The Problem With J Street Is A Street
by Gerald A. Honigman
And I don’t mean the “itbach al-Yahud”-chanting crowd.
A friend sent me an article to read which appeared in the October 6th Jerusalem Post. The author, Aaron Magid, is a Masters candidate in Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard. This brought back some painful memories of my own masters and doctoral studies in this same field decades ago. His essay was titled Feeling Uncomfortable At J Street. Here’s how he opened it…
“Attending the annual J Street Conference for the first time, I wanted to be proven wrong. Supporters of Israel within the Jewish community had ridiculed the newly created lobby group for launching harsh and unfair attacks against Israel. As a supporter of Israel who is also firmly opposed to increased settlement building and in favor of ending the Israeli occupation in the West Bank, I believed J Street would be my perfect home.”
Aaron will likely succeed where I failed. He attended this year’s annual J Street Conference because he sings some of those folks’ same tunes–he’s all for a Judenrein Judea, for example. This goes over nicely with too many running the duplicitous show in the Ivory Tower as well.
I naively expected that the same lenses of academic scrutiny would be applied towards Arabs and others pointing fingers at Jewish nationalism and Israel and paid the price. I was denied a Ph.D. dissertation advisor by the chief honcho, a specialist on Turkey, who, among many other such things, managed to never mention the word “Kurd” once and who liked to speak about “fascist Zionists” and such. I raised the wrong issues and asked the wrong questions.
But alas, even Aaron was shocked at what he encountered among his would-be Left of Lenin colleagues.
One of the invited participants, for example, was a Fatah spokesman (you know, one of Mahmoud Abbas’s “moderates”), Husam Zumlot, who openly admitted that his intent was to inundate Israel with refugees during one of the numerous sessions dealing with Israeli occupation. So, not only was he insisting–with approval from Hebrew cheerleaders–that Arabs get a 22nd state and second, not first, in the original 1920 Mandate of Palestine (Jordan created on some 80% of the total area since 1922), but his game plan (no shock to those with heads above sand) turns Israel into Arab state # 23 as well.
Look, there is a place–an important place–for self-critique. We Jews specialize in this.
One of our favorite heroes is Rabbi Hillel, a contemporary of Yeshua (Jesus) of Nazareth–who some call Rabbi J.
Hillel reminded us of what the Hebrew Bible emphasizes in all sorts of ways–love for one’s neighbor, which necessitates such self-critique and caring for the “other.” At the same time, however, Hillel did not say to ignore our own needs. We are to find the proper balance.
J Street, however, demands that Jews live each day as Yom Kippur and continuously pound their chests for their own imperfections while allowing those of their enemies to go unaddressed.
The J Street crew routinely accepts the Arab narrative, despite the fact that that story is often far from the truth–and deliberately so. Taqiyya–deliberate lying for the cause–is a well-known stratagem utilized by such folks. And they have been caught doing this time after time. Many, if not most, Arabs waving alleged keys, for example, had fathers or grandfathers who were newcomers themselves into the Mandate from surrounding lands–like even Hamas’s virtual patron saint, for whom its “militant” wing and rockets are named, Sheikh Izz ed-Din al-Qassam. Along with numerous others, this “native Palestinian” hero and butcher of Jews came into the Mandate from elsewhere–in Izzy’s case, from Latakia, Syria.
This is not to say that in the Jews’ attempt to survive via resurrecting their long-tormented nation, some wrongs were not committed. But it is to say that you’d be hard pressed to find another people who tried harder than Jews to reach a fair and just compromise with their competitors and enemies–repeatedly so. Once bullets start to fly and comrades start to die, however, too often things change.
What compromises has Arab nationalism, in any of its numerous modern morphs, ever sought with the aspirations of scores of millions of native, non-Arab peoples whom Arabs simply conquered and forcibly Arabized?
You see, the main problem with J Street is that there is really no A Street.
While there are some Arabs–mostly converts from Islam–who bravely indulge in self-critique (some whom are friends of mine), a true counterpart to J Street does not exist.
Where is the Arab organization focusing on the plight of millions of non-Arab, native refugees who fled the Middle East due to the Arabs’ own murderous, internal, imperial, colonial, subjugating policies? These are the words of those folks–not mine.
As I have often written, ask any of the millions of black Africans from the Sudan and elsewhere, Copts, Kurds, Imazighen/”Berbers,” Assyrians, native kilab yahud (Jew dogs), and others as well about their own tragic stories. The greater New York area alone has tens of thousands of Syrian Jews from such refugee families–Izz ed-Din al-Qassam’s former neighbors.
J Street invites Fatah spokesmen to their conferences. They do not have to fear for their lives while attending. And their message is simply justice for Arabs only.
Show me the A Street conference where a Jew who demands justice for his own people (while not ignoring justice for all others–as most Arabs do) can attend while not risking his life. Remember Rabbi Hillel’s balance. Where is his counterpart among such Arab spokesmen?
Show me the A Street conference where the subject of the Jews’ own history in Israel/Judea is examined and dealt with fairly. Or where the works of the contemporary Roman historians recording the wars of the Jews for their freedom and independence in the land are discussed–struggles which continued clear up to the dawn of the Arabs’ own imperial Caliphal conquests when scores of thousands of Jews were recorded, in non-Jewish sources, as allying themselves with the Persians against the hated Byzantines.
Arabs refuse to even call the Temple Mount in Jerusalem a Jewish holy place. They call it Buraq’s Mount instead–after Muhammad’s allegedly winged horse with the head of a woman who flew him to Heaven–from, coincidence of coincidences–the very site of the Jews’ Temple of Solomon. Another “coincidence?” In the 7th century C.E., Muhammad fled Mecca to the Jewish date palm oasis of Medina–where Jews prayed towards Jerusalem and shared their ideas with the future Prophet of Islam.
Show me an A Street willing to compromise over lands that Jews lived on for millennia–clear up to modern times. Or, for that matter, lands where Kurds, “Berbers,” black Africans, and others have lived as well. Show me the A Street Conference where such words as Darfur, the Anfal Campaign, and such are ever even mentioned.
And finally, show me, one more time, that A (Arab) Street gathering where the Arab subjugation of scores of millions of native, non-Arab peoples in the region, in repeated forced Arabization campaigns (going on to this very day), is critiqued and concrete atonement by Arab victimizers is demanded as is constantly done over at J Street where Israel is concerned.
Good luck trying…
There are no perfect saints to be found anywhere among the realm of man. Take a good look at the “Arab” world surrounding Israel for starters.
After empires fell apart which controlled much of the entire world for many centuries (in the Middle East’s case, after World War I, that of the Turks in particular), many different peoples had renewed hopes for independence in the new age of nationalism–including, but not just, Arabs. In most of the latter’s eyes, however, no one but themselves were entitled to a slice of the justice pie. That’s why this book was written http://q4j-middle-east.com .
Until there is a serious A Street and the demands and topics of discussion are more balanced, J Street will simply remain what it now is–yet another one-sided, anti-Israel organization. And its members will remain for Israel’s enemies what Soviet leaders liked to call their “useful idiots.”