Why is the New York Times so invested in promoting J Street, the minor, left-wing group of Jewish doves, as an influential counterweight to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)?
Reporter Helene Cooper Wednesday gave the benefit of the doubt to J Street, which wants to, in its words, "end the occupation" of Palestinian land, complains on its website about the influence on Israeli policy by the American "far right," and receives funding from George Soros. Yet Cooper insisted, against that evidence and more, including smearing supporters of Israel by the offensive term "Israel Firster," of calling J Street "Pro-Israel," as did the headline over her story: "J Street, Pro-Israel but Opposed to Attacking Iran, Takes Its Message to Washington."
Memo to Congress: Not all American Jews support a military strike on Iran, either by Israel or by the United States.
Members of J Street, the dovish pro-Israel group formed four years ago in part as an alternative to the more hawkish American Israel Public Affairs Committee, made that point on Tuesday when they descended on Capitol Hill as part of an effort to convince lawmakers that supporting Israel does not mean agreeing with everything advocated by the country’s conservative prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.
“There’s a myth that the so-called Jewish vote is a monolithic vote in favor of a militaristic position in support of Israel,” said Elaine Tyler May, a professor at the University of Minnesota, who came to Washington for J Street’s annual conference and met on Tuesday with Representative Keith Ellison and Senator Amy Klobuchar, both Minnesota Democrats. Instead, Ms. May maintained, “the vast majority of American Jews believe the United States should take a leadership role on a peace agreement, even if it means disagreeing with the Israeli leadership.”
But J Street leaders seemed determined this week to add their own, softer voice to the debate.
“There is more than just one way to be a good Jew,” the Israeli author Amos Oz told the crowd during the conference’s opening night on Saturday. “Let us all be united, but why unite under the militant, hawkish, extremist manner of Aipac?”
With Israeli leaders warning of an existential threat from Iran and openly discussing the possibility of attacking its nuclear facilities, J Street has been sprinting to impress on members of Congress their argument that more hawkish groups like Aipac and the Emergency Committee for Israel, which push for tougher action against Iran, do not speak for all Jews. The clear fissures that have emerged demonstrate the divisions within the American Jewish community.
The Times has previously reported as fact that Jews are divided on Iran (again citing J Street as an example), an opinion that Commentary's Jonathan Tobin ably dismissed earlier this month:
The only organizations that the Times could find to back up that headline were J Street and Tikkun. While the former claims to be 'pro-Israel' even the latter’s adherents do not attempt to play that game. But however you wish to label them, the idea that disagreement from these two left-wing outliers constitutes any sort of a Jewish debate is comical. Perhaps only in the pages of the New York Times or that of Tikkun itself, could a situation where the opposition of groups as marginal as these be considered a serious news story.