Tonight, there will be a much ballyhooed event in Las Vegas:
As described in the Jewish Journal last month:
The Republican Jewish Coalition and J Street are set to put aside their political differences for a brief pause to discuss the U.S.-Israel relationship next month in Las Vegas, according to a news release.In a first-of-its-kind event, J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami and Republican Jewish Coalition Executive Director Matt Brooks will appear together on March 9th at Temple Beth Sholom to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the relationship between President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and the policy preferences and beliefs of Jewish Americans, according to the organizers.PBS’ Jon Ralston will serve as moderator.The two organizations were on opposite sides of the aisle in last summer’s debate over the Iran nuclear agreement. J Street and the RJC are also fighting over the control of Congress in 2016, both invested in winning Congressional seats in battleground states across the country. J Street’s PAC has already announced it will spend as much as $3 million in over 100 local races across the country, challenging incumbents who have opposed the deal, while RJC aims to combat J Street race for race, and support the Republican incumbents.
The framing of this event is flawed and it cannot result in anything good for the American Jewish community.
The entire discussion is framed as a Democratic versus Republican discussion. Both Ben Ami and Brooks have a vested interest in keeping the event framed this way - Brooks because he wants to siphon Jews from the Democrats and Ben Ami because he wants to appear as if he is representing the Democratic pro-Israel center.
But this is false. Ben-Ami represents a fringe part of the Democratic Party. His J-Street is funding Democratic candidates who support the disastrous policies of the Obama White House - against Zionist, loyal Democrats who passionately oppose those policies. Where do they fit in this discussion?
Jeremy Ben Ami consistently claims that J-Street, by being for a two-state solution, is representative of the mainstream of American Jewish opinion. But even AIPAC and Bibi Netanyahu support a two-state solution. Ben Ami represents only the far Left view of "Israel is always wrong" - but that fact will not be revealed.
Ben-Ami is way out of the pro-Israel mainstream when he insists on the Green Line as being the start of all negotiations and the presumption that Jews have no rights in Judea and Samaria. (A truly pro-Israel supporter of the two state solution would want to keep as much of Judea and Samaria as possible as a beginning negotiating position and let the parties hammer out the details. Demanding that hundreds of thousands of Jews be ethnically cleansed from their homeland ab initio, and that Israel return to being nine miles wide, is not a pro-Israel position.)
Ben Ami is way out of the pro-Israel mainstream when he insists that Jerusalem be divided and the holy sites given to those who would happily slaughter any Jews who want to visit them.
Ben Ami is way out of the pro-Israel mainstream when his entire organization anti-democracy. J-Street is based on the idea that Israelis don't know what is good for them and that their democratically elected leaders are fanatics who must be taught a lesson about peace from their wise cousins who live thousands of miles away. J Street's entire purpose is to marginalize Israelis and tell the US to pressure Israel (and only Israel) to make more and more concessions for a peace deal while asking nothing from the Palestinians (and giving them veto power over any agreement that doesn't suit them.)
You can support a two-state solution - eliminating the demographic issues and minimizing the security issues - without starting negotiations from a position of giving everything up to begin with. But not according to J-Street.
These issues are what need to be debated with Jeremy Ben Ami - how he is betraying and misrepresenting Jewish American liberal Zionist positions as his own.
But that debate will not occur, because his opponent will happily agree that mainstream Jewish Democrats believe the same extreme positions as Ben Ami.
Look at Jeremy Ben Ami's Twitter feed. You will not find a single time that he has defended Israel. Ever. He has never defended its actions, its army, its leadership, or even its people against the lies and slanders. On the contrary, he has contributed much to the lies and half-truths about Israel. He is not pro-Israel no matter how many times he says he is. That is what must be discussed - how Ben Ami is not pro-Israel nor pro-democracy even from the perspective of liberal Jews.
But Brooks has no incentive to strengthen bipartisan support for Israel. He wants everyone to become Republican. That's his job.
The way that both sides approach the event is described in Jewish Insider:
So these issues which are vital to be exposed will instead be hidden. The mostly liberal Jewish audience will not be aware that they are being given a false choice between J-Street's disguised anti-Israel positions and those of a party that very possibly will be represented by Donald Trump (a theme that Ben Ami is anxious to hammer tonight.)
We do not need another reason to turn the question for support for Israel into a Republican vs. Democrat issue.
But that is inevitably going to happen tonight, and the losers will be a huge chunk of the American Jewish community who want to support Israel but do not want to vote Republican. And that is way too big a prize to sacrifice on the altar of partisan politics between J Street and the RJC.
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