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      Op-Ed: J Street's Spiritual Conceit

      Published: Tuesday, October 27, 2009 12:07 AM
      American Muslim leaders at the J Street Conference this week know exactly what J Street's real agenda is: bringing about a distancing in US-Israel relations and besmirching the mainstream Jewish community, under the guise of morality and justice.

      The pious spiritual claptrap that characterizes J Street's conference in Washington this week is both a conceit and a new form of Jewish apostasy. Conference speakers earnestly broadcast their "profound" Jewish and "spiritual" identities in order to besmirch the mainstream Jewish community and engender a distancing in US-Israel
      relations. This certainly does not fool the American Muslim leaders who are
      speaking at the conference. They know and appreciate exactly what J Street
      J Street is a new form of Jewish apostasy.

      is up to.

      It was the Buddhist seders that tipped me off to the real conceit behind J Street.  The sensitive "progressive" types behind the new Washington lobby are deeply concerned, it seems, for the morality and soul of Israel.

      Gee, thanks.

      A love for Buddhist seders, a penchant for avant garde poetry (including a ballad entitled The Queer Intifada), and an abiding concern for Israel's spiritual quintessence – all while being intermarried down to nearly the last Jewish soul
      among them – is how The New York Times recently characterized the founders
      and key staff members of J Street. They seek, you see, justice and holiness and
      Jewish meaning in the world. Especially in the Arab-Israel conflict.

      This explains the preponderance of numerous, vaporous spiritual types at this
      week's big J Street hug-in in Washington. Rabbi Sharon, Rabbi Amy, Rabbi
      Tirzah, Rabbi Jennie, Rabbi Julie, Rabbi Toba and Rabbi Melissa are among the
      prominent speakers. They are "diversity facilitators," "spirituality counselors,"
      and "interreligious leaders" at places called Neve Kodesh, Brit Tzedek, Dorshei
      Tzedek and Just Vision.

      So much "Tzedek" (Justice)! So much "Kodesh" (Holiness)! So much
      overflowing of honey, holiness and justice! At a political lobby conference, no
      less. Perhaps the organization should be renamed Spiritual Street.
      You know that all this righteousness just needs to be exported – through tough
      love, if necessary – to Israel. To repair the Middle East. To spiritually save
      Israel in spite of itself. Or at least to salve the sacred American Jewish soul.
      Well, enough, I say, of this misty, sentimental and self-serving gobbledygook.
      All this soft spiritual urgency, supposedly on "behalf of" Israel, belies a triple
      conceit; or should we say, a great deceit.

      Firstly, J Street is peddling the nutty notion that spirituality has anything to do
      with Mideast peace. The latent chutzpa is the insinuation that authentic
      identification with the Jewish prophets and morality dovetails with the dovish
      side of the political map. If only American Jews and Israelis were more
      religiously dovish and in touch with the forgiving and compassionate side of
      their Jewish souls – we would do the "left" thing and concede more generously
      to the Palestinians. Then, lo and behold, peace would come to the Mideast.
      The second conceit is that such J Street-peddled nonsense – along with J Street
      support for talks with Hamas, opposition to military action against the Hamas,
      and opposition to sanctions or military action against nuclear Iran – represents
      the majority of American Jewry. Hogwash. Patently false.

      The third conceit is that, if only Israel were to change – and it is J Street's job to
      get America to force Israel to change – then peace would come to the Mideast.
      As if Israel was the party unwilling to compromise. As if Israel hasn't already
      offered the Palestinians at Oslo and Camp David and Taba and Annapolis just
      about everything they want of post-67 Israel. As if the Palestinians have
      compromised on their demands one wit since the great handshake on the
      White House lawn. But it is Israel that needs to be pressured, say the J Street
      moral oracles.

      J Street is a new form of Jewish apostasy. Its adherents hasten to embrace their
      Jewishness (even if they don't really know much about authentic Jewish
      tradition and morality) in order to besmirch Israel and the mainstream Jewish
      community. They earnestly declare how "profoundly" Jewish they are, in order
      to engender a distancing in US-Israel relations.

      I guess that's why J Street has spent most of its resources bashing long-standing
      supporters of Israel – calling them extremists and right-wingers and accusing
      them of a "silencing" – and listing things that Israel must be made to do. All
      this, instead of calling out the dangers of Iranian nuclear weapons or
      Palestinian genocidal anti-Semitism. That's why they fret over the Jewish soul
      instead of working to save and protect the physical Jewish State of Israel.
      The only people clearly not fooled by all this spiritual mumbo-jumbo are Salam
      al-Mayarati, Ziad Asali, Trita Parsi and other leaders of the American Muslim
      Public Affairs Council, American Task Force on Palestine and the National
      Iranian American Council – all of whom are speaking – surprise, surprise – at
      the J Street Jewish soul jamboree this week. They undoubtedly see past the
      pious claptrap, and know – and appreciate – exactly what J Street is up to.