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Posted at 1:40 PM ET, 01/25/2011

Rep. Gary Ackerman blasts J Street

By Jennifer Rubin

Liberal Democrat Rep. Gary Ackerman of New York sent the following press release:

"After learning of J Street's current public call for the Obama Administration to not veto a prospective UN Security Council resolution that, under the rubric of concern about settlement activity, would effectively and unjustly place the whole responsibility for the current impasse in the peace process on Israel, and--critically--would give fresh and powerful impetus to the effort to internationally isolate and delegitimize Israel, I've come to the conclusion that J-Street is not an organization with which I wish to be associated.

It is not Israel that is refusing to enter final status negotiations. It is not Israel that has refused again and again to make unilateral gestures of good faith (recall the hundreds of West Bank security checkpoints and roadblocks removed, and the 10 month settlement freeze). It is not Israel that is now trying to force the peace process back in to the same dead-end from which the Obama Administration has spent the past month trying to extract itself. But astonishingly, it is Israel that J-Street would put in the stocks in the public square.

The decision to endorse the Palestinian and Arab effort to condemn Israel in the UN Security Council, is not the choice of a concerned friend trying to help. It is rather the befuddled choice of an organization so open-minded about what constitutes support for Israel that its brains have fallen out.

America really does need a smart, credible, politically active organization that is as aggressively pro-peace as it is pro-Israel. Unfortunately, J-Street ain't it."

I have a quibble with the penultimate sentence: A number of pro-Israel groups are pro-peace. But that is a small matter compared to the import of the statement.

Ackerman is no right-winger, I can say that. But he is a friend of Israel and a sincere advocate for a resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. He has delivered a well-deserved knockout punch to the left-wing J Street and its like-minded comrades, making clear that simply slapping "pro-Israel" on your stationery doesn't make you so. If not Ackerman, with whom does J Street expect to have influence?

Precisely as I have argued, Ackerman makes clear that support for United Nations condemnation of Israel only gives "powerful impetus to the effort to internationally isolate and delegitimize Israel." If you listen carefully, you might hear the fig leaf of respectability for J Street and similar pro-condemnation advocates fluttering to the ground.

By Jennifer Rubin  | January 25, 2011; 1:40 PM ET
Categories:  Israel  
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Comments

Read here what needs to be done about the UN:
http://timespost.wordpress.com/2011/01/24/delete-the-un-restart-a-new-and-better-one/

Posted by: Orientalist | January 25, 2011 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Kudos to Rep. Ackerman!

Posted by: Beniyyar | January 25, 2011 2:24 PM | Report abuse

The usual nonsense from Jennifer Rubin and pro Israeli apologist Ackerman. Their game plan is to avoid any consequences for grabbing land for settlements by hiding behind the United States veto which effectively blocks any international action.

Then United States is hopelessly biased when it comes to Israel and it is time for it to step aside. Else we just face decades more of terrorism.

Posted by: mx11 | January 25, 2011 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Be advised that this is only an opinion:

Israel didn't exist on this planet for 2000 years. The Romans dispersed them, and the land was given to others. Israel is dead.

The current country is an artificially created one, created by Britain and France. The Jews immediately kicked the real owners of the land to the side, the ones that had owned that land for two millenia.

Then they told the Palestinians that they didn't have the right to education, or even shelter. They have treated them like they themselves were treated.

Did you ever hear that two wrongs don't make a right?

On top of that, with our budget deficits, the right would rather GIVE them BILLIONS of our tax dollars, than use OUR TAX DOLLARS to create jobs here in the US. They would rather support SOME OTHER COUNTRY.

If Israel insists that they are a country, then they need to take care of their own damned bills. And if they continue to insist that they have some God-given right to anything, then they need to step up to the plate and be a proper steward of it.

It is my opinion, and I have stated it clearly.

Posted by: taroya | January 25, 2011 2:50 PM | Report abuse

It is good that J Street's pose as a friend of Israel has been exposed as a total fraud.

Posted by: eoniii | January 25, 2011 2:53 PM | Report abuse

So Taroya, have you called your congressional delegation about the source of your anger?

Now would be a great time to do so. Spending cuts are in the offing and I'm certain that any number of thoughtful people will agree with your oh so well stated concerns about American tax dollars.

Oh, and here's some basics, just for you: Israel exists because it can. No enemy has overwhelmed the country and therefore it exists.

If you don't want Israel to exist, why not just say so? then you can tell us what will happen to the millions of jews who reside their now. I'm curious about your ideas for the future in the middle east.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | January 25, 2011 3:19 PM | Report abuse

"But he is a friend of Israel and a sincere advocate for a resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict..."

Yeah. Right. So I always hear. But real friends tell friends what they don't want to hear, e.g. "Stop stealing land if you want to be treated like a normal nation" or "Your claims to be a city on a hill don't jive well with the bulldozing of private property."

Israel could use more friends like J Street, and fewer friends who act more like toadies than allies.

Posted by: SageThrasher | January 25, 2011 3:30 PM | Report abuse

I am an old Jew (70) who was only 8 years old when Israel came into being. I have relatives, now deceased, who where with Haganah. I remember accompanying my parents, in 1947, to the NY docks to retrieve the four members of our family (out of dozens) who survived the holocaust. I remember all the prayers ending with "next year in Jerusalem" and then, in 1967, realizing it was in fact "next year." Too many things to even go into over all those years.

I also knew that many Arab Palistinians had been displaced by the founding of Israel. I knew that they were devastated by the fact and would feel undying hatred toward the Jews, and the State of Israel. I empathized with that and felt terrible.

The bottom line however, is that there are many potential native homes for the Palestinians and only one (New Jersey sized Israel) for what remains of the Jewish people. Accordingly, and fully realizing the Palestinians plight, a Palestine with a right of return and a capital in Jurusalem cannot be recognized if Israel is to survive and Israel must survive.

Also, I have learned that the world in general cares not at all for what happens to the Jews. Without a Jewish nation armed and prepared to defend itself, the world would gladly accept total Jewish demise with a sense of relief that those troublesome Jews were finally behind them.

In my opinion, J Street stands with the rest of the world. They seem to me to be people of Jewish ancestery who are embarrased by what most of us longed for, fought for and are determined to see survive. The J Streeters seem to want to be able to tell their liberal friends they are not responsible when Israel fiercely defends itself, either with its military might or with its self image.

I have no use for the J Streeters. Had they lived in Europe during the time of Hitler they would have been burned with the rest of us. Its time they realized that and remembered who they really are because if some of liberals they appear to bow to prevail, Israel, and eventually all Jewery, may witness Hitler's ideals come to pass.

Posted by: Golem | January 25, 2011 3:40 PM | Report abuse

I wonder how long until we get a South Africa style divestment movement going. I'll bet that it is closer than most people realize. At this point, I think all it would take is a peaceful, charismatic Palestinian leader.

Posted by: willows1 | January 25, 2011 5:40 PM | Report abuse

This IS good news! I'm very pleased to see that Congressman Gary Ackerman is finally ending his relationship with the anti-Israel J-Street (which raised funds to re-elect Ackerman and endorsed Ackerman's position of pushing for further dangerous Israeli concessions). Congressman Ackerman's relationship with J-Street outraged people throughout our Congressional District.

However, several aspects of Congressman Ackerman's accompanying statement are of concern. First, we do NOT need any more so-called "aggressive pro-peace pro-Israel" organizations, as Ackerman states. J-Street is not the only culprit. All of these leftist organizations (e.g., Peace Now, Brit Zedek v'Shalom, Israel Policy Forum, etc.) have a history of supporting policies that endanger our ally Israel's security and continued existence. For instance, Brit Zedek recently defended Palestinian school textbooks, which preach hatred of Jews, Israel and America. These textbooks incite a new generation of Palestinians to continue violent attacks on Israel. The leftist organizations also continue to pursue the flawed "land and more and more concessions for empty promises of peace" model which has been proven time and time again to damage Israel's ability to defend herself (e.g. the Gaza withdrawal resulted in thousands of rocket attacks on southern Israel).

Second, when Ackerman calls Israel's unilateral lifting of hundreds of West Bank security checkpoints and 10-month settlement freeze "gestures of good faith," he misses the point that these "gestures" should never have been made, and were only made as the result of pressure from Obama and his administration (and perhaps due to Ackerman's own comments in Congress criticizing Israel). The lifting of checkpoints resulted in Palestinians murdering and injuring Israelis at locations which were previously protected by the checkpoints. The one-sided settlement freeze made life miserable for Israelis (while Palestinians continued to build thousands of homes in the West Bank) and gave the wrong impression that settlements are an obstacle to peace. The real obstacle to peace is continued Palestinian intransigence, terrorism, and determination to destroy Israel.

In addition to cutting ties with J-Street, Congressman Ackerman should also consider donating the money that J-Street raised for his re-election campaign to an organization that assists American and Israeli victims of Palestinian terrorism.

In any event, thank you, Congressman Ackerman for taking a step in the right direction.

Elizabeth Berney, Esq.
(Republican Committeewoman, Great Neck, NY; Congressman Ackerman's Congressional opponent, 2008 and 2010)

Posted by: LizBerneyEsq | January 25, 2011 5:58 PM | Report abuse

"It is not Israel that is refusing to enter final status negotiations. It is not Israel that has refused again and again to make unilateral gestures of good faith (recall the hundreds of West Bank security checkpoints and roadblocks removed, and the 10 month settlement freeze)."

Actually that's precisely what the problem is, as the Palestine Papers reveal. The Palestinians handed 95% of Jerusalem on a plate and the so called dove, Livni, rejected the proposal.

Poor Ackerman. This letter, which reads like it was drafted for him by AIPAC, comes about a week to late and has been utterly refuted by this weeks revelations.

he problem with Ackerman's AIPAC form letter is that the talking points have been debunked by this weeks release of the Palestine papers.

Posted by: Shingo1 | January 25, 2011 6:02 PM | Report abuse

"I wonder how long until we get a South Africa style divestment movement going. I'll bet that it is closer than most people realize."

Well, that Humus boycott is a great start.


"At this point, I think all it would take is a peaceful, charismatic Palestinian leader."

So, that should be any day now. But keep in mind it would have to be a peaceful leader who actually has some effect on the Palestinians--that is, someone who tells them to stop killing as many Israelis as they can, and is actually listened to by them. Any day now, right?

Posted by: adam62 | January 25, 2011 6:24 PM | Report abuse

"The Palestinians handed 95% of Jerusalem on a plate and the so called dove, Livni, rejected the proposal."

Nonsense. Those negotiaters are in no position to hand anything to anyone. Why should we believe that, even after making such a deal, they aren't overthrown, or assassinated, or replaced by someone else who claims that had no right to give away the sacred rights of the Palestinians, etc.? Any Palestinian who makes a deal the Israelis could live with would be repudiated by his own people--at the very least, Palestinian society, culture and politics contains no mechanisms which make such repudiation less likely than any other outcome. In the end, maybe that old terrorist, Yitzhak Shamir, had the right idea--talk for a 100 years. It's good to know that Livni at least has a modicum of caution.

Posted by: adam62 | January 25, 2011 6:29 PM | Report abuse

"Ackerman is no right-winger, I can say that."

What we can says the he's a typical PEP.

"slapping "pro-Israel" on your stationery doesn't make you so"

The same could be said for claiming to be pro peace, especially when you reject all measures to bring about peace, or claim to support a 2 state solution while defending settlement expansion which makes a 2 state settlement impossible.

Posted by: Shingo1 | January 25, 2011 6:43 PM | Report abuse

I wonder how long until we get a South Africa style divestment movement going. I'll bet that it is closer than most people realize. At this point, I think all it would take is a peaceful, charismatic Palestinian leader.

Posted by: willows1
--------------------
Oh, is that all? Surely, there will be one any century now. Between Hamas and the PA, it's just a matter of time.

Yassir Arafat was charismatic to some, but, despite his Nobel Peace Prize, he is remembered mostly for developing modern terrorism. His successors are more interested in stealing billions of dollars of western aid than in negotiating with Israel. They don't even seem that interested in terrorism anymore.

Hamas needs a better PR firm. Even the NYT and WP have failed to make them lovable. There's no Gandhi or Mandela in sight. Firing all those rockets doesn't help their image either. They really do need to re-brand.

Posted by: eoniii | January 25, 2011 7:40 PM | Report abuse

" Arafat was charismatic to some, but, despite his Nobel Peace Prize, he is remembered mostly for developing modern terrorism."

In Israel perhaps. Throughout the rest of the world he will be remembered for demonstrating that giving Israel what it wants does not lead to peace, but will probably get you killed.

" His successors are more interested in stealing billions of dollars of western aid than in negotiating with Israel."

A laughable fairy tale. How is it that someone apparently steals billions, but never considers leaving Palestine to enjoy it.

"They don't even seem that interested in terrorism anymore."

And yet Israeli propagandists still pretend as though there are suicide bombings taking place every week.

"Hamas needs a better PR firm. Even the NYT and WP have failed to make them lovable."

How would Israeli propaganda outlets ever make Hamas appear likable? In any case, Israel is pouring money into PR and the Israeli brand is going from bad to worse. There are some things PR cannot fix.

"There's no Gandhi or Mandela in sight."

That's because like Mandela, Israel makes sure that any popular leaders spend their days rotting in prison.

"Firing all those rockets doesn't help their image either. They really do need to re-brand."

And not firing rockets doesn't help their image either. Israel will always make sure that ceasefires are short lived.

Posted by: Shingo1 | January 25, 2011 9:38 PM | Report abuse

hey willow,

there has been a bds movement since the founding of the state in 48....where have you been?

started with the arabs boycotting products sold to israel...it has expanded to useful idiots like you, trying to boycott israeli made goods.

problem is...it hasnt and wont take hold...because israel is not an apartheid society...and americans at least, have a very hard time siding with peoples who glorify terrorist acts.

kudos to ackerman...hope this is the beginning of the end for j street.

Posted by: unclejoemccarthy | January 25, 2011 10:29 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: unclejoemccarthy | January 25, 2011 10:29 PM

"problem is...it hasnt and wont take hold...because israel is not an apartheid society...and americans at least, have a very hard time siding with peoples who glorify terrorist acts."

Not an apartheid society hey?

Henry Siegman, former national director of the American Jewish Congress, writes: "Israel has crossed the threshold from 'the only democracy in the Middle East' to the only apartheid regime in the Western world."

As for BDS not having taken hold, it's clearly worrying Israel's leadership, who seem to think it's taken sufficient hold to warrent a massive PR push to oppose it.

Posted by: Shingo1 | January 26, 2011 2:07 AM | Report abuse

"If you listen carefully, you might hear the fig leaf of respectability for J Street and similar pro-condemnation advocates fluttering to the ground."

You know what's really sad Jennifer? When you first went after Clemons, you cited what you thought was J Street's lack of support as evidence that the letter had no credibility.

So after being corrected, you're now attacking J Street. Seems pretty desperate.

Posted by: Shingo1 | January 26, 2011 2:37 AM | Report abuse

Elizabeth Berney, Esq.: Please keep the pressure on Rep. Ackerman. It was only after the backlash to news reports of his J-Street fundraiser last October that led him to finally begin to find his public voice.

I vote in NY17, and consider Rep. Engel the only NY Democrat in congress who has a spine when it comes to Israel. The rest of the NY Dems enabled Obama's disastrous approach the past two years. Still waiting for Sen. Schumer to recant on J-Street.


golem: very well stated, but I think you should change your screen name :)

Posted by: K2K2 | January 26, 2011 9:59 AM | Report abuse

Thank you, K2K2 for your comments. Yes, I (and many others in my Congressional District) will keep the pressure on Congressman Ackerman to eliminate his dangerous-to-Israel-and-America associations, comments, and policies, and will continue to urge him to take more steps in the right direction. And if Congressman Ackerman runs around our district again in 2012 claiming that "Obama is good for Jews and Israel", as Congressman Ackerman did in 2008, I will be out there again in 2012 pointing out Obama's anti-Israel policies and speeches (and of course, Obama's damaging-to-America policies). Thank you again.

Regarding Shingo1's claim that "the Palestinians handed Israel 95% of Jerusalem on a plate," this is nonsense. There was no such "offer" by the Palestinians (and in any event, Jerusalem does not belong to the Palestinians to offer).

Elizabeth (Liz) Berney, Esq.

Posted by: LizBerneyEsq | January 26, 2011 11:50 AM | Report abuse

I don't know where you've been the last week, but the Palestine Papers reveal that the Palestinians offered Israel all of east Jerusalem except for one tiny settlement.

You might want to get up to speed with that.
http://english.aljazeera.net/palestinepapers/2011/01/2011122112512844113.html

"Jerusalem does not belong to the Palestinians to offer"

Nor it belong to Israel to claim as their capital.

Posted by: Shingo1 | January 26, 2011 5:35 PM | Report abuse

Given the past week’s revelations that Israel rebuffed Palestinian offers to cede to Israel all but one of its settlements, including those around east Jerusalem, I find laughable Rubin’s statement “It is not Israel that is refusing to enter final status negotiations.” And Rubin’s praise of Israel for removing roadblocks and a settlement freeze is akin to praising an abusive husband who hasn’t beaten his wife for the past few months. Those settlements are illegal in the first place, as is Israel’s continued occupation of the West Bank. J-Street is quite right to condemn Israel, and so should America and the United Nations.

Posted by: EdMander | January 26, 2011 9:29 PM | Report abuse

Rep. Ackerman's comments as well as those of Jennifer Rubin are outrageous and certainly prove what many of us have known for years - that the spokespeople for Israel and others like them put what Israel wants ahead not only of what is good for America but also ahead of international law.

Under international law, which Ackerman and Rubin conveniently ignore, each and every settlement built by Israel in the Occupied Territories since 1967, is illegal.

Not only are the settlements illegal but have been declared as obstacles to peace by almost every American president. Yet we continue voting the money to help Israel keep from achieving a just peace with the Palestinians and we keep protecting Israel from justified condemnation in the UN by vetoing every Security Council measure that dares to criticize "the only democracy in the ME."

Ackerman and the rest of the spineless Congress that refuse to rein in Israel, have gone along with the debasement of international law when it comes to Israel and use that concept only when it suits them.

Our many billions of tax dollars that well could have gone to rebuilding the US infrastructure have instead gone to Israel to help them in their outlaw settlement project and theft of Palestinian land and water resources. It is past time to tell Israel that if they do not return 100% of the land and resources they stole in 1967 we will not only end our subsidizing of their country but sanction and boycott them as we eventually did to apartheid South Africa.

Posted by: janba | January 28, 2011 10:13 AM | Report abuse

From the sound of it, I'm not sure everyone writing here has carefully read the J Street policy statement regarding the vote in the UN on a resolution condemning settlement expansion and calling on the two parties to resume negotiations: http://www.jstreet.org/blog/?p=1381. I question whether Congressman Ackerman has carefully read the statement or is simply jumping on the bandwagon in order to protect himself from angry constituents, who themselves have probably also misinterpreted the statement or been misled by others who automatically condemn J Street.

I recently returned from a trip to Israel where Ron Shatzberg of the Economic Cooperation Fund (ECF) lead a tour of the portions of East Jerusalem that are referred to in some of the comments above. Shatzberg was an IDF commander who lead Israel's operation against Palestinian forces attacking the settlement of Gilo during the second intifada. The ECF works to map out a separation of the two populations in the Jerusalem area in order to help resolve this portion of the two-state negotiations. They discuss their ideas with Palestinian NGOs also working on this issue. Yes, I understand that they don't have any power to resolve the conflict. But their ideas were critical to some of the proposals that were part of the Geneva Accords and eventually incorporated into Ehud Barak's final offer to Arafat. Their suggestions will play a role in any future negotiations.

What I learned from Ron is that the situation is very complex but still resolvable. There are some settlements, such as Har Homah, that were created after the Oslo Accords. As such, they represent a breach of agreements made under Oslo. However, Ron accepts that a strong majority of Israelis consider some of these settlements (Har Homah among them) as part of Israel. He therefore includes them as part of Israel when negotiating with his Palestinian counterparts. As hard as it is for them to swallow, they will probably have no choice if they want a Palestinian state, according to Ron.

Furthermore, Har Homah is slated to double in size (currently 10,000 residents). This too Ron has to tell his Palestinian counterparts is non-negotiable.

Would Ron be against J Street's position on the UN resolution? Hard to say. But judging by some of his comments, I wouldn't be at all surprised if he favored this approach.

After viewing Har Homah from a nearby hill, we drove into the Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem. Ron pointed out three developments were Jewish settlers are moving into East Jerusalem. Some of these are financed by the American Jewish businessman Irving Moskowitz. In each case Ron was very clear that these are indeed making his job much harder and presenting a real obstacle to a two-state solution. He was very clear that this is the intention of the settlers.

J Street has a nuanced view on settlements, similar to Ron's, as is clearly expressed in their statement.

(continued)

Posted by: dsokal | January 28, 2011 11:28 AM | Report abuse

For all those who choose to condemn the Obama Administration and J-Street as being "anti-Israel," it may be wise for them to consider what is really in Israel's best interest. With current demographic trends being what they are, unless a viable two-state solution is put forward, Israel will be faced with two equally abhorrent consequences. On one hand, it can choose to impose minority Jewish rule on the Palestinian majority (a move that would contravene Israel's democratic principles)while on the other hand it can choose to be absorbed into a larger single state without an explicit Jewish identity. Obviously, both these options are horrible to contemplate; the first option would be apartheid and the second would contravene the Jewish people's right to a national homeland. Viewing such possibilities, the necessity of seriously working towards a two state solution is imperative. Unfortunately, we have Israeli right-wingers like Likud, Shas, and Yisrael Beitenu in coalition government right now, with these parties seeming to adhere to a discredited "biblical view" of the land which Israel is entitled to. J-Street is right to support the SC resolution; maybe such action on the part of the United States will influence Israeli voters to elect more moderate, pragmatic leadership in the future. After all, America is quickly becoming Israel's only ally among the Western liberal democracies; a signal like this from the American government would certainly make the Israeli hardliners think twice about their illegal settlement-building activities. Such thought provoking circumstances would certainly bode well for a revamped peace process in the Levant.

Posted by: ashcroftgm | January 28, 2011 11:31 AM | Report abuse

(continued)
Basically it boils down to this: some ongoing settlement activities will, just as they are intended, make a two-state solution very difficult if not impossible. It is these that J Street is concerned with. By urging the US not to veto the UN resolution, J Street is hoping to get this message across to the Israeli government.

If you say you don't like J Street's position on this issue, but you favor a two-state solution, then let us have an amicable conversation on what we American Jews can do to move the process forward. Since we can't tell the Palestinians what to do, we have to ask ourselves, what can we do? Is stopping expansions, such as those we saw in East Jerusalem -- the very purpose of which are to ensure a two-state solution doesn't come about -- too much to ask of the Israeli government?

Posted by: dsokal | January 28, 2011 11:36 AM | Report abuse

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