Israel Brief: Alan Dershowitz strikes back: ‘J Street has harmed Israel’

ISRAEL BRIEF

“It’s a myth that criticism of Israel is silenced. I have spoken at AIPAC many times, criticizing Israeli policy,” lawyer says in response to Ben-Ami.

Source: Jerusalem Post, 8-6-11
Prominent Israel advocate Prof. Alan Dershowitz hit back at a book by the founder of J Street charging that he and others have silenced criticism of the Jewish state, in a recent interview with The Jerusalem Post.

Alan Dershowitz speaks to the 'Post.'

Photo by: Ariel Jerozolimski

J Street President Jeremy Ben- Ami’s recently released book, A New Voice for Israel: Fighting for the Survival of the Jewish Nation, singles out Dershowitz, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee and other members of the US Jewish establishment.

“It’s a myth that criticism of Israel is silenced,” Dershowitz said in a phone interview with the Post on Thursday. I have spoken at AIPAC many times and have criticized Israeli policy. AIPAC has never silenced me, because AIPAC knows I’m pro-Israel.”

In the book, Ben-Ami argues that the major Jewish organizations and pro-Israel advocates in America have “created a situation where one can’t question or criticize Israeli policy or actions without being branded an outcast.”

Dershowitz, a Harvard law professor, vehemently expressed disagreement with that assertion.

“Ben-Ami was in diapers when I opposed the occupation and was in favor of the two-state solution,” Dershowitz said on Thursday.

“See, I’m [J Street’s] worst nightmare. I oppose the occupation. But I’m really pro-Israel, unlike them.”

Dershowitz also argued that J Street’s actions have had a deleterious effect on the next generation’s ability to effectively advocate for Israel.

“I think J Street has done more damage to Israel than any [other] American organization,” he said.

“It has made a generation of Jews ashamed to be pro-Israel, and has made it politically correct among young people to single out Israel to a double standard and for fault.”…READ MORE

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Netanyahu won’t meet with visiting congressional delegation

Source: JTA, 6-6-11

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will not meet with a visiting congressional delegation visiting under J Street auspices.

Jeremy Ben-Ami, who directs the self-described “pro-Israel, pro-peace” group, confirmed  Monday that the prime minister and other senior government officials refused to meet with the five-member delegation.

“I just don’t really understand what would be in Israel’s interest to refuse to meet with members of Congress who are year in and year out supporters,” Ben-Ami said. “Why would one not welcome them when the greatest threat to Israel’s safety is growing international isolation?”

Ynet reported that the Foreign Ministry said the delegation did not submit a formal request and that there were scheduling conflicts.

Multiple calls from JTA to the Israeli embassy in Washington were not returned.

The group may yet meet with a Miki Eitan, a second-tier minister, and has scheduled meetings with opposition figures and top Palestinian Authority officials. The Egypt leg of the tour will include visits with top officials of that country.

A J Street congressional delegation was similarly snubbed last year.

This year’s delegation is comprised of  Reps. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), Sam Farr (D-Calif.), Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) and John Yarmuth (D-Ken.). Cohen and Yarmith are Jewish.

“As members of Congress who care deeply about the survival of a strong and vibrant Israel, we have been very pleased to meet with a broad array of Israeli leaders,” Cohen told Ynet. “Unfortunately, the Israeli prime minister and other senior ministers were not among them, which would have been appropriate and proper.”

J Street has had a contentious relationship with Netanyahu’s government and its envoy in Washington, Michael Oren.

The Israeli government wanted little to do with the group as long as its support of Iran sanctions and its opposition to a U.N. investigation charging Israel with war crimes was not ironclad. Once J Street had clarified its positions on those issues, in early 2010, the relationship improved.

However, the relationship deteriorated again after J Street urged the Obama administration earlier this year not to veto a U.N. Security Resolution blasting Israel for its settlement building.

The congressional visit comes on the heels of Netanyahu’s trip to the U.S. last month, when he spoke at the AIPAC policy conference in Washington and was enthusiastically received at a speech to both houses of Congress.

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