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.