The latest attack on J Street comes in the form of this Jerusalem Post piece revealing the horrifying truth that the pro-Israel-pro-Palestinian-pro-peace organization counts among its donors "dozens of Arab and Muslim Americans, as well as from several individuals connected to organizations doing Palestinian and Iranian issues advocacy." You would think this is actually a good thing. It tells you there’s a constituent community among Arabs, Iranians and Muslims in the U.S. for an organization willing to push the Mideast debate in the U.S. in a direction more amenable to producing Israeli concessions for peace.

But this is of course a bad thing if you believe that Israeli and Arab or Iranian interests are zero-sum. If you believe that the establishment of a Palestinian state is a net loss for Israeli security. If you believe that Israeli concessions amount to unilateral disarmament. If you believe that the adoption of the Arab Peace Initiative spells the beginning of the end for Israel. Of course, if you do, then you do not believe peace is desirable, or rather what you mean by "peace" is in fact "permanent Israeli domination of the Palestinians," and you should be opposed.

For instance.

"It raises questions as to their banner that they’re a pro-Israel organization. Why would people who are not known to be pro-Israel give money to this organization?" asked Lenny Ben-David, a former Israeli diplomat and staffer for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a major Washington lobby but not a PAC that makes contributions to candidates. "Once you introduce a large group and large amount of money from people who are suspect in their pro-Israel credentials, J Street loses some of its credibility in claiming it is pro-Israel and representing the Jewish community." 

They’re suspect in Ben-David’s eyes because they’re Muslims and Arabs. Congratulations, Lenny Ben-David: you have outed yourself as a racist in a major newspaper. Now, what does it say about AIPAC that it keeps a racist on its payroll? It’s not J Street that loses "credibility" from anti-racist, pro-peace Jews. Congratulations on marginalizing yourself.

And who are some of these scary Muslims and Arabs giving money to J Street?

The finance committee’s 50 members – with a $10,000 contribution threshold – include Lebanese-American businessman Richard Abdoo, a current board member of Amideast and a former board member of the Arab American Institute, and Genevieve Lynch, who is also a member of the National Iranian American Council board. The group has also received several contributions from Nancy Dutton, an attorney who once represented the Saudi Embassy in Washington. 

The Arab-American Institute has been building moderate constituencies for peace in its communities for decades. The National Iranian American Council played a crucial part during the post-June 12 Iranian electoral theft in calling for justice, human rights and democracy. Amideast specializes in cultural and language exchange programs. Anyone who has a problem with these groups through the prism of the Israeli-Palestinian issue simply has a problem with Iranians, Arabs and Muslims. In other words: racists.

I’m about to head to J Street’s happy hour in Pittsburgh outside Netroots Nation. I will be very happy to drink beer and light Shabbos candles with people who represent the best and most enlightened elements of the American Jewish community. Those who attack them for taking this money should be ashamed of themselves.

Hey Shtetl: good Shabbos; think about this.

Spencer Ackerman

Spencer Ackerman

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