Jeremy Ben-Ami: “Nasser was pro-Israel”

Jeremy Ben-Ami explains the meaning of pro-Israel

Jeremy Ben-Ami explains the meaning of 'pro-Israel'

He didn’t actually say this  — as far as I know — but he certainly could do so without self-contradiction.

Recently I wrote about Ben-Ami’s J Street organization — an allegedly “pro-Israel” group which was found to be taking contributions from Arab and Muslim sources.

I thought the exposure would be enough to kill them. After all, since most of their money comes from liberal Jews who support Israel to some extent — even if, in my opinion, the policies they promote would hurt Israel if implemented — surely these contributors might ask themselves what this tells them about the goals of the organization, which called for an immediate cease-fire at the start of Operation Cast Lead, advocates negotiating with Hamas, supports a complete settlement freeze, the Arab (or Saudi) Initiative, etc.

As yet, I’ve seen no mention of this in the mainstream media other than the Jerusalem Post story. The only reaction so far has been bloggers writing that critics of J Street are far-right neo-con racists, and that J Street’s policy recommendations really are good for Israel.

Let me dismiss the ‘racist’ label: the problem is not that the donors are Arab or Muslim (some of them aren’t, but they just happen to work for the Saudi Embassy, for example). It is that the donors are people who normally spend their good money in ways that advance Arab and Iranian interests (big surprise). And — have you noticed? — these interests are opposed to those of Israel!

Listed as having given $10,000 or more are Richard Abdoo, a board member of Amideast (an organization primarily financed by Saudi and oil interests) and former board member of the Arab American Institute, and Genevieve Lynch,  a member of the board of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC). Although these groups do not have banners on their websites demanding that the Jews be thrown into the sea, does anyone doubt that they are not exactly friendly to Israel?

Ben-Ami, J Street’s Executive Director, meanwhile continues to pretend that there is absolutely nothing wrong with claiming to be pro-Israel (by his very quirky definition) while taking contributions from people who are decidedly not pro-Israel:

I don’t actually see it as an accusation. I see it as a truth. A small percentage of money J Street raises comes from people who are non Jewish … I’m thrilled to see there are non-Jews who are pro-Israel who see that Israel’s future depends on making peace with the Palestinians. [my emphasis]

I wonder what the implications are for any effort to reach a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict if you really believe that anyone whose religion happens to be other than yours can’t share a common agenda.

As if ‘religion’ has anything to do with it!

This appears so astonishingly stupid that it must mean something else. And I think it does: I think Ben-Ami shares the view of Mahmoud Abbas that ‘Jewish’ only refers to a religion; there is no ‘Jewish people’, so there can’t be a Jewish state.

Unfortunately, it may be the case that many of J Street’s Jewish supporters belong to the “we must destroy the state in order to save it” crowd. If you want to be convinced of this, look at the J Street Facebook page.

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7 Responses to “Jeremy Ben-Ami: “Nasser was pro-Israel””

  1. Davidac897 says:

    Anyone who supports the policies of the current government of Iran is clearly anti-Israel. On the other hand, someone who supports the culture, history, and nationality of the country isn’t necessarily anti-Israel – “support for Iran” is only anti-Israel to the extent to which it means support for the current regime.

    The National Iranian American Council, in this plea http://www.niacouncil.org/site/PageServer?pagename=Action_stand_with_the_iranian_people_challenge, writes “Repression and violence continue with impunity. Much of the world’s attention, which was focused on Iranian protesters for so long, has now drifted away.” I assume this refers to the protests last June against the election which Ahmadinejad stole. Furthermore, at http://www.niacouncil.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=6601&security=1&news_iv_ctrl=-1, the NIAC refers to the current government as “Iranian human rights abusers.” Could you please explain how this kind of support for Iran is anti-Israel?

    Thanks,

    David

  2. Vic Rosenthal says:

    Insofar as NIAC opposes the regime, I can’t criticize it. However NIAC is opposed to sanctions, and if the alternative to sanctions is military action, which would you prefer? Because the regime must not be allowed to obtain nuclear weapons.

  3. Davidac897 says:

    That is true, though there argument is that these sanctions only strengthen the regime – not that they want to get the bomb. I haven’t seen NIAC state a position on military force, but my personal opinion is this: military action would contribute the Iranian regime’s insistence to the Iranian people that the West is offensively against them and that they must fight back. Essentially, it would secure power for Ahmadinejad for years to come, and even then we might not get every last power plant. Maybe you disagree with this argument, but I don’t see how that is enough to claim that it is “decidedly not pro-Israel.”

    I guess I’m wondering, is it always true that “these interests are opposed to those of Israel!”? If the Arab nations make peace with Israel, is that not in their interest? Is that not in Israel’s interest? I’m not talking about pretending to make peace with Israel and then plotting Israel’s destruction behind closed doors. I’m asking, do you think it is not in Saudi Arabia’s interest to make a genuine peace with Israel? There are certainly Arabs who don’t think so, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t also Arabs who do think so.

  4. Vic Rosenthal says:

    Sure I think it’s in the interest of the Arabs to make peace, if you think that interests are defined by economic development, increased freedom, etc. But remember that the people aren’t making the decisions, the regimes are. And the interest of the regime is to keep itself in power, sometimes to keep the expectations of their people low, etc. It’s also the case that the best way to rally support in the Arab world is to be the biggest anti-Israel guy around.

  5. Davidac897 says:

    Ok, though I’m not sure that the Arab American Institute necessarily shares the same goals as the regimes. NIAC clearly doesn’t in the case of Iran.

  6. Davidac897 says:

    Just take a look at this article and see what you think (and why): http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=114070689

  7. Vic Rosenthal says:

    Lenny ben-David (and I) do not find anything inappropriate about people of Arab descent contributing to J Street. It’s when people who represent interests like Saudi Arabia — which cannot possibly be ‘pro-Israel’ in any sense, and whose idea of ‘peace’ is the Arab League initiative — that we begin to be suspicious. I thought I made that clear in the article.

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