Is J Street a pro-Israel group? It never tires of claiming that it is. Yet, what pro-Israel group would invite a man to speak at its forthcoming conference who has called for Israel’s destruction, stating that “the establishment by force, violence and terrorism of a Jewish state in Palestine in 1948” was “unjust” and “a crime” and vowed to “work to overturn the injustice.”
The man who signed this statement is Salam Al Marayati, director of Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) who will be speaking next month at J Street’s conference.
Marayati and MPAC have made other numerous, hateful anti-Israel and anti-U.S. statements. These included his stating that “we should put the state of Israel on the suspect list” of possible 9/11 perpetrators; that Jews murdered by Palestinians are “the expected bitter result of [Israel’s] reckless policy”; condemning American strikes against al-Qaida in Afghanistan and Sudan following the bombings of the U.S. East Africa embassies as “illegal, immoral and illogical”; comparing Israel’s supporters to Hitler; and displaying a campus exhibit stating that “Zionism is Nazism.”
Furthermore, Marayati even condemned France’s fining Roger Garaudy for Holocaust denial as “persecution of his right to express an opinion.” In 1997, Marayati gave a chilling, anticipatory justification for anti-U.S. terror saying, “Where Israel goes, our government follows. … What is important is whether the American people are aware of and ready for the consequences.” Some of these statements caused Marayati’s 1999 appointment to a U.S. congressional committee on terrorism to be rescinded.
J Street’s inviting Marayati makes one wonder whose side is J Street on.
While J Street also pressures Israel to make concessions, it says virtually nothing about the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority’s 16-year failure to dismantle terrorist groups and end the incitement to hatred and murder in its speeches, media, mosques and schools. It said nothing about Fatah’s recent conference, which proclaimed the legitimacy of terrorism against Israel and honored, by name, killers of Jews as heroes.
Additionally, J Street showed its animus toward Israel by citing polls inaccurately to bolster its claim that Israelis and American Jews want greater Israeli concessions and agree with President Obama’s pressure on Israel to stop Jews building in eastern Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria.
Thus, in June, J Street’s campaign director, Isaac Luria, misleadingly claimed that “Israelis want the president to stand up to the [Jewish] settlers. … A poll recently showed that 52 percent of Israelis want a freeze on settlement construction and 56 percent want Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to agree to President Obama’s call for an end to settlement construction.”
In fact, the Dahaf Institute poll Luria referred to actually showed that Israelis favor continued natural growth of Jewish communities by 54 percent to 42 percent; that they believe 53 percent to 26 percent that President Obama’s policies are not good for Israel. Yet J Street simply buried the evidence of actual support for natural growth and cited only a contradictory, general finding of support for a construction freeze. More damning still, the only other partial truth in J Street’s claim — that 56 percent wanted Netanyahu to agree to Obama’s demands — left out the major point that they favored this only if the alternative meant U.S. sanctions.
J Street misrepresents polling data and ignores other polls that show majority Israeli and American Jewish opposition to Obama’s demands. For instance, recent Smith Research Institute polls show that Israelis, by a decisive 69 percent to 27 percent margin, oppose freezing construction within large Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria and that only 4 percent of Israelis favor Obama’s policies.
Also, a July Global Marketing Services poll of American Jews who are Democrats shows 55 percent believe that Obama is naïve in thinking Palestinians want peace, only 27 percent support Obama’s promoting a Palestinian state, 52 percent believe that Israel should be allowed to build in existing settlements.
Most disturbingly, despite virtually unanimous support by Israeli and American Jews of Israel’s Gaza campaign to stop Hamas rockets, J Street opposed it. It also challenged even sanctions against Iran. All these issues have enhanced relevance in view of a report in the Jerusalem Post (Aug. 14) about J Street being the recipient of tens of thousands of dollars in donations from dozens of Arab and Muslim Americans, as well as from individuals connected to Palestinian and pro-Teheran-advocacy groups.
J Street continues to relentlessly display its support for the Palestinian cause. We urge it to start doing the right thing by rescinding its invitation to Salaam Al Marayati, ceasing to accept donations from those hostile to Israel.
(Morton A. Klein is National President of the Zionist Organization of America.)