J Street in the Middle?
Americans for Peace Now to the left of it, AIPAC to the right, on U.S. House Goldstone resolution
Tomorrow, the House of Representatives is set to consider a nonbinding resolution calling on the White House and the State Department to oppose the U.N. Human Rights Council’s Goldstone Report, which accuses Israel and Hamas of committing war crimes during last winter’s Gaza war. Unsurprisingly, AIPAC and other established Jewish organizations jumped to support the bipartisan bill, which is sponsored by two Jewish members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. And perhaps equally unsurprisingly, J Street, the new Israel-focused lobbying group, took the opposite tack—sort of. Early on Friday, J Street released a statement saying it was “unable to support” the resolution, unless it was altered to, among other things, call on Israel to launch an independent investigation into the Goldstone findings. A few hours later, J Street’s executive director, Jeremy Ben Ami, appeared to backtrack with a second statement saying that, in principle, he supported some kind of Congressional action on Goldstone, just not this particular bill, but added that, nonetheless, J Street is “not urging members of Congress to oppose H. Res. 867.”
Then something interesting happened: Americans for Peace Now, the long-established American arm of the Israeli peace movement and, so far, an active J Street booster, came out in clear, unequivocal, though regretful, opposition to the resolution, arguing that Congress wasn’t really the right venue to deal with the various thorny problems, political and otherwise, posed by the report. So, the question is, does that leave J Street in the center—where it says it aims to be—or kind of nowhere at all?