J Street’s chief failing, according to Pollak, is that it has mistakenly assumed that because American Jews tend to be progressive, they want the United States to get tough with Israel, as do many other progressives. “But the syllogism doesn’t work,” Pollak said. “U.S. Jews may be liberal, but they’re not anti-Israel.” J Street officials, who acknowledged that some of the organization’s wounds have been self-inflicted, maintain that although the group has taken its lumps, it patiently forges on, gathering supporters and gaining political influence.The event is scheduled to take place Feb. 26-March 1 at the Washington Convention Center in D.C., where panelists will discuss topics ranging from “Do Israelis ‘Care About Peace’ ” to “The Revival of the Israeli Left” to “The Campus Challenge: Changing the Conversation in an Environment of Extreme Polarization.”
The list of speakers numbers at least 60 and includes Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism; Daniel Sokatch, CEO of the New Israel Fund; and journalists Peter Beinart, Eric Alterman and Gershom Gorenberg.
Among the more controversial speakers is Rebecca Vilkomerson, executive director of Jewish Voices for Peace, which advocates the use of BDS (boycotts, divestment and sanctions) against Israel. BDS has been roundly condemned in the mainstream Jewish community because it serves to demonize and deligitimize Israel.
J Street, too, opposes BDS, noted Ben-Ami, who said he is not concerned that the appearance of Vilkomerson might legitimize BDS. Rather, she was invited to air her views, he explained, so that conference attendees who might be “tempted” to embrace BDS will think otherwise after they see its moral and tactical failings exposed in debate. (Vilkomerson is scheduled to appear Feb. 28 on a panel along with three opponents of BDS.)
J Street president Jeremy Ben-Ami addresses the crowd at the organization’s first national conference, held in 2009 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in the District.
Photo courtesy J Street
there is a lot of oil money floating the self haters.