Tuesday, January 25, 2011

J-Street leading a Birthright visit to Israel this summer

Press release from J-Street
J Street U is very happy to announce that we will be leading a free, ten-day Taglit-Birthright trip this summer titled, "Explore Israel: Progressive Zionism and Social Justice." 

This trip is an incredible opportunity to connect with the Israel that isn't on the front page or in the guide books. Move beyond the headlines, and see what's really happening on the ground.

If you're Jewish, age 18 - 25, and have yet to take a peer group trip to Israel, we strongly encourage you to sign up and be the first to know when registration opens.

The trip is a chance to appreciate the vibrancy of Israel's history, culture and landscape from a perspective that acknowledges your Jewish and progressive values.

The best way to discover the richness of Israeli society and the full contours of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is to travel around Israel and meet people from the diverse groups of the region. There is simply no substitute for seeing the land and connecting with the people.    

On the trip, we'll speak with members of Israeli civil society working to advance the goals of democracy and human rights. Our itinerary will provide a cross-section of Israeli opinion. 

This trip is a gift of Taglit-Birthright Israel and will be provided by The Israel Experience, Ltd.

Sign up now to be the first to know when registration opens.

If you have any questions, feel free to email us at birthright@jstreetu.org.

- Daniel

Daniel May
Director, J Street U
January 25, 2011



  1. J Street, of course, is loosing whatever little credibility it once briefly had. As of today, Rep. Ackerman has told them to drop dead. He says: "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 cannot imagine why you waste your time writing about that disgraceful group.

  2. Why is J-Street disgraceful to organize a Birthright trip? Do you imagine that the people who run Birthright would allow an anti-Zionist group to lead a Birthright group? I don't think so.

    And Mr. Friedman - it's increasingly clear to me just how right-wing you are. I'm getting kind of tired of it. Why don't you start your own blog?

  3. Rebecca,

    I am not right wing. That is in your head. Neither is Rep. Ackerman, who thinks that JStreet has crossed the line to the extent of not being pro-Israel. I think that Rep. Ackerman is correct.

    Hence, while the group is free to do as it pleases, I see no reason why you, who are pro-Israel, would want to stand in any way with that group.

    Let's assume, arguendo, that I were "right wing." Do you believe that only non-"right-wing" people are worthy of reading? Are you opposed to reading the words of those who disagree? I did not, after all, exactly post more than a few words in reply. I merely noted that someone as left wing as Rep. Ackerman - who is, I think, a pretty decent Congressman and is certainly knowledgeable about the Arab Israeli dispute - has decided to cut off all ties with JStreet, declaring them to be not a friend of Israel.

  4. You're not right-wing? Then why do you support a right-wing witchhunt against human rights groups in Israel?

    And what about J-Street would I not support?

    When I read you, it seems to me that you are calling for unconditional support of everything that the Israeli government does, at all times, and for support of the right-wing in Israel.

    What about your positions is *not* right-wing? What do you support that could be called left-wing or liberal?

  5. Part I:


    I do not support a witch hunt. I support Israel setting in place what the US government requires, by law, for foreigners who fund pressure groups in the US. In that, as I noted, there are groups in Israel engaged in politics, directly or indirectly, that receive funds from foreign governments, such fact involves foreigners interfering with Israel's democracy. That is true whether the group is on the left or the right. It is, as I see it, a basic, liberal, approach to a country governing itself, free of foreign efforts to alter the political equation.

    In that Israel has failed to act as, among other countries, the US does, Israel needs to investigate what, in fact, has occurred. That, not because it would expose the European effort to harm Israel - if that position is, in fact, correct -, but because any outside interference is wrong.

  6. Part II:

    As for JStreet, I agree with Rep. Ackerman, one of the most liberal members of Congress. I quote his website:

    Ackerman Blasts J-Street support for UN Condemnation of Israel
    January 25, 2011

    U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY), the presumed Ranking Democratic member of the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia issued the following statement today:

    “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.”

    His view is mine. And, it is not a right wing view.

  7. Rebecca,

    You should also read what Prof. Gil Troy has written about JStreet. He sees the group as taking a really wrong turn here, confusing their opposition to "Occupation" with allowing the issue to be in the UN, an institution which is repeatedly unfair to Israel. As he writes, Jerusalem Post, January 27, 2011:

    J Street has joined the latest anti-Israel pile-on: encouraging the Obama Administration to support this month’s anti-Israel UN initiative in the Security Council, instead of vetoing it.J Street supports the resolution because it condemns the settlements. Yet urging the Obama Administration to sic the UN on Israel with yet another biased resolution makes as much sense as turning to Ehud Olmert to teach political ethics or asking Hamas to run a seminar on peaceful conflict resolution. Once again, J Street’s missteps have undermined its claim to be the “political home for pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans.”


    J Street has again succumbed to that contemporary political malady, the Occupation Preoccupation, wherein opposition to Israeli settlements blots out all other aspects of the narrative, undermining all reason. This UN resolution – and implicitly J Street – overlooks the Palestinian culture of hatred and terrorism, which remains the major obstacle to peace. This resolution -- and implicitly J Street – overlooks the continuing challenge Hamas and other Palestinian rejectionists pose. It ignores the latest Palestinian anger that Mahmoud Abbas considered compromising on Jerusalem. This resolution – and implicitly J Street – overlooks Obama’s settlement freeze fiasco, which gave the Palestinians a new precondition without even getting them to negotiate for most of the time Israel stopped settlement construction.

    I have nothing against you being anti-settlement, anti-occupation, etc. I do find it disconcerting that you accept JStreet, a group which is no friend of Israel, which is why it is backed by a number of groups and people that have no use for Israel.

  8. Rebecca, did you receive this press release by email? It does not appear on the sites of J Street U or J Street. And I've been told that Birthright DENIES that J Street U will be leading a tour!

    Could it be a hoax?

  9. Yes, I did get it by email - from Daniel May, Director of J Street U. If you go to http://action.jstreet.org/p/salsa/web/common/public/signup?signup_page_KEY=4441 you'll see that there's a place to sign up if you're interested in applying. According to the J Street U webpage, Daniel May *is* the director. The email looked like all the other email I receive from J Street.

  10. Rebecca,

    Have you any comment which explains how Ackerman is remotely wrong in thinking JStreet is not a pro-Israel organization? And, I would love to know how opposing JStreet and being, as I am, rather skeptical of the chance of resolving the Arab Israeli dispute and believing, as I do, that European government are attempting, using Israelis as fronts (maybe both knowing and unknowing fronts), to advance European foreign policy interests that favor European ties with Arab governments and that are not in Israel's interest, makes me "right wing"? I think, frankly, you have it backwards.

    So far as I know, I have supported liberal causes my whole life. I cannot imagine how any real liberal could support JStreet.