What is J-Street?

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The occupied territories in Israel are one of the disputes that J-Street advocates against.

Isaac Lambert, Photographer

You have surely been exposed to an organization called AIPAC, known as “America’s Pro-Israel Lobby,” but you may not have heard of the liberal, pro-Israel, pro-peace orginization: J-Street. While the influental pro-Israel group AIPAC has often fallen down on the conservative side of the equation, J-Street offers an opposing approach with beliefs in Israeli/Palestinian peace through a two state solution.

J-Street is a pro-Israel advocacy group started by an Israeli named Jeremy Ben-Ami. He felt the absence of a pro-Israel, pro-peace, pro-Jewish organization in Washington, and he named it J-Street, because there is no “J” street in Washington D.C, and this organization is what Washington was missing. J-Street has often been critical of the Israeli government, and their treatment of palestinians, especially regarding the conflicts in Gaza. Unlike AIPAC, J-Street lacks a presence in High Schools, but have chapters on many college campuses. 

J-Street organizes and mobilizes pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans who want Israel to be secure, democratic and the national home of the Jewish people. Working in American politics and the Jewish community, we advocate for policies that advance shared US and Israeli interests as well as Jewish and democratic values, leading to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

 In an interview with Ms. Chaya Lieberman, a Weber Jewish Studies teacher said “They perceive Palestinian rights as equal in importance to the rights of Jews, and they are really trying to push the Jewish community to be more open minded about perceiving Palestinian rights.”

Many people, students in particular, haven’t been exposed to J-Street, and the ones that have often believe misconceptions and deceptions due to the nature of fake news in our current political climate. Critics of J-Street claim that the organization is anti-semitic or anti-Zionist, but critiques of Israel don’t equate to anti-Semitism. Just because this group critiques aspects of the Israeli government doesn’t mean they are even slightly anti-Semetic. In America, political debate is encouraged, and efforts to improve our government are considered patriotic. 

Aviv Newman, Weber freshman, put it this way: “If it’s just Jewish advocacy then there isn’t really politics to it. I know Israel can be seen as intrinsically linked to Judaism.”

Jewish advocacy is larger than just one organization, and isn’t linked to pro or anti Israel sentiments. A distinction should be made between Jewish advocacy and pro-Israel sentiment.