JERUSALEM — Left-wing and progressive groups are campaigning to demonize Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, after his stunning comeback in last month’s election, according to some experts on the Middle East’s only democracy.
Amid Netanyahu’s efforts to forge a complex coalition of religious, conservative and ultra-nationalist parties, a left-wing US organization, J Street, went on the offensive this week.
“The potential for specific actions to be taken as a result [Israeli] government, these are times when the relationship between the bulk of American Jews and the state of Israel really begins to fray,” J Street president Jeremy Ben-Ami told The Associated Press.
On December 1, J Street published an announcement on its website that “the US must act now to counter extremist Israeli officials and policy movements.” J Street describes itself on its website as a “pro-Israel” organization.
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In that same Associated Press report, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, said the new coalition’s composition included some of “the most extreme voices in Israeli politics.” As the leader of what the AP says is the largest Jewish group in the US, Jacobs continued, “What the trajectory will be of a new Israeli government with such voices in such important leadership roles is of great, deep concern.”
Caroline Glick, an American-born Israeli columnist and author, told Fox News Digital that J Street is “trying to provoke a crisis by spreading lies. J Street is not a pro-Israel organization. They support the Iranian regime.”
Glick, the author of “The Israeli Solution: A One-State Plan for Peace in the Middle East,” said, “J Street has very warm relations with the Biden administration, which is troubling.”
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken delivered a speech to the J Street National Conference on Dec. 4.
“J Street’s continued involvement … continues to inform our thinking,” Blinken said, adding that J Street is a “remarkable organization.”
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J Street and the Biden administration support the controversial Iran nuclear deal, which the Israeli government strongly opposes.
Israel argues that the nuclear deal places only temporary restrictions on the Islamic Republic’s right to build a nuclear weapon device and funnels hundreds of billions of dollars into Tehran’s treasury.
Iran’s nuclear weapons program poses an existential threat to the Jewish state.
Blinken told J Street at a recent speech that the US wants the Iranian regime to rejoin the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the formal name for the Iran nuclear deal, and rejected the previous administration’s campaign for ” maximum pressure” aimed at the theocratic Islamic state.
Netanyahu advocates that all means of pressure, including a real military option, be used to stop Iran’s race to build a nuclear bomb.
Blinken, in an indirect reference to some of the Israeli funeral pyres about to become part of Netanyahu’s cabinet, said: “We will [Israeli] government by the policies it pursues rather than by individual personalities.”
Traditionally, Israeli governments have shunned J Street and its president because of their perceived anti-Israel policies.
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The main pro-Israel organization in the US, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) tweeted that bluntly “J Street is many things, but it’s not pro-Israel.”
Glick said progressives in the US are fueling disinformation against Netanyahu that is “almost identical to the campaign progressives are waging against parents who oppose wakeful indoctrination of students on school boards.” She said the “awakened ideology” permeating many American schools is “anti-American”.
Glick argued that the new conceptual framework for understanding day-to-day attacks on Israel’s legitimacy is “demonization”, and is “the new fig leaf for adopting an anti-Israel policy because the peace process is dead.”
The peace process between Israel and the Palestinians over the disputed West Bank, also known as Judea and Samaria, has reached a dead end for many Israelis.
Glick lashed out at J Street and two foreign policy establishment elites in Washington, D.C., who wrote a Washington Post commentary urging the imposition of sanctions on Israel.
“They hate Israel,” Glick complained. “They want to damage ties between Israel and the US. And this undermines America’s most important interests. Israel is the US’s most loyal ally.”
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Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the associate dean of the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, told Fox News Digital, “I believe J Street is not speaking for the majority of American Jews on this issue. The best way Americans can help the Abraham To expand the accords to include the Palestinians is to put pressure on the Palestinian Authority to curb its corruption, stop its relentless anti-Semitism, and end its pay-to-slay-Jews policy.”
The Trump administration negotiated the historic normalization agreements – the Abraham Accords – between Israel and four Sunni Arab countries (the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan).
The Palestinian Authority pays terrorists and families of terrorists who have attacked and killed Israelis. Critics argue that Palestinian policies promote terrorism.
Fox News Digital asked the US State Department to respond to Glick and Cooper’s criticism of J Street.
“Like our predecessors, this administration routinely engages with both American Jewish and Diaspora groups to underscore our unwavering commitment to and partnership with Israel that has never been stronger,” the department said.
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“Israel is America’s trusted friend and ally, not the 51st state,” Cooper said. “It is a turbulent democracy whose voters in the last election voted for parties that formed a coalition with Israeli Arab parties. terrorism and some with extremist views outside the mainstream of Israeli society.”
Shlomit Ravitzky Tur-Paz, director of the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Center for Shared Society at the Israel Democracy Institute, told Fox News Digital: “Israel is both a Jewish and a democratic country, and new policies that touch on core characteristics and shared values can create tensions.
“A possible point of conflict between the competing worldviews could be found in two extreme examples. Proposed changes in the Ministry of Education raise the question regarding the place of diversity: are Israeli children given different options for being Jews and will they are able to embrace other relationships with the Jewish tradition, or will the Orthodox view of it be the only option. Another example touches on the path of becoming a Jew.”
She added that a thorny issue will focus on whether a new right-wing government will “continue to recognize reform and conservative conversion as valid to affirm Judaism – and thus automatic Israeli citizenship – according to the Interior Ministry, even though is it not by the rabbinate.”
Progressive critics of Netanyahu’s planned coalition partners say there is an anti-LGBTQ streak within the leader of the Noam party as he wants to ban the gay parade in Jerusalem.
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Netanyahu flatly rejected attempts to undermine his pro-LGBTQ record. Israeli media reported him saying, “There will be no harm in pride parades or the status quo on LGBTQ rights.”
Glick denounced some groups for denouncing Israel’s right to be anti-gay.
“You don’t see gays being hanged in the streets of Tel Aviv, but a gay has just been killed by the Palestinians,” Glick said.
Fox News Digital called and sent several press inquiries to J Street.
THE Associated Press contributed to this report.