Defining J Street


I have been an avid reader of The Jewish Week for decades and an active supporter of its courageous willingness to expose and confront painful issues in the Jewish community. I am, therefore, both puzzled and genuinely angered by your apparent inability to publish anything about J Street, the pro-Israel pro-peace organization of which I am a very proud member, without referring to it as “left wing.” 

Although I studied political science as an Ivy League undergraduate in the 1960s, I have no idea what “left wing” actually means. I do, however, know that it is a relative term:  someone is always “left wing” relative to someone else. For example, the Likud Party is “left-wing” relative to its partner and rival, “HaBayit Ha Yehudi, and even “extremely left wing” relative to Baruch Marzel and his Kahanist colleagues. Why, then, do you never refer to Likud or its leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, as “left-wingers?” The list of similar absurdities is endless, but none is more absurd than your persistent reference to J Street as “left wing.”

Although polls in the U.S. and Israel find a majority of Jews in both countries favor a negotiated and peaceful solution to the Palestinian “problem” — the very essence of what J Street advocates and promotes — a very well-funded “right-wing” minority in both countries persists in villainizing J Street and has spread a good deal of confusion about who J Street is, what J Street does, and what J Street’s “platform” truly is.  In that context do you really believe that your continual use of a term such as “left wing” — a hot-button term with negative connotations in American parlance — to describe J Street contributes anything to an understanding of what J Street really is or, more importantly, to the American Jewish conversation in which J Street is an active participant?