J Street Responds To Questions Regarding BDS Meeting with Israel’s Foreign Ministry

I should have contacted J Street and asked for further information and clarification regarding their executive director’s comments to Hadassah magazine that he held “a meeting with people from Israel’s Foreign Ministry on how to address the BDS [Boycott Divestment Sanctions] movement.”  I didn’t, and wrote something up criticizing J Street before hearing what they had to say, and I apologize for that.  Writing something up fast without thinking of getting a response from the organization you’re critiquing is not good journalism, and that’s part of the perils of blogging and not having an editor every time you publish.

Adam Horowitz, the co-editor at Mondoweiss, did contact J Street after my post was published at Mondoweiss, and received a response from the lobby group:

A spokesperson said Kane was drawing the wrong conclusions about the meeting with the Israeli Foreign Ministry if he is to suggest J Street is participaiting in an Israeli-led effort to combat the BDS movement. Rather, the statement Ben-Ami brought to the meeting was that ending the occupation would be the most effective way to counter the deligimitization efforts Israel faces.

They pointed me to the following letter to the editor in the Forward from a J Street member that they said articulated their perspective:

Exclusion of Critics Gives Fodder to Foes

There can be no more striking illustration of the myopia and self-delusion of the organized Jewish leadership regarding global efforts to delegitimize Israel than the fact that no less than five separate panels on this subject at the Jewish Federations of North America’s General Assembly contained not a single critic of Israel’s policies (“Federations Find Youth Outreach Tricky Terrain at Yearly Meeting,” November 19).

They would have us believe that the gathering strength of the global boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign — which, while ominous, is both ineffectual and totally one-sided — is purely a manifestation of anti-Semitism or misplaced anti-colonialism and has nothing to do with Israel’s behavior, such as its relentless expansion of settlements in the West Bank and encroachment on Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem.

Unless the new JFNA-sponsored Israel Action Network is prepared to acknowledge and confront Israelis and American Jews with this reality and work seriously, if quietly, to mitigate it, I fear that Israel will continue to provide fodder to those who seek to delegitimize and isolate her.

Gil Kulick New York, N.Y.”

My post did seem to imply that J Street may be working with the Israeli government to combat the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, and that was a fair assumption to make without hearing J Street explain it.  J Street has now explained, and if Jeremy Ben-Ami, their executive director, did tell the Israeli government that “ending the occupation would be the most effective way to counter the delegimitization efforts Israel faces,” then I say good for them.


3 responses to “J Street Responds To Questions Regarding BDS Meeting with Israel’s Foreign Ministry

  1. BDS is” ominous, ineffectual, totally one sided and not purely a matter of anti-semitism?” I wouldn’t apologize too quickly to J street, This sounds like a difference in strategy only. BDS only works for Countries like Iran, apparently.

    • The post was meant to highlight that J Street’s meeting with the Israeli government wasn’t as bad as I originally implied. However, their position on BDS is still something I strongly disagree with them on, and something that needs to change.

  2. I would prefer a quite public statement made by Ben-Ami to his membership — to a letter by a random J-Streeter, however good the letter may be. One member (other than Ben-Ami) does not a policy make.

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