Monday, December 03, 2012

J Street's Boast Of Their Influence Is Tested As Congress Considers Penalizing Palestinians

J Street is the "nation's largest pro-Israel PAC again" -- by its own admission: JStreetPAC Scores Big in 2012 Election:
50 percent more Pro-Israel, Pro-Peace Senators, Representatives headed to 113th Congress

PAC distributes $1.8 million to federal candidates, making it nation's largest pro-Israel PAC again

JStreetPAC emerged from the 2012 election as the nation's largest pro-Israel PAC and with 50 percent more endorsed Members of the House and Senate than last cycle.

JStreetPAC, the largest pro-Israel political action committee in every cycle since its founding in 2008, broke its own fundraising record again this year, disbursing more than $1.8 million to 71 pro-Israel, pro-peace candidates. Seventy of the candidates won, including all of the incumbents. In addition, J Street backed its candidates with advertising and direct mail.

“JStreetPAC’s resounding success speaks to the deep hunger among American Jews and friends of Israel for a political voice that represents their belief that American leadership is vital to achieving a two-state solution and to securing Israel’s Jewish, democratic future,” said JStreetPAC President Jeremy Ben-Ami.
And now for a dose of reality.

Take a closer look at those J Street victories.

As Alana Goodman notes, J Street's boasts of victories in the 2012 election are exaggerated:
There’s actually a less dramatic explanation for J Street’s supposed “victories.” After years of getting crushed by AIPAC in the lobbying game, J Street may have found success in the old adage, “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” The group has started endorsing some sure winners, and then claiming credit when the inevitable happens.

As Steve Rosen pointed out at Foreign Policy, many of the candidates J Street endorsed were also backed and more heavily financed by AIPAC-associated PACs. The same goes for last summer’s Iran sanctions legislation. Both parties in congress overwhelmingly support tough sanctions, as does President Obama (at least publicly).
While their election victories are disputed, J Street does have a great opportunity to show everyone just how influential they really are.

In describing J Street's Position on the Palestinian Bid at the United Nations General Assembly, J Street writes:
J Street will actively oppose efforts to punish President Abbas, the PLO or the Palestinian Authority for bringing this resolution to the United Nations. We will also oppose any suggestion of closing the PLO mission in Washington. We should be looking for ways to encourage and deepen the chances of diplomacy, not for ways to cut it off.
If J Street is really as powerful and influential as they claim, then lets see how they take their opposition to Congressional penalties against Abbas and the PA and convince congressman to oppose such measures.

What J Street appears not to appreciate or understand is that when he appeared before the UN and gained an upgrade in status for "Palestine" as a non-member with observer, Abbas did more than just stick it to Israel.

Abbas also defied the United States, which requested him to go to the negotiating table for peace talks instead of violating the Oslo Accords.

Thus, while the focus has been on the actions Israel is considering taking in response, the US really is seriously considering penalizing the Palestinians and the UN:
The White House won't seek to punish the Palestinian Authority for this week's statehood vote at the United Nations, but did not vow to veto pending legislative proposals to cut off U.S. aid in retaliation.

The U.N. General Assembly voted 138-9 on Thursday to recognize the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) as a non-member observer state, over the strident objections of the United States and Israel. In response, the Senate is expected to vote next week on legislation placing new restrictions on the $600 million in annual U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority.
As it is, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said that the State Department is still trying to release the pending $495 million for fiscal year 2012 that were held up in response to last years failed attempt by the Palestinians to become a full UN.

The cut in Palestinian aid would be an amendment attached to a pending Defense authorization bill and could also also close the PLO’s Washington office -- unless the president determines that the Palestinians are engaged in “meaningful negotiations” with Israel.

In addition to cutting as much as $600 million in US aid to the Palestinian Authority, some senators want to also cut US funding for any UN agencies that recognize Palestine as a state.

Enter J Street.
Let's see how influential J Street can be without the help of other PACs.
Let's see how respected J Street and their opinions are by the people J Street claims they helped get elected.

Maybe J Street knows what they are talking about.
And maybe not.

After all, in a statement that is either disingenuous or misleading, J Street describe the Palestinian violation of the Oslo accord by going to the UN as:
the efforts of President Abbas and the Palestinian Liberation Organization to achieve their goals through peaceful and legal means
For J Street's sake, they better know more about politics than they seem to do about law.

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