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J Street Still All Bark and No Bite

5:31 PM, Aug 5, 2009 • By MICHAEL GOLDFARB
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J Street, the pro-peace, pro-Palestinian, anti-Joe Lieberman lobbying group, has joined with Americans for Peace Now, Churches for Middle East Peace, Brit Tzedek, and a bunch of other peacenik groups to pressure Democrats in Congress not to sign a letter to the president calling on him to pressure the Arabs to normalize relations with Israel. That campaign has not gone well. JTA's Eric Fingerhut reports:

Reid's name is listed on AIPAC's website as one of the 41 senators who have thus far signed the missive to the president, which backs his effort to encourage Arab states to normalize relations with Israel. (We have a call out to confirm the signing with Reid's office.)

The signature of Reid would be particularly significant because Capitol Hill leaders often don't sign on to such letters. For instance, Reid didn't sign on to the AIPAC-backed letter in May laying out "key principles" for an Arab-Israeli peace because, said a spokesperson at the time, "as Majority Leader he generally does not sign on to sign-on letters."

A list of the Congressmen who have already signed the letter can be found here -- on AIPAC's website. Also on AIPAC's website you can find 226 signatures on the companion House letter to the King of Saudi Arabia.

There is no doubt that Barack Obama shares J Street's view of the conflict in the Middle East -- there needs to be "daylight" between Washington and Jerusalem, the settlements must be stopped, the Likud is the primary obstacle to peace, etc. And the result is an almost uniformly hostile Israeli public that has further complicated efforts to extract concessions from either side. The situation has deteriorated so badly that the Center for American Progress, not exactly a source for criticism of this administration, has chided the president for failing to reach out to and reassure the Israeli people as he reaches out to their enemies. But the fact that Obama shares J Street's view of the conflict is coincidence -- he is a man of the left and they are an organization of the left. J Street did not mold Obama's views, or pressure him to take this course. In Congress, where very few share Obama's view of the Arab-Israeli conflict, J Street has almost no influence at all. And the organization seems intent on demonstrating this fact over and over again.