When I originally posted about J-Street's invitation to Israeli Ambassador, Michael Oren, I was against his speaking at the J-Street conference, but was open to the idea of Oren giving a talk explaining why J-Street despite its loud protests otherwise, is actually anti-Israel. It is a view that Shmuel Rosner advocated.
However, last night I saw that J-Street will be hosting a bloggers panel. This panel will be attended by the likes of Helena Cobban, Richard Silverstein, Phil Weiss, and Max Blumenthal, among others. Silverstein claims that J-Street is only providing them a platform but not endorsing their views. Really, a platform is more than enough. These people are by no means pro-Israel - they are unapologetically anti-Israel - the false label that J-Street insists on attaching to itself.
In fact Helena Cobban has just been named the executive director of the Council for the National Interest (CNI). CNI is one of those organizations run by former Middle East diplomats (in this case Eugene Bird) with strong ties to Saudi Arabia. So while they agitate against the so-called "Israel Lobby" they are part of what Steven Emerson once referred to the American House of Saud. Cobban believes that Hamas is a legitimate organization - she goes beyond saying Israel must negotiate with Hamas - and therefore can accurately be called a terror supporter.
I don't care if J-Street is claiming not to endorse the views of the bloggers, if it's giving them a platform, it is implicitly expressing its approval of their views.
What J-Street wants from Oren is not a speech, but recognition. It is recognition it has been unable to attain on its own. As politicians are learning of J-Street's true views and allies, they are abandoning J-Street.
If Ambassador Oren appears at the J-Street conference, Jeremy Ben Ami and his acolytes (regardless of the content of Oren's speech) will hype that they've made the big time by being recognized by Israel's "right wing" government. J-Street, quite out of the mainstream of (even liberal) Jewish opinion hasn't been able to convince a sizable portion of the pro-Israel community of its good intentions towards Israel. It wanted a shortcut to respectability.
More and more J-Street looks like it was founded in order to promote the views of CNI and related organizations, which are openly hostile to Israel. J-Street figured that having Jews espousing such views, would make them more acceptable. Practically, there's no reason for Israel's ambassador to strengthen a group devoted to opposing Israel's government.
I have to agree with Carl, Ambassador Oren should not go. Not even to rebuke J-Street.
UPDATE: The word in the title should be "camouflage" not as I spelled it. Thanks to Rahel for catching the error.
Crossposted on YourishPosted by SoccerDad at October 20, 2009 2:27 PM