Brooke Davies’ Voices op-ed on May 12, “Yes, there is a Jewish left on campus, and it needs to be heard,” and Edward Kopf’s June 16 letter, “Young leaders want, need their voices heard,” call for the inclusion of the self-described “pro-Israel, pro-peace” group J Street U in the pro-Israel campus community. Davies claims that the mainstream Jewish community is searching for liberal Zionists, and that the positions held by J Street are shared by the majority of the Jewish community, making it the only option for young, progressive Jews. In so claiming, the author implies that liberal Zionists cannot exist in mainstream pro-Israel organizations such as AIPAC and AJC.
Liberal Zionists like I am are welcomed in the pro-Israel community deemed “illiberal” by Davies. Conversely, J Street regularly silences campus Zionist voices by enforcing the notion that a lack of support for J Street is equivalent to blindly supporting all the policies of the current Israeli government, which is patently false.
In an age of anti-Israel bias, young activists need facts. But J Street does not provide students with the information necessary for advocates of Middle East peace. The organization tries to claim a monopoly on the “truth” it inculcates in its students.
If J Street were truly pro-Israel and pro-peace, it would unequivocally oppose the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. While J Street formally opposes BDS, individual chapters at several universities have not done so, without reprimand from the J Street headquarters.
Further, J Street sponsors speakers like Lisa Goldman and Maha Mehanna. Goldman wrote that anti-Zionism should thrive in the United States. Mehanna regularly accuses Israel of ethnic cleansing.
How can pro-Israel students be part of a “pro-Israel organization” that sponsors lecturers who disseminate misinformation about the only democracy in the Middle East?
Originally published in Washington Jewish Week.
Contributed by CAMERA Fellow at Princeton University, Leora Eisenberg.