WASHINGTON (JTA) — A top Jewish congresswoman will address J Street’s conference.
U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) will deliver remarks before the dovish pro-Israel lobby’s gala dinner Tuesday evening, J Street officials told JTA last Friday.
J Street solicited the endorsements of about 160 Congress members for its first major conference; 12 have dropped out in recent days under pressure from critics.
The critics depict J Street as outside the Jewish and pro-Israel mainstream because of its associations with individuals affiliated with Arab groups, as well as its past equivocation on supporting the Israeli position in last winter’s Gaza war and on Iran sanctions.
Wasserman Schultz, whose signature legislation in her freshman term led to the establishment in 2006 of an American Jewish Heritage month, is a rising star in the Democratic Party and a deputy whip in the U.S. House of Representatives. She is considered a pro-Israel stalwart and used those credentials to campaign in Florida last year, first in the Hillary Rodham Clinton campaign and then for Barack Obama after he won the Democratic primaries.
Other Jewish Democrats speaking at the conference include U.S. Reps. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.). U.S. Sens. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) and Al Franken (D-Minn.) also are expected to attend. Robert Wexler, a Florida Democrat who just retired from Congress, also will address the conference.