Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Last of the JStreetians

Bradley Burston's new article will elicit some controversy, even more than most articles relating to Israel/Jews on the Huffington Post. You see, he is reacting to the decision by the Berkeley Jewish Student Union not to accept J Street two weeks ago and he is not happy. As usual, he is entitled to his own opinion but I feel in making his case he is being somewhat disingenuous. Let's get to it. Burston says that the JSU sent the following message with their vote:
"The choice is up to you -- you can be welcomed as a Jew, or you can speak your mind on Israel."
This is left-wing victim cringing at its best. No one is disbarring any Jew from being part of the JSU as individuals from being welcomed, they are rejecting J Street as an organization. Like other left-wing bloggers before and after him, Burston is saying that every viewpoint on Israel must be honored and given encouragement, no matter how outside the mainstream. And if you disagree with him about that, you're a fascist. If you want to speak your mind then go for it, but the JSU is not under obligation to sit there and swallow it. That's part of being in a free society, everyone has freedom. Not just people who share Burston's politics.

Now Burston must defend J Street as the poor innocent victims of close minded Berkeley students:
"Its Jewish Student Union...has become the first such group in the country to have denied membership to the unapologetically pro-Israel, pro-peace J Street U."
Oh J Street is unapologetic all right. But pro-Israel? Let's take a look at someone who was actually on the ground:
"Lewis, 20, said he had been suspicious of the group ever since attending a J Street U event last year. The guest speaker was Assaf Sharon of the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement in Israel, which aligns with east Jerusalem Arabs who claim Israel is encroaching on their neighborhoods. 
Lewis remembered Sharon saying Jerusalem 'is a symbol of violence, and that anything beyond the Green Line is a settlement.' It was a virulently hateful event about Israel."
Of course because none of us are actually on the ground in Berkeley, we don't actually know what is going on there. But on the national level, as I'm sure I don't have to remind you, J Street has not exactly been free of controversy. How long exactly did they think they could keep throwing mud at the wall and hoping it would keep sticking? Clearly the students at Berkeley know what is going on with J Street more than we do, and more than Burston knows. But in my humble opinion, it's pretty lazy to declare that J Street is "pro-Israel and pro-peace" and then stop thinking about it. Actions dictate policy, not the other way around. Let's get back to Burston:
"What remains unclear is why, when Jews in Berkeley boycott fellow supporters of Israel, they believe that they are doing Israel, or the Jewish people, any good....Does the Berkeley vote truly reflect the kind of community that Jewish students at the University of California want? An intellectual ghetto, walled off from debate, bricked up against nuance, a trompe l'oeil of democracy, of openness, of communication? [Intellectual hand wringing continues]"
It sounds pretty damning right? One little problem: Are J Streeters are Berkeley fellow supporters of Israel? It doesn't particularly sound like it. Or are they supporters of Israel in this article not because they actually are,  but because Bradley Burston wants them to be? That is the question: Burston is still very much a classic leftist, and he wants J Street to be the real deal. An organization that is like him, a supporter of Israel who isn't afraid to freak out at Israel when they think it deserves it. The only problem is that here in the real world, people like that aren't as easy to find as you might think. Maybe there will be three of four Burstons at the top of Berkeley's J Street, but as you proceed you may not find that everyone is on the same page as the leadership.

Clearly the Berkeley JSU didn't feel that J Street had the same values that they did, that's part of being in a democracy. And so Burston is trying to overcome their vote, just because he didn't like how it went down? Hey, isn't that pretty much the definition of undemocratic behavior? Hey, here's an idea: Why doesn't J Street earn their way back in by proving that their values are truly compatible with the Jewish community? Or would that actually involve some changing on the part of the far left?


  1. Its amusing that you consider J-Street as some sort of left wing organization

    They are zionist. They believe Israel should be a religious state. They are totally on your side on the big issues but you hate them because they mention slightly more human rights for Palestinians

  2. Yet some of the founders of J Street d and say the strangest things, at least from the perspective of many who support Israel.

  3. Wow, so one guy from j street sat in the same room once with someone from gas....hamas. LOL
    you really do need to get over your demonization of the political group Hamas, which I'm sure you know was created by Israel.

    They are infact just people, and if you two would get over your racist religious nonsense none of this fighting needs to happen. Their claim to the land is at the very least just as good as your claim.

    1. It's been a while since we've heard from you. Frankly I miss reading your poorly-researched and laughably badly written missives. If you want to help us out with your incompetence, you're always welcome to post here!


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