Israel’s D.C. Embassy Slaps Down J Street
Bad PR for the left-leaning Israel lobby group
The clenched-teeth relationship between Israel and J Street, the “pro-Israel, pro-peace” lobby founded a year and a half ago as a counterpoint to Aipac, just got slightly more clenched. J Street Executive Director Jeremy Ben-Ami has been informed by the Israeli embassy that Ambassador Michael Oren won’t accept an invitation to speak at J Street’s annual conference because the group’s policies may “impair Israel’s interests.” Embassy spokesman Yoni Peled told Haaretz that its official response to the invitation was the embassy’s opportunity to communicate “its views on the peace process and on the best way to ensure Israel’s security.”
There’s little love lost between the Netanyahu government and J Street, but by refusing to even engage with the organization, Israel is more or less delegitimizing it as a foreign ally of the Jewish state—an embarrassment that’s going to be hard to combat in J Street’s U.S. public-relations work. Imagine a pro-American group in, say, Egypt being told that the State Department won’t meet with its representatives because it puts American interests at risk.