Monday, September 14, 2009


Finally we have an Israel lobby that does not endorse everything that Netanyahu and Lieberman say or do. It is J Street, a year-old lobbying group with progressive views on Israel, and James Traub writes about it and its mission in Sunday's (September 13, 2009) New York Times Magazine.

Writes Traub:

"Many liberal Jews have long chafed at the premise that Aipac or the Anti-Defamation League represented their point of view. Bush got only a quarter of the Jewish vote in 2004 and was deeply loathed by the most liberal-leaning voters. The community began searching for new ways to represent itself. Existing progressive groups like the Israel Policy Forum issued position papers or agitated for a change in policy; but scarce few did the yeoman labor of lobbying. Tom Dine, a former Aipac executive director, says he was approached in 2006 by a group of liberal Jewish philanthropists about heading a “counter-Aipac.” That idea went nowhere, but in late 2006 a different group of philanthropists and activists, including Ben-Ami, began to talk about combining the progressive organizations into a more powerful and influential collective body. Out of these conversations came J Street, named after the street missing from Washington’s grid and thus evoking a voice missing from Washington’s policy discussions. Early financing came from Alan Sagner, a retired New Jersey real estate developer and longtime supporter of Democratic candidates and Jewish causes, and from Davidi Gilo, an Israeli-American high-tech entrepreneur; another 50 early backers each gave $10,000. Unlike the liberal advocacy or policy organizations (or Aipac, for that matter), the new group would endorse and finance candidates, through a body called J Street PAC."

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