Last week, my wife Barbara and I attended the West Coast Summit meeting of J Street in San Francisco. I was honored to be asked, as the co-chair of the national Rabbinic Cabinet of J Street that includes 800 rabbis and cantors from across the religious streams, to be part of the opening night program in which former Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, former United Nations Ambassador from Israel Gabriella Shalev, and former United States Ambassador to Egypt and Israel Daniel Kurtzer were featured.
I was asked to question PM Fayyad after each of the speakers presented opening statements. The conversation was hard-hitting and candid from each of three former major players in American, Israeli and Palestinian leadership about what is necessary for the sake of peace in light of the recent failure of the Kerry Middle East peace talks.
You can access all of the sessions here - https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL4CViXUNRkO6zMLr6JrSKT8nQXGbXEEJW –
The opening night’s program can be found here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jaXLYv9Hxt0&index=2&list=PL4CViXUNRkO6zMLr6JrSKT8nQXGbXEEJW
On a related matter, a friend asked me this week if I have seen “The J Street Challenge,” a pseudo-documentary that attacks J Street as an anti-Israel political organization.
I have not seen it, as I know it to be a propaganda piece that systematically distorts J Street’s message and accuses the 185,000 supporters of J Street and the 800 rabbis and cantors of being anti-Israel and even anti-Semitic. By extension, it must cast aspersion on the 84 pro-Israel members of Congress who support Israel and have accepted J Street's support. This hateful propaganda piece is being shown in cities around the country.
If people wish to know the truth about J Street, all you need to do is to go to the J Street website (www.jstreet.org) and read our position papers, or watch sessions of this most recent conference.
We are pro-Israel and pro-two state solution advocates. We love Israel and are proud of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people and her manifold accomplishments over the course of the last century of Jewish history. Many Israeli members of Knesset have attended our conferences. The great Israeli writer Amos Oz told us a couple of years ago in Washington, D.C. "I have been waiting for J Street my entire adult life."
At a time when the Jewish people needs to come together, regardless of our differing opinions, in common cause for the sake of the peace, security and the democratic character of the state of Israel, why some American Jews are spending a fortune to cast unfair and inaccurate aspersions against J Street is, frankly, baffling to me and, I believe, a source of shame that should be checked.
As Rav Shmuel once said - Eilu v'Eilu divrei Elohim chayim - "This and that are words of the living God." Intolerance, hatred and falsehood do not belong between Jews who love the people and state of Israel.