JERUSALEM — Left-wing and progressive groups are waging a campaign 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 cobble together a complex coalition of religious, conservative and ultra-nationalist parties, one left-wing U.S. organization, J Street, went on the offensive this week.
“The potential for specific actions that could be taken by this [Israeli] government, these are moments when the relationship between the bulk of American Jews and the state of Israel begins to really fray,” Jeremy Ben-Ami, the president of J Street, told The Associated Press.
On Dec. 1, J Street published an announcement on its website that the “U.S. must act now to counter extremist Israeli officials & Policy moves.” J Street defines 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 makeup of the incoming coalition included some of “the most extreme voices in Israeli politics.” As leader of what the AP said is the largest Jewish group in the U.S. Jacobs continued: “What will be the trajectory of a new Israeli government with such voices in such key leadership roles is of deep, deep concern.”
Caroline Glick, an American-born Israeli columnist and author, told Fox News Digital 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, and that is disconcerting.”
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken on Dec. 4 delivered a talk to J Street’s National Conference.
“The enduring engagement of J Street … 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 Iranian nuclear deal, which Israel’s government vehemently opposes.
Israel argues that the atomic accord only imposes temporary limitations on the Islamic Republic’s right to build a nuclear weapons device and funnels hundreds of billions of dollars into Tehran’s coffers.
Iran’s nuclear weapons program is an existential threat for the Jewish state.
Blinken told J Street during a recent speech that the U.S. wants Iran’s regime to re-join the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the formal name for the Iran nuclear deal and dismissed the previous administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign targeting the theocratic Islamic state.
Netanyahu advocates that all levers of pressure, including a genuine military option, be applied to stop Iran’s race to build an atomic bomb.
Blinken, in an indirect reference to some of the Israeli firebrands who are slated to be part of Netanyahu’s cabinet, said, “We will gauge the [Israeli] government by the policies it pursues rather than individual personalities.”
Traditionally, Israeli governments have shunned J Street and its president because of their alleged anti-Israel policies.
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The main pro-Israel organization in the U.S., the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) bluntly tweeted that “J Street is many things, but it’s not pro-Israel.”
Glick said progressives in the U.S. are stoking disinformation against Netanyahu that is “nearly identical to the campaign progressives are running against parents who oppose woke indoctrination of students at school boards.” She said the “woke ideology” that permeates many U.S. schools is “anti-American.”
Glick argued that the new conceptual framework to understand the daily assaults on Israel’s legitimacy is “demonization,” and it “is the new fig leaf for adopting anti-Israel policies 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 slammed J Street and two Washington, D.C., foreign policy establishment elites, who authored a Washington Post commentary urging that sanctions be imposed on Israel.
“They hate Israel,” Glick claied. “They want to harm Israel-U.S. ties. And this undermines America’s chief interests. Israel is the U.S.’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 that J Street does not speak for the majority of American Jews on this issue. The best way Americans can help expand the Abraham Accords to include the Palestinians is to pressure the Palestinian Authority to curb its corruption, stop its incessant antisemitism and end its pay-to-slay-Jews policies.”
The Trump administration negotiated the historic normalization deals — 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 murdered Israelis. Critics argue the Palestinian policy promotes terrorism.
Fox News Digital asked the U.S. State Department to respond to the criticism that Glick and Cooper leveled against J Street.
“Just as our predecessors have, this administration routinely engages with American-Jewish as well as diaspora groups to underscore our rock-solid commitment to and partnership with Israel, which has never been stronger,” the department said.
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“Israel is America’s reliable friend and ally, not its 51st state,” Cooper said. “It is a rambunctious democracy whose electorate in the last elections voted for parties that created a coalition that included Israeli Arab parties. Now, the same electorate voted for parties that are to the right of center and smaller parties who include hardliners furious over incessant Arab terrorism and some with extremists views that are 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 Democratic country, and new policies touching on the core characteristics and shared values may 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 put the question forth as to the place of diversity: Will Israeli children be provided different options on how to be a Jew and will they be able to embrace different relationships with the Jewish tradition, or will the Orthodox view on these be the only possibility. Another example touches on the path to becoming a Jew.”
She added one thorny issue will center on whether a new right-wing government will “continue to recognize Reform and Conservative conversion as valid to confirm Judaism — and thus Israeli automatic citizenship — according to the Ministry of Interior, even though not by the Rabbinate.”
Progressive critics of Netanyahu’s slated coalition partners say there is an anti-LGBTQ streak within the leader of the Noam party because he wants to ban the gay parade in Jerusalem.
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Netanyahu flatly rejected efforts to undercut his pro-LGBTQ record. Israeli media outlets reported that he said “there will be no harm to pride parades nor to the status-quo on LGBTQ rights.”
Glick blasted some groups for accusing Israel’s right of being anti-gay.
“You don’t see gay people being hung on the streets of Tel Aviv, but a gay person was just murdered by the Palestinians,” Glick said.
Fox News Digital called, and sent several press queries to J Street.
THE Associated Press contributed to this report.