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Jewish Journal

David Suissa Wrong on the Facts About J Street

by Rabbi John Rosove

May 21, 2014 | 9:52 am

In last week’s edition of The Los Angeles Jewish Journal, David Suissa wrote a scathing attack against J Street that was not only filled with factual errors, but was an unwarranted assault on the values that J Street represents that are held by the majority of American Jews according to all polls, but also an accusation against 800 rabbis and cantors, 185,000 supporters and thousands of university and college students of being guilty of a lack of humility when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

I write today sadly as a friend. At my invitation David publicly debated J Street’s President and Founder Jeremy Ben Ami at my synagogue, Temple Israel of Hollywood. After they met, Jeremy invited David to speak at the J Street National Convention in Washington, D.C. It is curious, therefore, how David could be so wrong factually about J Street and so ill-informed about J Street’s actual positions on a broad base of policy decisions J Street has made and published for all to see. That he would not check the facts before writing this column was disappointing, to say the least.

It is not a secret that David disagrees with J Street’s approach to pro-Israel activism among American Jews in the United States. He has that right. We are not the sole possessors of the truth. No one is, and neither is he. Having said this, in the past, David has often raised important challenges for American Jews when thinking about Israel. However, his own passion and support for Israel should not be license to misrepresent J Street’s positions and pass his misrepresentations off as the truth, as he does in his column - http://www.jewishjournal.com/david_suissa/article/j_streets_real_failure

The following is a Letter to the Editor of The Jewish Journal that will appear this week and that I co-signed with four other rabbis in Southern California who believe in the mission of J Street as a legitimate and authentic American Jewish voice in support of Israel and in the need for a two-states for two peoples resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Dear Editor:

David Suissa’s article “J Street’s Real Failure” was full of factual errors and falsehoods, and he was also wrong in his overall argument.

As Mr. Suissa should know because he spoke at the J Street National Conference, J Street opposes BDS and has helped defeat BDS resolutions on college campuses and within church groups. We believe, however, that the way to defeat BDS is not to ban its supporters from conversation, rather to debate them.

In addition, J Street did not endorse the Goldstone Report and has consistently criticized one-sided and biased activity at the UN against Israel. If the UN Security Council had considered action based on the Goldstone Report, J Street stated clearly and publicly that it would have urged the US to veto such action.

Furthermore, following the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation announcement, J Street stated that any Palestinian government must abide by its international commitments, including recognition of Israel and a renunciation of violence, in order to play a constructive role in working toward a two-state solution.

As members of J Street’s Rabbinic Cabinet, we believe there is nothing "boring" (per Mr. Suissa) about advocating for peace and a just end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The fact remains that Israel’s future as a secure, Jewish and democratic homeland depends on a two-state solution. We recognize, as well, that the Palestinians and Israelis together must find the means to a just and end-of-conflict solution.

J Street does not, and indeed cannot put pressure on Israel to do anything. However, as American Jews who love Israel we can urge our government to exercise leadership to advance a peace agreement.

We do not apologize for devoting ourselves to these ideals on which the future of our people and the State of Israel depend.

Rabbi Lisa Edwards, J Street LA Rabbinic Cabinet Co-Chair
Rabbi Joshua Levine Grater, J Street LA Rabbinic Cabinet Co-Chair
Rabbi Susan Laemmle, J Street LA Rabbinic Cabinet Co-Chair
Rabbi John Rosove, J Street National Rabbinic Co-Chair

Read Suissa's response in "Letters to the editors" here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Rabbi John L. Rosove assumed his duties as Senior Rabbi of Temple Israel of Hollywood in November 1988. A native of Los Angeles, he earned a BA in Art History from UC Berkeley...

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