J St admits it takes direction from this Administration, the Hill to MOVE American Jews (not represent them)
Last Updated on Tuesday, 15 May 2012 14:06
05/15/12 Carinne Luck, J Street's Vice President for Campaigns, and the person who sent out the mass email announcing the new J Street political initiative , is on video explaining to J Street members that what "the Administration" and people "on the Hill" want from J Street is for them to "move American Jews" towards their views, and so that is what J Street spends most of its resources doing. Got that? The goal of J Street is not to represent American Jews on the left, but is instead "to move American Jews" to the left and to the Administration's/friends on the Hill's point of view, and to "provide them with cover." And so J Street is "spending the bulk of its resources" doing that. See the video here. There are a few other nuggets, but we think admitting they take direction from elected officials, and that they are field operatives instead of constituency representatives, clears up the debate about who and what they are. The video was taped and put on YouTube by J Street, but was later removed from that site by them when Pro-Israel Media recognized what it really meant and began to share it.
h/t Pro and EoZ.
The Stealth Legitimacy of J Street
Last Updated on Tuesday, 15 May 2012 07:21
by Lori Lowenthal Marcus
Did you know that J Street - which is, please, let’s acknowledge it already, a political lobbying organization - is launching a new national election year initiative? They have plans to train its supporters to lobby for the candidates they support, and ensure the defeat of candidates supported by “right-wing Republican” Jews in this year’s presidential election. Perhaps that doesn’t surprise you, but what if you learned that some of those political training sessions were taking place in your local synagogues (Chicago and San Francisco), or Jewish community centers (Nashville and Minneapolis), or even your local Federation building (Philadelphia)?
A recent email from Carinne Luck, J Street’s Vice President for Campaigns, announced the launch of a new J Street initiative, “Future of Pro-Israel.” Luck describes this purely political, election year initiative as J Street’s effort to drive a new course in “national and communal politics.” Luck labels it a direct response to donations by two Jewish millionaires to two political organizations of Republican candidates for US president. J Street makes no effort to conceal where donations to counter Republican support are supposed to go, but let's spell it out: if you oppose people supporting Republican candidates, including the man who is the presumptive Republican nominee, where does one suppose your financial support is going to go? Here’s a hint: it's going to an eight letter word starting with D, and it isn’t Dinosaur.
This is a free country, and if J Street reveals itself honestly as a purely political advocate for Democratic candidates, they have the right to do so. But J Street is succeeding in having it both ways, by doing pure politics but cloaking itself with the hecksher of the official Jewish community – their buildings, their patina of charity and good works – in order to advance its purely partisan political goal.
When you click on the link to find J Street’s new initiative in your community, you learn several things: (1) the effort is solely part of J Street’s lobbying, advocacy and campaign arms, not the one that is bound by the same rules that bind Federations, JCCs and synagogues; (2) J Street calls itself the “political home for pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans”; (3) several of the descriptions make it clear it is an intensive lobbying campaign to support political candidates who share J Street’s vision; and (4) some of the places where these intensely political, lobbying training efforts are being held are in our Jewish communal homes, which are limited by federal law and community consensus from engaging in lobbying or political campaigning.
For example, J Street Philadelphia is holding its Political Initiative launch at the Philadelphia Federation building, although the event is sponsored only by its political entities - those that are permitted to engage in lobbying and campaigning - and not the tax-exempt arm. Not only that, but even on its Facebook page, J Street Philadelphia labels itself only a political organization.
In most other cities, the J Street lobbying launch is being held in private homes, which makes sense. But while it appears only Philadelphia is allowing its Federation building to be used to launch this lobbying effort, there are some cities in which the Jewish Community Centers and some synagogues have allowed these lobbying campaigns to take place. The nearly identical language used to describe most of the local efforts focuses on action to be taken during this “election season,” and includes training for being “on the front lines of voter engagement in this important election year.”
Should Jewish Federations or Jewish Community Centers or synagogues host one-sided political events or lobbying efforts? Of course not. Those entities need to remain neutral so that all Jews feel welcome in their communal centers. And from a financial standpoint, those Jewish communal entities must also avoid any semblance of political favor because the only way such entities are created, exist and grow is through funding from donors, in exchange for which the donors can deduct the value of the donations when reporting their income for tax purposes. And that is why, usually, religious institutions are loathe to allow anything that smells political, particularly when it comes to election season, within their gates. Even the appearance of supporting a particular politician or lobbying effort can create serious problems.
So why are some Jewish organizations allowing their facilities to be used for J Street’s unabashedly political initiative? The answer in Philadelphia probably reflects the thought process that took place in other Jewish communities, which was twofold: (1) they assumed the event was not political and (2) Jewish institutions strive to be inclusive. Why did Philadelphia think the event was not going to be political? Because the decision makers there, at least initially, did not see the original announcement of J Street’s Political Initiative, and because many think of J Street as a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization, the same as are Federations, JCRCs, and the other alphabet soup of Jewish organizations.
You see, by originally presenting itself as simply another Jewish organization, but with a decidedly leftist orientation, the J Street national, and then their local affiliates, were able to participate in Jewish communal life as if they were just another non-profit, pro-Israel, Jewish organization. But J Street* is now an overtly political entity, working for political candidates who support its causes and working to create candidates who will champion those causes. It is a lobbying effort that came in the front door of our communities wearing its nonprofit, tax-exempt status, but is now operating within our gates in its political, lobbying, campaign incarnation. And that feint leaves our Jewish entities’ tax status, and certainly its nonpartisan stance, vulnerable, while J Street, which gave subtle but sufficient indications of what it is really doing, with little to hide.
Can you imagine any synagogue, JCC or Federation allowing, say, the Republican Jewish Committee to launch a lobbying efforts in their buildings? Or a Tea Party planning event? Of course not. So if not them, then why this J Street Political Initiative? Because it succeeded in achieving stealth legitimacy, to our peril.
* The J Street Education Fund is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization for education and outreach, but that arm of J Street is not involved in this new initiative.
Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the president of Z STREET and the executive committee chair of the National Conference on Jewish Affairs
J Street keeps trying to cloak itself with Official Heckshers, instead its own stain spreads
Last Updated on Tuesday, 15 May 2012 07:21
05/11/2012 So either the Embassy directed the mid-Atlantic region, Philadelphia-based Consul General to chastise J Street and he ignored those orders, OR the CG did not receive the directive in time and then did not report to the Embassy that he did not deliver the directive and instead was generally supportive, OR the CG told the Embassy he was going to take the opportunity to address J Street but would reprimand them for sowing dissent (as did Dep. Amb. Binah at this year's J Street Conference) but then he did the opposite.... Are there other possibilities?
The BOTTOM LINE: HQ is NOT happy with what J Street is doing and it is certainly not comfortable having its official representatives showing this effort any support in any form.
Updated May 11, 2:20 p.m.:
Controversy has erupted over the remarks an Israeli consul general delivered during a highly politicized event organized by the fringe group J Street.
Sources on the ground in Philadelphia contacted the Free Beacon to dispute an account of Consul General Daniel Kutner’s remarks that were originally provided by a high-level embassy official.
Kutner, the embassy source had reported, chastised J Street for attaching his name to an official J Street communications that slammed conservative pro-Israel supporters.
Sources at the event dispute that claim, however, and say Kutner was non-confrontational and friendly to the group.
The conflicting accounts hint at internal disagreements over how Israeli officials should interact with J Street, which has faced criticism for advocating policies that could harm the Jewish state.
The embassy source who originally provided the Free Beacon with Kutner’s comments said that he fully stands behind their veracity.
“I must have been at a different event,” said Scott Gould, 60, a Philadelphia resident who attended the J Street rally. “Your quote is from Mars and his is from Jupiter.”
“There was nothing said about J Street hurting Israel,” Gould added. “That was not said or implied at any time.”
Gould further maintained that Kutner’s tone was non-confrontational and that he did not chastise the group at any point during his brief remarks.
“I must have been in a coma when he said it,” Gould replied after reading the Free Beacon’s earlier report. “I suspect that was shampooed before it went out into the public. They didn’t want to send it out with dirty hair.”
We will continue to update as the story warrants.
An Israeli official who was angered to discover his name attached to a highly politicized J Street event lashed out at the group Wednesday evening, accusing activists of harming the Jewish state with their partisan political attacks, according to a source at the Embassy of Israel.
J Street’s Philadelphia-based affiliate announced yesterday that Daniel Kutner, the Consul General of Israel to the Mid-Atlantic Region of the United States, would participate in a “Future of Pro Israel” rally in Philadelphia intended to foster support for J Street’s political agenda.
Materials promoting the event attacked conservative pro-Israel advocates, including Irving Moskowitz and William Kristol. The group accuses such individuals of “turning Israel into a partisan wedge issue with no regard for the actual impact on the future peace and security of the country and its neighbors.”
Kutner expressed extreme disappointment in his remarks before the group of activists.
“I am extremely disappointed to see that an email sent by J Street leadership attacks, ad hominem, Jewish philanthropists, supporters of Israel,” Kutner told J Street supporters, according to a read-out of his remarks provided by an Israeli Embassy source. “That doesn’t make Israel or the Jewish community stronger, or helps the future of pro- Israel advocacy.”
J Street’s Philadelphia affiliate bills itself as an explicitly political organization, raising questions about Kutner’s stance on the American elections. The event is billed under the guise of J Street’s “Future of Pro-Israel” movement operated by the organization’s lobbying arm, which is registered as a 501(c)(4).
After chastising the group, Kutner discussed the future of pro-Israel advocacy, which was the topic organizers had originally asked him to discuss.
He told J Street’s supporters, who tend to criticize Israel while never praising the Jewish state, that their promotion of “policies that are incompatible with the positions of the Israeli elected government” puts the U.S.-Israel relationship in jeopardy and endangers the tiny Middle Eastern democracy.
“If you send conflicting messages on issues of critical importance, it may negatively affect Israel’s standing” in a country whose friendship is critical to Israel’s ability to confront its many enemies, Kutner told the crowd. “The final decision on matters of policy and on the security of Israel must finally reside in the hands of those living there, those that were elected … and represent the people in Israel.”
And what could be more perfect than the cartoon today from the Jewish Press, the title of which is:
Published: May 11th, 2012
NCJA CHALLENGES OTHER JEWISH LEADERS TO SUPPORT THE RIGHT OF JEWS TO HAVE EQUAL ACCESS TO FEDERAL ANTI-DISCRIMINATION LAW
Last Updated on Tuesday, 08 May 2012 20:07
UPDATE: THE VOTE WAS TAKEN, THE JCPA TAKES THE COWARDS' WAY OUT, WHILE POSING AS HEROES.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
In October 2010, the U.S. Department of Education announced that Jewish students would now be protected by federal anti-discrimination law, Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
Incredibly, at its annual plenum in Detroit, on May 5, 2012, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, which represents many of the establishment American Jewish organizations including the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee and the many Jewish Community Relations Councils, will vote on whether Jews should have to meet higher standards than other groups in order to make out a claim under Title VI.
The National Conference on Jewish Affairs, a new umbrella group of Jewish organizations which sees Jewish issues as its central focus, has issued its own position statement regarding the use of Title VI to combat anti-Semitism, in advance of the JCPA plenum.
“We believe it is the spines of those who claim to represent American Jews that must be stiffened, and not the pre-requisite standards allowing Jews use of Title VI,” said Lori Lowenthal Marcus, NCJA executive committee chair.
The NCJA is just as concerned with First Amendment rights and academic freedom as are the older American Jewish organizations. Indeed, Marcus is a Harvard-educated lawyer who practiced and taught First Amendment law for years. “To suggest, as the JCPA has done, that Jews are more likely than other groups to assert frivolous Title VI claims, or that the aura of First Amendment or academic freedom impedes Jews, and only Jews, from seeking redress, is a double-standard which can only harm Jewish students,” said Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, who chairs the NCJA Task Force on Academia and Campus Life, and who co-authored NCJA’s Statement on Campus Anti-Semitism and Title VI.
In June 2009 Rossman-Benjamin, a lecturer at University of California Santa Cruz, filed a Title VI Complaint against her university, claiming that some faculty and administrators had abused their positions and university resources in order to promote hatred of the Jewish state and its supporters, which in turn had created an intellectually and emotionally hostile environment for Jewish students. According to Rossman-Benjamin, “it is irresponsible for the leaders of major Jewish organizations to promote a stricter standard for Jews to meet than for non-Jews in order to seek redress under Title VI.”