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ADL Blasts J Street: "Question Mark" About Pro-Israel Bona Fides

9:59 AM, Nov 20, 2009 • By MICHAEL GOLDFARB
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When Sarah Palin offered her unqualified support for the Israeli government's policy of settlement expansion in Jerusalem and the West Bank, the self-described "pro-Israel, pro-peace" J Street blasted her for "pandering to her right-wing base . . . at the expense of the security of the State of Israel." The group added that "the majority of Israelis and pro-Israel Americans . . . view the growing settlement enterprise as a threat to Israel's very future as a Jewish democracy." So according to J Street, Palin's support for the official policy of the Israeli government raised questions about Palin's pro-Israel bona fides.

Anti-Defamation League chief Abe Foxman sees things differently. JTA reports:

he head of the Anti-Defamation League says J Street's attack on Sarah Palin's defense of Israeli settlements was "over the line" and questioned whether the group should be calling itself "pro-Israel."

In a call to JTA late Thursday, ADL national director Abraham Foxman called "the height of chutzpah" J Street's statement Wednesday which said "Palin's pandering to her right-wing base comes at the expense of the security of the State of Israel" and her remarks "reveal a glaring ignorance of damaging facts."

"Who authorizes them to detemine what the security of Israel is?" Foxman asked of J Street. "Israel determines its security."

"They're attacking a celebrity for supporting Israel, but not in the way they want her to support Israel," he said referring to the former governor of Alaska.

Two days ago J Street flacks were promoting the ADL's attack on Glenn Beck, now they're on defense -- J Street chief Jeremy Ben-Ami responds in a statement this morning that takes the form of an open-letter to Foxman:

You, of course, have every right to disagree with us. It's a free country.

But you have no right to decide who is and is not pro-Israel based on whether they agree with your views.

Anyone who's been following the travails of J Street over the last few months has to be amused by that. Questions have been raised from all sides about J Street's claim to be "pro-Israel," including from those featured at J Street's conference, some of whom refused to self-identify as pro-Israel and others of whom went so far as to declare themselves anti-Zionist. And all the while, J Street has questioned the pro-Israel credentials of legitimate and well established pro-Israel organizations like Christians United for Israel.

J Street has explicitly worked to change the definition of what it means to be pro-Israel by pushing people like Palin out of the tent and letting self-described anti-Zionists in -- so is Ben-Ami the only one who gets to decide who is and who is not pro-Israel based on whether they agree with his views? Palin is without a doubt pro-Israel, and yet Ben-Ami blasted her -- why? Because she doesn't agree with his views, and because J Street is not a pro-Israel group but a partisan political organization that, in Ben-Ami's own words, seeks only to be Obama's "blocking back" in Congress.

Ben-Ami's writes today,

To quote the most recent Prime Minister of Israel Ehud Olmert - if the two-state solution collapses and Israel faces a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights, the state of Israel is finished.

Perhaps you believe the former Prime Minister is not pro-Israel either?

Of course Olmert supported precisely the policies of settlement expansion that Palin was defending. And of course the current government of Israel has publicly denounced J Street, refusing to send its ambassador or any other government official to its recent conference on the grounds that J Street's policies threaten to "impair Israel's interests."

So just to be clear: nobody's saying the Prime Minister of Israel is not pro-Israel, the Prime Minister of Israel is saying that J Street is not pro-Israel. And now he's being joined by the head of the ADL, Abe Foxman. And that's what J Street gets for opposing sanctions on Iran, questioning Israel's right to self-defense, and supporting the Goldstone report.