretz survey found Israelis supportive of the air assaults on terrorists by a three-to-one margin. Even the far-left Meretz party supported Cast Lead. JStreet opposed it.
In 2009, JStreet refused to condemn the grotesquely biased and shoddy Goldstone Report, which followed the assault on Israeli inspectors lawfully boarding a ship belonging to the Gaza flotilla, which was seeking to undermine Israeli efforts to prevent weaponry and war materiel entering Gaza by sea. In fact, Reform Judaism’s Rabbi Eric Yoffie, himself a prominent left-wing Jewish figure, was loudly booed at a JStreet conference when he criticized the Goldstone Report and JStreet’s failure to support Cast Lead.
JStreet has also invited as keynote speaker for one if its conferences Islamist Salam Al-Marayati, who has called for Israel’s destruction, stating that “the establishment by force, violence and terrorism of a Jewish state in Palestine in 1948” was “unjust” and “a crime,” and vowed to “work to overturn the injustice.” Marayati also openly supported major French Holocaust denier Roger Garaudy.
In March last year, JStreet urged the Obama Administration to support a UN Security Council resolution falsely condemning Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria as “illegal.” JStreet said in its statement, “These are sentiments that we share ... we cannot support a U.S. veto of a resolution that .... appropriately condemns Israeli settlement policy.” Past US administrations have not called such communities illegal and the Obama Administration vetoed the resolution.
JStreet’s support for a UN Security Council condemnation of Israel led Congressman Gary Ackerman (D-NY) to cut ties with J Street, saying, “The decision to endorse the Palestinian and Arab effort to condemn Israel in the U.N. Security Council is not the choice of a concerned friend trying to help.”
JStreet has also lied about its sources of funding, its director Jeremy Ben-Ami claiming that it had “about five” Arab donors constituting “at most 3 percent” of its donors. Subsequent investigation revealed that in fact, JStreet has about thirty Arab donors constituting some 10 percent of its donor base. Many of these have ties to Arab-American organizations that regularly lambast Israel. Also, JStreet falsely claimed that the arch Israel-basher George Soros was not a major donor. Later it emerged that Soros had given JStreet $750,000.
JStreet also tries to pass itself off as being supported by mainstream Israeli political figures. It even posted a YouTube video purporting to show prominent Israelis speaking in support of J Street when in fact, of the eleven interviewed, only three mentioned J Street at all, one of whom – Colette Avital – is a J Street employee.
Making false claims about Israel having killed civilians; bracketing Israeli military measures whose legitimacy J Street itself purports to “support” with outright Palestinian terrorist assaults; failing to support strikes on terrorists overwhelmingly supported by Israelis; calling for UN condemnation of Israel and refusing to condemn UN-sponsored attacks on Israel; and giving a platform to vicious anti-Israel Islamists are not actions that any genuine pro-Israel organization would take.
Above all, no pro-Israel organization would falsely claim that most Israelis and Palestinians support the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, when polls show that Israelis neither support this nor believe this to be feasible and Palestinians are opposed.
About the ZOA
The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) is the oldest and one of the largest pro-Israel organizations in the United States. With offices around the country and in Israel, the ZOA educates the public, elected officials, the media, and college/high school students about the truth of the ongoing Arab war against Israel. The ZOA works to strengthen U.S.-Israel relations through educational activities, public affairs programs and our work on Capitol Hill, and to combat anti-Semitism and anti-Israel bias in the media, in textbooks, in schools and on college campuses. Under the leadership of such presidents as Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, Rabbis Abba Hillel Silver and Stephen Wise, and current President Morton A. Klein, the ZOA has been - and continues to be - on the front lines of Jewish activism. www.zoa.org.