If AIPAC ain’t broke…


The Israeli barrage (here and here) against J Street continues, with a piece from Chuck Freilich, a former Israeli deputy national security adviser:

It is presumptuous of our brethren in the US, and frankly offensive, for them to believe that they "know better" what is right for Israel. The Jewish state is a vibrant, pluralistic democracy. Only Israel’s citizens, who endure the consequences, bear the responsibility for its policies. The place to change Israel’s policies is in Israel, not Washington. A corollary of sovereignty is the right to err. We waited for that right for 2,000 years.

J Street’s stated position, that it "supports political solutions over military ones" regarding the Palestinians and "strongly opposes the use of force by Israel or the US" against Iran, is the height of presumption and chutzpa. So was its position earlier this year, during the Gaza operation, when it opined that "escalation will prove counterproductive" and called for an immediate cease-fire.

Freilich insists that he isn’t saying criticism of Israeli policy is off limits for Diaspora Jews, just that they shouldn’t take their fight to Congress and the White House:

Those Jewish Americans, who share a deep concern for Israel’s trials and travails, have the right, even the duty, to express their criticism within the Jewish community, the public at large, pretty much anywhere — except before the administration and Congress. There, we have to present one voice — not "pro" every Israeli policy, but united, unswerving support for Israel and a strong US-Israel relationship.

He concludes with a defense of AIPAC:

AIPAC may have made mistakes over the years – who hasn’t? But there is a wise, old American saying: "If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it." AIPAC is definitely not broken, and for those who take issue with some of its positions and actions, the appropriate recourse is to work for change from within.

To date, despite the plethora of Jewish organizations in all other areas, the US-Israeli relationship has largely had one voice in Washington. This is as it must be. AIPAC has a devoted, sophisticated, often brilliant professional staff and lay leadership. It simply does not get better.

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