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J Street: Israel Should 'Talk With its Enemies'

A new left-wing American Jewish lobby says Israel should "talk with its enemies," including Hamas, and stop Jewish expansion in Yesha.
By Hana Levi Julian
First Publish: 5/30/2008, 10:03 AM

Israel News Photo: MFA

A new American Jewish lobby group put its left foot forward this week during an interview with a US-based weekly, with its executive director, Jeremy Ben-Ami, claiming that most Jews support "an end to the occupation and a Palestinian state."

Ben-Ami's group, a new lobby organization dubbed "J Street" made its debut a scant month ago, with its name a "hip" way of placing a finger on the pulse in downtown Washington, where J Street does not exist, and where K Street is rife with lobbyists. J Street is a double-play on words, also standing for "Jerusalem Street."

In the May 27 interview with Newsweek magazine, Ben-Ami underscored his group's belief that the so-called two-state solution is "actually an essential element of a pro-Israel agenda." He also said that the new lobby hopes to break up the "alliance between the neo-cons, the radical right of the Christian Zionist movement and the far-right portions of the Jewish community that has really locked up what it means to be pro-Israel."

The new leftist lobby group's leader stated that Israel should "talk with its enemies," including Hamas, and that the US needs to exert further pressure on Israel to restrict the growth of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.

"We have absolutely no problem taking a position that says the actions and policies of the Israeli government are counterproductive and not in the best interests, in our opinion, of either Israel or the United States," said Ben-Ami.

Less than three weeks ago, the left-wing lobbyist wrote in a May 11 opinion piece for the Washington Post newspaper that allowing a Jewish presence to grow in Judea and Samaria was akin to a friend enabling his buddy to drive drunk.

"Criticize or question Israeli behavior and you're labeled 'anti-Israel' [sic] or worse. But unquestioning encouragement for short-sighted Israeli policies such as expanding Jewish settlements in the West Bank isn't real friendship. (Would a true friend not only let you drive home drunk but offer you their Porsche and a shot of tequila for the road?) Israel needs real friends, not enablers," he wrote.