It’s remarkable what you can do with a little bit of Arab and Iranian money, some naive-to-the-point-of-stupidity liberal Jews, a friendly administration, and the terminally fractious World Zionist Organization (WZO):
(JTA) June 17, 2010 — The World Zionist Congress passed a resolution endorsing a two-state solution and a West Bank settlement freeze.
The vote in Jerusalem came a day after some opponents of the resolution walked out of a meeting of the 36th Congress’ settlement committee. Following the walkout, the remainder of the meeting was chaired by Hadar Susskind, the vice president of policy and strategy at J Street, which favors U.S. pressure on Israel toward a two-state solution.
The resolution endorses a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, calls on the Israeli government to extend its freeze on Jewish settlement building in the West Bank and calls on Israel to stabilize ties with the United States…
The World Zionist Congress elects the officers and ostensibly sets policy for the World Zionist Organization and the Jewish Agency for Israel.
It’s certain that such a resolution would not pass if presented to the general Israeli public, a majority of which understands that there is no honest partner for a two-state solution today and which views the construction freeze, especially in Jerusalem, as an attack on Israeli sovereignty.
Even Yasser Arafat never pulled off such an audacious hijacking. Susskind and J Street turned the ship of Zionism around and sailed it to Gaza.
The WZO has been around since 1897, when it was founded at the First Zionist Congress, organized by Theodor Herzl. Since then it has become somewhat less relevant; today almost nobody takes it seriously. Who does care are the Orthodox factions that want Zionism to be defined in religious terms, the liberal ones who want Israeli government money for Reform and Masorati institutions, and the numerous minor Israeli politicians who suck from the teat of the Jewish Agency and other vestigial organs of the Zionist enterprise. Now those masters of reality inversion, the phony Zionists of J Street, have joined the party.
Whether the WZO is worth anything or not, its name and history carry some weight. This hijacking grants legitimacy to J Street as a Zionist or pro-Israel organization — which it is not. It tarnishes whatever remains of the name of the WZO, and further muddies the definition of ‘Zionism’ as the movement of the Jewish people to realize self-determination in their own land.
J Street serves several masters. One is the Obama Administration, which calls on it whenever it needs to argue that American Jews support some policy — like a construction freeze in Jerusalem — which might appear on the face of it to be contrary to the interests of Israel. J Street never disappoints, slavishly toeing the administration line.
When it was revealed that some of the contributors to the J Street PAC — a related group which distributes money to political candidates and hence is subject to strict disclosure requirements — had connections to Saudi Arabia and Iran or were associated with pro-Arab groups, and that some of J Street’s Advisory Council members (e.g., Rob Malley and Henry Seigman) are outspoken anti-Zionists, I thought that J Street’s pro-Israel mask had finally been torn off. Unfortunately I underestimated the degree to which ideology — the naive liberal ideology I referred to before — overrides inconvenient facts.
J Street also serves Israel’s declared enemies by working to prevent Israel from exercising its right to defend itself against attack. So it called for the imposition of an immediate cease-fire on the first day of the Gaza war (despite paying lip service to the right of self-defense). It is presently campaigning for Israel to reduce restrictions on Gaza by recycling false complaints of privation in Gaza. Quite simply, this position helps Hamas.
There will be repercussions for the WZO, which gets funding from diverse segments of world Jewry.
One can say that this was no big deal because the WZO has little power or importance. But symbolically, what has happened is that the interests struggling to control the heart of official Zionism have managed to tear it to pieces.