Friday, March 18, 2011

What J Street Means When It Says ‘Pro-Israel’

There are certain terms whose meanings are — or seem like they ought to be — obvious. The term “pro-Israel” is one of them. One presumes that it simply means having positive sentiments toward the state of Israel and sympathy for its political or military position. In our strange day and age, however, this is no longer the case. Even the simplest terms have become hopelessly foggy.

Indeed, there is now something of a quiet but impassioned debate within the American Jewish community over what it means to be “pro-Israel.” This dispute has gone public with the emergence of the left-wing lobby J Street. Advertising itself as both “pro-Israel” and “pro-peace,” J Street both implicitly and explicitly attacks its rivals — especially the much older and more influential lobbying group AIPAC — as being neither. Critics of J Street attack the group as itself neither pro-Israel nor pro-peace, but rather pro-Palestinian or pro-Arab.

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