Rosner's Domain: J Street's Ben Ami on relations with Israeli officialdom
(JPost.com) -- by SHMUEL ROSNER --
Adding to my previous post When J Street met Shimon Peres and to Haviv's news report on J Street's change of positions (or lack thereof), here's what I heard in the conversation I had with Jeremy Ben Ami Thursday morning (Hebrew readers: I was also writing about J Street for Maariv this weekend).
1. Ben Ami would like to think that it is the Israeli government that had changed its approach and now better understand the organization - rather than thinking that J Street had altered its outlook in recent months.
2. He seems quite happy about the bettering of relations with Israeli officialdom. My interpretation: He'd like this to continue, and is willing to pay a price for it.
3. Not once in the conversation - not once! - was there a word of criticism regarding Israeli policies. The only word of criticism I heard from Ben Ami this week was directed at the Palestinian leadership and its reluctance to go back to negotiations.
4. Is Netanyahu serious about negotiations? Ben Ami says he was convinced that Netanyahu is serious (a word of caution: whether he really believes him - or just says he believes him because he thinks that's the right thing to say at this time - I don't know).
5. But this is significant: Ben Ami doesn't criticize Netanyahu and says he is serious about negotiations. Some J Street enthusiasts back home aren't going to be happy - and Ben Ami knows this, and doesn't seem to care much.
6. Ben Ami emphasized that J Street will not support boycott or divestment. Such position will also drive the more radical elements of the Jewish-sphere away from the organization.
7. An Israeli familiar with the content of J Street's meetings in Israel this week had said that "they sounded not much different from the visitors we have in AIPAC delegations". On the one hand, from the Israeli view-point, this is definitely positive news. On the other hand it raises an old question: Why can't they just join AIPAC instead of competing with them? (they will not do it. Ben Ami just told Haviv that "J Street's raison d'etre", is to redress "the failure of not just AIPAC, but the entirety of the voices that speak for our community," to represent this position). But there's another way of looking at it: Maybe as a separate organization with more credibility on the left J Street can help Israel more by way of helping curb the wacky initiatives of the far left (like divestment in Berkeley).
8. And one last word: J Street leadership should make sure to update its supporters that Michael Oren is now a friend, not a " a divisive and inappropriate choice"...LINK
Post a Comment