WASHINGTON (JTA) – Valerie Jarrett, a top adviser to Barack Obama, is addressing the J Street conference.
Jarrett will join Tony Blinken, the national security adviser to Vice President Joe Biden, in a session on Monday on the U.S. role in advancing Middle East peace.
Jeremy Ben-Ami, the group’s director, had complained in an interview with Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic that only sending Blinken signalled that the administration feared sending a higher-ranking official to the liberal pro-Israel group’s conference, and that it was succumbing to pressure from some centrist and right-wing groups to isolate the lobby.
"This decision is really indicative of the problem we started J Street to fix," Ben-Ami said. "This is precisely the kind of calculation that shouldn’t be made."
In a statement Friday announcing Jarrett’s participation, Ben-Ami said that along with a video message from Israeli President Shimon Peres and a first-time participation by an Israeli diplomat — deputy ambassador Baruch Binah — Jarrett’s attendance was a sign that J Street had arrived.
"I think it’s clear that J Street has established itself as a permanent and important part of the mainstream American dialogue on Israel," he said.
In his interview with the Atlantic, Ben-Ami also said that J Street would next year apply for membership in the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.