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J Street Officials Contradict Each Other on "Pro-Israel" Label

2:45 PM, Oct 29, 2009 • By MICHAEL GOLDFARB
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US News reports that J Street will allow it's university affiliates to drop the "pro-Israel" label and remain affiliated with the J Street organization:

"The student groups don't need to say they are explicitly pro-Israel so long as their programming and outreach operate from the premise that the Jewish state has a right to exist as a Jewish state," says Jessica Rosenblum, a J Street spokesperson.

But on Tuesday, I pressed the same spokeswoman, Jessica Rosenblum, for an answer to the same question. She beckoned to Matt Dorf, the managing partner at Rabinowitz/Dorf Communications and a senior adviser to J Street, to answer the apparently complicated question. Dorf said very clearly that if these groups don't label themselves as explicitly pro-Israel, "then they're not a J Street U chapter." It was a definitive statement of the kind that J Street is suddenly loathe to make and it seemed to put the matter to rest. But apparently Dorf wasn't speaking for J Street -- or was he? Which is it?

J Street has been trying to spin this story for two days now and all the while insisting that the Jerusalem Post story was bogus. The latest official statement from the group came out this morning and still doesn't answer the question. It is reproduced in full below. J Street can't decide if it's pro-Israel or not, but anyone who doubts the group's pro-Israel bona fides is accused of engaging in smears. J Street can't have it both ways.

The latest statement from J Street on the unanswerable question of whether or not it is a "pro-Israel" group:

The national board of J Street U neither discussed nor voted on any action to remove the term "pro-Israel" from our platform, policy or the way we describe ourselves at J Street U's national conference.

We are building this movement because we care about Israel, its future and the future of the entire Middle East. To us being pro-Israel is intertwined with being pro-Palestine, and recognizing this is a vital step in the pursuit of a lasting peace.

Our goal is to engage with our communities on this issue, in order to create room for an open conversation on campus. For too long there has been no space that welcomed those with questions. We believe that when students are given a chance to explore their ideas and come to their own conclusions, we build stronger support for our positions and for Israel.