J Street is wrapping up their conference in Washington D.C., which has attracted thousands of professionals and students from across the country to attend and learn about the organization and their values. Particularly troubling aspects of the conference are some of the audience which are attracted to it and the speakers invited.

The organization describes itself as a pro-Israel, pro-American lobbying group which supports a two state solution. In the past, people such as prominent Israel advocate Professor Alan Dershowitz have stated that “J Street has harmed Israel.” J Street was also dishonest about its funding. In 2010 it was revealed that J Street received much of its funding from self proclaimed anti-Zionist George Soros, an important detail which they had originally denied.

The most troubling aspect of the conference are reports that the audience applauded Fatah official Husam Zomlot, who called for the “right of return” of Palestinian refugees. Allowing descendants of Arabs who left Israel during Israel’s War of Independence to move into Israel would result in a Palestinian majority and the destruction of Israel.

Husam Zomlot of Fatah, a speaker at the conference who supports the destruction of Israel.
Husam Zomlot of Fatah, a speaker at the conference who supports the destruction of Israel.

The “right of return” is not only a demand that all Arabs who left Israel during the war in 1948 should be allowed to return to Israel, but that all of their descendants be allowed to move into the country as well. This demand also includes that descendants of Arabs who were temporarily residing in the land of Israel in 1948 be allowed to move there as well. If five million Arabs were given citizenship to the State of Israel, it would no longer have a Jewish majority and thus cease being a Jewish state. Given the violence perpetuated against minorities such as Christians in Egypt and Syria by Islamic extremists, one can only imagine what fate the Jewish minority would face if this was to occur.

Was the audience applauding for the destruction of Israel at the J Street conference? Why was a speaker who wishes for the destruction of Israel even allowed to speak at a “pro-Israel” conference?

The rhetoric from Zomlot should not have been a surprise to the organizers of the conference. In March 2012, Zomlot shared in an online interview that he supports both the “right of return” and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign (BDS) against Israel.

Another problematic part of the conference was when the leader of Israel’s Labour party spoke in favor of a strong army with secure borders, which was met with silence by the audience. Rebecca Shimoni Stoil of the Times of Israel writes, “The applause was more muted when she (Shelly Yachimovich) said that ‘we believe in a free and democratic Israel with a strong army and secure borders to defend not only our people but our values.‘ And when she paused after adding ‘this is the true Zionist dream,’ there was no applause at all.”

Why was the crowd silent? Which part of that sentence did the crowd have an issue with? Were many of the participants troubled by the notion of Israel having a strong army and secure borders? Do Israelis not have a right to live in safety and security? Did they have an issue with Israel’s values? Regardless of what J Street may or may not stand for, it is troubling that a large part of the attendees appear to not support the existence of Israel.

Watch the “refugee” issue explained below. Also, check out the piece “And the World is Lying – The Plight of the Refugees” by Ben-Dror Yemini, explaining the refugee issue in detail.

Contributed by Gilad Skolnick

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