J Street

J Street

Infobox Non-profit
Non-profit_name = J Street
Non-profit_type = 501(c)(4) charitable organization
founded_date =
founder = Jeremy Ben Ami
location = flagicon|USA Washington, D.C.
origins =
key_people = Jeremy Ben Ami (Executive director)
Franklin Fisher (Advisor)
Daniel Levy (Advisor)
Debra DeLee (Advisor)
Marcia Freedman (Advisor)
Shlomo Ben-Ami (Advisor)
Samuel W. Lewis (Advisor)
Lincoln Chafee (Advisor)

area_served = flag|Israel / flag|USA
product =
focus = Arab-Israeli conflict
Israeli-Palestinian conflict
method = Lobbying
revenue =
endowment =
num_volunteers =
num_employees =
num_members =
subsib =
owner =
Non-profit_slogan =
homepage = [http://www.jstreet.org/ www.jstreet.org]
dissolved =
footnotes =

J Street is a Jewish nonprofit advocacy group based in the United States that promotes meaningful American leadership to end the Arab-Israeli and Palestinian-Israel conflicts peacefully and diplomatically. J Street supports a new direction for American policy in the Middle East - diplomatic solutions over military ones, including in Iran; multilateral over unilateral approaches to conflict resolution; and dialogue over confrontation with a wide range of countries and actors. J Street Political Action Committee (J Street PAC) is the first and only federal Political Action Committee whose goal is to demonstrate that there is meaningful political and financial support to candidates for federal office from large numbers of Americans who believe a new direction in American policy will advance U.S. interests in the Middle East and promote real peace and security for Israel and the region. cite news
title= About "J Street"
publisher= J Street
location =

Political vision

According to the J Street website, the organization seeks "to change the direction of American policy in the Middle East" and to become "the political arm of the pro-Israel, pro-peace movement."

J Street supports Israel and its desire for security as the Jewish homeland, as well as the right of the Palestinians to a sovereign state of their own. According to J Street's organizers and supporters, they represent the "consensus" positions of Jewish Americans better than the current, "establishment", pro-Israel umbrella groups like American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) which hold much more hawkish positions than most American Jews. cite news
title= New PAC To Offer Pols A Dovish Mideast View
publisher= The Jewish Week
location =
] cite news
url = http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/04/14/AR2008041402647.html
title= Jewish Liberals to Launch A Counterpoint to AIPAC
publisher= The Washington Post
location =
] Explaining the need for a new advocacy and lobbying group, Executive Director Jeremy Ben Ami stated: :"Over the course of a quarter century of doing American politics, I've seen the way in which the Israel issue plays out. And it greatly disturbs me and it greatly disturbs a very large number of progressive American Jews, who believe very strongly in Israel but feel that the way in which the American Jewish community's voice has been expressed on these issues doesn't reflect our values or opinions. Only the voices of the far right have been heard. They've really hijacked the debate when it comes to Israel."cite news
url = http://www.salon.com/opinion/kamiya/2008/04/29/j_street/
title= Taking Back the Debate Over Israel
publisher= Salon.com
location =

Alan Solomont, one of the founders of J Street and a former national finance chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and currently a Democratic Party fundraiser, described the need for J Street in the following way: :"We have heard the voices of neocons, and right-of-center Jewish leaders and Christian evangelicals, and the mainstream views of the American Jewish community have not been heard."

Several prominent Israeli political, military and civic leaders have signed a letter in support of J Street. Signatories include Yossi Alpher, former Director of "Jaffe Center for Strategic Studies", former Speaker of the Knesset Avraham Burg, former Knessett member Naomi Chazan, former Director General of the Israeli Foreign Ministry David Kimche, former Labor Party head Amram Mitzna, and former Director General of the Israeli Foreign Ministry Uri Savir.cite news
first = Richard
last = Silverstein
url = http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/richard_silverstein/2008/04/new_kid_on_the_block.html
title= New Kid on the Block
publisher= The Guardian
location =

Meaning of name

J Street's rationale is reflected in its unusual name. "K Street," a street in the heart of downtown Washington, D.C. and a historical landmark because of the famous powerhouse lobbying firms located on it, has become synonymous for Washington’s formidable lobbying establishment. "J Street," logically the next, parallel street to "K street", does not exist in reality. For historical reasons, it is absent from Washington's downtown street grid. cite news
url = http://www.snopes.com/history/american/jstreet.asp
title= No 'J' Street in Washington, DC
publisher= Snopes
location =
] Thus, the choice of the name reflects the desire of J Street's founders and donors to bring a voice to Washington D.C. that they believe, much like the missing "J Street" of the downtown grid, has been absent until now.


J Street and J Street PAC, founded in April 2008, exist as separate legal entities with different political functions:

* J Street - a nonprofit advocacy group registered as a 501(c)(4) charitable group. J Street aims to encourage "support strong American leadership to end the Arab-Israeli and Palestinian-Israeli conflicts peacefully and diplomatically." Because of J Street's charitable status, it is precluded by campaign finance regulations from financially supporting political campaigns of candidates seeking federal office.

* The J Street PAC - a political action committee capable of making direct political campaign donations. Thus, the J Street PAC will provide political and financial support to candidates who are seeking election or reelection and agree with "J Street"'s goals.cite news
url = http://www.jstreetpac.org/pac/about_the_pac
title= About the "J Street PAC"
publisher= J Street Political Action Committee
location =


".cite news
url = http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7349371.stm
title= Jewish lobby gains new voice
publisher= BBC News
location =

J Street's advisory council includes former public officials, policy experts, and community and academic leaders. These include, among others, Daniel Levy, a former high-ranking Israeli official who was the lead drafter of the groundbreaking Geneva Initiative, Franklin Fisher and Debra DeLee of Americans for Peace Now, Marcia Freedman of Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, Democratic Middle East foreign policy expert Robert Malley, former Israeli foreign minister Shlomo Ben-Ami, former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Samuel W. Lewis and former US Senator Lincoln Chafee.cite news
url = http://www.jstreet.org/supporters/advisory_council
title= The "J Street" Advisory Council
publisher= J Street
location =


J Street plans activities in two realms:

Political fund raising

First, the J Street PAC will act as a a traditional political action committee raising funds to support a limited number of candidates for Senate and Congressional races.

In the current election cycle, the "J Street PAC" hopes to raise around $300,000 to funnel into three to five races in which it can make a significant impact in swing districts. It will devote efforts to choosing races in which there is a weak incumbent with an anti-peace agenda running against a candidate who is open to J Street's political agenda.cite news
url = http://www.richardsilverstein.com/tikun_olam/2008/04/17/j-street-new-israel-peace-lobby-launches/
title= J Street, New Israel Peace Lobby, Launches
publisher= www.richardsilverstein.com
location =
] Norm Coleman, a Republican Senator from Minnesota, will be high on J Street's list since he is such a weak incumbent and is opposed by Al Franken, who is sympathetic to a pro-peace agenda regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Capitol Hill lobbying

Second, J Street will lobby for and against Israel-related bills and legislation.

J Street's first-year budget for fiscal 2009 is $1.5 million. This may seem a low figure compared to AIPAC's endowment of more than $100 million, writes according to Gary Kamiya, but the Internet revolution in politics has changed the rules of the game. J Street founders hope to raise significant money online, following in the successful footsteps of MoveOn and the Barack Obama campaign.

Public response

Israeli-American writer and analyst Gershom Gorenberg wrote in the "American Prospect" that J Street "might change not only the political map in Washington but the actual map in the middle east."cite news
authorlink= Gershom Gorenberg
url = http://www.prospect.org/cs/articles?article=j_street_on_the_map
title= J Street on the Map
publisher= American Prospect
location =
] On the negative side, Noah Pollak at "Commentary Magazine" predicted that the effort would fall flat and show there are no "great battalions of American Jewish doves languishing in voicelessness."cite news
url = http://www.commentarymagazine.com/blogs/index.php/pollak/3364
title= Taking It to the (J) Street
publisher= Commentary Magazine
location =

Ken Wald, a political scientist at University of Florida, predicted the group would be attacked by the "Jewish right." According to BBC News, Wald warned that J Street "will get hammered and accused of being anti-Israel. A lot will have to do with the way they actually frame their arguments."

James Kirchick, writing in the The New Republic, called J Street's labeling of AIPAC as "right wing" "ridiculous"; Kirchik says that AIPAC's former president told him that AIPAC was the first American Jewish organization to support Oslo and supports a two-state solution. Kirchick further asserts that some of J Street's positions, such as advocating negotiations with Hamas, are not popular with most American Jews [ [http://www.tnr.com/politics/story.html?id=175293ef-7f70-408b-a68a-ffffdb56d7bf Street Cred? Who does the new Israel lobby really represent?] ] (although according to Haaretz-Dialog poll the majority of Israelis, as of March 2008, do support direct talks with Hamas [ [http://www.newsweek.com/id/119881 Israelis Want to Talk to Hamas | Newsweek International Edition | Newsweek.com ] ] .) Jeremy Ben-Ami responded to Kirchick's charges during a May 26 2008 interview published in Haaretz Magazine. [cite news
authorlink=Shmuel Rosner
url = http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/pages/rosnerGuest.jhtml?itemNo=987196
title= Rosner's Guest: Jeremy Ben-Ami
publisher= Haaretz
location =


Further reading

* Ephron, Dan. [http://www.newsweek.com/id/138784 A Firmer Hand: Washington's new Jewish lobby presses Israel] . "Newsweek". May 27, 2008.
* Ben-Ami, Jeremy. [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/05/08/AR2008050801521.html 5 Myths on Who's Really 'Pro-Israel'] . "Washington Post". May 8, 2008.
* Lichfield, Gideon. [http://www.prospect-magazine.co.uk/article_details.php?id=10172 Hurdles on J Street] . "Prospect" (UK). April 30, 2008
* Tobin, Jonathan. [http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1208870497218&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull "View From America: Making sense of the 'J Street' jive"] . "The Jerusalem Post". April 27, 2008.
* Rozen, Laura. [http://www.motherjones.com/mojoblog/archives/2008/04/7968_new_liberal_pro.html "J Street Hopes to Prod Washington MidEast Policy Towards Center"] . "Mother Jones". April 15, 2008.
* Kampeas, Ron. [http://jta.org/cgi-bin/iowa/news/article/20080415jeremybenami20080415.html "Doves launch effort to take on pro-Israel establishment in D.C."] . "The Jewish Telegraphic Agency". April 15, 2008.

See also

* American Israel Public Affairs Committee
* Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
* Israel lobby in the United States
* Diaspora politics in the United States
* Jewish lobby
* Independent Jewish Voices
* Brit Tzedek v'Shalom
* Americans for Peace Now
* Jewish Voice for Peace
* Israel Policy Forum

External links

* [http://www.jstreet.org/ J Street - official website]
* [http://www.jstreetpac.org/ "J Street Political Action Committee" ("J Street PAC") - official website]
* [http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/987196.html Jeremy Ben-Ami, Executive Director of the new pro-Israel dovish lobby, J Street, will answer questions.] By Shmuel Rosner. Haaretz, May 29, 2008

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