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Emergency Committee v. J Street

Penn. candidate is proxy battlefield for Israel groups

Marc Tracy
July 22, 2010

Earlier this week, when J Street cut an ad defending Rep. Joe Sestak, the Pennsylvania Democratic Senate candidate, it was implicitly picking a fight with the Emergency Committee for Israel, the brand-new Bill Kristol-founded outfit that announced itself in part with an attack on Sestak for his allegedly not-pro-Israel views.

(By the way, for a great take on Kristol’s committee-forming-mania, read Jonathan Chait.)

Now, the New York Times has smartly compared and contrasted the two groups’ pro- and anti-Sestak ads (which you can find after the jump).

The Emergency Committee attacked Sestak’s 2007 praise for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which has subsequently been accused of being a Hamas front. “The target audience,” says the Times, “is not really Jewish voters in Philadelphia and its suburbs—they tend to be a reliable Democratic constituency and an important source of campaign donations. Rather, the ad is aimed more at mobilizing the right and evangelicals in support of Mr. Sestak’s Republican opponent, former Representative Pat Toomey.”

J Street responded by depicting Sestak’s repeated insistences of support for the Jewish state. “It does not dwell on the finer points of the attack but goes big picture,” the Times notes, “casting Mr. Sestak as a defender of Israel. By featuring President Obama, the ad suggests that J Street, anyway, believes that the link will be a plus for Mr. Sestak in November, or at least for its cause.”

The Committee’s ad:

J Street’s ad:

Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.