Has any political organization squandered its credibility as quickly as J Street, a new organization that promotes itself as a peacenik alternative to AIPAC? Supposedly, the machers at J Street thought that AIPAC was not properly representing the Jewish community's views on Israel because AIAPC too "right-wing." It's become obvious, however, that the J Street founders' problem with AIPAC is not that it's too right-wing (in fact, despite claims emanating from left-wingers about AIPAC's "right-wingedness", AIPAC rarely deviates from supporting current Israeli government policy, and its leadership has been largely Democratic for decades--the architect of AIPAC's prominence beginning in the 1980s was former Ted Kennedy staffer Tom Dine), but that it is too nonpartisan; AIPAC, as a nonpartisan pro-Israel lobby, cooperates with both Republicans and Democrats, exactly as a non-partisan lobby should. J Street, it turns out, wants to be an adjunct of the Democratic Party, and apparently wants to discredit pro-Israel Jews who cooperate with the Republicans.
Consider the current front page of J Street's website:
We Won! Palin Not Speaking at Iran Rally
We collected over 20,000 signatures in 24 hours asking Iran Unity rally organizer Malcolm Hoenlein to take Sarah Palin off the schedule for Monday's rally, and he caved to our pressure on Thursday afternoon citing the fact that the rally had become too partisan.
This is the right decision. A unity rally to express communal solidarity is no place for partisan politics [recall that Hillary Clinton backed out after accepting an invitation o the rally, and other prominent Democrats were welcome as well]. And to give such prominence to Sarah Palin alone would have spoken neither to, nor for, the American Jewish community.
How exactly does this "victory" have anything to do with J Street's purported mission:
J Street is the political arm of the pro-Israel, pro-peace movement.
J Street was founded to promote meaningful American leadership to end the Arab-Israeli and Palestinian-Israel conflicts peacefully and diplomatically. We support a new direction for American policy in the Middle East and a broad public and policy debate about the U.S. role in the region.
J Street represents Americans, primarily but not exclusively Jewish, who support Israel and its desire for security as the Jewish homeland, as well as the right of the Palestinians to a sovereign state of their own - two states living side-by-side in peace and security. We believe ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is in the best interests of Israel, the United States, the Palestinians, and the region as a whole.
J Street supports diplomatic solutions over military ones, including in Iran; multilateral over unilateral approaches to conflict resolution; and dialogue over confrontation with a wide range of countries and actors when conflicts do arise.
Did J Street somehow know that Palin "supports military solutions over diplomatic ones, including in Iran?" I doubt it, and even if she did, the obvious response would be to try to engage her to try to support J Street's perspective, not to try to prevent her from speaking--especially since neither J Street (nor anyone else) really knows whether Palin's overall views on the Middle East might be to its liking. Unless, of course, J Street, whose leadership is composed of leading Jewish liberal Democrats, was serving the interests of Barack Obama and the Democratic Party, and not its purported, "pro-peace, pro-Israel" mission.
UPDATE: Here's the speech the McCain campaign says that Palin was planning to deliver. It makes a nonpartisan (or bipartisan) pitch, and calls for sanctions and other diplomatic actions, with only the vaguest implication of a potential military response.